Anyone using a Lyra Delos yet?

There was an initial thread about the Lyra Delos a few months back, but I haven't seen much follow up about users' impressions with this cartridge. Is anyone using a Delos and if so, how are you liking it?

I'm looking for a new cartridge for my VPI Classic and JLTi phono stage. I'm currently using an old Grado cartridge from my previous turntable, and it's on its last legs. So if anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them. Price ceiling about $1,500. System used mostly to play rock, jazz and acoustic music.

Thank you.
Hi Jonathan,
Thanks for all the information regarding the Delos.
Just a question- how well do you think the Delos would work with the 47 Labs PhonoCube? It is a current amplifier and currently I am using it with my Dyna 17D3..It sounds great, but the gain is a little on the low side. The dyna has a 32Ohm internal impedance while the Delos is at 8.2, so I am thinking that it will work quite well...
Any thoughts?
Hi Smholl:

>What is the plan if something happens to Mishima and he is unable to build anymore cartridges? Does Lyra go belly-up?? I would think that a few more people would be trained to carry on the work of one man.<

That's a key reason why we brought Akiko Ishiyama into the picture. In the past we've tried to nurture a number of different apprentices, but after some time Mishima found cause to reject them. Mishima is very critical and picky about who he feels is worth working with (I'm not too different, so I usually understand his position). The exception has been Akiko.

She began by building MM cartridges (which are much easier to build than MCs) around the year 2000, and spent a few years honing her basic technique. After observing her build quality and consistency with MMs, I felt that it was worthwhile to get her working on MCs, under Mishima's tutelage. She started by working on the most basic stages of assembly for the Dorian*, and her steady improvement encouraged myself and Mishima to teach her more, and have her do increasingly difficult stages of assembly. She's now been involved with cartridge-building for about 10 years, perhaps 7 years of which have been with MCs, and her growth has been reassuring. She's now involved with the new Kleos, the Delos, and the Dorian. Maybe in another 5-10 years, she will become capable enough to entrust her with a complete MC cartridge.

But apprentices or no apprentices, our brand policy is that each and every piece that we make must be listened to and found worthy before it can be shipped (that's true of our amplification products as well as cartridges). That will always define the upper limit of our production capacity.

hth, jonathan carr

* Originally I planned for the Dorian to be assembled completely by an outside cartridge manufacturer (that has produced many MC and MM cartridges, mostly for OEM clients but with some models bearing its own brand). When we received the first batch of 50 completed cartridges, we tested them but found so many problems and performance irregularities that there was no point in continuing to do business with this manufacturer. Also, the chemicals and adhesives that they had used in their assembly process made it impossible for the defective cartridges to be reworked, and this production run became a total loss. I then changed plans to bring Akiko in as an apprentice, and as she learned more to have her gradually assume more of the work.
Jonathan - Thanks much for your detailed explanation of Lyra's current and future cartridge build plans. Lyra's operaton is in such contrast to a much larger operation, such as Ortofon.
I will be looking at the Dorian soon.
Hi Byron:

Sorry for making you wait for a reply. To give you the short answer first, the Delos should work with the PhonoCube just fine. The PhonoCube uses what is called "current-mode" topology, which is a very similar configuration to the I/V stage in many DACs. I believe that the Dynavector P-75 is also of this type. This kind of circuit has three characteristics worth keeping in mind.

1. The circuit varies in gain depending on the impedance of the cartridge coils. There is a main feedback resistor inside the circuit, and the gain is the ratio of this resistor to the cartridge resistance. The lower the cartridge resistance, the greater the gain, so the PhonoCube will have higher amplification with the 8.2-ohm Delos than the 38-ohm 17D3. Note that the Delos also has two times the output level of the 17D3, so altogether the PhonoCube will produce significantly higher listening levels with the Delos than the 17D3.

2. The phono amp's signal input is the summing node of the feedback system, and this feedback reduces the input impedance to effectively 0 ohms (except for ultra-high frequencies, where there may not be enough gain to sustain feedback). As a result, the PhonoCube's circuit presents a heavier-than-normal load for the phono cartridge, and this increased level of electrical damping may result in a somewhat different sound than what you'd get with the same cartridge if it were paired with a normal voltage-mode circuit (with higher input impedance).

3. This type of circuit inverts phase, so it may be worthwhile to try swapping the plus and minus leads that connect the cartridge to the tonearm/headshell.

cheers, jonathan
What is the significance of the output voltage level of a give cartridge with regard to audio fidelity? For example, the Lyra Delos cartridge puts out 0.6mV. Some MC cartridges that I have seen put out less than half that voltage level. The apparent benefit would seem to be that the higher output level needs less gain in the phono stage, which likely means higher S/N ratios as opposed to lower output MC cartridges where you would need more gain in the phono stage. I guess my question is, are there disadvantages of the higher output voltage level relative to cartridges that output lower voltage levels?

I appreciate that the ultimate determination of whether one cartridge sounds better than another can only be determined by listening (which has it's own limitations because it can often be difficult to due an apples-to-apples comparison under the same conditions), but I am trying to get a sense as to what is the consideration in determining what output voltage a given cartridge will be designed to produce.

On a related topic, I read the instructions that come with the Lyra Delos that specify suggested load impedance values for use at the phono stage. My question is how did you determine those impedance ranges? By SPICE analysis, or some other method?