Japanese company DS Audio is set to bring the DS-W1 optical phono cartridge to the UK and beyond, following an initial launch in Japan.

The DS-W1 cartridge uses a beam of light, much like you'd see on a digital optical cable, to detect the vibrations from the stylus. 

DS Audio claims this optical system eliminates the typical friction created in a traditional MM or MC phono cartridge.

This friction affects the movement of the stylus and disturbs the precise vibrations from the record groove. The optical design aims to eliminate this issue.

And DS Audio knows a thing or two about optical signals, being part of the Digital Stream Corporation (DSC) that co-developed, with Microsoft, the optical computer mouse.

MORE: 10 of the best turntables of all time

More after the break

The company released its first "legendary optical cartridge" in Japan in the 1960s, but manufacturing issues ensured a short shelf-life. The company finally returned with another optical cartridge in 2013, the DS-001, but again only in Japan.

Further design tweaks have led to the DS-W1, which is now set for a worldwide release.

The DS-W1 uses a boron cantilever and Shibata stylus housed in an aluminium body, and weighs just 6.5 grams. 

The cartridge comes with its own phono amp and can be installed on almost any tonearm. Though it would probably be a little over-the-top on the average budget turntable.

In reality, you'll of course need to have a seriously high-end turntable to consider such an outlay.

The DS-W1 optical phono cartridge (and phono stage) is due on sale in the UK priced at £6250. 

MORE: Best turntables 2015

See all our turntable reviews


jacking's picture

Not again?

Wasn't there something like this in the 1980's which bombed spectacularly because the laser couldn't read past the dirt/dust in the record groove?

NEMOaudio's picture


That was (and still manufactured) the ELP Laser turntable.

jacking's picture

Still going then!

So it obviously didn't bomb. Good for ELP!

Graham Luke's picture


Simply marvellous. I've been so anxious about the development of a really expensive phono cartridge; I saw one that was five grand but that just didn't cut it.

No, I wanted to spend six grand or more, so thankyou DS Audio.

I'll probably get a couple; one for the kids play-room as well.

PSYris's picture

DS Audio cartridge

It's all well to let us know what it does but would be just as interested HOW it does it. Thank You


raff's picture

They are still using a stylus,

They are still using a stylus, so the only difference is an optical transducer instead of a magnetic one. Why should that make a huge difference? As for friction... what friction ? Only friction is between the stylus and record, the rest is compliance.


Alan Cooper's picture

Digital Stream?

May as well stick with a high quality CD player with all this faffing about with optical signals!