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Prism Lyra - headphone amps
Old 10th January 2018
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Prism Lyra - headphone amps

I've got a Lyra 2 which I'm using with Sennheiser HD600 headphones and Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors custom earphones. I'm looking at buying a dedicated headphone amp, and have seen mention of the Little Labs Monotor, Rupert Neve RNHP, and the QES Labs HBPA-2S. I'm also aware of the SPL Phonitor and the Grace amp.

As a general question, will this sort of headphone amp give a noticeable improvement over the Lyra's headphone amp?

In terms of which amp, I'm tempted by the Little Labs. Are there any reasons to avoid it and to buy one of the others?

I don't really understand the technicalities, but it looks like the QES only works well with high impedance headphones (200 Ohms upwards) so if I wanted to use a pair of 16 Ohm or 32 Ohm 'phones it might not be so happy. I'll probably buy some more expensive headphones in the future, but I'm not sure which ones, and I'd like to have an amp which would work with a wider range of headphones.

Thanks!
Old 10th January 2018
  #2
Gear Addict
I hv a lyra and using it with focal spirit pro headphones...sounds incredible ??? Something wrong with what u are hearing out the headphone jacks ?
Old 10th January 2018
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

No, it sounds really great when listening to music. However, I do find that the HD600's sound a bit too warm. It can make things sound a bit too rich, so it can be difficult to adjust the tone for recording or mixing. I know you can modify the HD600's by upgrading the cable and also removing the inner and outer foam from the drivers, but the Little Labs Monotor instructions say that Little Labs use HD600's and the Monotor really improves the sound of them.

I just don't know how good the Lyra's headphone amp is, so I'm always thinking about buying a dedicated headphone amp. I imagine/dream that an amp would turn my headphones into completely different beasts, but it's possible there wouldn't be much of a difference!
Old 10th January 2018
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
locojohn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
I just don't know how good the Lyra's headphone amp is, so I'm always thinking about buying a dedicated headphone amp. I imagine/dream that an amp would turn my headphones into completely different beasts, but it's possible there wouldn't be much of a difference!
I know from experience that Gracedesign m902/m903/m920 headphone amps are of a very good quality and the sound you get from HD600's run through these is extremely detailed and transparent. It's a great combination!

But Prism Lyra is a very high quality no-compromise hardware, and I seriously don't think the benefits you'd get from a dedicated Grace headphone amp justify spending €1900 for it alone, for the differences in sound. The differences if any must be very subtle.

Andrejs
Old 10th January 2018
  #5
Gear Addict
If u are talking about taking the foam out of your headphones maybe u just need to find better headphones.. that hear the way u like to hear....try the focal spirit professionals at a store if u can....the lyra headphone jack is wonderful.
Old 10th January 2018
  #6
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for confirming that the Lyra's headphone amp is really good!

If I do go for something else I'd really need to try and listen to a few headphones and amps myself, but I'm a long way from any dealer. I did try to hear a Stax system at a dealer 200 miles away, but they were no longer stocking them, so it put paid to that demo! I should be able to arrange a trial of one or two pieces by mail, but it would be helpful to have a clearer idea of what to try.
Old 10th January 2018
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
locojohn's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deejayen View Post
If I do go for something else I'd really need to try and listen to a few headphones and amps myself, [... ] I should be able to arrange a trial of one or two pieces by mail, but it would be helpful to have a clearer idea of what to try.
If you really want to go dedicated headphone amp/monitor controller route, Grace m920 is something you should try out! Chances are you might not want to try anything else after you tried it.

Andrejs
Old 10th January 2018
  #8
Gear Head
 

Shout out for Neve RNHP

I use the Neve RNHP with HD600s and I love it (doesn't matter which headphones I use, I always love it). To me personally it was streets ahead of the headphone amp on the Grace M905.
Old 5th October 2018
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I'm curious too how is lyra headphone amp compared to the Little labs monotor !
Old 5th October 2018
  #10
Gear Maniac
 
Bodhifile's Avatar
FWIW, I don't think the Lyra's headphone amp is that great. Also, the DA lacks slightly to my taste. The AD is killer though! I'm using an Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold as a headphone amp/DA, and it is noticeably better that the Lyra. I love the Lyra though, and still use it's DA and headphone amp as well.
Old 6th October 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bodhifile View Post
FWIW, I don't think the Lyra's headphone amp is that great. Also, the DA lacks slightly to my taste. The AD is killer though! I'm using an Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold as a headphone amp/DA, and it is noticeably better that the Lyra. I love the Lyra though, and still use it's DA and headphone amp as well.
Could you explain a bit what you feel lacks about the DA of the Lyra ?
Old 6th October 2018
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
Bodhifile's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirito View Post
Could you explain a bit what you feel lacks about the DA of the Lyra ?
Slightly congested compared to some other high end DACs I've heard. Stereo image and detail are not quite on par. This is splitting hairs of course, it is still very usable, and I prefer it in certain situations actually. I find the center very solid, and the image coherent and "musical". The headphone amp is more congested and lacks detail as well (more than DA). The DA>AD do work nicely together though, they do sound "right", just lacking in detail and stereo image IMHO.
Old 6th October 2018
  #13
Lives for gear
 

