LYRA ATLAS (Currently shipping "New Angle", "Asymmetric", "Monolithic Titanium" model)
The Atlas is Lyra's flagship model and world's first asymmetric MC phono cartridge. It is also the first time that anyone has made an asymmetrically structured phono cartridge. Why asymmetric? Because, by literally misplacing the barriers to great sound that are present in every other cartridge today, it confers a number of important performance benefits.
Linear transducers such as loudspeakers and phono cartridges are inherently inefficient devices - somewhere between 5 and 10%. In other words, of the vibrational energy that enters a cartridge from the LP groove, only 5 to 10% will be converted into electrical signal. Some of the remaining 90 to 95% will be dissipated by the cartridge's internal damping system, but much of the excess vibrational energy will reflect inside the cartridge, creating internal echoes, smearing, and a general diminishing of fidelity. It is easy to demonstrate this with many cartridges - play a highly modulated LP with the power amp turned off, and bring your ear close to the cartridge. The "needle-talk" that you hear is excess vibrational energy which isn't being controlled properly.
To help conduct this excess vibrational energy into the headshell, where it can be safely dissipated within the greater mass of the tonearm and turntable plinth, Lyra has traditionally mounted the cantilever directly into the cartridge body, resulting in a rigid, seamless connection between the cantilever assembly and tonearm headshell (we remain the only manufacturer to do so).
When Atlas was being designed, however, we realized that it is not only important to link the cantilever to headshell with a rigid, unbroken path, but that further sonic gains could be obtained if all objects and voids were removed from the path. Atlas' asymmetric shape was conceived partly with this goal in mind, so that the screw and screwhole securing the front magnet carrier could be moved out of the way of the mechanical path connecting cantilever to headshell.
Freed of any obstructions or voids, the rigid, direct path established between cantilever and headshell is highly effective at draining away vibrations once they have been converted into electrical signals, suppressing induced resonances and internal reflections that would otherwise manifest as sonic colorations and overhang. A narrowed mounting area couples Etna more tightly to the headshell and facilitates the transfer of vibrational energy into the tonearm, giving even better control over spurious resonances.
Also, Atlas' differently-shaped structures on the left and right sides suppress the formation of standing waves inside the cartridge body, thereby creating a less resonant, more neutral cartridge body than would be otherwise possible.
Atlas employs a yokeless dual magnet system, diamond-coated boron rod cantilever and Lyra designed variable-radius line-contact stylus (major radius 70 micrometers, minor radius 3 micrometers, block dimensions 0.08 x 0.12 x 0.5mm, mounted within a slot machined into the front of the cantilever), and builds the cantilever assembly directly into the titanium body structure.
The cantilever and the insides of the body are both shaped so that joining the two components to each other creates a double-knife-edge mounting system, which focuses as much pressure as possible on the joint area and effectively cold-welds the parts together. More rigid than the cantilever mounting system employed in Titan, this design facilitates the transfer of mechanical energy away from the stylus and signal coil area, which minimizes reflected mechanical energy and thereby significantly reduces distortion and resonances.
Atlas' signal coil system is a completely new high-efficiency X-shaped design. Compared to traditional square coil formers the X-shape allows each channel to operate with greater autonomy from one another, giving better tracking, tighter channel matching, improved separation, and lower crosstalk-induced distortion.
Although there are and have been other X-coil cartridges, their performance benefits have been partly negated by poor efficiency in converting mechanical work into electrical output. This has either required high internal impedance (the larger coils add considerable moving mass and increase noise), and/or resulted in low output voltage (which stresses the phono stage).
To overcome this weakness, Lyra conducted a careful investigation of X-core coils, using a combination of mathematical analysis and hands-on experimentation. The outcome of the analysis program was a very specific X-core shape that not only had higher efficiency than any previous X-core cartridge, but also surpassed the efficiency of our earlier square-coil cartridge designs.
Rather than using all of the extra efficiency to single-mindedly increase the output voltage, we chose to distribute the benefits - allocating part of the extra efficiency to increase the output voltage (12% higher than Titan i), and using the remainder of the extra effiency to reduce the amount of wire in the coils (22% less than Titan i). The lowered mass further improves tracking performance, while the higher output and lower internal impedance allow phono stages to perform better.
The Atlas uses Lyra's "New Angle" technology, which mechanically pre-biases the signal coils so that they are perfectly aligned to the front and rear magnets when LP playback takes place. This equalizes out discrepancies in vertical and horizontal compliances, and enables Atlas' coils to move with equal ease in all directions for wider dynamics, higher resolution, and improved tracking.
As with the Titan and Olympos, the Atlas uses a monolithic body that is meticulously carved from a solid billet of titanium, through a lengthy process that involves both contact (for the exterior) and non-contact machining (for the interior body structures). But by making most of the Atlas' body surfaces non-parallel, avoiding dimensions that are multiples of other dimensions, and adding a pre-stressed phase-interference resonance-controlling system, resonances have been inhibited further.
We firmly believe that the Atlas represents an important step forward in LP playback.
Designer: Jonathan Carr
Builder: Yoshinori Mishima
Type: Medium weight, medium compliance, low-impedance moving coil cartridge
Stylus: Lyra-designed long-footprint variable-radius line-contact nude diamond (3um x 70um), slot-mounted
Cantilever system: Diamond-coated solid boron rod with short one-point wire suspension, directly mounted into cartridge body via high-pressure knife-edge system
Coils: 2-layer deep, 6N high-purity copper, cross-shaped chemically-purified high-purity iron former, 4.2ohm self-impedance, 11uH inductance
Output voltage: 0.56mV@5cm/sec., zero to peak, 45 degrees (CBS test record, other test records may alter results)
Frequency range: 10Hz ~ 50kHz
Channel separation: 35dB or better at 1kHz
Compliance: Approx. 12 x 10-6cm/dyne at 100Hz
Vertical tracking angle: 20 degrees
Cartridge body: One-piece machining from solid titanium billet, with reduced-surface higher-pressure headshell contact area, predominately non-parallel and asymmetrical shaping, phase-interference resonance-controlling mechanism, and body threaded directly for mounting screws
Cartridge mounting screws: 2.6mm 0.45 pitch JIS standard
Distance from mounting holes to stylus tip: 9.5mm
Cartridge weight (without stylus cover): 11.6g
Recommended tracking force: 1.65 ~ 1.75g (1.72g recommended)
Recommended load directly into MC phono input: 104ohm ~ 887ohm (determine by listening, or follow detailed guidelines in user manual)
Recommended load via step-up transformer: 5 ~ 15ohm (step-up transformer's output must be connected to 10kohm ~ 47kohm MM-level RIAA input, preferably via short, low-capacitance cable)
Recommended tonearms: High-quality pivoted or linear (tangential) tonearms with rigid bearing(s), adjustable anti-skating force, preferably VTA adjustment