Weeks before the show I found myself chatting with Jonathan Carr, designer among other things of Lyra, a range of bespoke moving coil cartridges and we promised to discuss things when finally face to face in Munich. “Discussing” is a slight exaggeration; the reality is closer to Jonathan “giving me a lesson” on design principles, and providing pieces for the analog playback puzzle that I never had in-hand.
He did mention something about a cartridge that may eventually make it to the market sometime in the future, one that he is still trying to design as an affordable model without having to sacrifice production capacity currently used for the Lyra flagship models . For this he is seeking production techniques that can be automated to a certain extent thus lowering the final price while keeping certain crucial to him aspects intact, namely the “house sound” of Lyra.
Where he focused mostly was the design of a new step-up transformer with the goal being to create a sound close to the one produced by an electronic circuit (aka active stage, meaning dynamic and extended playback) without the electric part, therefore with no noise or electronic distortions added to the fragile signal coming from the cartridge. He is studying ways of presenting minimal capacitance back to the cartridge itself, which combined with the inductance of the generator would create an electrical resonance that is far easier to control than with conventional step up transformers. . Are you still with me?
I will cut to the chase here and tell you what matters. Several great rooms in Munich had an Etna or an Atlas MC cartridge playing gorgeous music. The amazing SAT tonearm mounted on the new Thrax-Dohmann Xelix-1 turntable had an Etna, while the Schroeder CB tonearm on the same table had the top-of-the-line Atlas. The Primary Control tonearm on the Vinyl Savior/Wolf von Langa room had another Atlas. Another Atlas was in the Audio Tekne room on the Garrard 601 table connected to the exotic TEA 9501 PCS €225.000 phono stage. Yet another Atlas was spinning in the Absolare room. You get the picture? Considering what Jonathan has accomplished so far, that forthcoming step-up might be quite something.