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Talking Schiit on the forums. On DC servos: "We could have a discussion for a week about the pros and cons of DC servos vs coupling caps vs twiddling pots; on whether they are technically in the signal path or not. Being pedantic we can say everything is in the signal path including the power supply, PC board, wiring, chassis etc. Bottom line, the DC servo is acoustically more innocuous than any coupling cap we've heard." 

On balanced drive: "There's no balanced Lyr coming out nor a balanced Asgard. Any balanced circuits in the future at all? Yep. When? Don't know. Will they cost a lot more than this amp? You better believe it. I am a big fan of balanced gear when properly implemented (I'm also a big fan of planar magnetics.) My personal big rig is a Theta Gen V balanced to a passive balanced preamp to a Sumo Andromeda III which itself is a balanced-output amplifier to Eminent Technology LFT-IV speakers which are kinda like giant orthodynamics. They're about as power-hungry too. The 450W/4Ω Andromeda III runs them to—ahem—reasonable listening levels. Note 'properly implemented' though. Just a few questions to ask are, is balanced gear simply converting the inputs to single-ended? Or is it creating the differential signal with a separate gain stage after the main one? There are a bunch of ways to do it wrong. Real balanced gear is differential all the way through without splitters and summers and other band aids. This means among other things a more complex gain stage, 4-gang pots and 4-pole input selectors. It's worth it though not just for the elimination of ground current effects but for common-mode noise cancellation - very very nice for headphones."

On tube rolling: "For the Lyr we tried a bunch of different tubes ranging from NOS to new production. We always knew we would end up with new production because NOS is simply too sketchy in the quantities we produce. This leaves a relatively small selection of new production tubes. We settled on the JJs because they sound good with our overall design and are very consistent and reliable. EH new production is a bit richer overall but not as transparent. The 6N1P of the Valhalla is a bit fatter but sounds more closed in and runs hotter. Beyond that the JAN Philips can be nice but it is highly variable. Then you get into wacky-priced stuff which (yes) can be a sonic step up but also can be variable. But tube swapping absolutely does change the character of the sound so we encourage it. The operating point is set by a current source. There's no danger trying many different brands of 6DJ8, 6922, 7308, ECC88 or 6N1P. Make sure though you get the tubes as perfectly matched as possible. Buy them from reputable sources. We've been bitten by funky non-matched microphonic tubes from sketchy sources from time to time. The other catch is—yep we'll admit it—the tubes are kinda fun to get out. Use the foam provided with the tubes to grab them. Our JJs give good overall performance when sorted and matched on a modern curve tracer (not a 50-year-old tube tester with a single meter) and they are non-microphonic and have good heater/cathode alignment for low noise. They show up in $2500 amplifiers. With that covered, we are not providing any step-up tube options. We can do an amp like this at this price for really only one reason: simplicity. This is why we only offer a single color and no options. If we had to custom-configure every amp, we'd have to hire an army to respond to emails and calls asking 'which config is better for what?' And we'd probably have to add 50% to the price. Or sell this one as a loss leader and try to upsell as many options as possible. I understand that lots of people want custom amps and that's totally cool. It just ain't us."

On AKG K1000: "I can now confirm that the Lyr/K1000 pairing isn't just good in theory but in fact great. There's more than enough volume and headroom and Lyr's basic character comes through loud and clear. Of course you will need a 4-pin to 1/4" converter but those are pretty common."

On AKG K701: "One of my favorite headphones and Lyr is a scarily good match. It turns the K701 into one of the most naturally dynamic and resolving conventional designs available. Failing that try the K701s with Valhalla. Yes I know it makes no sense but it works."

On future models: "DACs. Mike made me promise not to set a date nor reveal any details.

"But remember that this is the guy who launched the entire category of standalone DACs, the first one to use custom digital filter code, the first one to concentrate on measuring and minimizing jitter, the first one with upgradeable products. Bottom line, if you need a DAC tomorrow don't look at us but they will be worth the wait once Mike stops moaning and groaning about USB. But he recently started smiling so that's a good sign."

On Euro resellers: "Working on it. We're finishing up CE self-certification now and should be able to announce some resellers in the first quarter of 2011."

On Lyr's name: "In Norse mythology Lyr is Menglad's hall in Jotunheim, land of the giants. It continues our Norse places theme."

On the preamp outputs: "The Lyr's pre-outs are amplified and controlled by the volume pot, i.e. not pass-thrus. Relative to high-power preamps that would be a bit of a misnomer though. Preamps almost always have some series resistance in the output. In Lyr's case that's 75Ω. Other than a relatively low-impedance output to drive long cable runs, a high-power preamp would have no real benefit I know of."

On the pot: "It uses an audio taper and we haven't had any real problem with Alps pots as far as tracking goes even when using the Lyr on high-efficiency Grados. We'd have to go to insanely priced pots and probably a bigger chassis to do better than the RK27. Stepped attenuators would be no bueno with the kind of gain we're running."

On noise: "Getting the Lyr quiet was a big deal and one reason we went for the 6DJ8. 6N1Ps are even quieter—one reason everyone comments on Valhalla being darn quiet—and Lyr has enough heater current to run those as well."

On class A bias: "Lyr's bias current runs at 130mA quiescent so most high-impedance headphones are going to be in class A up to insane levels. From our testing even orthos are only going to fall out of class A on peaks. The setup is common cathode and current source, with the B+ at 200V. Try that from a wall wart."

On 6N1Ps: "No problem with using the Valhalla's 6N1Ps. In fact our Singapore distributor SLT Technologies prefers them. The transformer will easily supply the heater current. The amp will just run a bit warmer. At our HeadFi meet running all amps side by side, Lyr was the coolest by a small margin so we still have good capacity to absorb a bit more heat."