DS Audio Launches DS-E1 Optical Cartridge

Move over magnets!

by Andy Bassett Feb 1, 2019 at 8:51 AM


  • Hi-Fi News

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    DS Audio Launches DS-E1 Optical Cartridge
    Japanese company DS Audio unveiled the world’s only optical phono cartridge back in 2013. Now they have announced an entry-level model, the DS-E1.
    Following on from the launch of their first optical phono cartridge, DS Audio have been updating and refining their processes to employ their high-end technologies into their entry-level products. The result of this is the new DS-E1 (E for ‘Entry’?) optical phono cartridge.
    The new DS-E1, therefore, features the same optical-mechanical system and wire-suspended cantilever as the flagship DS Master 1, as well as the midrange DS-W2 and the DS-002. The system enables a high degree of channel separation - more than 24dB, and delivers an output of more than 500mV.

    To achieve its price point, the DS-E1 sports an aluminium cantilever and body, and features an elliptical stylus. The accompanying DS-E1equalizer/phono stage employs an operational amplifier at the heart of its amplification circuit, thus reducing the number of components required. This also allows the unit to be more compact and lightweight than some that accompany the other optical cartridges in the DS Audio range. It has RCA inputs and outputs, weighs in at 1.4kg and is 20 x 7 x 16 cm (w x h x d).

    Why go optical?

    In contrast to moving-magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridges that work on the principle of electromagnetic induction, an optical cartridge uses a beam of light to read the stylus/cantilever movement. The advantage of this system is twofold: it makes the cartridge much lighter and more agile, while also completely eliminating the magnetic frictional force caused by magnets and coils and the resulting influence on stylus/cantilever movement.

    A further key advantage lies in the cartridge’s output. In conventional MM and MC designs, the output signal depends on the velocity at which a tiny magnet or coil moves in an electromagnetic field. At lower frequencies, the magnet or coil moves slowly so the output signal is small, while at higher frequencies it moves more quickly and so the output signal is disproportionately large – hence the need for equalization.

    In contrast, in an optical cartridge, the output signal depends on the distance that the stylus moves so there are no disparities between high and low frequencies. Therefore, less equalization is required and low-frequency reproduction is much enhanced since an optical cartridge can theoretically detect signals as low as 1Hz. Any equalisation that is required has to use the dedicated EQ provided since the output characteristics of the optical cartridge are so different from those of an MM or MC cartridge.

    DS Audio cartridges are fully compatible with any of the company’s accompanying phono stages/equalizers, allowing you to mix and match and each device is manufactured by hand in DS Audio’s own premises in Sagamihara City, Japan. The DS-E1 optical phono cartridge and DS-E1 equaliser are available now, priced at £2,295 (inc. VAT).

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