The Atlas is Lyra’s flagship model. It is also the first time that anyone has made an asymmetrically structured phono cartridge. Why asymmetric? Because, by literally misplacing the barriers to great sound that are present in every other cartridge today, it confers a number of important performance benefits.
Linear transducers such as loudspeakers and phono cartridges are inherently inefficient devices – somewhere between 5 and 10%. In other words, of the vibrational energy that enters a cartridge from the LP groove, only 5 to 10% will be converted into electrical signal. Some of the remaining 90 to 95% will be dissipated by the cartridge’s internal damping system, but much of the excess vibrational energy will reflect inside the cartridge, creating internal echoes, smearing, and a general diminishing of fidelity. It is easy to demonstrate this with many cartridges – play a highly modulated LP with the power amp turned off, and bring your ear close to the cartridge. The “needle-talk” that you hear is excess vibrational energy which isn’t being controlled properly.
To help conduct this excess vibrational energy into the headshell, where it can be safely dissipated within the greater mass of the tonearm and turntable plinth, Lyra has traditionally mounted the cantilever directly into the cartridge body, resulting in a rigid, seamless connection between the cantilever assembly and tonearm headshell (we remain the only manufacturer to do so).
When Atlas was being designed, however, we realized that it is not only important to link the cantilever to headshell with a rigid, unbroken path, but that further sonic gains could be obtained if all objects and voids were removed from the path. Atlas’ asymmetric shape was conceived partly with this goal in mind, so that the screw and screwhole securing the front magnet carrier could be moved out of the way of the mechanical path connecting cantilever to headshell.
Freed of any obstructions or voids, the rigid, direct path established between cantilever and headshell is highly effective at draining away vibrations once they have been converted into electrical signals, suppressing induced resonances and internal reflections that would otherwise manifest as sonic colorations and overhang. A narrowed mounting area couples Etna more tightly to the headshell and facilitates the transfer of vibrational energy into the tonearm, giving even better control over spurious resonances.
Also, Atlas’ differently-shaped structures on the left and right sides suppress the formation of standing waves inside the cartridge body, thereby creating a less resonant, more neutral cartridge body than would be otherwise possible.
Atlas employs a yokeless dual magnet system, diamond-coated boron rod cantilever and Lyra designed variable-radius line-contact stylus (major radius 70 micrometers, minor radius 3 micrometers, block dimensions 0.08 x 0.12 x 0.5mm, mounted within a slot machined into the front of the cantilever), and builds the cantilever assembly directly into the titanium body structure.