Experience with DS Audio Optical Cartridge Systems

I am considering moving over to optical cartridge system.  Wondering if any of y'all have had experiences you can share from using the system.


A DS Audio system need not be super expensive. The least expensive system is less than $3000 for both the cartridge and the energizer - everything needed.


There are no free lunches in audio - the $3k units is not even remotely close to any of the other version from 6-19k up.

If you have a decent phono already you are better off to spend the budget on a decent cartridge in my view.

I think you would have to hear them for yourself. I have 2 DS-003’s, one with the DS-003 energizer, the other with the least expensive energizer (DS-E1). Both sound very good and the system with the less expensive energizer does, indeed, sound better than the other phono systems in that setup (Parasound JC-3, Hana ML, PS Audio Stellar, Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Star).

Dear @theophile : It’s not easy to trust 100% on reviewers as KK or almost any other reviewer.


Example, next statements are a little part of what we can read in the SS SG cartridge and are false/un-true and the reviewer does not puts an " alert " about. Of course that the seller/manufactured has the rigth to do it taking advantage of we audiophiles with a very low knowledge levels:


"" The Strain Gauge cartridge does not use or require an RIAA playback filter because it inherently plays the RIAA recording EQ curve used on the record correctly. ""

"" Since normal magnetic cartridges are velocity sensitive devices (whose output is sensitive or proportional to velocity), they need the RIAA inverse filter to result in a flat playback response of a groove cut with an RIAA recording curve. However, since the Strain Gauge is a DISPLACEMENT sensitive device, it automatically produces a basically flat response from a RIAA encoded groove, ""


Yes the SG sounds different but certainly not better than a normal LOMC cartridge and there are facts/reasons why not better why is not truer to the recording.

I listened several times in system I know and different models.


I whish to listen the DS Audio cartridge that as the SG are a " new " vintage refined kind of cartridge design..Obviously that as the SG sounds different to any other cartridge and as the SG its distortion levels could be lower than in a normal MC one but even that the DS and SG can’t pick up the 100% of thwe recorded signal in the LP grooves and are not better trackers than the magnetic cartridges. DS/SG are in the medium compliance range. There are a lot of magnetic cartridges that can pick-up more groove information than the DS/SG ones because are better trackers.

Now, the main characteristic that reviewers speak is not only the DS clarity/transparency but the extremely accurated bass range tha’s the sound foundation. They said that never heard something like the DS level in that regards. In the review we can read that exist not only a +4dbs in the bass but that the equalizer/energizer set up can mates according the speaker designs.

In its site DS said that the eq. in its unit is more easy than in our normal phono stages but : why is more easy?, I don’t know for sure.

As a fact the designer not disclosed yet what " is " inside the preamp that between other things comes with over 2.2 Faraday of capacity ? ? ! !

I know that the RIAA eq. is extremely easy to achieve in the digital domain and with an accuracy level down to a +,- 0db frequency deviation and with today 32/768 DAC technology it’s really transparent. Could be a DAC inside the DS unit? I don’t know no ones know but I will look for an opportunity to listen the DS cartridge because if there is that very high " noise " on it then must be very good reasons for that.

In the mean time I think that with our normal LOMC cartridges we can improve its quality levels in our room/system. I pull the triger and this week I bougth an analog equalizer ( if I want to improve the analog experience I want to do it inside the analog domain not through digital domain. ) by Klark Tektin model DN-370.

I now very well KK for many years now so its quality is out of question, we will see what I can achieve: I have no idea yet.


Other step that mainly the whealthy analog gentlemans could do to improve the LOMC cartridge quality level sound comes by FM Acoustics Harminic Linearizers that looks to much/good to believe it but coming and knowing FMA I trust that it happens what they states.