DS AUDIO: World’s first optical phono cartridges now in the UK

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DS Audio DS-W1 lp 2

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Audiophiles of a certain age may recall a brief appearance of ‘the legendary optical cartridge’ in Japan back in the 1960s. Initially developed to great acclaim and lauded for its high fidelity, sadly this early attempt at an optical cartridge disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Having emerged ‘before its time’, the requisite precision mechanisms and sophisticated optics did not exist yet, making the optical cartridge too difficult to manufacture.

Reinventing the legend

In 2013, DS Audio used the latest state-of-art laser optical technology to introduce its first optical cartridge, the DS-001, which again was released only in its native Japan. The response was overwhelming in terms of both reviews and sales, spurring the company to further develop the design into the DS-W1, which is now moving towards worldwide distribution.

Unlike previous ‘non-contact’ systems which used lasers to read record grooves, DS Audio’s design is a pure analogue contact system that uses a conventional stylus and cantilever.

However, in contrast to moving-magnet (MM) and moving-coil (MC) cartridges, which work on the principle of electromagnetic induction, the DS-W1 uses an optical system to convert stylus/cantilever movements into audio signals. The advantage of this system is that it completely eliminates the electromagnetic frictional force that is a ‘fact of life’ in all MM and MC designs.

Faraday’s law of induction governs the design and operation of both MM and MC cartridges. As a result, both designs are subject to Lenz’s law. In audio terms, Lenz’s law states that the movement of the coil and/or magnet will produce a frictional force that affects the movement of the cantilever and hence the stylus, such that exact stylus vibration can never be reproduced by an MM or MC cartridge system.

DS Audio’s optical system, on the other hand, has absolutely no effect on the vibration of the stylus/cantilever system.

The DS-W1, which uses a boron cantilever and Shibata stylus, is housed in a machined aluminium body and weighs just 6.5 grams.

This unique cartridge comes with its own special phono equalizer/power supply, so doesn’t require a phonostage, and can be installed on almost any tonearm.

Pricing & availability

The first DS-W1 optical phono cartridge is priced at £6,250 (inc. VAT), including dedicated phono equalizer/power supply.

About DS Audio

DS Audio a business group of the Digital Stream Corporation (DSC). DSC co-developed with Microsoft the optical mouse and for more than 25 years has created industrial laser optics for medical testing systems and for laser-based medical optical instrumentation.

www.ds-audio-w.biz

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