The Lyra II has almost the same efficiency rating as its bigger sibling, the Vega at 17 ohms and 102db. In most setups, we found that the audible comfort levels in volume control between them were almost the same.
The 8.5mm beryllium dynamic driver is dead quiet on most if not all mobile sources with even the portable ALO Audio V5 tube amp performing excellently with a minimal hiss. However, much like the Vega, it’s not super-efficient, but unlike the Vega, it does not scale quite as well.
The Vega is designed to improve with power and sounds unbelievably good even with an efficient desktop tube setup such as the Sustain84. Whilst the Lyra II does need a little more power than usual to sound at its best it does not need the same type of upgrade as the Vega.
You could argue that it simply doesn’t scale as well and granted the Lyra II does not have the same transformational quality in its detail and control as the Vega with good current. However, I suspect those with portable sources and good quality ones will hardly bat an eyelid. The Lyra II sounded optimal with most DAPs.
What we also noticed from our listening tests was there were certain setups, for instance, the AK240 and AK380 as well as the Cayin i5 where we could actually drive the volume up marginally more than the Vega pairing even if the lowest starting point was the exact same.
This is less about differing efficiency levels (because there are none) and more to do with the tonal presentation of the Vega paired with certain sources producing a more forward and aggressive sound than the Lyra II.
Depending on how sensitive your ears are to the greater dynamics of the Vega at higher volumes, as well as the characteristics of the source amp, we think the Lyra II’s more easy-going presentation will be a bit more tolerable at similar levels than with the Vega.
The Vega should have a perceptibly similar listening comfort level but just a few steps lower volume-wise than the Lyra II.
The Lyra II is noise-free, you will not hear any background hiss, and works with no problem at all on the low gain from most good-quality sources. It is also quite a forgiving signature so that laid-back tone will pair with pretty much most DAPs.
Unlike the Vega, where I tended to go a bit more neutral, I loved musical DAP pairings with the Lyra II.
The more colored the presentation the more fun it sounded particularly the Cayin i5 and AK380 which gave me either a smoother detailed sound in the case of the AK380 or additional bass weight and musicality in the case of the i5.
More linear DAPs such as the X7 and AK240 were good also but (and this applied to the AM3/AM1 amp modules) they just fell behind the i5 and AK380 for their slightly flatter responses.
Using the AM5 on the X7 was the best pairing with the Lyra II in terms of dynamics and power. It is one of those IEMs where neutral sources seem to take away a little bit of what the Lyra II is all about.
There is no real need to use a portable amp but if you do then I can highly recommend the ALO Audio V5 for its smooth and rich midrange performance or the Cypher Labs Duet for its darker presentation and heavier low-end impact.
The Mojo was an excellent all-in-one choice for detail and impact for those who wish to avoid stacking.
The iBasso P5 was also a more neutral choice in terms of tonality but it did have plenty of low-end grunt and at times it came out as the best compromise between good low-end weight and wanting something rich and smooth.
It seems unfair to bash the IE800 but here we are again in a Lyra review talking about it again on a comparative basis. This time, however, the distinction between the Lyra II and the IE800 is much bigger and the gap I guess much wider though the choices for usage remain the same.
Tonally the IE800 falls more into the RHA Cl1 camp (see discussion below), it is precise, with good low-end weight, slightly recessed mids, and a clean and very well-extended treble that has great detail but is also prone to sounding a bit brittle and thin with the standard tips and poor matching.
The Lyra II by contrast now has the bass weight and body to make this a more competitive shoot out with the IE800 low-end.
The IE800 is still the expansive, clean sounding, and spacious option for classical lovers but if you want smooth, rich, and relaxing and, for me now, a slightly more pleasing timbre I would pick the Lyra II.
As with the Lyra MK1, the Sennheiser still has the chops, detail, and extension on both ends for clean, precise, and analytically demanding tracks but it is the Lyra II which is a more enjoyable listen for rock and pop.
Coming in at around $200 more than the Lyra II, the Fidue A91 is a hybrid quad BA/single dynamic driver design and one of our favorite IEMs of 2016. It is also a good bit more efficient than the Lyra II at 113dB and 20 ohms.
It is slightly easier to drive than the Lyra II but not quite as sensitive as the likes of the Andromeda. You will detect higher levels of noise with the A91 than the Lyra II, though, to be honest, it is fairly well-behaved overall with more, if not all, DAP pairings we tested it with.
