Lyra Delos and Soundsmith

I sent my Delos to soundsmith. I was wondering If I should go with boron or ruby cantilever. Any thoughts? Thanks.
I had a soundsmith boheme cartridge with the ruby cantilever. I liked it a lot. My soundsmith sussuro has an aluminum cantilever. I have no experience with the boron cantilever but, I can say the ruby cantilever survived quite a few accidental drops onto the record. It was tougher to break than I thought it would be. I always worried about snaping it. The ruby cantilever just looks cool too.

i think you should call peter and ask him. most likely he will be busy when you call but he will call you back if you leave a detailed message. I was not aware that soundsmith also used boron cantilevers - most of us who have had the ruby upgrade have extremely positive results. However, I have not read anything about carts in that class having been upgraded to ruby - although i suspect you will have an improvement in detail as well as warmth (or less distortion). I heard the Soundsmith setup at the Audio Show in NY last yearÂ… superior sound! without tubes! Go with peter's recommendation.
The Delos dampers were formulated and shaped with boron in mind. If (and that is a huge if) I would have used an aluminum oxide (ruby/sapphire) cantilever for the Delos, I definitely would have altered the damper formulations, and possibly their shape, too. If you want to replace the Delos' boron cantilever with one made of ruby, I would suggest changing the dampers to match.

In general, however, I consider ruby to be a downgrade from boron (which is why I don't use it for any of my designs). It is a fact that ruby is 70% more massive than boron, and its propagation velocity is only about 70% that of boron. And to my ears it has a more noticeable sonic fingerprint than boron.

Objectively, diamond, boron and beryllium are all better cantilever materials than ruby/sapphire.

However, I would be the first to admit that objective criteria and subjective preferences are not necessarily equivalent. Everyone's audio system is different, and everyone's ears are different, too. Ultimately, if _you_ are happy with what you hear, that's what matters.

My experience is that SS offers the premium options of an L3 upgrade(ruby cantilever with optimized contour line(OCL) diamond), or an OCL diamond glue-bonded to the stock Lyra boron cantilever. Based on SS recommendation I chose the boron option for my Helikon. It ended up costing $550, as compared to $350 for the Ruby/OCL option. The retip sounds good, but I have reservations about the rather large glue-bond on top.
Jcarr, I own the Delos. I have been told that sytlus life ranges from 1500-2000 hours on the low side to 4500-5000 hours on the high side. I do NOT find the "high side" numbers credible. So, can the Delos stylus be replaced as a stand alone fix, or is it necessary to replace the whole sylus/cantilever assembly as a unit?

If the later, I understand the Delos re-tip/exchange cost to be quite expensive.
Jonathan...I had sent you several e-mails but have never
heard back from you? I'm hoping that maybe you will see

I have a Delos that has about 200-250 hours on it and the
suspension has collapsed. What can I do about this? It is
tracking at 1.7385 grams and is setup correctly.

When I first received it, I thought that the cartridge was
riding a little low, but set it up properly. It was working
and sounding fine, but then after about the 5th record (10th
LP side) of my listening session, it sounding weird. I went
over to my table and noticed that the white paper that
covers the assembly, was now touching and riding on the
record surface.

Please let me know what I can do about this. Thank you!!!
Mofimadness: 90% of the year I am deep in design and development, so I don't check email so frequently. Nonetheless, I don't see any of your emails (or cannot find them). No idea why. Overactive spam filters on my side? Something else?

The following is all checklist stuff that I am sure that you are aware of, but just to repeat it yet again, note that most tonearms change VTF depending on the vertical relationship between the stylus and the tonearm pivot. So be sure that the meter's weighing surface is placed at the exact height of the LP.

Also, some tonearms allow the tracking force to change over time, due to slipping counterweights or whatever reason. It is a good idea to periodically check the tracking force, at the LP height.

Also, be sure that your tonearm is very gentle when it lowers the cartridge onto the LP. If a tonearm with an undamped elevator mechanism "drops" the cartridge onto your LPs, each time that this occurs, it can stretch the suspension wire and compress the dampers beyond what they were designed for. This can quickly lead to low-riders, and can also reduce the lifespan of the cartridge.

Nonetheless, if your Delos suspension has collapsed and it is still relatively new, we will handle it as a warranty issue. We have publically said this before, and it is our normal policy.

