Lyra Delos Phono Cartridge
The New Angle on LP ReproductionAn 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.
While vinyl records played back with an MC cartridge can sound exceptionally good, it is a surprising fact that the design of conventional MCs restricts the sound quality that can be achieved from LPs.
An essential factor for proper operation of an MC cartridge is the angle between the magnetic circuit, signal coils and core. Performance is optimal when the angles are all aligned, but any significant difference in the angles will cause the formation of a strong and directional flux that will flow constantly from the magnetic circuit into the signal core. This directional magnetic flux will orient the core toward a specific direction and make it impossible for the core to move with equal ease in all directions, which is necessary for proper cartridge performance.
Unfortunately, conventional MC cartridges have been designed so that the angles between magnetic circuit, signal coils and core become aligned only when tracking force is not applied. The result is that during playback, the required tracking force causes the angle between magnetic circuit, signal coils and core to become misaligned. This limits the cartridge's resolution, tracking ability and dynamic range.
The new Lyra Delos is designed to conquer this problem...Compared to conventional cartridges, the Delos has a new body structure with an unusually shallow angle, and this has been paired with a unique asymmetrical damping system. When no tracking force is applied, the shape of the asymmetrical dampers forces the signal coils and core into a more upright angle than the magnetic circuit.
However, no tracking force applied means that the cartridge is not operating, and therefore any angular discrepancies between magnetic circuit, signal coils and core will have no effect on performance. When tracking force is applied, however, the force of the stylus pushing on the LP causes the asymmetrical dampers to be deformed into a symmetrical shape, and when this happens the angular discrepancies between magnetic circuit, signal coils and core all disappear. Since tracking force applied means that the cartridge is now operating, it should be clear that the design of the Delos is able to keep the angles between the magnetic circuit, signal coils and core aligned during playback.
Keeping the proper angular alignment prevents the formation of any strong and directional flux that could otherwise flow constantly from the magnetic circuit into the signal core, and enables the Delos' core to move with equal ease in all directions, for optimal performance.
The Delos also has a microridge stylus on a boron cantilever for outstanding tracking, a non-parallel solid machined metal body for low resonances, and 6-N high-purity copper coils and nude construction for greater clarity. The result is clearly improved sound quality, particularly resolution, tracking ability, dynamic range, transient impact and immediacy.
Ratings & Reviews
This is my first cartridge from Lyra (others OC9ML and Cadenza). Pros: Wonderful complex harmonic detail and absolutely crystal clear reproduction. Records that I have often suspected of being poor pressings (audiophile 180 & 200g) turn out to be just fine, my previous cartridge simply could not track difficult passages accurately. The best example I can use to help explain is the word “its” in lyrics. This word used to sound like “izzzzzt” and now it is what it is. Cons: This is the most delicate instrument I have ever seen. Don’t buy it if you have even a little shake in the hands or poor depth perception, you might break off the stylus. Thankfully Lyra has the best stylus guard I have seen yet. I leave the guard it in place all the time I’m not playing records. I have also developed a tonearm safety protocol for myself to minimize clumsy handling. During cartridge set-up, I used the Fozgometer. I couldn’t quite achieve perfect azimuth (channel balance) on my test record. Best setting tilted the cartridge around 6 degrees off perpendicular. This still left about a 4dB channel unbalance. Here is another good reason why we have a “balance” control. However this leaves me to speculate that the Delos is really made of critical components for the Kleos that just didn’t quite measure-up. These things are made by hand and not all can measure perfect. So what to do with the less than perfect? Discount it! Conclusions: Considering significant diminishing returns, I can’t imagine where there is room left for a cartridge to begin to sound better than the Delos. Recommend to a friend: Yes.
Best cartridge I have ever heard. If You are looking for a new cartridge this is the one.
The best sound I've ever heard from LP, outstanding. Tonally balanced across the range with hard hitting bass and shimmering treble. The midrange is superbly detailed, imaging and sound staging is rock solid with truly 3D walk around sound. The only criticism I can level at the Delos is a slightly higher noise floor than I was expecting. First time buyers moving up to the lower echelon's of high end will be delighted with their decision to take the plunge.
Replaced Benz L2 and blew away the Benz. Much more stable/refined but maintains the sweetness of the wood body. Like the new design very much (so far)
by Randy Rondney
I'm very happy with this cartridge. Comparing the Delos to the Sumiko Blue Point EVO III, Blackbird, Dynavector 10x5, 20x2, the Delos was on another level of clarity. The sound is very accurate and not colored with any "warmth" or murky base. Instead it has well balanced sound with the lows, mids, and highs all very detailed and glowing. The break in period for the Delos was said to be 30 hours or something like that but mine seemed to be dialed in to it's prime after closer to 100 hours. Overall this cartridge has an accurate, ultra-clear, well-balanced, glowing soudstage. Highly recommended.
