New Lyra Delos Cartridge

Hey guys,

Just wondering if anyone has used the new Lyra Delos Cartridge and what their thoughts were on it. I saw it on their site and on music direct.

Hi: Few people have listened to the Delos so far, because we have only supplied a limited number of final preproduction cartridges to a handful of our distributors (although it has been displayed and played at several audio shows in Japan and Europe). The Delos itself has been in production for some time, but shipping has been held up by the need for additional work on the packaging and instruction manual. Late yesterday we received the final packaging, while the instruction manual awaits its turn in the que at the printer's. From the looks of things, we should be able to start shipping the Delos to distributors by next Wednesday.

Here are a few links to useful technical information about the Delos.

I am confident that its new (and to the best of my knowledge, unique) technology will enable the Delos to perform well above its price-point.

I believe that the immediately obvious benefits of the Delos will be improved tracking, improved dynamic range and linearity, better timbral differentiation between various instruments, and also a greater range of tones from individual instruments that reflects more accurately what each performer is doing.

hth and thanks for your interest.
Dear Mauidj, Nolitan (content consolidation from another thread):

>What is the expected price and will it be shipping in quantities?

Due to currency fluctuations, differences in the cost of doing business in various countries etc., the price will vary depending on the country. However, according to Music Direct, the US retail price will be US$1500.

>will it be shipping in quantities?

Each Delos is hand-made by one man and his apprentice, so quantities will never be as high as, say, an Ortofon or Benz-Micro of similar price. That said, to us the Delos will be a large-volume product (smile).

>still curious how you would describe the sound as compared to the Argo

The Argo has a relatively dynamic, immediate, upfront and incisive sound which is particularly well-suited for rhythms. The Dorian is less forward and more relaxed, somewhat softer but also a little less resolving.

What I hear from the Delos is generally better tracking (the first 50 cartridges all seem to clear 80um), wider dynamic range and resolution with both louder and softer sounds. This results in greater timbral differences between instruments in the same frequency range, and also among notes played by the same instrument. When I listen to very good acoustic performers playing live, I am continually struck by the wide range of sounds that they can coax out of their instruments.

For example, I heard Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Lenny White play at the Blue Note in Tokyo this past Sunday, and each performer was pulling a huge range of sounds and phrasing out of his instrument, and doing so with ease and impeccable taste. Each note had individual character, likewise each phrase. This wide range of sounds and phrases gives these artists a very wide vocabulary of sounds to choose from and use, which directly translates into their ability to sound extraordinarily expressive. If Stanley, Chick or Lenny were to reduce the range of sounds and phrasing that each pulled out of his instrument, I am pretty sure that they wouldn't sound quite as expressive.

When I listen to recordings and consider how a similar performer or instrument would sound live, I am reminded that recordings sound far more "homogenized" (as in various notes sounding more similar rather than more different), and therefore simpler and less musically expressive (as well as less "real"). Although the Delos has more immediacy and conveys a stronger sense of presence than with the Dorian or Argo, what I find particularly attractive is that the homogenizing effect that you normally hear from recordings is in notably less evidence. IOW, the Delos does a better job than the Argo or Dorian at conveying the individuality and vividness of each note and phrase, and sounds that amount closer to the range of expressiveness that you'd hear from the musician in person. At the end of the day, the Delos gives you deeper musical insight and a more educational, more rewarding experience from the recordings that you listen to, which I think are worthwhile.

These sonic benefits arise largely because the vertical tracking force no longer needs to be a compromise between more secure mechanical trackability (which requires higher force) and maximum magnetic linearity (which generally requires lower force). The Delos' engineering approach allows the tracking force to be set for a net value that gives secure mechanical tracking as well as minimal magnetic biasing and maximum electrical linearity and sensitivity, which is not the case with any other cartridge that I am aware of (please refer to the following pdf on the AudioNord website).

cheers and thanks
Many mahalos for the in depth explanation.
I just ordered one from Music Direct and I can't wait to hear it.
Crossing my fingers Santa will have it on board ;-)
Mr. Carr,

Please take no offence with this question, but the design goal of symmetrical magnitic flux in the gap with an optimal tracking force applied seems intuitivly obvious to the layman. Why is this so novel, and what were the engineering challenges you had to overcome to put this approach into practice?
Dear Nrenter:

My observations have been that you can get pretty far in engineering circles by simply being able to "see the obvious" (smile). Actually, once you understand the underlying rationale and logic, the majority of engineering decisions should appear obvious, as properly defining the problems and issues is what gets you the majority of the way to formulating a solution. The catch to all of this is that many things are obvious once you grasp the underlying logic, but are elusive until you grasp that underlying logic (grin).

For example, consider the spindle and bearing design on Bill Firebaugh's Well-Tempered turntables. Somewhat like the Delos' mechanical pre-biasing system, the WT bearing is designed deliberately to place the spindle in the wrong position and wrong configuration under static load, precisely so that the dynamic load of the rotating belt will force the spindle into the right place and configuration. Once you understand the Well-Tempered's logic it is a very obvious thing to do, and given the simplicity of Bill's implementation the feature could have been incorporated into a belt-driven turntable from the 1960s if the designer would have had the insight. But did anyone do this before Bill Firebaugh?

