Posted on 13th April, 2018


DS Audio’s Optical Cartridges are known for their use of an LED light modulated by a vibrating cantilever to read a vinyl groove.

They’ve won praise for what’s been described as a very transparent sound.

The recent release of the DS-W2 model brings back memories of another product that used a laser light source to not only read but to track a vinyl groove.

It was called The Finial Laser Turntable, and its greatest selling points were no vinyl wear and no noise from pesky clicks and ops.

Reducing vinyl wear to zero and vanquishing vinyl whoosh and the other assorted noise artefacts vinyl can have in abundance, were not by themselves enough to get Finial over the line.

One problem was that the trailblazing Finial was facing off with another digital signal source at the time, the Compact Disc.

DS Audio’s new DS-W2 takes a different route to great vinyl sound than the Finial turntable.

In common with the Finial is its use of light, but much more a mix of traditional and digital technologies, the DS Audio optical cartridges are primed to be relatively successful compared to the Laser Turntable.

The new DS Audio DS-W2 priced in New Zealand at $18,995 RRP, like the other two cartridges in the range called the DS-002, and the DS Master1 does not claim to reduce vinyl wear.

But it does aim to reduce the colourations that cantilevers create as they’re tracing and tracking a groove.

DS Audio cartridges have cantilevers and something else. Each emits a light source derived from a tiny LED, which is powered by an external power supply that sends current to the LED using the tonearm cable and wiring.

Then something extraordinary takes place: this light is modulated by the vibrations created by the cartridge’s cantilever.

The modulated light is then interpreted by a photo diode which converts the light into an electrical signal that is sent back through the arm’s cabling to the outboard power supply to be RIAA equalised and amplified for a line level output connection.

It’s an amazing design, and one that results in cartridges said by reviewers to have vanishingly low levels of colouration.

The extra degree of transparency heard by owners of any DS-Audio cartridge is described as similar to removing layers of veils between the listener and the musical performance.

The new DS-W2 sits in the middle of DS Audio’s range. So it offers better performance than the entry level DS-002 model and a lot of the technology of the flagship Master 1 at a far lower price.

For more information visit DS Audio.


    Peter Familari's avatar

    Peter Familari

    One of the veteran journalists of the HiFi industry, if there’s a speaker he’s likely heard it or owned it at some point in his career. Peter was formerly the audio-video editor of the Herald Sun newspaper in Australia for over two decades.

    Posted in:Hi-Fi
    Tags: ds audio 


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