DS Audio Introduces the Grand Master System: A Flagship Optical Cartridge and Phono Stage/Equalizer

OAKLAND, CA — If the national media is going to be labelled as fake news, then let us at least be known as the fake news you can trust. Because you can trust me when I say that Marc Phillips and I pine over, and pine over hard, DS Audio Optical Phono Cartridges from Musical Surroundings.

The new Grand Master System from DS Audio could send Marc Phillips over the moon. Gorge yourself on the details and photos below.

Press Release

Introducing the Grand Master system: DS Audio’s flagship optical cartridge and phono stage/equalizer.

DS Audio, the pioneers of optical phono cartridges, elevates the sound of vinyl playback with their new Grand Master system. This pure analog playback system combines a new “dual mono” cartridge design featuring 50% lower weight moving parts and a massive 2 chassis phono stage weighing over 100 lbs.

DS Audio Grand Master System – $60,000

  • The system includes an optical phono cartridge and a dual chassis phono stage/equalizer.

DS Audio Grand Master Cartridge – $15,000

  • Optical phono cartridge only. This can be used with any DS Audio phono stage/equalizer.

DS Audio Grand Master Phono Stage/Equalizer – $45,000

  • Dual chassis phono stage/equalizer only. This can be used with any DS Audio optical phono cartridge.

DS Audio’s flagship optical phono cartridge, engineered to bring analog sound to another level.

The new Grand Master optical cartridge is optimized by implementing a new independent (dual mono) LED and photo-detector arrangement for the left and right channels. The cartridge output voltage has greatly increased from 40 mV to 70 mV, significantly more than traditional phono cartridges. With this dramatic increase in output, DS Audio’s excellent signal to noise ratio has been furthered improved, resulting in an even lower noise floor and greater musical clarity. The new design of the Grand Master generator further reduces crosstalk, greatly improving left and right channel separation, specifically above 10 kHz.

Over 50% reduction in moving mass

With the implementation of dual mono LEDs, a new larger shading plate was engineered using 99.9% pure beryllium for optimal positioning and agility.

DS Audio succeeded in reducing the weight of this shading plate by more than 50%, from 1.56 mg to 0.74 mg. This is less than 1/10th of the moving mass compared to the former/coil assembly found in a typical MC (moving coil) cartridge.

This further improves key advantages of DS Audio’s optical cartridge technology, enhancing track-ability, reducing resonance, and minimizing record wear.

Diamond cantilever with Micro-ridge stylus, ultra-rigid body design, and improved internal wiring.

A first for DS Audio, the Grand Master cartridge combines a diamond cantilever with a micro-ridge stylus. The cartridge body has been structurally designed to promote maximum rigidity. The Grand Master utilizes new internal wiring, 1.6 times thicker than used in previous generation cartridges, for greater signal flow from the dual-mono generator.

DS Audio’s flagship 2 chassis optical phono stage/equalizer – it sounds like 100 lbs.

The DS Audio Grand Master phono stage features 2 massive chassis, weighing together over 100lbs. Separating the dual mono audio circuitry from the power supply chassis, which houses 3 independent supplies, provides unmatched dynamic realism.

The Grand Master audio chassis incorporates discrete design and meticulous layout, with both special film capacitors and non-induction winding resistors custom-built to DS Audio’s specifications. The phono stage/equalizer offers both single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs and a total of 6 selectable low-frequency cut-off points allowing the Grand Master to work seamlessly with any hi-fi system.

Inside the power supply chassis, large copper bus bars connect a total of three transformers, each with a capacity 1.5 times greater than found in our Master 1 equalizer. Independent transformers are dedicated to the left and right channels, with the third handling the power to the optical cartridge.

The significantly more robust power supply design includes a massive 2.34 million microfarads of electrolytic capacitance within the equalizer and 2.97 million microfarads within the power supply, enabling superior reproduction of ultralow frequencies and dynamic range.

DS Audio’s technology allows unmatched performance and flexibility

The Grand Master cartridge and phono stage are compatible with all DS Audio’s optical cartridges and equalizers providing many choices and upgrades for the ultimate in pure analog vinyl enjoyment.

About Musical Surroundings

Musical Surroundings, founded by Garth Leerer in 1991, specializes in turntable and analog product development, manufacture, and distribution. Prior to Musical Surroundings, Garth had worked with manufacturers including Symmetry, Monster Cable, The Mod Squad, and SOTA turntables and managed high-end retail stores DB Audio and Music By The Sea. Musical Surroundings imports two German turntables brands, AMG (Analog Manufaktur Germany) and Clearaudio. From Japan, they import and distribute DS Audio optical phono cartridges and Hana cartridges by Excel Audio. Musical Surroundings has an eponymous brand of phono stages, designed by Mike Yee and manufactured in Northern California since 1999.