>the design goal of symmetrical magnitic flux in the gap with an optimal tracking force applied seems intuitivly obvious to the layman.

I will point out that the magnetic circuits in traditional-style MCs do not even have symmetrical magnetic flux across the gap, as the asymmetrical positioning and proximity of the magnet exerts a warping effect on the flux-lines. The first challenge is therefore to design a magnetic circuit that has as symmetrical magnetic flux across the gap as possible, but that requirement by itself eliminates the majority of MC cartridges.

Regarding the novelty of the Delos' mechanical pre-biasing system, because I fully agree that it appears to be an obvious design feature (in retrospect of course - grin), I have discussed it with various Japanese cartridge designers and audio reviewers (some of whom have a good overview of the entire cartridge industry, including historical perspectives). The closest that I got to hearing about anything similar was with Matsudaira (formerly with Supex, Entre, Audiocraft, and now with his own My Sonic Labs). Although Matsudaira didn't specify exactly what he did, he said that he had tried to achieve similar goals with a few prototypes that he made many years ago, but chose not to take it beyond the prototype stage. I surmise that his magnetic circuit wasn't capable of creating sufficiently symmetrical magnetic flux across the gap, which reduced the effectiveness of the mechanical pre-biasing system, and made the project appear (to him, and at that time) to be not worth the extra effort and cost.

Regarding the entire cartridge industry, it appears that the focus has been primarily on achieving the correct VTA and SRA, and the angle between coil former and magnetic circuit under VTF-loaded conditions hasn't received the attention that it deserves (I haven't been able to find any previous article on this subject, whether in German, Danish, English or Japanese). Also, my experience has been that the coil former angle is quite sensitive to VTF amount, so if the cartridge manufacturer allows the user a fairly broad VTF range, we can deduce that most likely the relationship between VTF and coil angle (and by extension, the desireability of keeping the coil former and magnetic circuit angles as tightly aligned as possible) isn't a priority for him. In contrast, I'm stipulating a 0.1g VTF range (1.7~1.8g) for the Delos.

>what were the engineering challenges you had to overcome to put this approach into practice?

First is that the mechanical angles of the body structure will be a few degrees different from any of your designs that don't incorporate the mechanical pre-biasing system, so you will create a fair amount of component incompatibility among your product lineup, which normally is something to be avoided in manufacturing (particularly if you maintain large component inventories).

Second is arriving at the right combination of shape and elastomer hardness for each damper type, which is essential when progressing from theory to practical implementation. A key part of the mechanical pre-biasing idea is to consider the damper deformation due to vertical tracking force as an asset rather than a liability, and aggressively take advantage of it. But since the rate of damper deformation per unit of tracking force is influenced by shape, thickness and elastomer hardness, if the elastomer compound or thickness changes, so will the damper shape. Since a cartridge builder relies on a variety of elastomer compounds and thicknesses for different cantilever materials, coil metals, suspension wires, body material and structural choices, frequency ranges and so on, and also since good-sounding elastomers are not known for being particularly precise or predictable in terms of mechanical behaviour, extensive trial-and-error testing will be required. I believe that we went through over 50 different combinations of shapes, thicknesses and elastomer compounds before settling on the damper choices used within the production Delos'.

Third is that the suspension and dampers in a normal cartridge are non-directional, which means that the builder doesn't need to think about which way the dampers face or point. But since the Delos' mechanical pre-biasing system requires directional dampers, the cartridge builder needs to make sure that each damper faces in the right direction, and he must also rotate each damper until he finds the precise orientation that gives the proper amount of cantilever deflection for the target tracking force. Cartridges of this type are more demanding on the builder's abilities and attention to detail, and will take longer to build and adjust than a normal cartridge.

BTW, yesterday all of the printed instructions arrived, so we got busy putting everything together and writing export documents for our very first Delos shipment. We shipped out 29 Delos' yesterday, and more followed today.

kind regards
Great news.....I hope that some will be going to Music Direct....I want my Delos Santa :-)
I completely understand - You do not know what you do not know, until you know what you do not know, and only then can you make a guess if it really matters. :)

Do you believe the primary role of VTF is to align the coils & iron core within the gap, or to facilitate sufficient stylus / groove contact for proper tracking? And if the primary effect is to align the coils & iron core within the gap, I'd assume your dampener materials / suspension design / stylus geometry were selected to optimize tracking at the precise load to align the coils & iron core within the gap?

And given your narrow range of VTF (and subsequent VTA) to align the coils & iron core within the gap, did you take this opportunity to help users ensure a proper SRA during setup (i.e. if VTF is within tolerance, and, for example, the head shell is parallel to the platter under load, VTA - and therefore SRA - will be optimized)? Given your necessary design tolerances, I'd think this would be plausible.

Thank you for indulging my questions!
Dear Nrenter:

>You do not know what you do not know, until you know what you do not know, and only then can you make a guess if it really matters. :)

As a designer-engineer, one needs to be able to come up with a steady stream of new thinking and new technology. What is harder is to know in advance what will make a big contribution to the sound, as opposed to parading new technology for new technology's sake. The answer is to have lots of ideas and filter out the mediocre ones at the prototype phase. Not particularly efficient, but it works.

