This is a perfectly acceptable trade-off for the reduced dynamic compliance of the DS-W2’s ‘tie-wire’ suspension. In practice then, its 8.1g bodyweight is offset by a low-ish 15/20cu dynamic compliance, conferring a low ~9Hz subsonic resonance in medium-to-high effective mass tonearms.
Output is a high 1.28V via the equaliser (re. 1kHz/5cm/ sec) – more than sufficient for standard preamp line inputs – while the ‘eq’ itself yields DS Audio’s customary bass boost that begins below 100Hz and reaches +4.0dB/20Hz.
Once again big, reflex-loaded speakers are best avoided! The mid/presence response of the DS-W2 is slightly more uniform than either the Master 1 or DS-002 and while the 13kHz treble peak is less exaggerated it’s still going to add some pizzaz at +6.5dB. This ‘loudness contour’ shows excellent symmetry between lateral and vertical cuts, promising a very uniform colour across the soundstage. As does the uniform trend of THD versus frequency which shows any very high frequency distortion tamed by the pick-up’s post-15kHz treble roll-off.
The DS Audio DS-W2 has its own 26-pound Preamp/Equalizer (with the W2 cartridge and the equalizer). With it, you get an optical cartridge with a Boron cantilever and a micro-ridge stylus that has a minimum curvature radius. What you don’t get is a cartridge body made of what they call “Ultra” duralumin. Instead, the body is made of aluminum.
With the introduction of the DS-W2, DS Audio once again has three optical cartridges and three Preamp/Equalizers that all work with one another. This makes it possible to move up in the line in steps, or to find the combination that is right for your ears and your pocketbook. A little birdie tells me that there will most likely be a trade-in path to help owners move up the line.
v The biggest visual change from the DS-W1 to the DS-W2 is the Preamp/Equalizer. To start with, the DS-W2’s Preamp/Equalizer is about three times the size and weight of the DS-W1’s. This makes it closer in size to the Master1’s Preamp/Equalizer than to the DS-002 Preamp/Equalizer. The DS-W2 has two sets of single-ended RCA outputs and two sets of balanced XLR outputs. Output 1 is the “DS Standard” single cut-off with 6db/octave at 30Hz while output 2 is “RIAA Standard” double cut-off with 6db/octave 50.5Hz and 6db/octave at 30Hz. It does not have the third output 3 of the Master1, which is a triple cut-off with 6db/octave 50.5Hz, 6db/octave at 30Hz and 12db/octave at 25Hz.
All cartridges need to be set up correctly to sound their best, and that seems obvious. The point should be made that some phono cartridges are more particular than others about how they are set up. For example, phono cartridges with a conical stylus are not as fussy about set up. When it comes to a cartridge with a micro-ridge stylus, proper setup is critical. In a displacement reading cartridge, the set up of the azimuth and anti-skating is particularly important. One other thing to know about a displacement reading cartridge with a micro-ridge stylus is that it is even more important to set everything up precisely and to keep the stylus clean.
The DS Audio W-2 is all about fidelity and great harmonics played with rich and beautiful tonal color. It offers a little more natural and realistic warmth than the other two cartridges without giving up speed or detail to the DS-002 and only a little to the Master1.