The New Angle on LP Reproduction: Introducing the LYRA Delos MC Phono Cartridge
An analog LP played back with an MC cartridge can sound exceptionally good. Normally, the more cost put into the cartridge, the better the sound. However, sometimes what is required is not more cost but more clever engineering, as with the Lyra Delos. A major problem with most cartridges is that the signal coils are located so that applying normal tracking force restricts performance. The reason is that the cartridge's signal coils should have the same angle as the magnetic circuit when the tracking force for playback is applied, but are nearly always designed so that applying normal tracking force pushes the signal coils out of alignment with the magnetic circuit. This impairs the sensitivity and linearity of the coils, and reduces the quality of sound. The Delos solves this problem with a new body structure and pre-angled damping system. The pre-angled dampers work together with the angle of the body structure so that, when tracking force is applied, the signal coils are optimally aligned with the magnet circuit. The Delos also has a microridge stylus for outstanding tracking, a non-parallel solid metal body for low resonances, and nude construction for greater clarity. The result is clearly improved sound quality, particularly resolution, dynamic range, transient impact and immediacy.
The New Angle on LP Reproduction, Level 2:Introducing the Lyra Kleos MC Phono Cartridge
Although many MC cartridges have good performance, their sound is held back by
how they are designed. The problem is, the signal coils should have the same
angle as the magnetic circuit during playback, but MC cartridges are typically
designed so that the opposite happens - applying normal tracking force pushes
the coils out of alignment. This impairs coil sensitivity and linearity, and
reduces sound quality. Lyra's "New Angle" technology solves this fundamental
problem by compensating for how the signal coils are affected by vertical
tracking forces, and optimally aligning the coils when it matters most - during
playback. Introduced on our entry-level Delos, the New Angle technology enables
the Delos to perform well above its pricepoint. But being audiophiles, we wanted
to achieve the next higher level - which is the new Kleos. Building on New Angle
technology, the Kleos innovates with a stronger chassis machined from
aircraft-grade alloys, narrowed mounting area to improve energy transfer, and
pre-stressed construction combining multiple materials with non-parallel
surfaces to inhibit internal body resonances. The fully hand-made Kleos also has
a Lyra-designed line contact stylus and platinum-plated output pins, achieving
an exceptionally quiet noise-floor with superior immediacy, resolution and
tracking, wide dynamic range and explosive transients, plus a warmer and natural
tonal balance. The Kleos is a high-value cartridge that surpasses the sound
quality of substantially more expensive cartridges.
Let the Lyra Kleos show you how good a New Angle on LP reproduction - Level 2 - can sound.
Titan i Cartridge
LYRA's flagship model , the Titan i represents the culmination of Jonathan Carr’s fourth generation designs. The entire main structure is machined from a single piece of titanium alloy, which has been curved and shaped in a manner calculated to minimize any potential standing waves, internal reflections or resonances.
This microscopic attention to detail has been extended to the interior body structures, which are too intricate to be formed by mechanical means. A process known as electrical discharge machining is used, not only because of its ability to fashion complex shapes, but also because it is a non-contact process, and therefore does not create any mechanical stresses in the machined structure. The superior rigidity afforded by the Titan i's solid, intricate, low-resonance body construction helps create a clearly defined reference pivot for the cantilever, which improves the conversion accuracy of mechanical vibrations into electrical signals.
A rigid titanium body also creates an efficient path for the vibrations from the stylus to be channeled away from the critical signal generator area and into the tonearm, where this energy can be dissipated effectively. The particular titanium alloy used has been chosen specifically for its low-level of self-resonances and advantageous sonic properties.
Our Titan Mono is a low-impedance moving coil cartridge that has been designed specifically to play monaural LP records in ultimate fidelity. It is our attempt to create the very best in breed, and in one magazine article was described as the "King of Mono".
Much great music is available only as monaural recordings, and these outstanding performances are clearly deserving of top-quality playback. Also, many of the cutting lathes used to master monaural LPs were capable of a wider frequency response and a greater dynamic range than stereo lathes. In some ways, therefore, monaural LPs can benefit more from quality reproduction techniques than stereo LPs.
The Titan Mono shares many advanced structural elements with the stereo Titan, including the one-piece machined titanium body, the full-enclosure removable stylus guard, the non-conductive front carrier, and the polepiece-less, direct flux dual-disc magnet system. However, the Titan Mono has a completely unique cantilever/coil/stylus assembly, and the electrical system has been designed and optimized for mono playback
On mono records, the vertical axis of the groove contains no musical information, but it will frequently have noise, in the form of groove damage and dirt. The Titan Mono has therefore been designed to be completely insensitive to the vertical axis, which greatly improves the signal/noise ratio without any downside on monaural records.