>Do you believe the primary role of VTF is to align the coils & iron core within the gap, or to facilitate sufficient stylus / groove contact for proper tracking?

Both. The importance of VTF in maintaining sufficient stylus-to-groove contact for good tracking cannot be downplayed. But it is also true that VTF _can_ be an important tool in aligning the coils to the magnetic circuit. OTOH, with a conventional symmetrical damper system and body structure, it simply isn't possible to get the coils aligned to the magnetic circuit with VTF applied (as should be clear if you study my pdf on the audionord website). Even applying a little VTF introduces an angular alignment error, and the higher the VTF, the worse the error becomes. Either the cantilever mount needs a mechanically pre-biased suspension and damper system (like the Delos) so that applying VTF will bring the coils into alignment with the magnetic circuit, or the body structure needs a special design so that the magnetic circuit can have a different angle from that of the cantilever mount.

>I'd assume your dampener materials / suspension design / stylus geometry were selected to optimize tracking at the precise load to align the coils & iron core within the gap?

Absolutely. The damper shape and compound, suspension alloy, diameter and length, and stylus angle were all selected so that proper tracking would be achieved at the same VTF as required to make the coils aligned with the magnetic circuit. However, also note that damper hardness and therefore angular deflection will change depending on ambient temperature (this is true of most cartridges). If the temperature drops you will need to increase the VTF to keep the coil angle aligned with the magnetic circuit, and if the temperature increases you will need to decrease the VTF to achieve the same. I normally recommend for the user to keep a small incandescent lamp and thermometer in the vicinity of the tonearm, and use that to control temperature as well as maintain good visibility. Target temperature should be 23~23 degree centigrade.

>And given your narrow range of VTF (and subsequent VTA) to align the coils & iron core within the gap, did you take this opportunity to help users ensure a proper SRA during setup (i.e. if VTF is within tolerance, and, for example, the head shell is parallel to the platter under load, VTA - and therefore SRA - will be optimized)? Given your necessary design tolerances, I'd think this would be plausible.

Yes, you have it right. All parts in the cantilever assembly were designed and all tolerances specified with this goal in mind. If the tonearm bearing height is positioned so that the application of the recommended VTF aligns the tonearm pipe so that it is parallel with the LP surface, the cantilever of the Delos should assume a 20-degree angle to the LP and be perpendicular to the red piece that carries the front magnet, and the stylus should have a 1-degree (+/- 1 degrees) rake angle to the LP. At least whenever I have set up the Delos with proper tonearm bearing height and proper VTF, all of the other angles including VTA and SRA have more or less fallen into place.

The Delos incorporates another unique but IMO sensible feature which is intended to facilitate proper cartridge alignment in the tonearm headshell, the body structure makes greater use of non-parallel surfaces to better control resonances without relying on excessive damping which could rob the sound of dynamics and immediacy, the instruction manual discusses in-depth what cartridge loading does and how to achieve suitable loading, even the packaging box was designed to be more interesting to look at than normal. It will be fun to hear what Delos users think about all of this.

>Thank you for indulging my questions!

No problem. As you can probably guess, working on the Delos has been a fun and educational experience, and I hope that some of that spirit is reflected in how it sounds and what it is like to use.

Mr. Carr,

You have been very gracious with your time and your candor. Your insights are not only interesting, but also very informative.

I would be curious to know about some of the ideas / technologies you discarded as you finalized the Delos design, as they did not provide the benefits you intended, or because they will be saved for other cartridges (due to the monitary costs to achieve the experienced benefits).

Also, how do you select your stylus profiles for your various cartridges?

You are very crisp with your technical specifications, however, you openly offer a wide range for catrige loading (100 Ohms to 47 kOhms). Why such a range? What specific impedance would you suggest for the Delos?

I like the suggestion of the incandescent lamp and thermometer to help moderate temperature around the cartridge. Thank you very much.
One other thing...

Does the diagram out on AudioNord accurately imply the your front magnet structure is larger (stonger) than in the typical MC cartridge, and therefore allows for less mass in your coils & iron core) for a similar output?
Dear Nrenter:

>I would be curious to know about some of the ideas / technologies you discarded as you finalized the Delos design, as they did not provide the benefits you intended.

I knew from previous experiences that high-strength body materials other than aluminum could sound excellent. Phosphor bronze (as on the Skala) and titanium (as on the Titan) are particularly good-sounding. So in addition to solid machined aluminum (which would I would consider standard practice for a cartridge in the Delos' price range), I looked into making various structural components from more exotic materials such as titanium or stainless steel, but keeping manufacturing costs within reason by using cheaper forming processes like casting and forging. Unfortunately the results were unacceptable. Although for marketing impact I would have been quite pleased if the Delos could have been made from titanium, listening tests showed that machined-from-solid aluminum sounded clearly better than cast or forged titanium, or sintered stainless steels. The lesson appears to be that not only the material, but also the forming process is critical for good sound.

In other experiments, I wound bifilar coils from two different wire gauges, which didn't give enough improvements to the sound to be worth the effort. Then there were many dead-ends with various types of dampers and suspensions. All in all, developing the Delos from first prototype to finished product took over a year.