The A91 projects one heck of a cohesive and balanced presentation with very little by way of odd tuning quirks or annoying peaks from top to bottom.
It is beautifully controlled in that respect with excellent sub-bass extension and just the tiniest bit of 5-7k emphasis; just enough to bring in some welcome sparkle to a natural-sounding and very spacious signature.
In comparison, the Lyra II has a warmer, richer presentation with a smoother midrange and a more pleasing vocal performance over the more neutral-sounding A91. I would give the edge to the A91 sub-bass rumble which is a little tighter than the warm sheen of the Lyra II.
However, the more linear and neutral-sounding mid to upper bass of the A91 doesn’t quite have the same solid fundamentals as the more musical-sounding Lyra II. Guitar work on the Lyra II, especially for hard rock, sounds a little thinner by comparison to the A91.
The A91 soundstage is also quite a bit more holographic and spacious sounding than the Lyra II which is a bit more intimate and rounded in comparison. The Lyra II treble has a bit more body and more forgiving sounding than the A91 treble which tends to have a bit more sparkle in the brilliance region than the Lyra II.
Coming in at around $450 is the new RHA CL1 which can be best described as a dual DD driver configured into a ceramic plate for tweeter duties and a regular DD for the rest of the range.
The CL1 for me is a specialist IEM, almost an exploration into what is possible because its ratings are left of field with a planar level 89db sensitivity and an unusually high 150-ohm rating.
In short, they need juice, and the fact RHA also launched a cable with a balanced mini-XLR to match the CL1 with their new DACAMP L1 suggests they agree as much. Pairing is a devil with the CL1 compared to the Lyra II but not impossible.
The interesting thing with the CL1 for me at least on a build-level is their use of the old Lyra MK1 ceramic injection molding technique.
Part of the reason for moving to the liquid metal alloy from Campfire Audio’s point of view is for the superior sound quality, and I would presume that superior bass response.
If it is indeed the case that the older ceramic injection shells played a significant role in the original Lyra’s politeness then it is double down with the CL1 a bit because whilst you get this fantastic extension you don’t get the texture and richness of the Lyra II.
In other ways, the CL1 is almost the complete opposite of the Lyra II. Its big calling card is the massive and detailed treble range which the Lyra II cannot hold a candle to. It extends incredibly well also, perhaps even more so than the Lyra II in terms of depth, but it lacks the bass texture that the Lyra II can offer.
Mids are also more forward on the Lyra with an elevated and smooth vocal performance compared to the more recessed v-shape performance of the CL1. The CL1 though does have a nice open stage and a clean and detailed sound compared to the Lyra II’s musical, thicker noted, and rich-sounding presentation.
Matching with the CL1 though is a journey. Get it wrong and it’s too bright, too thin, too peaky, and voiced all wrong. Get it right (usually foam tips with either the DACAMP L1 or the AK380) and it sounds wonderfully open, detailed, and gloriously extended.
The Lyra II sounds pretty good and very musical on just about anything with a decent amp.
The Lyra II plugs in the slight gaps and answers some of the “what if” questions I had from the initial Lyra Mk1.
The bass is warmer, meatier, and more musical with better sub-bass rumble. The mids and treble still have great energy but the II sounds a touch more solid, with a better body and an ever so slightly smoother treble. Its detail levels remain the same but the character and PRaT have increased.
It may not be as resolving and dynamic as the Vega but if you like that dynamic driver style of warm sub-bass, a more laid-back presentation, and rich smooth mids and vocals then the Lyra II is a pretty good option at almost half the price.
If anything the Lyra II has a much more solid identity than its previous incarnation, it’s easier to describe and perhaps a lot more memorable.
The great thing (now the glass is always half full with me) is you get pretty much everything else you get with the top-of-the-line Campfire Audio range of IEMs.
You get the PVD finish and liquid metal alloy build quality of the Vega, the SPC Litz cable from the Andromeda, the grungy fur-lined cool black zip case, and the same retail packaging and accessories selection. That is good value for me.
Campfire Audio Lyra II Technical Specifications
Shell material: Liquid metal alloy with “Dusk” PVD finish
Driver unit: 8.5 mm beryllium PVD dynamic driver with neodymium magnets
Frequency range: 10 Hz – 28 kHz
Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL/mW
Impedance: 17 ohms at 1 kHz
Cable: Braided Litz wire with MMCX beryllium copper connectors