World's first optical phono cartridge to go on sale for £6,250

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.

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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.

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Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is Content Director for T3 and What Hi-Fi?, 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 more than 15 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).