>or because they will be saved for other cartridges (due to the monitary costs to achieve the experienced benefits).

There were more than a few of these, and not only regarding body material choices. However, I would prefer to keep these cards hidden for the time being. All in good time (smile).

>how do you select your stylus profiles for your various cartridges?

On the basis of price vs. performance, while avoiding profiles that are too difficult for most users to set up properly.

I prefer line-contact styli that combine a vertically long contact patch with the LP groove with a horizontally short contact patch. A vertically long contact patch gives greater groove contact for better tracking and better immunity to localized groove damage, and a horizontally short contact patch give better high-frequency performance and less time-smear. This leads to line-contact styli with a fairly large major radius and a small minor radius, but in practice neither radius can be too extreme. Too large of a major radius makes azimuth adjustment more critical than most users (and many tonearms) want to deal with, and too small of a minor radius tends to create edges on the stylus that are sharp enough to chew up the groove. Based on my own experiences and observations, I like the maximum major radius to be in the 70~80um range, and the minor radius to be in the 2.5~3um range.

For all Lyra cartridges other than the Dorian and Delos, I use a Lyra-designed variable-radius custom stylus which measures 3um (minor) x 70um (maximum major). This is an excellent stylus, but has one major flaw. As a custom Lyra shape, no other manufacturer uses it, therefore it is made in small quantities and becomes relatively expensive. A more affordable cartridge like the Dorian or Delos doesn't permit the manufacturing budget that would allow a custom stylus assembly to be specified, unless I were to reduce the manufacturing quality in other ways (which I refused to do). To keep what I deemed to be sufficient build quality (of body structure as well as stylus and craftsmanship) at this price level, I needed an off-the-shelf stylus. The closest stylus shape to the custom Lyra 3um x 70um profile was the Namiki Microridge, which I could get as 2.5um x 75um. And that's what the Delos uses.

>You are very crisp with your technical specifications, however, you openly offer a wide range for catrige loading (100 Ohms to 47 kOhms). Why such a range?

First, because the loading of a low-impedance MC is not really an issue for the cartridge itself. An MC cartridge is a mechanically-driven electrical generator, and a not-very-efficient one at that. Unlike loudspeaker drivers, the meager efficiency of a low-impedance MC cartridge implies that loading applied in the electrical domain will have relatively little effect in the mechanical domain (which is where you will see effects on aspects like tracking performance and distortion). Also, due to the very low inductance of the signal coils, electrical loading will have practically no effect on any signals in the audible range, and this has other benefits in keeping a relatively flat phase response in the audible domain (a general rule of thumb for good phase response out to 20kHz is that the electrical frequency range should extend to at least 200kHz). This is a completely different situation with high-inductance MMs and MIs, where changing the loading will affect the frequency response in the audible range, and the phase response even more so.

So, if electrical loading doesn't change the behavior of the phono cartridge in the audible frequency range by much, why does the sound change so dramatically? The answer is that the inductance of the cartridge coils will resonate with the capacitance of the tonearm cable (and distributed capacitance of the coil windings) and create a high-frequency spike. The magnitude of this spike can be extremely high, and may give many phono stages outright problems if it isn't damped with loading measures at the phono stage input. I don't have my lab notes at hand, but from memory loading a Delos with 47kohm can result in a 28dB spike at 6~7MHz. Some phono stages will have been designed so that they remain unflustered by this, but many phono stages will not be happy with such brutal treatment, and will not sound good because of this.

>What specific impedance would you suggest for the Delos?

It depends on the tonearm capacitance, and how much ultrasonic or RF energy your particular phono stage can tolerate.

As to what "sensible" loading values are recommended for most phono stages, I will quote verbatim the relevant section from the Delos instruction manual.

"Connect tonearm cables to RIAA-equalized phono input designed for direct use by low-output MC cartridges (0.6mV output voltage or less). If phono stage input impedance is adjustable, setting loading by ear should be sufficient, with 47kohm as highest and 91 ohms as lowest values."

"For listeners interested in mathematically correct input loading, the value depends on the total capacitance between Delos and phono stage (comprised mostly by the tonearm cable). Note that "input loading" of low-impedance cartridges has comparatively less to do with the cartridge and is more about taming RF energy which could otherwise trigger non-linearities in the phono stage and the generation of intermodulation distortion. Since different phono stages have different tolerances for RF energy, expect the best-sounding loading value to vary according to the tonearm cable and phono stage."

"Nonetheless, you may try setting your phono stage's loading according to these number pairs. In each pair, the first number is the total capacitance between Delos and phono stage (in picofarads), the second number is the corresponding optimal impedance range: 50pF - 510~270ohm, 100pF - 390~200ohm, 150pF - 330~160ohm, 200pF - 300~150ohm, 250pF - 270~130ohm, 300pF - 240~120ohm, 350pF - 220~110ohm, 400pF - 220~110ohm, 450pF - 200~100ohm, 500pF - 200~100ohm, 550pF - 180~91ohm, 600pF - 180~91ohm. In each pair the first number is selected to suppress any peaks at RF frequencies to approximately 3dB (which should be acceptable to nearly all phono stages), while the second number will give 0dB (at the cost of slightly poorer phase response and reduced dynamics)."

