Lyra Titan i with a Manley Steelhead....settings??

Just got the Titan-i after trading in my Helikon to Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, Fla. Sounds great!

Question...what settings/configuration of the Manley Steelhead pre-amp would be optimum?

I'm running it through the MM inputs now (on the advice of the previous owner who said this avoided step-up transformer....etc and was purer sound). But, the Titan is an MC cartridge... so?

Also, regarding gain....what are the trade-offs? I've got the gain on the Manley all the way up on the 65 setting, and there's NO problem with volume when running everything into the McIntosh C-100 preamp. It just gets quieter, maybe less 'dynamic' on the lower gain settings....but, why would anyone want less gain?

Then, there's all those Load capacitances and Z's to choose from....... Can't say I hear any differences twisting the knobs. Whassupwiddat?

Any help//advices welcomed.

Thanks, in advance.
I'm surprised the "boys" here haven't stopped by to comment, and while I am no authority on neither the Lyra Titan i, or Manley Steelhead, I might be able to help, and fill in, while the fellas are absent?

If Neil (nsgarch) were to stop in, he probably suggest the 25X rule, using this number as a multiplier times the internal inpedance of the Cartridge (In Ohms)
So, with that being said, and if the internal impedance was 4 Ohms, that would mean an optimum load setting of 100 Ohms.

In regards to this, I understand there is of course leeway with a Cartridge such as virtually all of the Lyras, as well as other brands, and you'd probably find that many users do indeed load these Cartridges to 47K Ohms, just like a MM Cartridge, and are perfectly happy with the sound.

Mr. J. Carr of Lyra does stop in here from time to time, and since he designed these Cartridges, he's no doubt "The Man with the Plan", and can certainly make better recommendations than I can.

I'd probably be correct in saying at this point, with the Cartridge not having many hours on it, you'll probably notice little difference, no matter what load settings you try. This Cartridge is no doubt far from exhibiting its best sound, and J Carr, and others can give you a more exact figure when this Cartridge should essentially be fully broken in. (The Archives might help you in this department, just search Lyra under the Analog Section)

Then after break-in will be the time, to try different settings, and to note how the sound is, and the best advice I can give, is to load it to the best sound that you like, there's really no wrong one can do to a Cartridge with different loading settings. Sometimes 47K might sound a little bit too loose, and lacking control.

As for your Manley's Gain, if the Titan i has the gain that I think it does, which I've seen listed in two publications as being .5mv, then 65db Gain might be a tad too high-hot?

Don't use the volume level comparison of your CD Player to judge what will work best. If the Titan is indeed .5mv, I would think a setting closer to 58db-60db max might be a better choice. With gain set too high, things might get raw sounding, akin to like your overdiving a guitar amplifier. Listen for cleanliness of sound, best combination of quiet background from the Manley, yet with enough gain to not make the Cartridge sound anemic, and that you have to crank that Mac Pre-Amp to 79 to get loud sound.

I think good advice would be to rely a bit more on the MAc's Gain Control, rather than having it too much at the Manley, that perhaps an incorrect setting would be when the Mac's readout is at 12, you're blowing yourself out of the house!

Definitely read the archives, there's mucho info on all the Lyras. Mark
I wouldn't agree to avoid the coils on the Steelhead, I love the coiled coupled inputs, but I have tubed system. I hooked up solid state amps a couple of times, and what sounded good through tubed amps sounded almost phosphorescent with the solid state amps, so whether you use the MC or MM might be a matter of taste or system matching or the tubes you use in the 6922 slot. I find the MC input much more delicate and refined sounding on my system.
The internal impedance of the Lyra is about 5.5 ohms, so that would match with the 25 impedance setting if you use the MC input, but probably 100 or above with the MM input. It is easy to just listen to get the setting that sounds best, don't just rely on specs, that what you got the Steelhead for is its flexibility. You can leave the load capacitance at 0 with MC cartridges.
I believe that the 50 and 55 gain settings use just one half of the small triode, and the 60 and 65 settings use both halves, so you might try 55 and see if the sound is cleaner that way. I find that the 55 setting with MC sounds best overall, but they all sound great.
Thanks, sound well versed in using these combinations. I will try the MC inputs as you suggest and change some of the settings.

