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I've been considering what to do about my aging Kiseki Purple Heart NS for some time now. Obvious moves were either retip or replace. And if it's a replacement, do I get something that's evolutionary and more of the same, or take the plunge with something completely different? I decided to jump into the deep end and break from a 30 year tradition (for me) of MC carts.
I picked up my LP12 fitted with a DS Audio 003 optical cartridge (OC) system from my dealer yesterday. Right out of the gate I am gobsmacked by how spooky goddamn quiet this thing is. I never ever realized how much mechanical noise and magnetic hysteresis was imbedded in the performance of what I thought was a top notch MC, and every other MC I've ever owned for that matter. With roughly one-tenth the moving mass of an MC this OC's speed in the groove and detail retrieval is staggering. I am HUGELY impressed with this OC. Others have said the DS Audio OCs sound like R2R, but without the tape hiss, and so far I cannot disagree.
The energizer/equalizer box is jammed full of caps that need more break-in time, and with any change of this magnitude more time dialing in other system aspects to maximize performance, but it's a real eye opener just as it sits. Only drawbacks so far are that I'll need an additional interconnect for the hookup of the energizer/equalizer to the preamp, and the phono section of my CAT SL1 is now useless as the output is line-level. I robbed the IC from the CD player to make the connect for the time being. Will eventually score something different and return that IC to CD use.
I suppose you left off a more detailed listening impression because of the short time of ownership, but that is exactly what I would like to know
I was very interested in this product, obviously lower moving mass is the preferred design direction for any cartridge. And optical might be a better approach than strain gauge designs, I don't know.
But I was put off by one review that said because it had a distinctive sound, it was a product best left to those who swap cartridges for different records.
this assessment put me off, and the price wasn't real handy either, because I don't swap cartridges.
I would assume any cartridge is aiming towards the same target, and don't really understand why this reviewer suggested it was a part time cartridge, so idiosyncratic as to be second string on some records. Maybe it was just the way the reviewer listens to records, but it seemed to frame happy ownership being for a guy who has the money to be a early adopter and has a quiver of cartridges to supplant this one.
This seems like a less costly and just as viable approach to low mass as the Soundsmith electronic carts, so I was interested in how they compared , on paper. I don't think I would have the patience to go to a listening room and endure a sales pitch , from my experiences with snobby audio salons back when there were a heck of a lot more audio salons.
Since excellent phono stages , and carriages , are kind of spendy, I could put the money I was expecting to use on upgrading my phone stage towards this cartridge , and if I threw in a new cartridge , the money would be about the same, but only if I included a rega cartridge I rejected as too expensive for my needs. but I haven't lost sight that I am shopping for an object of desire, so am keeping my options open.
I am trying to be conservative and buy state of the art at the same time, which takes a little more knowledge than I have, so I hope you don't let these questions detract from your first joys of ownership , I seek to learn , not to critique . I just don't want to buy a show pony when I really need something to ride everyday. Any ownership impressions you might pass on would be appreciated.
Let me consider your questions further before I give any detailed responses. As you said, it's new to me and my system and need some more stick-time with it.
Having said that, I will say that my experience thus far confirms all the attributes noted in both Jonathan Valin's and Ken Kessler's reviews of the 003. I fully expected a full court press from my Linn dealer to sway me towards a Linn cart, but when I told him what I wanted he responded very enthusiastically with two thumbs up for the DS Auto without even a hint of the Linn sales pitch. The last Linn cart I actually could tolerate was the Troika.
I was all set to pull the trigger on a Soundsmith The Voice, but in talking through choices with an audio buddy, he mentioned he'd just taken delivery of a DS Audio setup and was utterly smitten with it. He's using Acoustats like me, but in Spectra mode, and rest of his system is very similar to mine. After he put the bug in my ear, I started reading up on DS Audio. The more I read the more it sounded like exactly what I was seeking. Something revolutionary versus evolutionary. It was more than I wanted to spend and if not for the good folks at the Social Security Administration, I might not have made the stretch.
I see absolutely no reason why this shouldn't be an everyday cartridge. Setup is same as any other cart. The big difference is the energizer/equalizer box making any existing phono stage useless. So far I'm in love.
"I see absolutely no reason why this shouldn't be an everyday cartridge."
Maybe because of the expense. Although not high for MCs, still higher than many would pay.
I have less than no idea what price has to do with it except that sometimes when you pay too little the thing you get is not fit for purpose.
I assure you this cartridge is fit for daily use.
