The DS Audio engineers were given free rein during the design phase of the new system by company owner Tetsuaki Aoyagi. With the goal of producing the ultimate catridge without any restrictions, the Grand Master embodies a groundbreaking new generation. The pickup was equipped with a new type of dual-mono photo sensor technology, for example. The photo cells, which have never been used in a pickup before, work together with specially assigned LED light sources in each channel of the Grand Master. With output increased from 40mV to 70mV, the pickup is said to shine with an excellent signal-to-noise ratio and impressive clarity during record playback.
With the newly developed generator, DS Audio claims to have additionally reduced the dreaded crosstalk and noticeably optimized channel separation above 10 kHz. The large-area shading plate was designed from 99.9% pure beryllium. As a result, Aoyagi-san managed to minimize the dead weight of the moving mass by 50%, from 1.56 to 0.74 milligrams. This is less than one tenth of the coil weight of a typical moving coil cartridge, which is said to be reflected in enormously increased dynamics and fine detail, which the optical system is supposed to deliver.
The DS Audio Grand Master scans the record with a Micro Ridge diamond, which sits on a pure diamond cantilever. Improved inner conductors with a conductor cross-section that is about 1.6 times larger, aim to guarantee the optimal signal flow. Ultra Duralumin, a particularly rigid aluminum alloy, was chosen for the elegant cartridge housing.
A two-part EQ unit weighing over 50 kilograms is used as the phono equalizer and PSU for the Grand Master. Its separate housing mechanically separates the sensitive audio circuits from the powerful power supply. The audio unit has a completely analog and discrete circuit design. All built-in film capacitors, as well as the non-inductive winding resistors, are built especially for DS Audio according to their own specifications. The phono stage offers both RCA and balanced XLR outputs, with a total of 6 selectable bass cut-offs. This allows the Grand Master to be seamlessly integrated into any hi-fi system.
Inside the housing of the PSU, wide copper wires connect a total of three transformers, each with a capacitance 1.5 times higher than that of the Master 1 equalizer. Independent transformers are provided for the left and right channels, with the third alone supplying power to the optical pickup.
The uncompromisingly constructed duo includes an electrolytic capacitance of 2.34 million microfarads in the equalizer and 2.97 million microfarads in the power supply. This aims to achieve a convincing reproduction of the lowest frequency ranges and a magnificent dynamic range.
The set, which consists of the cartridge and the two-part phono stage, is available in Germany now for 55,000 Euros from select dealers.