"If you do not know the precise capacitance of your tonearm cable, 100pF per meter is standard, while low-capacitance cable is likely to be around 50pF per meter (we do not recommend high-capacitance cable). As approximate loading figures we suggest 510ohms for 1m low-capacitance cable, 430ohms for 1.5m low-capacitance cable, 390ohms for 1m standard cable or 2m low-capacitance cable, 330ohms for 1.5m standard cable or 3m low-capacitance cable, 270ohms for 2m standard cable or 4m low-capacitance cable, 240ohms for 3m standard cable, and 200ohms for 4m standard cable."

I hope that this post was of some interest.
jcarr, these posts are of great interest! Thanks. I'm on my 4th Lyra now (lydian b, helicon 2 skala's one had a tragic accident:). From your above post I changed my VTA/VTF on my Tri Planar, since temps have changed, it did help !

Changing the loading on my phono stage isn't easy, but I'll try your suggestions above as starting points. My dealer may have already nailed the best sound, but tinkering here can only confirm or improve.

When can you commment on other changes in your line up?
from your post above concerning stylus profile and body construction I get the impression that the Delos is very much a budget cartridge.
It and the Dorian are the only ones not using your custom stylus.
(I understand that all but the very top of a line are built to a budget)
I am therefore curious as to why you recommended it over my original choice of the Argo i which I can purchase for about the same price as the Delos.
Many thanks.
Mr. Carr,

Excellent elucidation of the intricacies of cartridge loading; much appreciated and a "must-read" for everyone interested.

Dear Nrenter:

>Does the diagram out on AudioNord accurately imply the your front magnet structure is larger (stonger) than in the typical MC cartridge, and therefore allows for less mass in your coils & iron core) for a similar output?

A typical MC cartridge doesn't have a front magnet (or a rear magnet). With the exception of yokeless designs, most MC's have a single magnet which is mounted asymmetrically relative to the gap. The asymmetrical mounting of this magnet makes it unlikely that the flux across the gap can be made symmetrical. Years ago, I analyzed this by building traditional, single-magnet prototype cartridges with 4 independent signal coils, placing one coil in each quadrant of the gap. In such a prototype, if the cantilever is driven with a mono LP, the signal output from each coil should be identical. Observation showed that this doesn't happen. What happens is that the outputs of the coils farther away from the magnet are reduced in level but lower in distortion, while the output of the coils closer to the magnet are increased in level and have higher distortion. In a yokeless design (which includes all present Lyras with the exception of the Olympos), the differences in individual coil outputs are notably reduced. When I introduced our first yokeless cartridge (Clavis DC), tracking performance improved as well as distortion, and we were able to reduce our recommended tracking weight. This was because the dual-magnet yokeless design made the flux forces more consistent across the entire coil former.

The Delos' unique damper, suspension and body design achieve better orientation of the coil former, which achieves a further improvement in consistency of flux forces across the entire coil former. Once again, for the same vertical tracking force, the tracking performance that can be obtained improves.

Although I admit that less moving mass in the coils and coil former is worthwhile, it doesn't mean so much if inadequate magnet circuit design or improper coil former orientation results in uneven flux forces pulling the coil former more in certain directions than others. Greater output levels and less moving mass are desirable attributes, but the reduction of distortion is a higher priority (for me).

kind regards
Jfrech, thanks for your comments and thanks for your continued support.

Tokyo is now under 10 degrees centigrade maximum daytime temperature, and gets down to around freezing (or below) at night. I am using a tallish gooseneck incandescent lamp in front of the turntable. Faster and cheaper than bumping up the temperature setting on the heater (smile).

In my experience, an audio designer needs to be able to identify and eliminate (or at least mitigate) significant sources of errors in order to make real forward progress. However, once a major error source has been removed, it becomes easier to hear the other errors that still remain. So it is with the Delos and things like tracking forces vs. ambient temperatures, and I think that the same is true for loading.

If I get the time, I would like to put up a page on the Lyra website that discusses loading and illustrates how things like frequency response change as a function of loading (some of the numbers and trends may be easier to understand if they are accompanied by response graphs). Although the loading values will change depending on the design of the cartridge and how much capacitance is in the tonearm cable (and how much of an RF or high-frequency spike your phono stage can tolerate), the thinking should be valid for the majority of magnetic cartridges.

I have been experimenting with an alternative means of loading, and if I have some spare time to generate and collate sufficient data, I will put up a page for that, too.

In your particular case, Jfrech, I will note that both the Skala and Delos are quite dynamic cartridges, and if you load them down excessively you will compromise this energy somewhat, so I would suggest not loading them down any more than you find necessary (unless you prefer listening to concerts from Row M rather than Row C or the conductor's podium).

>When can you commment on other changes in your line up?

Not yet, but there is a chance that we may be able to show a prototype of the next step up from the Delos at the upcoming CES in January.

FWIW, I'd say that the Delos already surpasses the Helikon in terms of performance.

