Are optical cartridges new? Well, yes and no. They originally surfaced in the 1960s and were lauded for their high fidelity, but quickly disappeared again as they had a heat problem caused by the light source used at the time. By the time the requisite technology had sufficiently advanced (in the form of light-emitting diodes which produce little heat), audio was dominated by the rise of the CD and there was little interest in vinyl replay. But in 2013, Japanese company DS Audio began to revisit the technology.
“Record cleaning only scratches the surface (pun intended),” writes Hi-Fi Plus’ Andrew Harrison. “Every aspect of vinyl replay can come in for scrutiny.” A good part of this comes down to the nature of the technology itself: “dragging a rock through a groove and translating these movements into electrical signals” is naturally prone to errors from rotation, geometry, mechanical movements, the ingress of dust and dirt, etc etc. Thankfully there’s “a vibrant world of vinyl beyond the turntable and the record itself” to help keep everything running smoothly, and Harrison has chosen a selection of some of the best.
“Making adjustments to your system to release previously unheard excellence needn’t break the bank,” says Hi-Fi Choice. DS Audio’s ST-50 stylus cleaner is among the magazine’s top six picks for maximising audio performance.
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.”
Firmly at the forefront of “creating the future of analogue music”, Japanese DS Audio has gained a worldwide reputation for its pioneering optical photo cartridges, with rave reviews for their superlative sound. At the same time, the company is also applying its intelligently innovative approach to a number of related audio accessories – first, the excellent ST-50 stylus cleaner, and now, the new HS-001 solid headshell.
Replacing the inaugural DS-W1, DS Audio’s DS-W2 optical phono cartridge features a raft of trickle-down technology from the brand’s flagship Master 1 model. Ken Kessler puts it to the test for Hi-Fi News.
Keeping your stylus as clean as possible is important if you to want to protect your investment in this delicate piece of kit and to enjoy the full sound quality of your vinyl. But how do you know which is best tool for the job?
In 2013, Japanese DS Audio unveiled the world’s only optical phono cartridge, the DS-W1. A series of even further advanced models soon followed, ranging from the flagship DS Master 1 to the (then) entry level DS 002, each attracting rave reviews from the worldwide audiophile press. Now, the new DS-E1 makes the superlative sound of the optical cartridge more accessible still, at half the price of the DS 002.
Each year, the expert team at Hi-Fi News brings us the magazine’s audio highlights of the previous 12 months – “the hardware that turned our heads and the music that stirred our souls throughout 2018.” In the bumper 108-page Yearbook issue, “the very best that hi-fi has to offer” includes source components from DS Audio, Soulines and Timestep, amplifiers by Exposure, loudspeakers from Raidho and Magnepan and cables by Furutech.
Four years ago, Japanese company DS Audio broke new ground with the world’s only optical phono cartridge, borrowing technology developed and honed in various scientific, industrial and medical applications. The company’s debut model, the DS-001, was only released in its native Japan but the overwhelming response it received soon led to a second model, the DS-W1, and to worldwide distribution. Since then, the range has grown with the addition of the flagship DS Master 1 and entry-level DS-002 models.
The new DS-W2 is a direct replacement for the DS-W1 which will now be phased out. It offers significant design enhancements over its predecessor. The DS-W2 now occupies the middle position in the company’s range of optical phono cartridges, delivering improved performance over the entry level DS-002 and incorporating an appealing amount of trickle-down technology from the flagship Master 1.