Review: Lyra Skala Cartridge

Category: Analog

About a month ago I took the plunge and traded in my beloved Lyra Helicon that I'd owned for over 3 years. Nothing really seemed wrong. In fact, the Helicon has wonderful bass, endless detail, great imaging. It's the curse in this hobby to try something new huh !

Enter the Lyra Skala. Litteraly almost a drop in upgrade. Changed the overhang less that .5 mm. Adjusted the VTF to mfg recommendations. Have been changing VTF some due to the cartridge breaking in. All be ear adjustments. Anti-skating set by eye per lyra's instructions. The simpliest set up I've ever done. It's almost like Lyra did this on purpose for Helicon owners.

Other system details not listed in the link. I run a din to xlr tonearm cable (Purist Venstas) in to a fully balanced phono stage (BAT VKP10SE superpak)

If you're familar with the Helicon, at first listen, you'll hear several things with the Skala...sweeter, more detail, more quiet background. Even though I loved my Helicon, my system, was a little on the nuetral side sometimes. The Skala goes a long way to warm things up ever so slightly. It's a not a huge voicing difference-but just enough for me. Helicon owners with a quick listen will here an improvement-not overwhelming. Sit down, spin a few lp''ll change your mind. There's a lot "more" there now.

Ok-the big changes. DETAIL. DEAD QUEIT backgroud. DEPTH & HEIGHT. DYNAMICS in the midrange. I put those in caps for a reason. The Helicon was no slouch in any area, but the Skala is a significant improvment in these areas. Oh my, I've never heard so much from my vinyl set up. It's not so much that the Skala is spotlighting, it's the super low noise floor allows this to emerge. The images are bigger, rounder, and more distinct from one another. Stage is wider and much deeper.

Some other improvements from the Helicon are deeper bass, tigher and a sweeter more extended top end.

With trade in, the Skala cost me $1700. Very much worth the difference, for me, and my system. Music I typically listen to is Jazz (Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly etc), Light rock (Norah jones, Sarah Maclaughlin), Classical - small string quartets etc. Compared to the Helicon, Nothing goes backwards. A very worthwhile improvement.

Thanks for reading !

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

Similar products
Lyra Helicon
Very interesting. I heard, that the new Skala does a few things very different than the Lyras before. Do you think, it is based on it's plastic body only?
Hard to say if it's the plastic. Maybe it absorbs some resonances...maybe it tranmits vibs better. Anyway, I'm listening to it now. It's really is a wonderful cartridge.

It's the warmth that's different. I've owned a lydian b and a helicon. Both were great..but I longed for something...this one hit's it in the mids just right for me. While improving on all the lyra strengths...detail, imaging...etc...
Can the Skala play 7" polystyrene 45's (Epic's, Columbia's, and A&M's from the 80's) without damaging (shaving) them ?

My Ortofon Jubilee can, but my Dynavector 17D3 cannot.
Hi, I can't answer this. I'd send a note to the Lyra importer for the US. If you overseas..then there is a link there for Lyra.

Good luck

I just happened upon your review of your Skala cart. Thanks for a nice job and highlighting the differences you heard in comparison to the Helikon.

As a former owner of the Helikon and now owner of the newer Argo i..I can say that it may be that the new updated design such as the Skala and Argo i offer more warmth and dynamics, while keeping the wonderful Lyra virtues of speed, transparency and Air..I never heard bass so well defined and deep with my old Helikon as I do with the Argo i. I can well imagine that your Skala goes well beyond what my Argo i does in those areas.

The Helikon is indeed a very nice cart and in the right system will reward greatly..but no doubt the new designs from Lyra are just getting better in a few key areas of performance.

BTW..Your system is just beautiful. Congratulations!
Thanks for an excellent review of the Skala. Your review was partly instrumental in my upgrade from a Helikon to a Skala. The Skala is a little over a month old and I suppose has some way to go before break in. It clearly is a superior cartridge compared to the Helikon. It has all the attributes of the Helikon including bottom end slam with smoother and a warmer high. With my current favorite LP - Shelby Lynne - Just a little bit of lovein, I am in vinyl heaven.
Cheers and Happy listening
I just got the Shelby Lynne lp in the mail last night...sound like I need to open it ! Good luck with your skala...sounds like you have a similar experience to me...