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Review and Measurements of Schiit Lyr Tube Headphone Amplifier

amirm

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#41
Both the official Magni 3 specs and your measurements show a maximum power output of 0.4W (rounded) at 300 ohm. At 33 ohm your measurements show a power output of 1.5W while the official specs list it as 2W at 32 ohm.
This major discrepancy obviously isn't the result of a 1 ohm difference in load. What are your thoughts on this?
It is pretty easy. You can get to higher wattage by simply allowing more distortion at measured wattage. In my graph, I just noted where clipping started. You can climb farther up the curve and get to two watts:



For example at .1% distortion, you get 2 watts. Schiit does not say what distortion spec they selected to get to their 2 watts so it could every well be that.

upload_2018-3-16_18-2-49.png



This is why it is very important to see the full graph and not just a single number from them.
 

amirm

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#42
Thanks for the review, Amir. I used to own a Lyr 2. Maximum potential of the amp was reached with higher quality than stock tubes, subjectively of course. The crème de la crème for the Lyr amps, in my opinion, are the Western Electric JW 2C51/396a. Would be very interesting to see how these measurements change with tube rolling. The stock tubes provided but Schiit are just that...Schiit.
As I noted, I did have another set of tubes and made some measurements with them. The challenge is that the measurements were variable and required lots of warm up time. So while I originally wanted to show both, it just became too challenging to do that. But here is some data anyway:

Schiit Lyr Headphone Amp level vs distortion.png


I don't want you to run with them as I don't know if they were measured with the same amount of warm up time or not. In some cases I got very bizarre measurements. With no feedback compensation, the box has unpredictable performance.
 

Palladium

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#43
What’s the point of distortions in the first place? The AHB2 is a close to zero distortion box. Why not try and improve those AHB2 specs incl. size and heat, instead of taking comfort from mediocrity?
Because its saner to spend mucho $$$ on coloration boxes than to get a neutral box and software DSP in any coloration you fancy at anytime for free.
 

Blumlein 88

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#44
Because its saner to spend mucho $$$ on coloration boxes than to get a neutral box and software DSP in any coloration you fancy at anytime for free.
I've posted exactly this thought many times. It hasn't become available the VST plug in for tube sound that works really well as soon as I expected. They are available just not for regular Joe audiophiles. Of course they have themselves to blame for this. They wouldn't accept that it sounded right anyway.

I do have a recording interface with some pretty nice effects, like mimicking revered tube EQ units and other items. They seem to do a good job. In principle, an increasingly in practice, they are creating DSP to give a high fidelity version of some classic older gear.
 

Cosmik

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#45
Victor Lamm posits an idea that I think has merit. Amplifiers should have low order distortion which rises steadily with level. Reaching 3 % maximum. At each power level distortion should be exactly the same across the audio bandwidth.
If you think about what this means: nothing more than a 'bent' one-dimensional transfer function e.g. a 'S', or a sideways 'S'. The higher your input, the more 'clipped' (or 'pointy') the resulting waveform, and it is identical for all frequencies. Like a mild version of a guitar fuzz box.

A great example of the myth making that goes on in audio, especially when seeing everything through the prism of the frequency domain.

Clearly such an effect is highly dependent on the source material. Provide it with monophonic sounds and it might add some extra 'edge'. Feed it with a full symphony orchestra and it munges everything together into a fuzzy blob and probably destroys the stereo imaging. It would need a carefully curated selection of 'audiophile music' to perform its miracles to best effect.
 

Dismayed

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#46
It is pretty easy. You can get to higher wattage by simply allowing more distortion at measured wattage. In my graph, I just noted where clipping started. You can climb farther up the curve and get to two watts:



For example at .1% distortion, you get 2 watts. Schiit does not say what distortion spec they selected to get to their 2 watts so it could every well be that.

View attachment 11417


This is why it is very important to see the full graph and not just a single number from them.
I want to be certain that I understand the various measurements - before I peddle my last piece of Schiit on eBay! So it seems that headphones that play at comfortable levels while drawing 600 mW or less should be fine, as far as THD is concerned. Is that correct, since THD would be <0.2% at that level into a 33 ohm load? My current headphones have an impedance of 55 ohms, so how would this graph shift?
 

