Lyra Skala installation

Hi everybody,

I just bought an awesome Lyra Skala mc low output cartridge and I have so many doubts about his right calibration/instalation.

My analog front end consist of Clearaudio Champion Level II turntable, SME 309 tone arm, Jelco JAC 502 phono cable, LFD MC-2 phono pre, Mark Levinson 380s pre, Krell FPB 300Cx amp and Wilson Audio W/P system 5.1 everything cabled by the classical Cello Strings.

My first doubt is about screws. What dou you recommend to my Lyra/SME combo? I have 3 options, large/medium/small height.

I got the best sound from the Lyra at 1,66 vtf weight and 1,6 antiskating force but I would have to get some more feedback from other users (Jcarr?)

I also would like to be recommended by a better phono cable. Which phono cable do you recommend?

What size of vinyl do you prefer to calibrate de HTA? 120g? 140g? 180g? 200g?

Finally I would want to say that this Lyra produces an amazing sound, fast, detailed, open, dynamic, warm... and it is probably imho the emd of my analog road. I would like to say thanks to Jonathan Carr for make so excelent mc cartridge to the audiophile and music lovers.

Kindest regards
So far had 3 Lyras: Beta, Argo, Titan. Titan not realy belongs to my system since it worth more than my TT/arm together, but purchased at a steal price, keep it untouched up until upgrade to more expensive analogue probably similar to yours, not for resale or transfer cose there's no cartrige line that superior to Lyra performance characteristics at any given price.

My main tweak/tip that I've discoverd is not to connect firmly to the top of cartridge shells but to space it with washers between cartridge body and body of headshell. Therefore I would recommend using longer screws enough to handle combined length with spacers and nuts. It gives an additional mechanical isolation that improves 'immunity' from arm imperfections.

The VTF I usually set up in the range of 1.75 where it tracks the best with no rumble even at high volumes and than adjust VTA to the best performance.

I'm Rega arm owner(Technoarm), Previously I used RB300 with Incognito wires that sounded superior to Technoarm but it got busted by kids to unrepairable condition:-(. Thinking that Technoarm would be better and available rightaway without waiting to rewire, I've purchased it. It has same phono cable as Origin Live(Cardas?)
In your situation I would doubt to have significant improvement to the stock phono wire you currently have.

I prefer to adjust on 80g vinyl since there's not much of heavy vinyl in my collection. So I may suggest setting up for the most of your collection or to the most frequently listenable records.

Hope that helps.
Indeed, I never trust them, too. They are are simply too round and the length is confusion, too. Go for medium.
Well, it depends on world climate mainly. When it is dark outside I go for 1,654790, when raining outside to 1,7456890 and when my mother in law is here: 1,70
Should be shielded, low resistance. XLO Signature is better than the Cardas (better high frequency area) but there are more choices out there.
For each record new
Thanks both for your inputs ;-D

I know 1,66g VTF sounds funny but I checked it and differences in bass articulation, air and scene laidback. Seriously.

I also add to my phono cable list XLO, thanks

What about screws? Vta? ... I used in the past spacers but I had bad sonic results, I also use some matts (cork, leather...) but again bad results...

The best screws are copper. They have a good inner damping, and are sonically neutral. The worst is aluminum. VTA depends on the records you are listening to, because this depends on the contact area of the side walls from the diamond and the cutter head. When you have lots of modern records or reissues, best position is level. When you want to go deeper in the analog treasures you have to buy an Arm with adjustable VTA during play.
Most mats are a joke, no serious background, more or less good for nothing except sniping money. Boston mat is one of the good ones when you want one.
Use a clamp, it has the task to hold the record (even when some swear on heavy ones which will ruin their bearing after a while). I use Orsonic DS 200G. Can be used when the platter is spinning...
Hi Pojuojuo:

The VTF and antiskating that you chose are well within our recommendations, so it doesn't sound like you have problems. One thing to keep in mind is that as temperatures drop with the onset of winter, the optimal VTF is very likely to increase a bit.

Regarding screw lengths, the Skala has a somewhat unusual construction in that the white polymer horizontal "base" section is comparatively soft and designed to compress when the mounting screws are tightened, thereby tensioning the phosphor-bronze vertical "blade" section firmly against the headshell. To make this concept work, only the final 2.5mm part of the white base section is tapped. That is, the base section is 6.5mm thick, but only the lower 2.5mm (the side closest to the LP) are threaded. You want the mounting screws to fully engage the 2.5mm threaded section, and the screw length should be at least headshell thickness + 6.5mm. Note that, due to the reduced contact patch between the phosphor bronze "blade" section and the headshell, you do not need to tighten the mounting screws with as much force as you would with many other cartridges. Indeed, you shouldn't use excess force, since you may run the risk of damaging the polymer base.