Yes, thanks to Mark and Cjf....I have now set the Manley/Titan on the MC inputs, and the controls are MUCH more active/interactive.

I do indeed now hear large differences in the control changes...Mark...thanks for the "insight" into what exactly I'm doing by changing that gain (re:using tubes).
And Cjf, I've started with your recommended settings and am "experimenting" from them....

Must admit, I'm liking running the gain a little 'hot' at 60....but 65 was too much. Now, my Mac pre-amp is at 47 for easy listening.

Still not hearing any real discernible differences with the load capacitances.

So, my Titan will "break in"? Have maybe 10 hours on it now. What happens? and when? :)

Look forward to hearing from the "boys" also.

Thanks a million!


You are doing the right thing -- experimenting -- as there is no such thing as a "right" setting. You actually should not expect to hear a change in sound by changing the capacitance loading. Capacitance loading affects moving magnet cartridges, but not moving coils.

I have a Titan, coupled to a Viva Fono tube phono stage that utilizes a step up transformer. In both this stage and with a Levinson No. 32 preamp, the Lyra was much LESS sensitive to loading than other cartridges, such as the Transfiguration Orpheus and Temper B. I currently load the Viva at 460 ohms, but in the Levinson, I ran the Titan close to wide open and unloaded (either 47k ohms or 100k ohms).

By the way, I have not heard the Steelhead with the Titan, but I've heard it with Allaerte and Koetsu cartridges and I thought it is a very good phono stage.
I've not heard the Steel Head with the Titan-i,but have heard the CJ phonostage with it ALOT.This replaced the original Titan and then the Helikon,like you had.
The only somewhat meaningful advice I can offer is.....when it sounds so good that you want to open your window,and shout your glee to the world,that is when it is set up "right"!!
The cartridge is absolutely amazing!!!Of that I am quite certain.
Good luck.
Hello John, Well, the boys might be taking a short vacation, but all is not lost, as the boys have left tons of valuable information in thier wake.

Although I don't personally know him, I believe Mr Carr to be a great guy, and willing to share his expertise, to give you some good pointers. I suggest if you can, to email him, with some specific questions, and I know he will help you.

My eternally good buddy, and Optical Designer extrordinare who is now recently deceased at age 50, Thomas M. Back, used the Lyra Titan, and loved it.

Seems all these high end MC's will change, and metamorphize as the hours go by. Some MC's sound horrible when new, some less so, but I believe all will improve, with better Bass authority, and slam, and won't sound recessed, the Mids, and Highs will begin to smooth, the Highs will begin to display better extension, things like Cymbals will begin to shimmer, and come to life. You'll note certain areas of the frequency spectrum begin coming to life, a little at a time, then a little more, and more, and the overall balance will start to even out.

While I have never owned a Lyra Cartridge, I'd think probably 50-80 hours (and perhaps more?) for full break in to fully realize what the potential of this world class Cartridge has to offer. Funny how these MC Cartridges can be sometimes. One day, you'll perhaps put on an LP, and all of a sudden, bang, the sound just magically opens up, with glorious sound, that just draws you in, and places a big smile on your face!

That's what the Lyra Titan-Steelhead will do, I have no doubt, once all comes together.

I would adjust VTA at, or very near the high end of the suggested VTF range for the first 40 hours, and then start making critical checks, and adjustments to both VTF, VTA, Antiskate, and double check every other setting as well.(alignment-Azimuth-etc)

Then, you will better recogize the difference the Loading settings will make, and once this Cartridge really begins to come to force, you can of course again experiment with even different gain settings again if you like?

Don't assume nothing's going to change, and that your initial thought to be optimum settings will be all that is needed. As time is accumilated, do go back, and tweak to achieve the best performance you can each time.

