DS Audio DS-E1 Cartridge Lab Report

Lab Report

There are clear parallels between the performance of this 'entry-level' DS-E1, the flagship Master 1 [HFN Dec '17], the DS-002 [HFN Jun '17] and the DS-W2 [HFN Jan '19] – see boxout, p55. All three 'optical pick-ups' employ a similar, if not identical, 'tie-wire' suspension so although the choice of cantilever material and stylus profile becomes more exotic further up the range, their 8.1g bodyweight(s) are all offset by a low-ish 15/20cu dynamic compliance, conferring a moderate ~10Hz subsonic resonance in medium effective mass tonearms. The DS-E1 may employ a more basic crimped alloy cantilever and elliptical stylus but, tested at a 1.7g downforce, it proved a slightly more secure tracker, clearing the maximum 80µm groove pitch (65µm on the right channel) and the most severe +18dB modulation (315Hz lateral cut, re. 11.2μm) at just 0.75% THD. As with DS Audio's other designs, distortion at –8dB re. 5cm/sec is typically ~0.7% (lateral) and a higher ~1.3% (vertical) with a big peak up to ~10% THD between 6-8kHz [see Graph 2, below].


Frequency response curves (–8dB re. 5cm/sec) lateral (L+R, black, Output 1; dashed, Output 2) versus vertical (L–R, red Output 1)


Lateral (L+R, black infill) and vertical (L–R, red) tracing and generator distortion (2nd-4th harmonics) vs. frequency from 20Hz-20kHz (–8dB re. 5cm/sec)

The latter feature is a direct reflection of the boost to its 2nd harmonic distortion by the stinging +8dB treble peak at 12-14kHz [see Graph 1, above]. As a matter of design, bass output is also boosted, reaching +4.5dB/20Hz via Output 1 (1st order 30Hz roll-off) and +1.1dB/20Hz via Output 2 (combined 50Hz and 30Hz roll-offs). The latter option is strongly recommended for use in systems with large, reflex-loaded loudspeakers. Finally, the partnering PSU/equaliser unit's output is a moderate 750mV (re. 1kHz/5cm/sec): this is more than the quoted 500mV and perfectly sufficient to drive a typical preamp line input. PM

Generator type/weight Photo-optical / 8.1g
Recommended tracking force 1.6-1.8mN (1.7mN)
Sensitivity/balance (re. 5cm/sec) 750mV / 0.30dB (from Eq unit)
Compliance (vertical/lateral) 15cu / 20cu
Vertical tracking angle 25 degrees
L/R Tracking ability 80μm / 65μm
L/R Distortion (–8dB, 20Hz-20kHz) 0.70–16% / 0.35–11%
L/R Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz) +8.0 to –5.3dB / +5.9 to –7.5dB
Stereo separation (1kHz / 20kHz) 28dB / 20dB
Price (inc. equaliser) £2295
Digital Stream Corporation
Kanagawa, Japan
Supplied by: Soundfowndations Ltd, Berks
0118 9814238