This is a product that deserves some coverage all by itself and independently of the room. The company behind this rather interesting and probably unique effort is Digital Stream Corporation; if it doesn’t ring a bell, let me tell you that they were behind the development of the optical mouse with partner Microsoft (which I am sure does ring a bell).
The principle behind this innovative design is this: instead of the typical electromagnetic induction where the phono cartridge cantilever movements are transformed into current through a system of magnets and coils, here we have an optic sensor reading the stylus moves — or, to be more precise, it’s displacement (this is called Amplitude Proportional method, versus the classic Velocity Proportional Method found in MM/MC cartridges).
As it still requires a RIAA correction, the Master 1 comes with its own power supply and equalizer for a grand total of $20.000.
Compared to older DS Audio models, this one is a taken-to-the-limit version, and in this year’s show while paired with Verity Parsifal anniversary speakers, a complete set of Aesthetix electronics and AMG Viella V12 turntable, produced highly detailed and crisp sound, fast transient responses and a high-level of desire so that I might listen to the Master 1 again in the future.