I read the statement I put in the header a long time ago. I don't know if it is exactly true, but it sounds impressive, like I know what I am talking about. . It was offered during a comparison with a computer's quick obsolescence.
I have decided to upgrade my systems weak link, the amplification , so am casting about for best solutions. Plus the MM cartridge I use is so old, I have to send to Japan for a knock off OEm tip, so that situation could also be improved. Since new amplification could handle better carts.
The problem is I am kind of a light weight when it come to the product knowledge required to make the kind of informed buying decisions I enjoy, so I am taking it slow. At one point I was considering going fool proof, playing it super safe and just getting a McIntosh receiver, to the tune of about $12,000 dollars, since I have power hungry speakers. Or I could ditch the power hungry speakers and go modern with powered speakers , and the advantages they bring. Tearing out the core of my system opens a lot of choices, especially if talking McIntosh money.
I really rely on guys with more experience and a deeper interest than myself to help me make intelligent choices. Reviewers are nice, but when it is your own money, and you own the thing, the perspective is different. I like to think I have been around the block enough times to cut through the usual hype some reviewers need to do , but I have to admit, I am easily swayed by desire. And I really like this stuff, it is one of my longest lasting hobbies, I bought my first stereo when I was kid with a part time job.
I read a review and it is like a treasure chest thrown open in a cartoon, I just want to run and possess the treasure , never mind any possible drawbacks. So a seasoned guy with real world experience, broadened by friends with similar interests is the kind of information I value most. Thanks for offering your first impressions, and what helped form your buying decision. If you had said I just bought in a spur of the moment to install on my speedboat to impress women, I would have considered it very differently than from a guy who has product discussions with his dealer
Bryston offer a 20 year warranty on their amps so it can be done close to that figure, but life span actually depends on the weakest component in the system which are typically capacitors.
Good(!) engineers will select components to enable the product to meet a targeted life span (which is typically unspecified). The best low ESR electrolytic capacitors are only good for 10 000 hours at best when driven at the maximum rated values for temperature, voltage and ripple current. Standard capacitors are rated for about 2000 hours. This isn't long at all so designers will select capacitors which are rated considerably higher than the operating values and so this greatly extends the life out to years. However, to get 25 year service life and still meet specifications is a big ask!
A clue as to how long a product is expected to last for is revealed in the warranty period - that is the period that covers infant failures of components, but beyond that, anything can fail. About 5 to 7 years is typical.
Lead free solder processes are very susceptible to the effect of moisture which causes "whiskers" to form that causes tiny shorts between tracks and across surface mount components. 10 years is about the expected reliable life before such problems manifest.
In other words, vintage hifi made with traditional leaded solder may well last for decades, but modern equipment is very unlikely to last for more than 10 years without some issue occurring.
"Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.." Keats
" good Hi fi electronics should be valid for twenty five years".
Not sure if you include cartridges in this statement. Obviously, they wear out, at least the stylus does. I have no idea whether the stylus is replaceable on this cartridge.
In furtherance of full disclosure, and at risk of seeming a name-dropper, the audio buddy I mentioned is friends with and a disciple of Jam Somasundram, former designer for Pass Labs. Jam is now running his own audio company. It was on Jam's recco that my buddy bought his DS Audio stuff. My pal is a retired engineer, and he and Jam (obviously) are way deeper into the technical stuff than I will ever be. When these guys make a recco I listen, and track record with them so far has been a hit every time. So, as much as I might like to claim to be an intrepid early adopter, I can't. I had help and advice from folks who know what's what.
Wow,a modern version of the old Philco beam of light cartridge from 1940.
And we might see more manufacturers offer a DS equalized input on their phono amps in future.
There are already a few. EMM for one.
The decision to open source the energizer technology was an interesting move on their part to me. The inference I drew from it is they might be more interested in the ongoing cartridge business rather than the electronics. Either way, it opens the door for other/better approaches.
post a link so we know what you talking about
The review author at the link goes into more detail about the technology than you might get out of the manufacturer's translated webpage.
With the promo deal the importer, Musical Surroundings, is running it's $5k for the package.
Because of some variable bonus money I received in Q1 of this year, the Social Security folks decided I was gonna make too much money this year when I officially retired on March 31st, and they stiffed me out of three months of benefits. About month ago I got a letter from SS saying that they'd f'd up and were sending me those three months of payments in a lump sum catch-up.
That found money has been burning a hole in my pocket ever since. It's more than I initially intended to spend, but WTF, it's only money. Can't spend it on the other side.
Merry Christmas, as it does sound like an excellent cartridge alternative.
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