Regarding screw materials, I agree with Syntax that aluminum doesn't sound very good, but I am not that fond of copper either, besides, 2.6mm copper screws are not easy to find. It is possible to obtain 2.6mm JIS-standard brass screws, and there is nothing wrong with using them - other than the sound (which is admittedly personal preference). The screws that are supplied with all of the Lyra cartridges are a special grade of stainless steel alloyed with copper, and this is a robust material that I find sounds better than most stainless steels.

I prefer phosphor bronze over copper or brass, but I have not seen anyone producing 2.6mm JIS-pitch phosphor bronze screws. Another good-sounding screw material is titanium, but it should be machined, not cast or forged. I have listened to cast titanium (bad-sounding) and forged titanium (not quite as bad-sounding), and neither approaches the sound quality of a machined-from billet titanium screw. But again, I don't know of anyone producing machined 2.6mm JIS-pitch titanium screws, and I suspect that the price will not be cheap.

One more comment regarding screws - the mounting screwthreads on the Skala (and all other Lyra cartridges) are 2.6mm and made to JIS standards. They are not 2.5mm, and they are not made to DIN or other standards. 2.5mm screws or DIN-spec screws will not sound as good as 2.6mm JIS screws (due to improper fit), and they may end up damaging the Skala body.

Regarding Marakanetz's suggestion to sandwich washers between the cartridge and headshell, while I acknowledge that there are some tonearms that will sound less problematic if the mechanical vibrations from the cartridge are not fed directly into the tonearm structure, a tonearm with good bearings and a good mechanical structure will not require such filtering, and the sound will be better as a result. FWIW, I have installed a Skala on a RB-1000 without any mechanical isolation between cartridge and headshell, and got quite pleasing results.

Regarding phono cable choice, please be aware that the total amount of shunt capacitance between the Skala and the input of the phono stage has a strong effect on the optimal value for the input resistor of the phono stage, and the bulk of this capacitance will be comprised by the phono cable. Therefore I recommend that you use a phono cable with as little capacitance as possible. Having less capacitance will allow you to use a higher-value resistance at the phono stage, and this will allow the Skala to produce more of the dynamics and resolution that it is capable of. Conversely, if the capacitance (combined value of phono stage, phono cable, and wiring inside tonearm) is higher, you will need to use lower-value resistance at the phono stage, and this will curtail the ultimate level of performance that the Skala is able to deliver in your system.

Regarding platter mats, I concur with Syntax's recommendation of the Boston Audio Mat 1 (good) or Mat 2 (better). ART in Italy used to make a nice-sounding carbon graphite mat, but they are out of business (you may be able to find one second-hand).

Regarding clamps, ideally you should have a clamp with adjustable force, because there is such a thing as optimal weight / force, neither too little, nor too much, and the optimal weight changes depending on the LP thickness and vinyl formulation.

kind regards, jonathan carr
Thanks Marakanetz, Syntax and Jcarr for your really interesting inputs.

Finally I would like to comment something about the VTA.

Reading some information about it in the Van den Hul FAQ webpage he recommends to increase 4-6mm the pilar's height but In my humble opinion I totally disagree with this point, at least with my others mc cartridges (Clearaudio, Benz Micro) results were really bad.

I usually adjust the cartridges with the SME recommendation, this set the cartridge conpletely pararel to the platter.

What experience doy you have with Lyra VTA?

Thanks again
Lyras too love to be parallel to platter where they sound the best.

Screws, 1,6mm extra long from the headshell
Vta paralel to the platter
No matts or try some carbon graphite one
Vtf to 1,65~1.75 depending on the room temp
Antiskating from 1,6 to 1,7
Ultra low capacitance phono cable like Cardas or XLO

Anything else?

Thanks again everybody to answer so fast my first doubts about my analog front end
Another item to add to your laundry list is an arc or a Feickert protractor to ensure that overhang is accurately set. The Feickert will also measure pivot to spindle distance. If these two items are not accurately adjusted, the rest is for naught.
I fully agree with SBrown regarding the desirability of an accurate cartridge alignment system.

Yes, I would try level VTA as a starting point (but please do experiment).

One more option on mounting screws could be a manganese-copper-nickel-iron alloy called M2052, which was made as a vibration-damping metal.

Here are some links

removable universal headshells are also made from this material, see
look for CS-1750

I have no affiliations with the above links. IME, M2052 has a quite noticeable damping effect, but personal tastes as well as system compatibility will determine whether you like the effects or not.

As an aside, when (metric) bolts rather than wood screws have been used to attach speaker drivers to loudspeaker cabinets, replacing the standard items with M2052 equivalents can be a quite worthwhile improvement (again subject to the vagaries of personal tastes and system compatibility).

kind regards, jonathan carr
I'll need a Kanji translator for those links Jonnathan.

Are 2.6mm screws standard for cartridges?
Very nice explanation of the different screw material qualities by Jonathan Carr!

Where can I get those Lyra M2.6 screws in Europe?