DS Audio DS 003 Cartridge Lab Report

Lab Report

Like the DS-E1 [HFN May '19] and earlier DS 002 [HFN Jun '17], the DS 003 may employ a basic crimped alloy cantilever but its line-contact stylus has more in common with the former (Shibata) than the latter (elliptical). Its tracking performance beats both, however, not least because the downforce range has been increased from 1.6-1.8g to 2.0-2.2g in the third-generation DS 003 and Grand Master [HFN Feb '21] 'optical' pick-ups. Unlike the DS 002, the DS 003 cleared the maximum 80µm groove pitch (75µm on the right channel) and the most severe +18dB modulation (315Hz lateral cut, re. 11.2μm) at 1.7% THD.

Says Aki, 'In the 2nd generation vibration system, the distortion rate was consistent regardless of the stylus pressure, but in the 3rd generation, the distortion rate decreased when the stylus pressure was increased.' In practice distortion is slightly lower at 1.5% (DS 003) vs. 1.7% (DS 002; 1kHz/5cm/sec) but trends higher at 0.55-15% (20Hz-20kHz, –8dB re. 5cm/sec) vs. 0.45-10% for the lateral cut [see Graph 2, below]. The latter is as much a function of the DS 003's improved HF frequency response where the +7dB/12kHz peak from the DS 002 is traded here for a less aggressive +2dB (left)/+3.8dB (right) boost at a higher 14kHz [see Graph 1, below]. The symmetry between lateral [L+R, black traces] and vertical [L–R, red traces] is also excellent while the stereo separation is improved by a huge 10dB (25dB to 35dB) – both clear benefits of the 3rd gen dual optics/shading plate mechanism. Finally, as we've seen before, bass output is also boosted, reaching +4dB and +2dB/20Hz via 30Hz and 50Hz settings (first-order roll-off selected). PM


Frequency response curves (–8dB re. 5cm/sec) lateral (L+R, black, 30Hz cut; dashed, 50Hz cut) versus vertical (L–R, red, 30Hz cut)


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)

Generator type/weight Photo-optical / 7.7g
Recommended tracking force 2.0-2.2mN (2.1mN)
Sensitivity/balance (re. 5cm/sec) 940mV / 0.80dB (from Eq unit)
Compliance (vertical/lateral) 15cu / 18cu
Vertical tracking angle 25 degrees
L/R Tracking ability 75μm / 80μm
L/R Distortion (–8dB, 20Hz-20kHz) 1.2–12% / 0.55–15%
L/R Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz) +2.0 to –6.0dB / +3.8 to –1.5dB
Stereo separation (1kHz / 20kHz) 35dB / 25dB
Price (inc. equaliser): £4995

Digital Stream Corporation
Kanagawa, Japan
Supplied by: Soundfowndations Ltd, Berks
0118 9814238