Hi-fi journalist Ken Kessler doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is – both in the positive and the negative. In the 2019 Hi-Fi News Yearbook he focuses on the former, looking back on “two of the greatest new products to ever enter my listening room.” High praise indeed!
Now in it’s seventh year, the unique high-end audio extravaganza that is Hi-Fi Show Live went from strength to strength this year, with its move to a spectacular new venue: the vast but elegant Ascot Grandstand. Exclusive product launches, packed workshops and a raft of superb sonic demonstrations were the name of the game this October.
Every issue, Hi-Fi News delivers in-depth reviews of high-end audio equipment. And every December, the magazine’s Yearbook showcases the best of the best products reviewed throughout the year. It’s the music enthusiast’s go-to guide for the world’s most outstanding hi-fi.
Japanese optical cartridge pioneer DS Audio has just launched its third audio accessory, the ION-001 vinyl ionizer. As you might expect from DS Audio, it is elegantly crafted, a breeze to use and, most important, impressively effective.
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.