The DS W2 is an optical phono cartridge system costing $13,000

DS Audio has put a tech twist on the turntable with the launch of a new optical cartridge, which uses a beam of laser light rather than electrical power to track your vinyl record. The DS W2 cartridge comes with its own W2 preamp, too.

OK, so optical connections have actually been around for 30 years now, but only DS Audio has seen fit to use one on a turntable cartridge. And hey, a laser sounds cool.

Following the launch of the world's first optical cartridge back in 2015, and a successor last year, the company has shown off a whole new system, the DS W2, at CES 2018.

So, why? The company claims the removal of the magnet and coil - and the magnetic field - helps deliver a more stable, better-sounding cartridge. It's also lighter, at just 8.1g. DS Audio claims the position and structure of the device has also been adjusted and improved, all, naturally, with the aim of delivering better sound.

The cartridge has an aluminium chassis, with a boron cantilever design and a Micro-Ridge stylus, which also helps to keep downward force to a minimum. DS Audio recommends a 1.7g tracking force.

The DS W2 also gets its own preamp, the DS W2 premamp, which comes complete with an updated, isolated (and massive) power supply, and a circuit board that promises a short and clean signal path. There are both RCA and XLR balanced outputs.

Intrigued? You better start saving. The DS W2 cartridge costs $4500 and the preamp is $8500.

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Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is the Content Director for What Hi-Fi? and Future’s Product Testing, having previously been the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across the print magazine and website for almost 20 years, writing news, reviews and features on everything from turntables to TVs, headphones to hi-fi separates. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung; reported from CES, the Bristol Show, and Munich High End for many years; and written for sites such as the BBC, Stuff, and the Guardian. In his spare time, he enjoys expanding his vinyl collection and cycling (not at the same time).