DS Audio DS-W2 Cartridge Lab Report

Lab Report

According to DS Audio, its flagship Master 1 [HFN Dec '17] was used to derive both the DS-002 [HFN Jun '17] and now this DS-W2, so all three 'optical pick-ups' are a generation on from the older DS-W1 [HFN Nov '15]. However, with a recommended downforce range of 1.6-1.8g and tested at 1.7g, none of this trio are quite as secure trackers as the outgoing DS-W1. While the latter cleared the maximum 80µm groove pitch and the most severe +18dB modulation (315Hz lateral cut, re. 11.2μm) at <1% THD, the Master 1, DS-002 and DS-W2 are secure to +15dB but mistrack at the maximum +18dB groove modulation. This is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for the reduced dynamic compliance of the DS-W2's 'tie-wire' suspension. In practice then, its 8.1g bodyweight is offset by a low-ish 15/20cu dynamic compliance, conferring a low ~9Hz subsonic resonance in medium-to-high effective mass tonearms.


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


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)

Output is a high 1.28V via the equaliser (re. 1kHz/5cm/sec) – more than sufficient for standard preamp line inputs – while the 'eq' itself yields DS Audio's customary bass boost that begins below 100Hz and reaches +4.0dB/20Hz [see Graph 1]. Once again big, reflex-loaded speakers are best avoided! The mid/presence response of the DS-W2 is slightly more uniform than either the Master 1 or DS-002 and while the 13kHz treble peak is less exaggerated it's still going to add some pizzaz at +6.5dB. This 'loudness contour' shows excellent symmetry between lateral and vertical cuts, promising a very uniform colour across the soundstage. As does the uniform trend of THD versus frequency [Graph 2] which shows any very high frequency distortion tamed by the pick-up's post-15kHz treble roll-off. PM

Generator type/weight Photo-optical / 8.1g
Recommended tracking force 1.6-1.8mN (1.7mN)
Sensitivity/balance (re. 5cm/sec) 1280mV / 0.50dB (from Eq unit)
Compliance (vertical/lateral) 15cu / 20cu
Vertical tracking angle 25 degrees
L/R Tracking ability 65μm / 70μm
L/R Distortion (–8dB, 20Hz-20kHz) 0.35–10% / 0.40–5.8%
L/R Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz) +3.7 to –5.3dB / +5.9 to –0.5dB
Stereo separation (1kHz / 20kHz) 26dB / 6dB
Price (inc. equaliser) £9995
Digital Stream Corporation
Kanagawa, Japan
Supplied by: Soundfowndations Ltd, Berks
0118 9814238