“Magnificent”: Ken Kessler is “smitten” by DS Audio’s third generation DS 003 optical cartridge

“If one is lucky enough to listen to a world-class component, there’s usually a watershed moment, one of a revelatory nature that tells you when something is truly special.” Ken Kessler recounts several such moments with the DS 003 in the latest issue of Hi-Fi News.

DS Audio’s top-of-range Grand Master optical phono cartridge, launched in 2020, was the first of the company’s ‘third generation’ of optical cartridges. Now, the new DS 003 draws on innovations from the Grand Master to update the existing DS 002 model, extending third generation technology to a more affordable price point.

Like the Grand Master, the DS 003 features a comprehensively re-designed optical system in which independent LEDs and photo-detectors for the left and right channels deliver a significant increase in the cartridge’s output voltage, from 40mV to 70mV.

“The DS Audio technology demonstrated background silences, openness, freedom from fatigue and anything else that could mar such crystalline sound,” writes Kessler.

“If you want to understand atmosphere, listen to [Jimi Hendrix’s] ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ via the DS 003, and hear how the guitar playing seems to exist in its own dimension – not merely its own space.”

Moving on to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Ladies of the Canyon’, “Mitchel possess a voice of such unique clarity and fragility that it is immediately recognisable, while ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ is a song I’ve heard so many times I thought I knew every millisecond. The DS 003 performed the miracle that elevates a component from the merely superb to the magnificent: it made the song sound like I was hearing it for the first time. I am smitten.”

“The DS 003 shows emphatically how trickle-down technology benefits the customer. As close as it is to the mind-boggling Grand Master, enough differences ensure that the two can co-exist. If you can afford a Grand Master, buy it. If you cannot, the astonishing DS 003 will still blow your mind.”

Read the full review in the October 2021 issue of Hi-Fi News

Find out more at www.ds-audio-w.biz and track down your nearest dealer via UK distributor www.soundfowndations.co.uk