Old post I know but I'd appreciate hearing from anyone here who has now used a Delos. Anyone run one of these in a VPI JMW9 (mounted to a Scout?). Great post--thanks Jcarr for your thorough commentary.
Hi Jonathan,

do you have any recommendations for step-ups for the Delos? The Delos internal impedance is somewhat higher than other Lyra cartridges and you seem to recommend 5-15 Ohm where 5 Ohm is even below the internal impedance of the Delos. Would you recommend a 1:10 or 1:20 step with resistor loading (primary or secondary)?

Thanks for the help!

Hi Rene: Normally I wouldn't recommend a step-up transformer with the Delos unless your phono either has low gain or good overload margin.

The 0.6mV output from the Delos is high enough that it caused clipping when we matched it up with a Nagra BPS, which (according to Stereophile) has 51dB gain in fixed-coil mode and 62dB with the built-in stepup transformer in the circuit. Jumpering out the transformer cleared up the situation. I presume that the 9V power supply of the BPS is to blame, and that using a different phono stage with a higher power supply voltage would avoid the problem.

If you use a transformer, I suggest 1:10 ratio, loading at the secondary, and very short, very low-capacitance cable connecting the transformer to the phono stage.

Boosting the output from a Delos with a 1:10 ratio will present your phono stage with a 6mV input, which should be quite comfortable for all MM and MI-level phono stages.

If your phono stage has 60dB gain or more, you won't need a transformer (unless you have very low preamp/power amp gain, or very inefficient speakers). If your phono stage gain is in the 40-some dB range, you will probably need a headamp or stepup transformer. Again, your results will be affected by preamp/power amp gain and speaker efficiency, but likely not enough to let you get by without the extra gain stage.

The situation is more unclear with phono stages in the 50-some dB range. Here I don't have any firm recommendations, other than suggesting that you compare with and without a transformer or headamp. Perhaps you could first find a vintage unit of low price and the right properties, then change to a higher-quality unit once you've verified that things work.

FWIW, we also make the Erodion (, which is a stepup device, but this has a 1:20 ratio, so I wouldn't recommend it for the Delos unless your phono stage gain is in the low 40-some dB range.

hth, jonathan
Jonathan, thank you very much for the detailed response - very helpful.

One question about loading on the secondary - to get a 1:10 step up down to 10 Ohm loading one would have to use a 0.5 - 1 KOhm loading on the secondary. Problem is that most 1:10 step-ups aren't really optimized for such a low secondary load. 5-15 Ohm loading seems still pretty low, with an internal impedance of 8 Ohm for the Delos I would have guessed 15-100 Ohm loading with a step-up (without any direct experience).

Thanks again,

Recently acquired the Delos and it's a very special cartridge. Musical, revealing, it's really got everything at a reasonable price. Actually think it has cured me of always looking for something "better". This is an impressive-sounding product and I've grown to admire and respect it without reservation. Listening to lots of records, some of which have never sounded better.
Delos, at its' price and even beyond, is a very high value product IMO. I've found nothing near that price I prefer as much.

I'm expecting an order of Kleos soon and very anxious to compare it with Delos.

Dealer disclaimer.
I got my Delos back today after adjustment by Lyra for low riding ( thanks Jonathan) and I've been playing it on my Exclusive P3 for a few hours. Wow..It's superd combination, dynamic, good timbre and delineation soundscape. I agree about it being top value.

I'd appreciate your comments on the comparison between the Delos and the Kleos. What are the design similarities and differences between these cartridges? Price points?
I think my comments regarding Kleos and Delos are best served in private email and phone call exchanges.

Dealer disclaimer
Wondering why the Delos is not listed as part of the Lyra product line in the Immedia website. Price?
I've had a Delos mounted in an ET II since April. Now that it is fully settled in, and I've dialed in tracking wt. at 1.78 grams, I am thrilled with it. I had originally wanted a Kelos but the Delos was available sooner. I'm sure the Kelos sounds better, I just can't imagine how :)
I have a Delos mounted on my new Rega P9 - replaced my P7/Dynavector DV20XH. I am very impressed with this MC cartridge - the amount of music it can dig from the grooves is amazing. I have a Hot Stamper of Joe Jackson's Night & Day - OMG he was in the listening room with me. My phono stage is a built-in on my McIntosh C2300. I am able to adjust the loading with the remote from my listening position. The DV20XH (a nice HO MC)played what was on the stylus - the Delos plays what is in hte groove. I paid $1200 for cartridge when purchased with the P9.
A question for Jonathan : Given the propensity of some for zero bias in favour of excessive VTF (way beyond manufacturers recommendations) how does this philosophy reconcile with the normal Delos/Kleos setup procedure of setting the cart at an average/optimal VTF to centralise the cantilever within the generator?
I have been fighting with loading the Delos. In my setup the only way that I could get it to sound right (meaning neutral spectral balance and tamed transients) was as follows: 1x10 setup ratio, and a 0.5k - 1.5k loading paralleled to the 47k on the tube preamp. The resultant 5 -15 ohm load works. But I had never loaded a cartridge this low before. For that reason I did not trust what I was hearing. I finally stumbled on this thread after I had convinced myself that this was the right answer for my setup.