The Skala is the first of LYRA designer Jonathan Carr's 5th-generation cartridge designs. At first sight the Skala appears to be made entirely of plastic, one of our distributors has even described it as a “formless white plastic blob”! However, we don’t mind (not too much, anyway). The Skala is a thoroughbred design focused on delivering pure performance.
Close inspection of the Skala gradually reveals a central structure consisting of a vertical metal blade that carries the cantilever system, the magnets and the output pins, i.e. the entire functional core of the cartridge. The blade is clamped against the tonearm headshell by an outer white plastic base into which are drilled the mounting screw holes. Looking from the rear, you can see that the vertical blade passes right through the base and makes direct contact with the headshell. Since the cantilever system is also mounted directly to the blade, the cantilever has in effect a seamless connection path to the tonearm.
The metal blade of the Skala in effect functions without the resonant carapace of a traditional shell, in addition to being “nude” like the other Lyra designs.
The small contact “footprint” of the blade focuses the force imparted by the mounting screws, creating a high-pressure contact area which forms a more rigid bond between Skala and tonearm headshell than the larger mounting surface of a conventional cartridge could provide. The white plastic base forces the vertical metal blade of the Skala against the tonearm's headshell, and serves to constrain and damp resonances in the blade, and to reduce conductive material in the total body structure reducing eddy currents.
Although the plastic base is pretty much flush with the metal blade where
contact is made with the headshell, the plastic will compress under pressure,
while the blade will not. This allows a limited degree of azimuth adjustment to
be made by the careful application of different amounts of torque to left and
right mounting screws. Extreme care should be taken to tighten both mounting
screws gradually and evenly, a little at a time. Over cranking one screw and
then doing the same for the other could result in an unintentional change to the
azimuth. The drilled holes in the plastic body are themselves lined with metal
jackets to receive the mounting screws securely.
The magnetic system in the Skala is the same non-polepiece twin-disc direct-magnet system also used in most other LYRA models. However the body shape has been even more heavily carved away in the area of the magnet than any previous model– even more than on the Titan. This results in fewer eddy currents in a very sensitive area of the cartridge. New elements are a new non-conductive and non-magnetic front magnet carrier, a new cantilever system, a new output pin design, and a new output-pin carrier. The stylus guard is the same grooved slide-on type that has proven so successful on the other LYRA models.
The new millennium saw LYRA heading back to the future with the introduction of the Helikon Mono, our first monaural cartridge. Our idea was to take the advanced, modern design of the stereo Helikon and turn it into a true monaural cartridge with many unique features including non-polepiece construction and a non-magnetic, non-conductive front magnet carrier.
The Helikon Mono is completely insensitive to the vertical axis, which dramatically improves the signal/noise ratio without any impact on performance with mono records. The Mono's coil former is a square permeable plate which is oriented parallel to the record surface rather than the 45-degree angle used for most stereo cartridges, and the coils are wound so to generate a signal only when there is horizontal movement of the stylus and cantilever when tracking a record.
The Helikon Mono features a sophisticated Lyra-designed, Ogura-manufactured, boron rod cantilever with Lyra original natural diamond line-contact stylus, and is entirely hand-built and voiced by Yoshinori Mishima for overall neutrality and high energy. Playback of monaural LPs with the Helikon Mono reproduces the energy and presence of music and the musicians to such a degree that you may wonder if more than one channel is really necessary.
Our entry level monaural Moving Coil cartridge, Dorian Mono is a unique, advanced Lyra design identical in construction and sharing many features with the stereo version. It is entirely hand made, and comes equipped with a custom boron cantilever and Namiki MicroRidge stylus.
True monaural operation derives from the use of a square permeable core which is oriented parallel to the record surface, while the coils are wound to generate a signal only when there is horizontal movement of the stylus and cantilever. The Dorian Mono has been designed with two totally separate monaural coils, which help to avoid ground loops and hum problems.
Of course only a single channel needs to be connected to a single amp/speaker system for true monaural reproduction!
The LYRA Olympus exists as a special model outside of the standard LYRA range. It is a custom specialty offering, and should not be thought of as our top-of-the-line cartridge.
In the early 1990's we introduced a cartridge model called Parnassus which was later referred to as the blue body, original Parnassus to distinguish it from the later Parnassus D.C.t, an entirely different design.
The original Parnassus was based around a very unique platinum-iron magnet and two 5N high-purity iron pole pieces. It had a seductive and attractive sound which made it stand out from the competition at the time.
A few years ago we discovered a stock of 10 platinum-iron magnets and 5N iron polepieces for the Parnassus. LYRA designer Jonathan Carr had long wanted to design an entirely new cartridge using machined titanium for the body, and employing the latest geometry and other cutting-edge features from LYRA's 21st Century cartridges, but using the unique, and by now unavailable, platinum-iron magnet. As a result, a very limited production run of 10 Olympos cartridges was planned.