As always with warranty issues, we ask that you send the cartridge back to us through the dealer that you purchased it from. Since we are totally and seemingly permanently overworked, it will take us some time to get to it, see what is wrong with it and get it fixed, but we will do it.

Bifwynne: Stylus wear is always affected by the cleanliness of the LPs being played, but if you clean your LPs with a suction cleaner or ultrasonic machine, the microridge stylus of the Delos should easily last 2500 hours. Stylus wear is also affected by how clean you keep the stylus, and clean LPs combined with an always-clean stylus should get you up to around 3000.

Total cartridge life is also affected by other factors such as how well-damped the tonearm elevator mechanism is,

Some users can get more than 3000 hours, but they tend to use tonearms with gentle elevators, very few contaminents in the air, and no sunlight or ultraviolet hitting the audio system, which is not so common, I think.

FWIW, the microridge stylus used in the Delos has been designed specifically so that changes in shape as it wears are minimal. The playing surfaces have a side radius of 2.5 micrometers, and are located on a protruding ridge which has parallel surfaces only 5 micrometers apart. This narrow, confined structure imposes a limit on how large the radius can increase to, as the stylus wears.

In marked contrast, nearly every other stylus shape has a larger side radius to begin with, and the playing surfaces are located on a triangular structure (as seen from directly above or below). You can see one such example at the following link, in a post by DaleH, showing photos of a Fritz Gyger S stylus.

The angles of the triangular structure are fairly large, and this allows the playing radius to increase steadily as the stylus wears. What this also means is that resolution dwindles steadily over the stylus lifespan. The OCL falls into the same basic category, AFAIK.

As a separate observation, we frequently get back cartridges that have enough dirt built-up around the coil area to impair optimal movement, yet otherwise the stylus and suspension are fine. With these cartridge we usually clean them up and return them at no charge, (unless there is a need to change components).

Our general experience has been that most low-riders can be cured by readjusting the suspension, and again, if this can be accomplished without any component replacements, we usually do this for free (or at a very minimal fee), even if the cartridge is outside of its warranty period.

When the stylus and/or suspension is actually worn out (which is usually 3 years of use when the cartridge is played a few hours each and every day), we do replace the cartridge with a completely new one. This is because the suspension wire and dampers will degrade with time and should be replaced to bring them back to as-new condition, also because replacing the cartridge allows us to build in any improvements that we have made to the cartridge design. This could be a different coil material, different suspension, different output pins, even a different stylus (these are all actual instances of internal components that we have improved as running changes in cartridge production).

FWIW, I corresponded with a fellow who was using one of our previous-generation cartridges, which was retipped by Soundsmith. As I recall, it was a Helikon or Argo, bought with a broken cantilever. Since he liked the sonic results, he then got a Delos. The Delos was purchased new, and he is using it unmodified. His subsequent correspondance suggests that he is clearly happier with the stock Delos than he was with the Soundsmith-retipped Helikon / Argo.

hth, jonathan carr
Jcarr, I just bought a Kleos as an upgrade to my Delos. It's hard to believe that any cartridge can sound better than the Delos. I guess I'll find out on Monday when the Kleos is delivered.

If by chance you come up for air before Monday, care to give me a heads up as to what I'm in store for?? ;>')
Hi Bifwynne: I've been working on the documentation for a new tonearm cable that we'll be introducing shortly. It's a twin-axial shielded cable with very low capacitance (32pF for 1.2m, including connectors). The low capacitance is so that a wider range of loading resistances than normally practical can be used. Higher load resistances will allow the cartridge's dynamics and resolution to bloom more, which means better sound overall.

At any rate, thanks for moving up to the Kleos. It's a smoother-sounding cartridge than the Delos, and the top-end is better-controlled. The treble region will sound less splashy, less dry, and more "moist".

You will also hear this as a lower noise-floor, especially on LPs that have some level of pops, clicks and surface noise. LPs will tend to sound cleaner, and in better condition with the Kleos.

These improvements are due in great part to the stronger body materials, more complex body construction of the Kleos, and reduced heatshell contact area.

One other possible difference is that the output pins are now platinum-plated, while for the earlier versions of the Delos we used silver. By resisting tarnishing better, the platinum electrical contacts should require less maintenance than the silver.

The distance from mounting screws to the stylus is the same for the Delos and Kleos (give or take 0.15mm), likewise for the height. However, the Kleos weighs more, so you will need to readjust the counterweight.

