Almost all pickups are either of the moving magnet type or the moving coil type. And both are based on electromotive induction. And then there is Japanese DS Audio, who do things in their own unique way.
Their pickups are optical and work by using photocells to read the vibrations of the needle arm. We have previously tested the DS Audio DS-002, and our turntable expert Lasse Svendsen was thrilled and called the sound from the very expensive pickup sensational.
Now DS Audio has upgraded the technology and released a new model generation. The new model, named DS Audio Master3, boasts, among other things, separate LEDs and photocells for each channel. The needle arm on which the micro ridge-cut diamond is mounted is also made of diamond.
You don’t need an RIAA input on your amplifier to connect the optical pickup. Signal amplification and smoothing of the frequency response is handled by the corresponding DS Master3 equaliser, which is just as extreme as the pickup. The equaliser is constructed as dual mono and contains no less than six solid transformers. Which brings the weight up to 23 kg!
The DS Master3 costs USD 9,500. And that’s not including the DS Master3 equaliser. It costs USD 17,500. So we are in the class of a reasonable electric car. And then you still have to add the price of a turntable. But then again, it’s hand-built Japanese quality.
Although the DS Master3 is a significant upgrade compared to the two previous generations, it is not actually correct that it is the top model. DS Audio has a model, the Grand Master Extreme, which is much more radical. Here, the needle and needle arm are cut from one piece of diamond! The price of the pickup alone is USD 22,500!
More info: DS Audio