The cantilever, coils, and diamond were all either developed especially for
the Olympos or adopted from the later LYRA cartridge developments. As with the
Titan design, the boron cantilever was diamond coated, and the main structure
machined from a sold block of titanium. However, neither of these parts could be
lifted directly from the Titan, so a new design had to be developed for the
The Olympos is the only current LYRA cartridge that retains a traditional single magnet with fore and aft polepiece structure.
The original run of 10 Olympos cartridges sold out on introduction in 2002. We subsequently discovered that it would be possible to produce more Olympos cartridges if an original Parnassus cartridge is used as a “donor”. From the donor we recycle only the platinum-iron magnets and 5N iron polepieces. To date approximately 60 Olympos cartridges have been produced.
As each Olympos is a one-off bespoke model, custom versions including Olympos SL (lower output) and Olympos Mono have also been produced. However, an Olympos cannot simply be ordered up from your LYRA retailer; LYRA can only make an Olympos when a donor Parnassus cartridge is provided.
The Erodion is Lyra's MC step-up transformer, and includes a number of proprietary design concepts and connection methods. Every part and assembly is custom made to create one of the finest products of its kind ever produced. We feel its performance is competitive with any step-up transformer regardless of price or aspiration.
Those who look for a "typical transformer sound" may be disappointed by the Erodion: it does not have a sound of its own, but comes very, very close to being a "straight wire with gain". Our goal was to create a neutral step-up device with a high-energy, direct signal path to highlight the strengths of the MC phono cartridge preceding it.
Although especially designed for Lyra cartridges, it is usable with other low-impedance cartridges of 2 - 10 ohms. With a gain of 26 dB the Erodion has been designed to step the output of low output, low impedance MC cartridges up to the standard 10 kohms ~ 47 kohms MM phono inputs of preamplifiers and phono stages.
An MC step-up transformer is fundamentally very different from an amplification stage. When a low-impedance MC cartridge is connected directly to a high gain RIAA preamplifier, the impedance loading value can be set to any value between 100 ohms to 47 kohms, however, an MC step-up transformer is designed as an impedance matching device between an MC cartridge and a 10 kohms ~ 47 kohms MM level RIAA input.
For this reason an MC step-up transformer should only be used with MC
cartridges within the limited impedance range it has been designed for.
Significant deviation from the specified range will result in a different
impedance ratio, and also an altered perceived frequency balance.
A unique grounding switch allows selection between floating ground or chassis ground connection. Since all step-up transformers are affected by the general grounding conditions of the turntable/tonearm preceding it, and also the preamplifier following it, the positioning of the switch and also creative thinking regarding external grounding wires, will affect the sonic result. The owner's manual accompanying the Erodion explains how to work through the entire chain of an analog system in order to optimize grounding. Where possible Lyra recommends the use of "floating ground" since this should give the most rewarding sonic result.
LYRA still recommends recommends that wherever possible the connection of Lyra MC cartridges should be directly to high-quality, high-sensitivity RIAA preamplifier inputs capable of amplifying a 0.2 - 0.6mV MC signal without adding extra noise. However, some preamplifiers with an MM level RIAA stage may not be capable of this task, but otherwise sound wonderful. The combination of a step-up transformer mated to an MM-level RIAA input can also create a sound with a feeling of great energy and solidity, which can be extremely enjoyable. The Erodion was intended to enable high-quality MM-level RIAA stages to be used with low-impedance MC cartridges, but was also designed to sound as open and transparent as possible. We believe the Erodion fills the need for a high-performance MC transformer which should please the most discerning analog connoisseur.
Lyra SPT - Stylus Performance Treatment
LYRA Stylus Performance Treatment (SPT) is a purified water-based, non-alcohol stylus cleaner that helps keep cartridge styli scrupulously clean.
In addition to highly purified water, SPT contains only very small amounts of organic chemical cleaning agents. SPT has proven to be completely safe to use with all phono cartridges (not only LYRA's). Whatever the cartridge, excessive amounts of liquid should never be applied to the stylus and cantilever.
A key component of SPT is the accompanying brush which has been designed with super-soft bristles. Thanks to the bristles it is OK to drag the brush across the diamond stylus of the cartridge. Most other stylus brushes on the market have harder bristles that are not gentle with the diamond stylus, and could potentially cause damage. Even the LYRA brush must not be allowed to come into contact with any other part of the cartridge.
Upper models of the LYRA cartridge range such as the Skala and Titan i come with a free bottle of Lyra SPT. For other models, and for refills, Lyra SPT is available as a separate product.