Dismayed

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#47
As I noted, I did have another set of tubes and made some measurements with them. The challenge is that the measurements were variable and required lots of warm up time. So while I originally wanted to show both, it just became too challenging to do that. But here is some data anyway:

View attachment 11419

I don't want you to run with them as I don't know if they were measured with the same amount of warm up time or not. In some cases I got very bizarre measurements. With no feedback compensation, the box has unpredictable performance.
Is there an explanation of the Level vs Distortion measurement that someone can point me to? I want to be certain that I understand what is represented.
 
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Dismayed

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#48
I'm curious about the humming and buzzing. I never experienced that with AKG K-702 headphones:


Headphone type open
Max. Input Power 200 mW
Audio frequency bandwidth 10 - 39800 Hz
Sensitivity headphones 105 dB SPL/V
Rated Impedance 62 Ohms
 

svart-hvitt

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#49
FWIW,

this and other reviews tell us that people pay too much for audio boxes. In fact, boxes can be smokingly bad and people won’t notice if people on the internet tell them the box sounds good.

Please note that this does NOT mean that products of stellar performance engineering wise will come cheap. It’s just an observation that some gear is priced way too high.
 

Dismayed

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#50
FWIW,

this and other reviews tell us that people pay too much for audio boxes. In fact, boxes can be smokingly bad and people won’t notice if people on the internet tell them the box sounds good.

Please note that this does NOT mean that products of stellar performance engineering wise will come cheap. It’s just an observation that some gear is priced way too high.
We do need to give Schiit credit for offering some low-cost products. Now if they could just engineer them properly . . .
 
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#51
Both the official Magni 3 specs and your measurements show a maximum power output of 0.4W (rounded) at 300 ohm. At 33 ohm your measurements show a power output of 1.5W while the official specs list it as 2W at 32 ohm.
This major discrepancy obviously isn't the result of a 1 ohm difference in load. What are your thoughts on this?
I'm guessing that they rate the amp conservatively, and at that lower power it produces less distortion.

Just a guess.

I also have a guess about letting the magic smoke out of Magni 3, but I didn't know if it'd be welcome here.
 

Blumlein 88

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#52
We do need to give Schiit credit for offering some low-cost products. Now if they could just engineer them properly . . .
Why?

There are other products for the same price that perform so much better.

Schiit has cultured this image of a company with a face, a couple designers, doing something different, and making special gear. The only thing special about it is it under-performs even at this low price.

Yet their image building on forums has been so successful, that in that price range almost else nothing gets recommended. A blanket assumption is made their gear is unusually good for the price. It is a first recommendation not only never questioned, but if one questions it in most forums you get a huge backlash for simply telling the truth. Not only is their gear not good, it is not good for the price, and in fact even at the low price is usually a poor choice. So credit I don't think they deserve except showing how one can manage audiophile impressions without giving the goods when you are dealing with subjectivists.
 

amirm

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#53
I also have a guess about letting the magic smoke out of Magni 3, but I didn't know if it'd be welcome here.
I love to hear your guess so please go ahead.
 

amirm

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#54
I'm curious about the humming and buzzing. I never experienced that with AKG K-702 headphones:


Headphone type open
Max. Input Power 200 mW
Audio frequency bandwidth 10 - 39800 Hz
Sensitivity headphones 105 dB SPL/V
Rated Impedance 62 Ohms
It only showed up on two of my headphones: the KZ IEMs and Sony with the former being much louder. I could not hear it on HifiMan HE400i and Sennheiser HD-650 so it depends on the load and efficiency. As such I am not surprised you didn't hear it on your headphone. Someone less lazy than me can look up the specs for my headphones against yours and figure out if they are consistent. :)
 

amirm

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#55
I want to be certain that I understand the various measurements - before I peddle my last piece of Schiit on eBay! So it seems that headphones that play at comfortable levels while drawing 600 mW or less should be fine, as far as THD is concerned. Is that correct, since THD would be <0.2% at that level into a 33 ohm load? My current headphones have an impedance of 55 ohms, so how would this graph shift?
The graph will shift based on load. I couldn't finish building my dummy load so didn't measure at 50 ohm. But in general, you want to stay below the knee on the right side of the graph wherever it is.
 

amirm

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#56
Is there an explanation of the Level vs Distortion measurement that someone can point me to? I want to be certain that I understand what is represented.
I will do a tutorial on these measurements later. For now, the graph shows what happens when we start with low input level to the amplifier and keep upping it. As we do that, the output power keeps increasing. The Y axis shows the sum of distortion (THD) and noise (+N). When the amplitude of input is low, noise dominates in amplifiers so the graph starts high. As we increase the input level, it starts to dominate the noise and the graph keeps going to lower and lower. At some point, distortion starts to dominate and we get a sharp increase back up.