The Kleos tracks a little lighter than the Delos, but both models are extremely sensitive to tracking force, so a digital scale with 0.01 g accuracy or better is recommended.

The Kleos puts out a little less output than the Delos, so you may need to turn up the volume a bit more, and depending on your phono stage, the Kleos may sound a smidge less dynamic. But this is a phono stage issue, not a cartridge issue.

BTW, I suggest that you periodically flux-bust the cartridges (whether it is the Delos, Kleos, or any other of our cartridges). Remove the RCA jacks from your phono stage (probably a good idea to turn it off first), put a dead short from plus to ground of each channel, separately, and then play a fairly dynamic LP passage for a few minutes (with the cartridge's output shorted into itself). Put everything back as it was, and the sound should now be more open, less hazy, and cleaner (like the distortion level dropped lower).

hth and kind regards, jonathan carr
Hello Jonathan. Installed the Kleos a couple of hours ago. Been listening to a lot of vinyl, mostly various types and stripes of 1970s rock and roll. Will be moving on to some Charlie Mingus Jazz and a selection of classical shortly. This carty is going to get the full court press.

Here's some reactions. Definition and imaging is a grade or two better than the Delos. Bass is more refined, tighter, real kick. I can feel it in my feet and listening couch.

More on overall detail and information retrieval. I definitely can hear much more information being dragged out of the grooves. It helps to really make for extremely sharp imaging. If two or more people are singing at the same time, I can picture where they "stand" in the sound-stage.

As to background noise levels, I agree that background noise is lower and I can turn the gain up with much less grain and grit. Fortunately, my phono pre (ARC PH-8) has just enough gain (58 db) to get the job done quite well. ARC previously advised me that .5 mV is as low as I should go, so I'm ok. I might get away with .4 mV, but not much less.

Btw, as to your comment re low capacitance I/Cs, I purchased custom made RCA cables from Tom Tutay, a well respected electronic design and repair gentleman. Tom said his I/Cs are very low resistance and only 19 pF per foot. So a 6 foot run should add roughly 115 or so pF, which I don't surmise is too much. FWIW, it seems that loading the carty at 100 ohms off the phono pre yields the best sound.

Last Q -- is it normal that the cantilever rides low'ish. It seems that the cartridge belly is only a millimeter or two above the record surface. Not much more.

Kudos to you and the master craftsmen who built a wonderful cartridge. Bruce

P.S. Listening to Stravinsky's Firebird, recorded on London records. Very, very nice!
Jcarr -- been playing the Kleos with some classical vinyl, e.g., H. von Karajan conducting the Berliner Philharmonic, Beethoven's 9th (DG). The Kleos does a very credible job of presenting an uncluttered soundstage. Considering all the action in the 4th movement, ... impressive. Unfortunately, I'm not lovin' the DG pressing of the 9th. I have a few better (e.g., G. Solti conducting Chicago Symph. Orchest., (London Phase 4).
Jacrr: You recommended periodic fluxbusting. Can you please clarify what you mean by periodic? Monthly? Every x hours of playing? Etc. Also, I have an Audioquest DM-1000 cartridge demagnetizer. What about using that instead of fluxbusting?

Finally, you wrote: " ...his subsequent correspondance suggests that he is clearly happier with the stock Delos than he was with the Soundsmith-retipped Helikon / Argo." In this case, was the "retipping" of the Delos a replacement of the stylus alone, or (as is more typical with Soundsmith) of the entire cantilever/stylus assembly?
Fluxbusting - Periodic means every 28 days, unless you are pregnant or past menopause.
JCarr's comments above related to a comparison between a Brand New Delos vs a Soundsmith re-tipped Helikon or Argo, the Delos was not retyped/rebuilt.
Dear Jonathan,
Speaking as an enthusiastic owner of the Delos, could you please clarify which parts of the typical Lyra MC benefit from the flux-busting technique you mentioned?

Many feel that there aren't enough ferrous materials in the typical MC to demag, and the ones that are there you wouldn't want to?
Would there be any long term deleterious effects from persistent demagging?
Kind regards...
Jcarr: Sorry, correction to my last post (IN CAPS, BELOW):

Finally, you wrote: " ...his subsequent correspondance suggests that he is clearly happier with the stock Delos than he was with the Soundsmith-retipped Helikon / Argo." In this case, was the "retipping" of the HELIKON/ARGO a replacement of the stylus alone, or (as is more typical with Soundsmith) of the entire cantilever/stylus assembly?