In Part One of the DS-W1 Optical Phono Cartridge Review, I did everything within my limited technical ability to share how this interesting and different cartridge design works. Now, in Part Two, let’s talk about the only thing that actually matters: how my system sounded with the DS Audio DS-W1 optical phono cartridge responsible for getting the music out of those record grooves. I can tell you this to start with: It is much quieter than any phono cartridge I have had in the system. It also sounded smoother through the midrange and top than any cartridge I’ve had in my system. I am saying that it’s even quieter and smoother than my Soundsmith SG-220 Strain-gauge cartridge. Don’t forget that this is my initial impression; I think it’s important to many of my observations about the DS-W1.
One of the other early impressions I had with the DS-W1 in my system was that it is more like tape than vinyl. I’m not saying it sounded like a reel-to-reel setup. I’m saying the smooth, dynamic sound without the noise that I usually hear from record grooves reminded me more of the sound of magnetic tape than of music reproduced by a magnetic cartridge.