The graph is showing that regardless of which tube is used, the noise level is higher (left side of the graph) and likewise its distortion is also higher (right side). However, the distortion that is caused by clipping is milder in the Lyr than Magni 3 which hits a rock wall.
 

Dismayed

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#57
Why?

There are other products for the same price that perform so much better.

Schiit has cultured this image of a company with a face, a couple designers, doing something different, and making special gear. The only thing special about it is it under-performs even at this low price.

Yet their image building on forums has been so successful, that in that price range almost else nothing gets recommended. A blanket assumption is made their gear is unusually good for the price. It is a first recommendation not only never questioned, but if one questions it in most forums you get a huge backlash for simply telling the truth. Not only is their gear not good, it is not good for the price, and in fact even at the low price is usually a poor choice. So credit I don't think they deserve except showing how one can manage audiophile impressions without giving the goods when you are dealing with subjectivists.
Why? Because cheap Schiit is better than expensive Schiit. And they hold their value so I can dump their crap on someone else!
 

amirm

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#58
Someone asked me for DC offset. So i measured both amps with small amplitude output to see that. First Schiit Magni 3:

Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp Low Level Linearity.png


We easily see the channel mismatch here with the Left and Right (yellow and cyan) not matching each other in amplitude. Excursion around 0 volt though seems pretty symmetrical so negligible DC offset.

Now let's look at Lyr:

Schiit Lyr Headphone Amp Low Level Linearity.png


We again have channel mismatch. But on top of that, the two outputs are being modulated by mains frequency (sine wave shape of the envelope). We are talking +-2 millivolts of hum. Given this, it is hard to determine any DC offset on top of that. If there is DC offset it is small though compared to that AC hum.
 

Dismayed

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#59
Someone asked me for DC offset. So i measured both amps with small amplitude output to see that. First Schiit Magni 3:

View attachment 11427

We easily see the channel mismatch here with the Left and Right (yellow and cyan) not matching each other in amplitude. Excursion around 0 volt though seems pretty symmetrical so negligible DC offset.

Now let's look at Lyr:

View attachment 11428

We again have channel mismatch. But on top of that, the two outputs are being modulated by mains frequency (sine wave shape of the envelope). We are talking +-2 millivolts of hum. Given this, it is hard to determine any DC offset on top of that. If there is DC offset it is small though compared to that AC hum.
So, how do I feel about having bought Schiit products?

upload_2018-3-17_19-33-28.png
 
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#60
I love to hear your guess so please go ahead.
Totally a guess, and I am making many assumptions that you didn't say anything about -- hopefully they're in your logbook of tests.

Disclaimer: I'm a software engineer, not an EE. Point and laugh at my sophomoric assumptions.

You said that the smoke happened during your dummy load tests, IIRC. Also, IIRC, your dummy load is 33 ohms.

I am guessing your plot of the Magni 3, driven to distortion (1.5 W) was made at that time. The analyzer was doing a series of frequency sweep at that time? In any event, I'm guessing again that the Magni 3 was under load.

Playing around with Joule's Law and Ohm's Law (another assumption I'm making since with ac you can't assume this, but your dummy load should be purely resistive) we know that P=E^2/R. P=1.5, R=33. E^2 is therefore 49.5 (and E is approximately 7 V, but we don't care).

My big assumption is that you unplugged the dummy load under these conditions. A TRS (headphone) plug momentarily shorts a channel when you unplug the connector. The Magni 3 has no overcurrent protection.

You measured the output impedance of the Magni 3 at 0.6 ohms? If the Magni 3 was was delivering into a dead short, that would be it's "load." So P=E^2/R, E^2=49.5, R=0.6, the amplifier tried to deliver an impulse of 82.5 W over its traces. The caps don't care what the amp is rated at, and they're reasonably large.

I'm guessing that for a brief millisecond, the output transistor, traces on the board, and any resistors in that circuit were subjected to that momentary spike. Instant overheat. Instant smoke? Possibly instant solder splatter.

That makes a lot of assumptions that one cannot make. Some about what you did, some about how the circuit behaved, some DC formulae used in an ac circuit where they might not apply.

If one can crudely make that kind of guess without being inaccurate, the amp was damaged, and any results taken after the smoke came out are unreliable data.
 
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