DS Audio W3 Optical Phono System

The new DS-W3 optical cartridge system has been optimized, by implementing an independent LED and photo-detector arrangement for the left and right channels. As a result, the cartridge output voltage has greatly increased from 40mV to 70mV. Despite this dramatic increase in output, the excellent signal-to-noise ratio that DS Audio optical cartridges are renowned for has not been compromised.

The DS-W3 cartridge offers a greatly improved S/N ratio when compared to its stable mates, resulting in an even lower noise floor and far greater musical clarity. In addition to this, the new independent design of the DS-W3 cartridge has made it possible to eliminate crosstalk, greatly improving left and right channel separation (in particular the high-frequency separation has improved by 10dB in comparison to its DS Audio forebears.)


The implementation of independent left and right channel LEDs allows for the positioning of the optical system to be optimized as well as necessitating the use of a new shading plate that has been significantly reduced in size compared to DS Audio’s earlier designs. In addition to this reduction in size, the material used to produce the shading plate has changed from aluminum (as used in the second generation cartridges) to 99.9% pure beryllium. As a result of this, we succeeded in reducing the weight of the shading plate by more than 50%, from 1.56mg to 0.74 mg. This is less than 1/10th of the mass when compared to the core and coil system found in a typical MC (moving coil) cartridge and further improves one of the key advantages of DS Audio’s optical cartridge technology, which is an incredibly low effective mass.

The DS-W3 cartridge features the combination of a boron cantilever with a line contact stylus. The cartridge is made of aluminum and the body structure has been designed in such a way as to promote maximum rigidity. In addition to these features, the DS-W3 utilizes internal wiring 1.6 times thicker than used in the second-generation cartridges in order to reduce impedance.



  • Signal Output: Phono-electric Conversion
  • Output Level: 70mV (1 kHz) at Cartridge output
  • Channel Separation: 27dB and more (1 kHz)
  • Tracking Force: 1.85g - 2.05g (1.95g is Recommended)
  • Cantilever: Boron
  • Stylus Type: Line Contact Stylus
  • Weight: 7.9g
  • Height: 15.2mm
  • Body Material: Aluminum


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