“Trickle-down technology at its finest”: Ken Kessler is “smitten” by DS Audio’s DS 003 pick-up

With the DS 003, DS Audio delivers its third generation technology in a system one-tenth the price of its flagship Grand Master. “A master stroke,” writes Ken Kessler, in reviews for both Hi-Fi News and Hi-Fi Choice.

The new DS 003 replaces the outgoing DS 002 “and even boasts a slight price reduction”, but it is very much a new model rather than a refinement of its predecessor, one that draws directly on the ‘third generation’ optical cartridge technology found in the company’s flagship Grand Master model.

“Cantilever and stylus mark the territory between the two, as does body material,” notes Kessler. While the Grand Master features a diamond cantilever, Micro Ridge stylus and a body of ultra duralumin, the DS 003 sports an aluminium cantilever, line-contact stylus and an aluminium body. Inside the DS 003, like the Grand Master, a re-designed optical system uses independent LEDs and photo-detectors for the left and right channels, providing an increase in output voltage from 40mV to 70mV, an improved signal-to-noise ratio and reduced crosstalk.

“This cartridge delivers massive amounts of lower octave action – so powerful that I heard my system with new ears,” writes Kessler.

Listening to the Jimi Hendrix collection Voodoo Child, “From little fills to cavernous thunder, the DS 003 extracted all the bass energy and percussive slam with richness and control… And if you want to understand atmosphere, listen to ‘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.”

“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 truly is special,” he concludes. With the DS 003, this arrived in spades with the remastered Ladies Of The Canyon from the box set, Joni Mitchell – The Reprise Albums 1968-1971.

DS003 optical cartridge

“’Big Yellow Taxi’ is a song I’ve heard so many times I thought I knew every millisecond. The DS Audio 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.”

“If you can afford a Grand Master, buy it. If you cannot, the astonishing DS 003 will still blow your mind.”

Read Ken Kessler’s review in full in the October issue of Hi-Fi News (now available to read online at www.hifinews.com/content/ds-audio-ds-003-cartridge)  and in the November issue of Hi-Fi Choice

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