I see , thank you!
Old 6th October 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Woodwindy's Avatar
IMHO none of the interfaces, no matter how good, sound anything like that same interface plugged into a good headphone amp. The Neve is a bargain for the improvement in sound and quality that it offers. Once you use a good amp like that, there is no going back.
And what’s weird is you can feed that headphone amp with the headphone out of the interface, and the improvement is amazing.
The RNHP and the Monotor are almost exactly the same money at Sweetwater. If you can, order them both, and keep the best one.
Important tip: when feeding the RNHP from the headphone out of your interface, go into the 8th inch input of the amp (“Input C”). This will supply you with the proper amount of gain.

Last edited by Woodwindy; 6th October 2018 at 03:54 AM..
Old 8th October 2018
  #15
The headphone amp on the Lyra is of very poor quality, at least compared to the quality of the conversion.. it’s more of a cue mix amp, in any way not a reference amp
Old 9th October 2018
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Lars Fox's Avatar
I wouldn't call the Lyra's headphone amp "poor quality" by any means.

But I just did a blind shootout between my new Prism Titan (Lyra's big brother) headphone out and a Little Labs Monotor, and the Monotor won hands down, at least to my ears.

It's punchier, and made the drums in a mix I'm doing sound like they do on my speakers. The girth and impact of the kick is better, and verb on the vocal is more spacious. I can hear the roundness of each thing more clearly, more 3D.

Interestingly, the Titan actually made the vocal more focused, which at times could be useful since I am mainly a vocal editor!

In my opinion, the Prism's headphone amp is a good utilitarian deal, but if you need hyper-critical accuracy, the Monotor is the way to go (don't know about other brands).

As far as converters go though, I wouldn't give up the Prisms for anything!

Last edited by Lars Fox; 10th October 2018 at 07:36 PM.. Reason: clarity
Old 9th October 2018
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars Fox View Post
I wouldn't call the Lyra's headphone amp "poor quality" by any means.

But I just did a blind shootout between a Prism Titan (Lyra's big brother) headphone out and a Little Labs Monotor, and the Monotor won hands down, at least to my ears.
I did a shootout between Cranesong Solaris, RME adi-2 Pro, Prism Lyra and Grace M900, the Prism’s headphone amp came in last using my 300 ohms HD800S, I was very disappointed, the converters were very good, not as good as the Cranesong Solaris but imo better than the RME and in the same ballpark with the Grace.

I was surprised to meet an average cue mix quality hp amp in a Prism unit, it somehow doesn’t fit the brand’s profile
Old 10th October 2018
  #18
Prism Titan,Hd600,HD650. Very satisfied. For me the best is only Prism.
2009 bought Orpheus.
2014 Titan. (pair)

Last edited by M_Music; 11th October 2018 at 09:37 AM..
Old 2nd August 2020
  #19
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
The headphone amp on the Lyra is of very poor quality, at least compared to the quality of the conversion.. it’s more of a cue mix amp, in any way not a reference amp
So true people assume it’s prism that is must be a hi end output.

My iPhone 6s headphone out sounds better. The main analog outs have no center image they panned so hard. I have to monitor through an analog mixer and pan those channels back to center slightly to get my kick and bass and vocals back.

The headphone DAC and amp is not good! Makes my hd600 sound veiled and mooshy on bottom and my mdr-7506 sound like just treble. Both of which sound fine on my iPhone

I just can’t wrap my brain around the wideness of the Lyra DAC. Everything’s loses the center image and punch thus my use of a post DAC monitor mixer to pan things back to center a bit. Maybe their is some design there for mastering loop but for monitoring I think it best to use the digital outs to another DAC and the volume knob will also control that digital send as well as give you dithering and filtering options. I think it was design like this for a reason but I am not doing mastering loops so I am pretty bummed that I need to buy another DAC for monitoring to hear things the way I need to.

I have honestly been wondering if there is something wrong with my Lyra DAC and headPhone amp as I have only had it a month. Some say it’s amazing DAC. I am not in that camp and I see I am not alone especially the headphone out.

Does anyone know the impedance of the headphone out . Can’t find that spec anywhere.

Last edited by BrettB; 2nd August 2020 at 05:20 PM..
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