Thank you moderators for letting me help! I'm starting to sort of feel like one of the big league players here! Best of luck John! Mark
Dear Mark,wonderful feedback.Thanks,from someone,like me,who loves new and interesting feedback.Just for the possibility of getting a different view from others...Harmless fun!!
So sorry to hear about your pal!!I truly know "some" of the emotions you must feel,as I have sadly lost four family members,and a dear friend in the last 18 months.
We "do" move on,but I think it all makes us a bit stronger too....Nice to have passionate interests to give us a lift....My dad always knew this!!
Hey, cjfrbw.....just to confirm, I have been experimenting and am finding I like that 25 ohm Z setting. It just brings the cartridge alive, especially in the bass. Adding more seems to lean it out. (But, I didn't understand how you equated the 5.5ohm internal resistance of the Titan i to that 25ohm Z setting )??

And, interestingly, with my solid state system pre-amp, putting the Manley on gain of 60 (vs 55) and using both halves of the triode tube gives my sound more "roundness and lushness"....maybe more "tube-like"? :) 65 is, however, too much of a good thing.

The turntable is now 'definitely' kicking cd-ass!!! Before all this, it was the other way around.
All it took was replacingthe Helikon with the Titan, adding the Manley with some Harmonic Technology Silver tonearm cable, and then connecting the Manley to the system with Valhalla. (I'm joking about 'all it took'). A lot of money, but in the end worth it.

I especially love the Titan-i cartridge!

Thanks for all the help and opinions.
With coil inputs, the optimal power transfer occurs when the impedance of coil input is as close as possible to the cartridge impedance, which with the Steelhead would be the 25 setting for a Lyra with internal impedance of 5.5. With MM input and no coil, the rule of thumb is to use an resistance that is 20-50 times the cartridge impedance, which would be above 100, although according to taste and experimentation, you might like to go as high as 47k to get more 'air' from the cartridge. Again, you can tune to taste, even for the coils, although the volume will drop for the MC input above the closest impedance setting.
Input impedances are different for coils and straight MM amplification stages.
You should continue to experiment. I have the Steelhead and have used a Titan i as well as the Airtight. The Titan is extremely VTA sensitive, compared to the Airtight. I also had better success using the MM inputs, setting @ 100 if memory serves. Of course, I am using horns and certainly didn't need the added brightness that I seemed to get via the MC inputs. Parts of the spectrum seemed very alive, but the MC input also seemed to create an unevenness in the spectrum, top to bottom, with certain frequencies brightly lit, and quite airy, and others rather attenuated. Maybe I was hearing ringing, or some kind of mismatch, but I spent a fair amount of time horsing around with it. The Airtight sounds far less spotlit than the Lyra, but very musical. Enjoy. BTW, NOS tubes seem to make a big difference in the Steelhead, if you really want to play around with it.
I agree with Whart about the extreme VTA sensitivity of the Titan. A change of as little as .3mm of height at the armpost (Vector arm, which is 9" in length), makes a substantial change in the sound.

JBatlanta, as you have noted, going to a higher numerical value of resistance in the loading (which actually DECREASES loading because it is in parallel), causes the bass to thin out. You would get a similar result by increasing VTA (raising the armpost of the tonearm). Thus, the two adjustments have a similar, but not identical impact on sound. This means that if your VTA is too high, you could sort of compensate by choosing a lower value loading; this would sound okay, but not ideal. I think it might be worthwhile to change VTA and then reset your loading by ear to determine whether you can get even better results.

The 25 ohm value you settled on seems to be low (a lot of loading), based on my experience and that of another Titan owner. Our phono stages are different, though we both use tube stages with a step up transformer at the front end. It could be the right setting in your setup, but it could also be compensating for too high VTA. That is why I suggest experimenting with lowering your arm just a bit, and then seeing if a different loading would get you to an even better result.

Have fun.

~ how may turns on the VTA dial = .3mm change? I have a Vector Mk3 and a Lyra Titan i on a 2800.


I don't have the VTA adjustment mechanism. I have made a set of spacers out of 1/2" PVC pipe that have been filed down to different heights. The spacers differ in height by .3 mm (measured on a set of calipers). This difference is easy to hear. Perhaps one could discern an even smaller increment, but, I would have to make a ridiculous number of spacers.

You obviously have a much easier time making changes with the VTA guage. This is a big plus with the Titan. I don't know if the Titan is particularly sensitive or whether one easily hears the change because the top end of that cartridge is so clear, detailed and extended.