Published On: February 13, 1991

Parnassus Cartridge Reviewed

Published On: February 13, 1991

Parnassus Cartridge Reviewed

Audiophile reviewer, Ken Kessler, laments the 1991 death of vinyl while looking at this expensive cartridge designed for audiophile nirvana. Does heavy metal sound better? Without question. Read more in the full review here.

Parnassus_cartridge_review.gif

Lydian, Clavis and now Parnassus -- a genuine hat trick for a new(-ish) manufacturer. What's most remarkable is that it's a trio of cartridges, hardly hot currency in 1991. But the analoguists, watching the record racks in the shops shrink before their very eyes, still have enough 'presence' to justify the creation of new moving-coil designs this late in the game, and Lyra looks set to satisfy whatever demand remains.

Additional Resources
• Read more source component reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find a receiver to pair with this source.
• See more about the audiophile world at AudiophileReview.com.
• Discuss all kinds of gear at hometheaterequipment.com.

It is, however, starting to sound like a formula: Reviewer hears awesome cartridge. Reviewer laments the passing of vinyl. Reviewer makes some maudlin remark about, 'If only we'd had cartridges like this in '83...' But it doesn't matter. In the here-and-now, enough of you still play records, enough of you still want to eke out the maximum, and the Parnassus is aimed precisely at your tonearm.

At first, it looks like a Clavis with a slight colour change and gold trim on the body's Swiss cheese perforations. Lyra is sticking with the flat-top, chamfered-side shape first seen all the way back to the time they were called Tsurugis, and it works well enough...especially as it's made-to-measure for those who prefer to play their cartridges alfresco. Again, there are screws on the sides, accessible even when the cartridge has been fitted, which allow quick removal of the body shell. And, again, you do this at your own risk, because it does subject the delicate innards to the nasties of the atmosphere in even a spotless home.

The body has been drilled for lightness, true, but the pattern of holes is quite specific. In the best VPI Brick/HFN Fluxdumper/Grado manner, Lyra refers to the way the eddy currents around the magnets affect the sound; the pattern is said to reduce these. This lightened shell is precision-machined from a solid block of non-resonant aluminium alloy and seems even less detectable than the body of the Clavis if left in place. It suggests that, while Lyra all but implores/condones the removal of the body for superior performance, the company is also making it less necessary.

The big change inside is the use of the latest in platinum/iron composite magnets

In the case of the Parnassus, the core and pole pieces are made from 5N high-purity copper while the magnet itself is a platinum-iron mix containing 70% of the dearer stuff. As with all gains in magnet design, the new kid on the block is stronger and more precise in its behaviour.

The rest of the design consists of the usual big-in-Japan tweakery, Lyra's parent company Scan-Tech showing a remarkable facility for incorporating into its products the street-level audiophilia which most manufacturers don't even learn about until they've been out of fashion for a year. The business end features an Ogura PA line-contact, ultra-low mass diamond fitted to a Ceralloy (ceramic and aluminium alloy) cantilever, for better tracking and a higher resonant frequency. The coils are made of 6N high-purity, stress-free (no parental abuse?) copper wire. happy marriage?

Spec-wise, the Parnassus is a classic, track-at-1.8-to-2g design with enough output to work adequately into a 47k ohm input. The cartridge is a bit hefty at 12.5g (deduct 3g for the shell if you run it naked), but the SME V and medium compliance make this about as easy a cartridge to install as anything in the high-end arena. One note worth mentioning, though, is its affinity for cartridge demagnetization. The blurb suggests a once-a-month blast from a demag; I used the Audioquest device after the first month's use and confirmed the company's support for such periodic attention.

Read more about the Parnassus cartridge on Page 2.
Parnassus_cartridge_review.gif

With Lydian, Clavis, Ken Chan Koetsu, Denon 103 Gold and Urushi to hand, I was able to pin down the unique qualities of the Parnassus with some ease; a natural pecking order with 'types of virtues' emerged which seemed almost too obvious. The three Lyras share a family resemblance, with gains in two areas evident as you move up the scale. The transition from Lydian to Clavis to Parnassus is one of improved transparency and gains in detail, though they are not constant. The step between Lydian and Clavis showed a greater gain in detail than did Clavis to Parnassus, while the transparency improved more between the Clavis and the Parnassus that from Lydian to Clavis.

The Lyra family, even the newest member, continues to occupy a compromise region between the romance of the best Koetsus and the hyper-detail of the Ken Chan tweaker, with the Denon landing somewhere inbetween the Lydian and the Clavis for transparency and the Urushi and the Parnassus for detail. Confused? Well, you shouldn't be, because this is a review of the Parnassus, not the other five.

The Parnassus reminds me of the latest generation of Classé electronics: clean and controlled without and spit, sizzle or edginess to taint the distinction between authority and oppression.and without any The Parnassus plants the performance in front of you, bourbon straight up instead of weakened by water -- branch or otherwise. But the control maintained over the whole of the musical event is such that the cartridge never 'loses it'.

Faced with a battery of discs known for either their tendency toward sibilance or for tracking obstacles almost deliberately conceived to fluster styli, the Parnassus slid through gracefully. Massed vocals (the LP version of McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio) presented no challenge whatsoever. Even though every other cartridge managed to stay the course -- including the spherical Denon -- close, almost neurotic levls of attention would reveal slight smearing. The Parnassus kept every voice separated, at the same time allowing them to harmonise as God, Davis and McCartney intended (and not necessarily in that order).

This control, this ability to separate sounds yet maintain perfect relationships between them may seem to have tlittle to do with the transparency aspects of the Parnassus, but they're inseparable in real terms. The clear, open, texture-free behaviour of the Parnassus means that less will be obscured. If the Parnassus is incapable of subtracting sound -- good'uns OR nasties -- and it doesn't use cloudiness as some form of euphonic band-aid, then it means you'll hear everything which normall has to fight its way through a blanket of smearing, distortion, resonances, whatever.

The Parnassus opens the window, as do many other fine cartridges. But what's important is what's on the other side of the window frame. The frame, for starters, isn't as wide as that assembled by the Denon. The room behind the window isn't as deep as that portrayed by the Urushi. And the curtains aren't as lacey. But what your sonic voyeurism uncovers is a performance as close to real as LP has ever produced. The sounds were there all along. It just too the Parnassus to retrive them.passing of vinyl ands andwant to eke out the maximum;ape first seen when quick removal of the body eIt' 's adaptability e this about as easyn the high-end arena. Wnd Urushi to hand, you canthe Parnassus with some ease; groupings by 'types of virtues' emergess and levels of 'upgrade'At first, this #1695 jeweleen drilled for lightness,at, while Lyra almost bodyhear andLyras share a family sound.

Additional Resources
• Read more source component reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Find a receiver to pair with this source.
• See more about the audiophile world at AudiophileReview.com.
• Discuss all kinds of gear at hometheaterequipment.com.

Subscribe To Home Theater Review

You'll automatically be entered in the HTR Sweepstakes, and get the hottest audio deals directly in your inbox.
HomeTheaterReview Product Rating
Value: 
Performance: 
Overall Rating: 
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Your support is greatly appreciated!
© JRW Publishing Company, 2020
magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram