DS Audio optical cartridge

Does anyone know if there is any advantage to it over a normal MM/MC cartridge?. I have a NPC that I use for my current table or would I be better getting a better table vs upgraded cartridge?.

HI @guthrie_m

Most reading I’ve done on MM vs MC is that MC is more sensitive because there is less inertia on the needle. The reason for this is a coil of wire weighs less than a magnet. As a result the quality of the sound coming from the MC cartridge is reputed to be better. I personally have an MC and love it.

As for the question about upgrading your turn table, I have mixed feelings about this. I have only ever owned 3 turn tables in my life, the most recent one is the Project RPM-3. I am very pleased with it and am very happy I upgraded to it. But I upgraded from one of those $129.00 specials that are marketed as the way to convert your albums to digital over USB. I never used it for that purpose though. That turn table was starting to have problems with wow and flutter and I could not see spending any money or time to try and fix it.

As you could imagine there was a huge difference in sound quality coming from the RPM-3. The sound I get from the RPM-3 is good enough that I don’t think I would ever spend any additional money upgrading either the turntable or cartridge.

I know that I didn’t give you a definitive answer to that second question, but I believe it really depends on the quality of the turntable you have now and the quality you are trying to achieve. Not knowing either one of those, it is hard to provide a definitive answer.

I hope you find this helpful.

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I am extremely pleased with my Soundsmith Moving Iron (MI) cartridge. (Just to muddy the waters)
Again, less moving mass.


And my London Decca Reference (Moving Iron-ish) doesn’t quite fit in any of the pre-defined categories but based on my experience, complicates decisions purely based on cartridge type alone.


I’ll have to check out those cartridges. Do you think there is a advantage with a optical cartridge such as one made by DS Audio? Or I should be going with one that I can test or can hear in person?. https://www.ds-audio-w.biz/optical-cartridge-basicprinciple/

Which Soundsmith model? Did you have to have a special phono preamplifer?

You are correct induced magnet cartridges have lower mass than moving coils. Joe Grado was the inventor of the moving coil cartridge and he later abandoned it. Ortofons use induced magnet design. Soundsmith cartridges are based on Ortofons.

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I have the Zephyr MIMC Star. And yes sir, I have an outstanding phono preamp built into my preamp. The Zephyr can use most moving coil preamps. It has a line contact (Shibata) stylus and low output. But my oh my does it sound wonderful. It also costs under 2k which is a nice bonus.

I am not sure I agree with you that Soundsmith is based on Ortofon. Can you elaborate on this?

I am not sure what Peter is up to at this minute but I do know he has in the past used Ortofon Cartridges to build into his highly over priced offerings.

That may or may not have been the case at one time but there are no Ortofon parts in mine. I love Ortofon so no bias here, just facts.

The fact that it is induced magnet and the visual does not look much different than his older builds you may want to ask him that question.