Reassuring to come to the same numbers and same questions that restock mentioned.
Actually, I am wondering if the settings I mentioned above make sense. It seems that the instruction suggest that 91 ohms is the minimum setting with the Delos. That does not work for me. Too aggressive on the transients, a glare on the natural timbre of instruments. So why am I finding that I need to use these low settings?

I will note that on a solid state phono preamp (a prototype which allows for 67dB of gain) -same arm, wiring and table, the Delos seems pretty insensitive to load. With that preamp (no transformers) anything from 100 to 47k works pretty well.

The setup I am using is a Denon AU-340 SUT (40 ohms setting which is 1x10) into a Audio Innovations P2 phono preamp with a 47k input load. The phono cable is a straight shot of Discovery tone arm wire from the cartridge to the SUT - no other junctions - about three feet.

One thing that I should also mention is that the greater the load, the lower the output from the cartridge. So if you load the cartridge as much I seem to have to do, the input to the preamp drops significantly. This means that with more loading you can actually use a 1x20 ratio without having to worry about overloading the phono preamp.

I use the 1x10 though. But with the P2 phono preamp I can use a 12AX7 instead of a 12AU7 in the second gain stage to make up for the signal loss due to loading.

Any ideas as to why this amount of loading is necessary for me to get accurate timbre and non-aggressive transients?
Maybe something else in your system. However, I do load my Delos at the lowest load my phono preamps are capable of. I use a PS audio GCPH and Simaudio LP5.3.
The Audioquest VP suggested to me to try the 500 - 1000 ohm range; the Lyras do not like low resistance. He has his set at 1000 ohms.
The Audioquest VP Prod Devel suggested to me to try the 500 - 1000 ohm range; the Lyras do not like low resistance. He has his set at 1000 ohms.

"Since the Delos is a moving coil cartridge it is relatively immune from cable capacitance variations.

The Lyra cartridges generally don't like to be loaded down too farÂ….the sound loses dynamic contrast when you go below around 200 ohms. I run my Lyra's at 1,000. Some prefer 47Kohm. You might play with 500 and 1,000 to see which you prefer.

Hope this helps."
I am very confused then. With the solid state phono pre that sounds right to me. But with my 1x10 sut into my 47000 tube phono pre it sounds bad. In the SUT situation l need 5-15 ohms to make it sound natural. And it does not seem to effect dynamics or high end detail. I was listening to a Chandos recording of Respighi's Church Windows last night and it was powerful enough to make me sit up straight in spots. Triangles, tubular bells, and celestre were very well represented. Timpani was wonderfully pitched and the organ was quite powerful.

Maybe I am mis-understanding what the actual impedance is somehow. I am just soldering resistors in parallel to the 47000 resistor at the phono pre input though.

Syntax did warn that this cartridge would show up all kinds of things about the down stream system. I have found that to be true. I have changed the tubes around in the phono pre. It didn't sound very good with Telefunken 12ax7s or other old stock tubes (I have a lot of them to try). The Sovtek 12ax7lps sounded very good (and I have only found one other application for this tubes in the past). I also re-cabled between the sut and phono pre and between the phono pre and the amp. I haven't messed with cables in years.

The end result sounds pretty good, but I might not be done yet...
Your answer lies in the fact that your load directly into the MC phono input will be different from the load via a step-up transformer.

When you use an MC phono preamp, the recommended load is between 91-47k Ohms directly into MC input. When you use a step-up transformer, the recommended load is between 5-15 Ohms. So you got it right.

Btw, it's all explained in the Delos manual.

I didn't see that in the manual. Well, it is reassuring that what I arrived at empirically is exactly that same as the manual. BTW, 15 ohms still seems a little hot to me. 8 ohms seems to sound better.

I wish I understood the theory behind the differences when loading with a tranny -vs- a mc phono pre. My intuition (for what it is worth) suggests that the loading impedance should be the same. How does the cartridge know that it is driving a mc phono pre or a SUT if the loads are identical?

To reiterate, I am loading the secondary with an 820 ohm resistor in parallel with the 47k. That gives 805 ohms. Divide the the square of the turns ratio (10x10) and I get 8 ohms.
At least you know you can trust your ears :) The loading values with a step-up transformer are listed in the Specifications section at the very end of the manual.

I don't understand the technical aspects of loading directly into the MC input vs. a step-up tranny, but I know there are many here who do and they will hopefully provide an explanation. In the alternative, you could post this question in the Tech Talk forum, if you don't get an answer here.
I finally got it dialed in. Seems that 15 ohms is good.

I first went back to no parallel resistors, 1x10 tranny, 47k at the secondary for a 470 ohm load. In my system that is positively brutal. I had a friend over because I was getting confused with what I was hearing. He is a musician with very good ears (classically trained pianist). He agreed that that setup was unobtainable.

We were listening to Van Morrison's 'Poetic Champions Compose'. Van's studio work is, for the most part, exemplary. But at 470 ohms, while you could hear detail (too much transient attack) you could not tell that on a number of cuts he was using a string section as opposed to a synth. The string timbres were that poor. I changed to 15 ohms, and the string section became obvious to the point that you could actually discern individual instruments.

