DS Audio DS-W1 Optical Stereo Cartridge

DS Audio DS-W1 Optical Stereo Cartridge

What is the advantage of an optical cartridge? For one thing, there's no need for a phono stage. DS Audio's W1 comes with its own equalizer.

Renaissance of the legendary optical cartridge, recreated through high precision laser technology

The DS-001 has been the one and only optical cartridge on the market. Since its initial introduction in Japan, the DS-001 received excellent reviews and overwhelming sales in the domestic Japanese market.

Now, DS-Audio is proud to announce the DS-W1, an optical cartridge that provides the ultimate vinyl solution and a new analogue sound experience.

Many audiophiles may recall optical cartridges introduced by several companies many years ago. Its sound was shockingly sensational. A comment at the time was, "Pure like mountain dew, yet strong like a water fall." However, contrary to the market response, those cartridges quickly disappeared from the market. It was the precision mechanism and sophisticated optics that were too difficult to overcome at the time. Furthermore, the audio market had begun to shift into the digital sound era (CD music).

People still talk about the optical cartridge as analogous to high fidelity. So, the optical cartridge became a legendary product among audiophiles.

Unlike MM/MC cartridges, which are based on electromagnetic induction, the optical cartridge detects stylus vibration by a beam of light. This innovative design made it possible to eliminate electromagnetic frictional force which intrinsically exists in any MM/MC cartridges.

DS-Audio proudly announces that its DS-W1 heralds the renaissance of the legendary optical cartridge.
DS-W1 is the re-creation of this optical cartridge with state-of-the-art laser optical technology. Based on DS Audio’s years of research and countless experiments, the DS-W1 Optical Cartridge is the ultimate solution to audio lovers who seek pure analogue sound.

Free from Electromagnetic induction force; Clear and superb fidelity

In a moving magnet cartridge, the stylus cantilever carries a tiny permanent magnet, which is positioned between two sets of fixed coils (in a stereophonic cartridge), forming a tiny electromagnetic generator. As the magnet vibrates in response to the stylus following the record groove, it induces a tiny current in the coils. The MC design is again a tiny electromagnetic generator, but (unlike an MM design) with the magnet and coils reversed: the coils are attached to the stylus, and move within the field of a permanent magnet. The coils are tiny and made from very fine wire. (Wikipedia)

In both cases, Faraday’s law of induction governs the fundamental design of the cartridges. At the same time, both designs cannot eliminate frictional force governed by Lenz’s law. This is an intrinsic force that MM/MC cartridges must deal with no matter how you design the cartridge.

In audio terms, Lenz’ law states that stylus vibration receives a frictional force by its fundamental law, meaning exact stylus vibration is never reproduced by MM/MC cartridge systems.

Optimum S/N ratio; simple and pure equalization by amplitude-proportional read-out

There are mainly two methods to play back vinyl records... the velocity-proportional method and the amplitude-proportional method. MM/MC cartridges belong to the velocity-proportional method, whose read-out signal depends on how fast a tiny magnet (or a tiny coil in MC) moves in the magnetic field. At lower frequencies, a magnet moves slowly in the magnetic field, so the resulting read-out signal level is very small, whereas in high frequencies, a magnet moves faster, so that the read-out signal becomes disproportionately large. Therefore, the playback system requires an equalizer to compensate / correct velocity-proportional read-out signals to the original sound. (Technically speaking, MM/MC signals are time differential of Analogue sound information. Signal reproduction requires integration of the read-out signals, which require additional electrical circuits)

The optical cartridge belongs to the amplitude-proportional method, in which the read-out signal depends on how much distance the stylus has moved. Therefore, there is no dependence on frequencies in read-out signals. It results in no equalization being required in the read-out signals except for RIAA-Curve correction.

To conclude, an optical cartridge requires a very simple circuit in the read-out process, enabling a pure and clear sound reproduction without any signal treatment of the recorded signals on a vinyl record. (RIAA curve correction is necessary)

Pure Analogue System

You might imagine that "Optical = Digital" as in CD/DVD players. The DS-W1 optical cartridge system is pure analogue. There is no digital process involved in the play back of a vinyl record. The difference is whether you read-out a record by an electromagnetic method or an optical sensing method. Furthermore, light is an ultimate analogue signal that is pure and natural.

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