DS Audio Grand Master + EMM Labs DS-EQ1

gajgmusic

Well-Known Member
Apr 9, 2013
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I recently compared my Grand Master to my previous setup Ortofon MA 90 and Tom Evans Groove+ SRX. The Grand Master sounds remarkably natural, at least to my ears, but with the amazingly black background. The unit has operated flawlessly. The EMM DS-EQ1 works superbly, is superbly built, relatively small footprint and not unreasonable in price but again just my two cents. The combination has renewed my interest in Vinyl remarkably.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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David,

It truly is very interesting to me that you found the sound to be "natural." I found the sound to be very transparent; very quiet for vinyl replay; high in resolution; and detailed without in any way being bright or edgy or aggressive. (This is in contrast to a Lyra Atlas which, to my ears, achieves transparency and resolution and detail at the cost of edginess and aggressiveness.)

The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether it was just a little bit less full and rich -- just a little bit less meat on the bones up and down the frequency spectrum -- than what I am used to from an Opus 1 or a ZYX UNIverse Premium. In other words I just wasn't sure if the optical cartridge was sacrificing a little bit of natural warmth and "musicality" for that amazing transparency and resolution and natural detail and absence of noise.

PS: The limitation to the DS Audio or to the EMM decoder doesn't bother me, personally.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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What are your opinions for the best tonearm to match with a DS Audio optical cartridge?

Have people had enough experience with DS Audio Grand Master optical cartridges to understand how they perform on pivoting tonearms versus linear tracking tonearms?

Which is the "magical" tonearm match?
 
Last edited:

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
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David,

It truly is very interesting to me that you found the sound to be "natural." I found the sound to be very transparent; very quiet for vinyl replay; high in resolution; and detailed without in any way being bright or edgy or aggressive. (This is in contrast to a Lyra Atlas which, to my ears, achieves transparency and resolution and detail at the cost of edginess and aggressiveness.)

The only thing I wasn't sure about was whether it was just a little bit less full and rich -- just a little bit less meat on the bones up and down the frequency spectrum -- than what I am used to from an Opus 1 or a ZYX UNIverse Premium. In other words I just wasn't sure if the optical cartridge was sacrificing a little bit of natural warmth and "musicality" for that amazing transparency and resolution and natural detail and absence of noise.

PS: The limitation to the DS Audio or to the EMM decoder doesn't bother me, personally.
Dear Ron,
There are different degrees of "natural" and "natural" and it's not only one flavor! The DS is flatter and not as rich sounding as the ZYX and has less character. I have to think about how it compares to the OPUS1 which is again very different from both but there's no mistaking that it's a Japanese cartridge.

david
 

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
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What is the take on the 003 cartridge and equalizer?

I was thinking this or a Hagerman MC Trumpet with an Aides Rainbow cartridge.
 

TLi

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May 27, 2016
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198
What are your opinions for the best tonearm to match with a DS Audio optical cartridge?

Have people had enough experience with DS Audio Grand Master optical cartridges to understand how they perform on pivoting tonearms versus linear tracking tonearms?

Which is the "magical" tonearm match?
My Grand Master is mounted on SAT tonearm. After some trial and error, I find Grand Master prefers medium to heavy arms. Although the weight of Grand Master is only 8 gram, its suspension is not tuned to light mass tonearm.

I have to add extra weight of the headshell of SAT to increase its effective mass in order to get a balanced presentation. With no extra weight, the bass is reduced, I end up adding 7 gram to the headshell to obtain a satisfactory result.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
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Dear Ron,
There are different degrees of "natural" and "natural" and it's not only one flavor! The DS is flatter and not as rich sounding as the ZYX and has less character. I have to think about how it compares to the OPUS1 which is again very different from both but there's no mistaking that it's a Japanese cartridge.

david

Thank you, David. I found the Grand Master + EMM to be unique (transparent, highly-resolving, extremely quiet, without edginess/fatigue), but I came away provisionally feeling that it is something that I could highly respect but not yet love. Yes, it was not as rich-sounding as I like.

If a digital-only audiophile were expanding to embrace vinyl I think the quietness of the Grand Master would make it a great choice sonically.
 

