The Skala is the first of LYRA designer Jonathan Carr’s 5th-generation cartridge designs. At first sight the Skala appears to be made entirely of plastic, one of our distributors has even described it as a “formless white plastic blob!” However, we don’t mind (not too much, anyway). The Skala is a thoroughbred design focused on delivering pure performance.
Close inspection of the Skala gradually reveals a central structure consisting of a vertical metal blade that carries the cantilever system, the magnets and the output pins, i.e. the entire functional core of the cartridge. The blade is clamped against the tonearm headshell by an outer white plastic base into which are drilled the mounting screw holes. Looking from the rear, you can see that the vertical blade passes right through the base and makes direct contact with the headshell. Since the cantilever system is also mounted directly to the blade, the cantilever has, in effect, a seamless connection path to the tonearm.
The metal blade of the Skala in effect functions without the resonant carapace of a traditional shell, in addition to being “nude” like the other Lyra designs.
The small contact “footprint” of the blade focuses the force imparted by the mounting screws, creating a high-pressure contact area which forms a more rigid bond between Skala and tonearm headshell than the larger mounting surface of a conventional cartridge could provide. The white plastic base forces the vertical metal blade of the Skala against the tonearm’s headshell, and serves to constrain and damp resonances in the blade, and to reduce conductive material in the total body structure reducing eddy currents.
Although the plastic base is pretty much flush with the metal blade where contact is made with the headshell, the plastic will compress under pressure, while the blade will not. This allows a limited degree of azimuth adjustment to be made by the careful application of different amounts of torque to left and right mounting screws. Extreme care should be taken to tighten both mounting screws gradually and evenly, a little at a time. Over cranking one screw and then doing the same for the other could result in an unintentional change to the azimuth. The drilled holes in the plastic body are themselves lined with metal jackets to receive the mounting screws securely.
The magnetic system in the Skala is the same non-polepiece twin-disc direct-magnet system also used in most other LYRA models. However the body shape has been even more heavily carved away in the area of the magnet than any previous model– even more than on the Titan. This results in fewer eddy currents in a very sensitive area of the cartridge. New elements are a new non-conductive and non-magnetic front magnet carrier, a new cantilever system, a new output pin design, and a new output-pin carrier. The stylus guard is the same grooved slide-on type that has proven so successful on the other LYRA models.
Designer: Jonathan Carr
Builder: Yoshinori Mishima
Type: Medium weight, medium compliance, low-impedance moving coil cartridge
Stylus: Lyra-designed long-footprint variable-radius line-contact nude diamond (3um x 70um), slot-mounted
Cantilever system: Solid boron rod with short one-point wire suspension, directly mounted into cartridge vertical pillar
Coils: 2-layer deep, 6N high-purity copper, square-shaped chemically-purified high-purity iron former, 5.4ohm self-impedance, 9.1uH inductance
Output voltage: 0.5mV@5cm/sec., zero to peak, 45 degrees (CBS test record, other test records may alter results)
Frequency range: 10Hz ~ 50kHz
Channel separation: 35dB or better at 1kHz
Compliance: Approx. 12 x 10-6cm/dyne at 100Hz
Vertical tracking angle: 20 degrees
Cartridge body: Two-piece composite structure, each piece controlling resonances within the other: Vertical “pillar” is one-piece machining from spring-grade phosphor bronze solid billet, with reduced-surface higher-pressure headshell contact area; horizontal “body” is one-piece machining from high-loss polymer, with threaded brass inserts for mounting screws
Cartridge mounting screws: 2.6mm 0.45 pitch JIS standard
Distance from mounting holes to stylus tip: 9.5mm
Cartridge weight (without stylus cover): 9g
Recommended tracking force: 1.65 ~ 1.75g
Recommended load directly into MC phono input: 95.3ohm ~ 816ohm (determine by listening)
Recommended load via step-up transformer: 5 ~ 15ohm (step-up transformer’s output must be connected to 10kohm ~ 47kohm MM-level RIAA input, preferably via short, low-capacitance cable)
Recommended tonearms: High-quality pivoted or linear (tangential) tonearms with rigid bearing(s), adjustable anti-skating force, preferably VTA adjustment