DS Audio Optical Phono Cartridge & Equalizer (phonostage) is the hottest new things in LP playback. The fact that the phono cartridge comes with it’s own phono stage (equalizer) is a huge cost savings. Though the theory behind using a massless beam of light rather than comparatively massive coils or magnets to convert the movements of a stylus into electricity is not new (it dates to the 1940s), it took a latter-day technology whiz, Japan’s Tetsuaki “Aki” Aoyagi (head of DS Audio), to perfect it. The optical groove-reading system is fairly easy to explain: The intensity of a light from a miniaturized “lamp” inside the cartridge is continuously modulated by the movement of an extremely low-mass “shading plate” attached to the stylus/cantilever. As the stylus vibrates, the shading plate vibrates in sympathy, blocking varying amounts of the light coming from the lamp. This variable luminosity is then turned into variable voltages by photoreceptors and sent on to a dedicated phonostage unit, where it is equalized and boosted to line level.
Jonathan Valin of The Absolute Sound:
“These advancements make for virtually the same kind of sonic improvements that they do in the Grand Master. Because of the dual-mono setup, channel separation is greatly enhanced—to the benefit of soundstaging and imaging.”
“As a result, the sound of the cartridge (compared to the ten times the price Grand Master) played back through it is just a little less firmly controlled in the low end, finely resolved in the midband, vast in staging, and tape-like smooth top to bottom.”
“This is just a marvelous transducer. It will certainly be my nominee for TAS Phono Cartridge of the Year.”