Listening to Respighi ('Church Windows' - Geoffrey Simon, Chandos digital, 'The Birds' - Dorati, Mercury Living Presence) the worldwide were very ambiguous at 470 ohms. At 15 ohms, there is no doubt which instruments you are hearing.

Finally, all you tube rollers, DO NOT overlook the Sovtek 12ax7lps. I figured that it would not work in the phono pre with the Delos, since the Delos is so sensitive. Wrong. I am using two of them into pair of RCA cleartop 12au7 buffer tubes. They sound far and away better, than the Telefunkens, Mullard long plates, GE long plates, or anything else that I tried. They are the icing on the cake in this setup. What ever ambiguities in sonic definition that remained after the loading experiment were completely cleared up with the Sovteks.

Great sound but a pain in the a** to get there...
Didn't edit the previous post - accidentally submitted it. This brilliant tablet has a mind of its own when it comes to offering alternative spellings and word without asking me first...

I talked to the Lyra guys who were very helpful. I was all wrong with what I was doing.

They clarified their instructions. The load that you use with the Delos should be the same regardless of whether you use a SUT or a MC phono preamp - that is, > 90 Ohms. The note about SUTs in the instructions does NOT refer to loading. It refers to the kind of SUT that you use. The SUT should be one that is designed for cartridges with an internal impedance from 5 - 15 ohms. The Delos is about 8.

The 10x SUT that I was using was designed for 20 - 40 ohms cartridges, not low impedance cartridges. I don't know how low and high impedance SUTs differ, but apparently they do. The other SUT is designed for low impedance cartridges but has 16x and 32x taps. Without loading these down significantly, my MM input was overloading - too much gain.

So bottom line is that the specified load for the Delos is > 91 ohms, regardless of what sort of step up method that you choose. If you choose a SUT make sure that you don't overload the MM input.
Thanks for that bit of importnat information. I, too,misinterpreted the Delos instructions.
But what if your phono pre only gives you a choice of 100 ohms? Is that "close enough"? I'm considering getting this cartridge to replace my trusty Dynavector 17D3. My Simaudio Moon 310LP offers loading options of 10, 100, 470, 1K and 47k ohms.
100 ohms will work fine with this cartridge - that is what I was using before 500 ohms was suggested to me. To be honest - I heard no real sonic improvement/difference between the two. The Delos is a magnificent cartridge for the money.
Im using 10 ohms on my simaudio lp5.3 as it sounds the best to me on my system
Well, I am mightly confused. The Lyra guys say >91 ohms. I can't tolerate listening to it at that loading in my setup. I have to load it down to 5-10 ohms using a SUT, and then it sounds very good. With a solid state phono-pre it doesn't seem to matter so much (100 ohms sound ok), but the solid state rig is not working at the same level as my SUT/tube rig. So it is kind of hard to tell anything from the comparison.

I am not yet convinced that the reason that my SUT/tube rig sounds bad at 100 ohms is that the SUT is overloading the tube MM input. At 16x and 100 ohms the input is about 9mV. But even during soft passages, the transients don't seem to sound right. There could be something wrong elsewhere in my system. However, I am tempted to send the Delos back for an inspection, just to be sure that it is performing correctly. I bought it used, so it will have to be at my expense.

I like the sound when loading between 5-10 ohms; but since this is radically different from what the manufacturer suggests, I have to assume that something is not right in my rig, or with the cartridge. (Or maybe the Delos is just hotter than I can tolerate... but no one else seems to have this experience, or maybe blah, blah, blah).

I find it interesting that Manitunc likes 10 ohms even with a SS preamp. But I am curious what settings others are using with SUTs and what the turns ratio is on the SUTs.
I did not want to leave this discussion hanging with a lot of ambiguity as regards my experience with the Delos. So here is how it all shook out for me.

I am using a K&K Lundahl 1941 sut with an Audio Innovations P2 (modded) phono pre. The K&K was new and the Delos had very few hours on it. Over about six weeks time the sound changed considerably. Basically the wierd timbre and the aggressive transients gradually cleared up. Over that period of time I gradually reduced the load until I am now using no extra load resistors. I have 16x sut into a 47k phono pre for an effective load of about 180 ohms.

It sounds great. I do not know why this gradual change occurred. I have read discussions of the Lundahl 1931 and 1941 which both use some kind of amorphous cobalt core. Some people said they preferred the mu-metal versions (1933 and 1943) because they felt that the timbre was off with the 1931 and 1941. I had the same experience initially. Now I can find nothing to criticize about the 1941 in this regard. I have been listening to the cellist Christine Walevska's recordings lately, and the tone she gets is absolutely beautiful. All instruments sound accurate now, and the cartridge sounds neutral and balanced from top to bottom.

So bottom line is that this setup now sounds great without having to resort to load resistors and/or unusual cartridge alignment. And no, I am not overloading my phono-pre. I have never been one to pay a lot of attention to 'break-in', but that is the only explanation that I am left with.
One more thing. After everything settled out I revisited the tubes. While the Sovtek 12ax7lps is a good tube, I ended up using a Telefunken 12ax7 smooth-plate at the input, Telefunken 12au7 smooth-plate at the second gain stage, and two RCA 12au7 cleartops at the buffered output. The Telefunkens just have a more refined sound - to my ears.