DS Audio Master 1 cartridge Lab Report

Bearing in mind that the flagship Master 1 was used to derive the newer, trickledown DS-002 [HFN Jun ’17] it has less in common with the DS-W1 [HFN Nov ’15]. Specifically, with a recommended downforce range of 1.6-1.8g and tested at 1.7g, the Master 1’s ‘micro-ridge’ (line contact) stylus was not quite as secure a tracker as the DS-W1. While the latter cleared the maximum 80µm groove pitch and the most severe +18dB modulation (315Hz lateral cut, re. 11.2μm) at just 0.5% THD, the Master 1 and DS-002 are secure to +15dB but ‘let go’ at the maximum +18dB groove modulation. Output is a full 1.55V via the equaliser (re. 1kHz/5cm/sec) – ideal for line-level inputs.


Frequency response curves (–8dB re. 5cm/sec) lateral (L+R, black, Output 1; dashed, Output 2; dotted, Output 3) versus vertical (L–R, red, Output 1)


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)

The Master 1’s 8.1g bodyweight is offset by a low-ish 15/20cu dynamic compliance, conferring a low ~9Hz subsonic resonance in medium mass arms. As a matter of design, bass output is strong and reaches +4.7dB/20Hz via Output 1 (1st order 30Hz roll-off), +1.4dB/20Hz via Output 2 (50Hz and 30Hz roll-offs) and +0.3dB/20Hz via Output 3 (50Hz, 30Hz and a 2nd order 25Hz roll-off). So the latter Output 3 [see Graph 1] would be the prudent choice when partnering with big, reflex-loaded loudspeakers! Otherwise the Master 1 shares the same boosted presence band and high treble we saw with the DS-002, but this ‘loudness contour’ shows excellent symmetry between in- and out-of-phase cuts, conferring a very uniform colour across the soundstage. As, I might add, does the similarly uniform trend of distortion versus frequency [Graph 2] – an excellent result with any very high frequency distortion tamed by the pick-up’s post-20kHz 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): 1550mV / 0.50dB (from Eq unit)
Compliance (vertical/lateral): 15cu / 20cu
Vertical tracking angle: 25 degrees
L/R Tracking ability: 75μm / 70μm
L/R Distortion (–8dB, 20Hz-20kHz): 0.4–15% / 0.5–5.6%
L/R Frequency resp. (20Hz-20kHz): +2.5 to –9.5dB / +8.1 to –0.5dB
Stereo separation (1kHz / 20kHz): 30dB / 6dB
Price (inc. equaliser): £19,995

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