AMR / iFi audio

Industry Expert
Aug 21, 2019
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Can you tell me what is the difference between the standard RIAA equalization curve required for MM/MC (which I am very familiar with) and the equalization required for optical cartridges?
The output of an MM / MC cartridge is proportional to its speed, the output increases as the speed rises (= higher frequency). However, the optical cartridge has an amplitude proportional output that outputs flat from the low frequency to the high frequency (same as the old crystal type and capacitor type). How does that affect the EQ designed for optical cartridges?
 

Ackcheng

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2011
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digitalroomcorrection.hk

Their web page has some circuit info. May be of interest to you. But I have no idea. Hope that helps
 

TLi

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2016
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198
It is human behaviour to doubt a new technology, particularly when there is nothing wrong with MC cartridges.

DS Audio optical cartridge has its disadvantages, such as closed system and limited choice of equalisers. The irony is much of this criticism comes from someone using iPhone which itself is a closed system.

It is not a matter of closed or open, it is all about the sound. There is no doubt Grand Master is one of the best cartridges in the market. Ackcheng and I use Grand Master and other good MC cartridges, we are happy with both, but to be honest, the time I spend with Grand Master is significantly more than other MC cartridges, that speak for itself.
 

spiritofmusic

Well-Known Member
Jun 13, 2013
13,851
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TLi, the same criticism is made of the Soundsmith Straingauge cart that I use, with a single choice of energizer in place of phono that makes it also a closed system. However, if the sound of the DS is exemplary as the Straingauge is, then I believe this criticism is not a crucial one.
The DS and Straingauge should be judged on their own merits, not downplayed just because audiophiles are restricted from not having freedom to experiment w different phonos.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
5,881
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Utah
Thank you, David. I found the Grand Master + EMM to be unique (transparent, highly-resolving, extremely quiet, without edginess/fatigue), but I came away provisionally feeling that it is something that I could highly respect but not yet love. Yes, it was not as rich-sounding as I like.

If a digital-only audiophile were expanding to embrace vinyl I think the quietness of the Grand Master would make it a great choice sonically.
We had it with the matching DS equalizer Ron, can’t comment on the EMM.

david
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
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agree we need to focus on the sound and degree of our musical connection to judge any reproduction technology. and ROI, of course. not any dogma.

i'm stepping off the main stream and acquiring a field coil arm and field coil cartridge.....unheard. yes; field coil is considered sexy as a concept and used for vintage speaker drivers so gets a pass as somehow maybe being non musical. reports are positive with it. and the signal path for the cartridge is conventional so uses normal phono circuits.

i hope there is a DS Cartridge playing at Axpona to hear.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
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Thank you, David. I found the Grand Master + EMM to be unique (transparent, highly-resolving, extremely quiet, without edginess/fatigue), but I came away provisionally feeling that it is something that I could highly respect but not yet love. Yes, it was not as rich-sounding as I like.

If a digital-only audiophile were expanding to embrace vinyl I think the quietness of the Grand Master would make it a great choice sonically.

So a digital person stays away from vinyl because it is noisy, and will adapt if it's quieter? Doesn't make sense
 

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
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Why are people saying the DS unit is a closed system if an EMM labs equalizer works well with a DS cartridges. If the technology gets traction, more equalizers may be produced. Maybe even more cartridges. Not sure the patent on it?
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
6,744
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Switzerland
agree we need to focus on the sound and degree of our musical connection to judge any reproduction technology. and ROI, of course. not any dogma.

i'm stepping off the main stream and acquiring a field coil arm and field coil cartridge.....unheard. yes; field coil is considered sexy as a concept and used for vintage speaker drivers so gets a pass as somehow maybe being non musical. reports are positive with it. and the signal path for the cartridge is conventional so uses normal phono circuits.

i hope there is a DS Cartridge playing at Axpona to hear.
What is a field coil arm?
 

Solypsa

Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2017
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@morricab Primary Control FCL. Bernd has two magnetically stabilized unipivot tonearms; the Gravity ( permanent magnet )and the FCL "field coil loaded'.
 
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Solypsa

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I heard the gravity / Kinea combo when I visited his studio a few years ago. Really nice.
 
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