Acoustic Sounds
DS Audio Master 3 cartridge/equalizer
By: Tracking Angle

February 10th, 2024


Industry News

Musical Surroundings Debuts New DS Audio Master 3 "Set" (Optical Cart+Equalizer) at Next Week's FAE

DS's "semi-flagship" combo costs $27,500

DS Audio importer Musical Surroundings today announced the debut at next week's Florida Audio Exp of the new "Master 3" set featuring the new Master 3 optical cartridge ($9500) featuring a Microridge stylus bonded to a unique square-section diamond cantilever. The new $18,000 Master 3 equalizer is a 50+ pound single box version of the Grand Master EQ featuring both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs.

The new Master 3 cartridge features Independent LED and photo-detector arrangement for the left and right channels, resulting in a dramatic increase in output voltage from 40mV to 70mV and improved S/N ratio compared to other models, resulting in an even lower noise floor and far greater musical clarity.

DS Master 3 photo detector arrangement Independent left and right channel LEDs allows for optimized optical system positioning and the need for a new shading plate that's been significantly reduced in size compared to previous designs. The plate material has been changed from aluminum (used in second generation cartridges) to 99.9% pure beryllium, reducing its weight by more than 50%.

Master 3 shading plate assemblyThe Master 3 cartridge combines a square pillar diamond cantilever with a Micro Ridge stylus designed to produce maximum rigidity. Internal wiring, 1.6 times thicker than what's used in the second generation cartridges, reduces impedance.

Master 3 diamond stylusThe DS Master 3 equalizer is a dual mono circuit design featuring three transformers and six selectable output patterns, utilizes three transformers and completely independent L-channel and R-channel circuits. A significantly strengthened power supply is said to enable "deep, richer low frequency expression". The DS Master3 has balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as six different low frequency cut-off options.

Master 3 equalizer


  • 2024-02-10 11:18:04 PM

    Josquin des Prez wrote:

    I'm curious how it might stack up to my combination – for roughly the same price – of Lyra Altas Lambda SL + Naim Audio Superline/SupercapDR/HiLine/PowerLine. Not that I'm looking to make a change.

    The requirement for a proprietary phono-stage is still a turn off for me. Does it support regular cartridges in case you want to have choices (or like me a second arm with a mono cartridge)?

    • 2024-02-11 03:25:48 AM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      No. It’s a “closed system” though others make the required equalizers

  • 2024-02-11 02:15:32 PM

    NLak wrote:

    A relative of mine has heard these DS Optical cartridges and he raves about it, someone in one of my audio Facebook groups has one as well, and says it is unlike anything he’s ever heard before. It is a very closed architecture, but wasn’t Ed Meitner working on a phono preamp that could be used with any optical cartridge?

    • 2024-02-11 05:54:02 PM

      bwb wrote:

      Google is your friend

      • 2024-02-12 04:34:48 AM

        NLak wrote:

        You’re my friend, thanks for the link. ;)

    • 2024-02-11 06:55:28 PM

      Michael Fremer wrote:

      I reviewed the Meitner on this site!

      • 2024-02-12 04:35:39 AM

        NLak wrote:

        I thought I saw it somewhere, just couldn’t remember where. Thanks for the heads up.

      • 2024-02-12 04:35:40 AM

        NLak wrote:

        I thought I saw it somewhere, just couldn’t remember where. Thanks for the heads up.

  • 2024-02-11 02:24:26 PM

    Tim wrote:

    Im curious as to why DS doesnt achieve better cross-talk performance (their own specified amount is 27db).

    Based on how they explain their technology works, I would have expected something comparable to the best "traditional" MCs (at 35db or more).

    IMO, crosstalk is one of the key differentiang factors between good cartridges and lesser. Ive often found that carts that subjectivity sound best to also test well in regard to crosstalk.

    Perhaps the DS shines in all other areas. High price to pay however to simply "try it out".

    • 2024-02-13 04:21:23 PM

      Adrian Galpin wrote:

      I was also brought short by this distinctly average measurement Tim, exceptional channel separation is a major reason I bought my Benz Micro cartridge, a key metric in my mind.

  • 2024-02-11 11:46:52 PM

    JACK L wrote:


    "DS'S "SEMI-FLAGSHIP" COMBO COSTS $27,500" qtd T.A.

    For such hefty price, it better sound good irrespective of whatever !

    JACK L

  • 2024-02-13 05:44:10 AM

    Sloan Lamb wrote:

    The optical pick-up system comes across as a novel idea but Philco had a version in 1939. Try it in this video and see how excellent it sounds: