A “game-changer” and “a multitude of triumphs”: Ken Kessler celebrates the arrival of DS Audio’s DS-E1 affordable optical phono cartridge

Audiophile and hi-fi journalist Ken Kessler has been a fan of DS Audio’s pioneering optical cartridges since they first appeared on the world hi-fi market four years ago, and has enthusiastically reviewed most of the company’s models. But the new DS-E1 has presented him with something of a dilemma. “It is actually too good… I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.”

“You’d almost believe that Simon and Garfunkel were British,” writes Kessler, “for the portrayal of the song [Scarborough Fair/Canticle] captured the atmosphere of the lyrics with a skill that beggared belief at this price.”

DS Audio DS-E1 front view in play

The DS-E1 is DS Audio’s new entry level optical phono cartridge which, like all of the company’s pick-ups, uses a derivative of the technology it developed along with Microsoft 20 years ago to create the optical computer mouse. It is, writes Kessler, “a bargain so overwhelming that I think it could be the sixth biggest game-changer in cartridges in three decades. The other five? Its older siblings.”

DS Audio DS-E1 equalizer

“What you will not be prepared for, upon hearing this or any DS Audio cartridge for the first time, is the utter absence of background shmutz…. the technology completely eliminates the low-level hum present in all cartridges using some combination of magnets and coils. No matter how low the hum, it’s still there. These optical pick-ups bring vinyl closer to one of digital’s inarguable benefits: much reduced background noise. As payoffs go, this one is huge.”

“The DS-E1 provides the chance to hear your LPs as you’ve never imagined. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief.”

“What the DS-E1 achieves is a multitude of triumphs, not least in closing the gap between the affordable and the unobtainable…. Being offered this level of performance at a fraction of the cost of what came before is a godsend.”

Read Ken Kessler’s full review in the May 2019 issue of Hi-Fi News

Discover DS Audio’s pioneering range of optical phono cartridges and innovative accessories at www.ds-audio-w.biz and find your nearest dealer via UK distributor Sound Fowndations