by Brad Z
First I’d like to start by saying if you have a local shop where you can go demo the Delos, do it. Do not bother reading on, just go try it for yourself, you will want to buy it. For those not fortunate enough to live next to Needle Doctor then the rest of this will have to do. I had originally started looking at cartridges to don the end of the RB700 on my brand new Rega P7 that I just picked up from Needle Doctor. My price range was in the $1,000 range and I was looking at a fair amount of competitors that had a range of sound from musical to overly analytical and abrupt treble. As Patrick and Brad so kindly met me, I had a handful of records and discussed my desire to try out a few of these cartridges but the Lyra was on demo so we decided to test that one first, even though it was out of my price range. I was immediately blown away by just how quiet the cartridge is, no doubt due in part to its microridge stylus. As the music kicked in it was apparent that someone thought out the balance of the cartridge remarkably well as it had detailed treble without making your ears bleed or sacrificing the low end. Midrange rolled smoothly into mid-bass having the clean punch you desire without being boomy and extended down into the low end for a smooth and revealing sound. In all the listening, even at just under clipping, there was never a point where it exhausted my ears, it was precise and accurate but delicate and not in your face about it. I always wanted to place another record on the table. This cartridge is amazingly well balanced and the imaging is phenomenal, it really gives you the “3D wall of sound” not only pinpointing where laterally and vertically the sound is coming from but also the depth of the sound. When everyone else says that there is nothing it does wrong, they are absolutely right. After spending hours past close chilling with Brad and Patrick, two guys who enjoy music as much as anyone I know, I walked out purchasing the Lyra Delos and being extremely happy. Now with a hundred or so hours on the needle I am still happy and I still smile every time I hear that very smooth sound, like somebody is massaging my ears with a stick of butter. I’ve thrown classical, prog rock, classic rock, metal, techno, vocal trance, rap, 80’s pop and even some country at this cartridge and at NO point did it flounder, feel over worked or underperformed. If you have doubts about this cartridge, do not, buy it and be happy you made a wise choice. As a closing note, if you have doubts about Needle Doctor, do not worry, you are in good hands. After experiencing down to earth, real people treating me like a rock star just because they enjoy their work I will certainly be moving all my future analog needs to needle doctor. Thanks again Patrick and Brad!
by Bob J
Outstanding. But found proper set up to be very very important. Specifically VTA as discussed by Lyra. I'm using on a Sota Sapphire with current SME 309 arm. Until VTA was specifically level bass was was light and soundstage flat. But once I got this right i could not leave my seat. LP after LP. This cart has a very distinctive warmth yet not fat or felty at all. Soudstage, bottom end, highs...all are super detailed but not analytical. It's a very emotional cart. I listen primarily to 50's and 60's jazz and it shines on even my original mono collectibles. Put on a new 45 rpm reissue and you will get goosebumps. Does great with classical as well as rock. If one is dropping this much one would also assume they know how to do full and proper set up. But once dialed in...you won't need to fiddle with. Break in takes a little while on the highs...but is not too dramatic. Out of the box sounds outstanding. Moved up from a NOS Ortofon HMC-20. Play through a Rogue Metis Magnum with Ortofon Verto SUT.
It's real good. Get it. I've owned a Sumiko Blackbird, Ortofon Black, Sumiko Blue Point No. 2, Audio Technica AT-OC9 MKII, and borrowed a Lyra Dorian and the Delos was my favorite by far. It does everything right; it's like looking at a high resolution picture that used a great lens to get superior color, contrast, and sharpness (rather than boosting those adjustments with software and a lesser lens). It's a rich and natural sounding cart. And, I must add that Lyra's build quality is substantially better than all the other brands I listed above. It was the only brand who's azimuth was dead-on without having to twist the headshell. That to me is worth the premium price. The output from both channels was identical as well. I will buy another Delos if I ever wear this out. It's that good. Needledoctor gave me excellent customer service with this purchase.
by Jay Cuccarese
Right out of the box, this is hands down the best cartridge I've ever used. It shows the ability to reveal musical detail with stunning realism. Bass is tight, never "tubby" and the highs are incredibly real sounding. Instruments and voices seem to "pop out" of the sound stage. Response seems dead flat., when listening to vocals it puts the artist right in the room with you. Recommended without any hesitation
by John Matthews
I'm stunned by the baby in the Lyra line-up. disclaimer - It's the only Lyra I've heard, but has surpassed any expectations I might have had.
I replaced a much - loved Transfiguration Spirit with this and frankly didn't think it would be as good, but I couldn't afford a new transfig. The Transfiguration was better than the Koetsu Rosewood and Linn Troika that preceeded it. The Lyra blew it into the weeds. Better everything. Deeper insight into the music , better tracking and handling of difficult pieces.
An orgy of record rediscovery still continues. For the record : It's mounted in an SME V on a mk4/6 Oracle Delphi.
Bravo Jonathan Carr and the boys in Tokyo. What the posher Lyra's sound like I can only imagine, as the Delos is, by a comfortable margin, the best cartridge I've ever heard.
Best performance to price cartridge in production
I came here to praise the Delos, but I refuse to bore you with overripe jargon, high falutin verbiage or snobbish pontification...
This is the best mc cart I’ve had or heard within $1500 of its price range. Maybe the best I have ever heard, all things considered. That said, I have heard many that are better in certain regards. But price to performance, I don’t know if you could find a better one (provided you have the phonostage and table to serve it) until you hit at LEAST double this price. Refined yet engaging. Detailed but musical. Mid range is phenomenal. There’s a reason that these are often on backorder.
I’m using a older VPI Scoutmaster with Jm9 an all-tube phonostage, Rogue audio pre and main amp and it’s been on my table for over a year now. Nothing I’ve heard yet in my budget is going to change that. I bought a second in case they discontinue it...
Lyra Delos, Yes!, Maybe! and Definitely Yes!
by Armando -
What to say about the Delos that hasn't already been said? It brings me closer to memories of live performances and must have excelled to get me to abandon digital convenience.
It took a leap of faith, fine help from Chris at Needle Doctor and some IMHO brilliant troubleshooting skills. Only winning the lottery to afford the best Lyra would put me back in a concert hall.
The Delos is a great match for my Technics 1210 GR, but despite its merits, the cartridge sounded thin past break-in. Most troubleshooters would have tried a different cartridge. I awoke Delos glory by removing the heat sinks in the replacement 1960s-vintage 12AX7 tubes of my phono preamp.
There is no doubt in my mind that the same performances in my vinyl spinning rig exceed the SQ of the digital versions. Extra benefits? It takes love to fine tune analog to that level of excellence and, while getting up to flip sides is annoying, I no longer need my Android watch to tell me to get my butt off the recliner.