Reviews

LYRA

Lyra Connoisseur 4-2P SE

Hi Fi Plus 01 April 2012 Full Review

Each time I revisit the whole issue of phono-stages I discover anew just how critical they are to system performance - and just how breathtakingly wonderful a really good one can be.

Faced with the double challenge of being first up in the electronic line of fire as well as having to deal with signals that can be 1000 times smaller than any others in the system, the humble phono-stage faces a hard time. But the greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity, and the best phono-stages have the chance to move you closer to the music than any other single unit in your system; even closer than the record player itself, because as hard as the turntable, arm and cartridge have to try and as critical as they are of set up, it’s the sheer fragility of the signal they produce that constitutes the system’s greatest stumbling block. A great phono-stage can produce astonishing results from even a run of the mill turntable (so long as it is functioning properly). Try feeding the signal from a £10000 turntable into a basic phono-stage and take a listen to what comes out of the other end… You’ll soon get the point I’m making.

To date, the best phono-replay systems that I’ve heard (by some margin) come from Lyra Connoisseur (reviewed in Issue 16) and Kondo Japan (reviewed in Issue 43), the latter a complete electrical chain from stylus tip to line-stage inputs, involving a cartridge, cabling, step-up transformer and tube MM stage with RIAA equalisation. Of course, Connoisseur users also enjoy the potential benefits of a “matching” cartridge in the shape of Lyra’s Titan-i (or Olympos), although this doesn’t come close to the continuity of having exactly the same conductor throughout the chain, including transformer windings!


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