The Lyra Argo Moving-Coil Cartridge
Hi Fi Plus 01 September 2006 Full Review
Although by no means the most expensive Lyra cartridge, the Argo is a very impressive performer. My over-whelming first impression was one of sharpness, attack, and immediacy. The tonal balance was very open; lucid and detailed, rather than rich or warm. High frequencies sounded very extended, giving the top-end a crisp highly articulate quality. Musical presentation was analytical rather than smooth or beguiling, though don’t take this to imply a lack of refinement.
As so often with pickups that dispense with body covering, the Argo has a lovely openness - a complete absence of coloration. Tonally, the treble sounds very natural and extended. Transient attack was excellent; percussion instruments had impressive attack and immediacy. At the same time there’s an equally impressive sense of sounds stopping. Musically, this creates a tight ‘abrupt’ quality. There’s nothing lazy or flaccid about the Argo. It sounds very immediate and purposeful.
All this makes the Argo excellent on LPs that ordinarily sound dull and/or compressed. During the review period I played quite a few ’70s pop records, and was surprised and impressed at the way the Argo managed to open-out the sound and reveal lots of hidden detail. Stereo separation was very wide, creating a broad soundstage that had excellent width as well as depth. Despite having a sharp extended treble, surface noise was very low.
Given a reasonably good LP, the music seemed to emanate from an inky-black silent background. Of course on LPs that are scratched or damaged there will inevitably be some disturbance. But the Argo is not a pickup that emphasises problems. Rather, it has a happy knack of finding the ‘quiet’ part of the record groove. As a result, low-level groove ‘mush’ (the general hubbub of gentle ticks swishes and rustles) is minimised - even on those dodgy pressings from the ’70s!
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