Preview by Martin Colloms. Review to be published in the January to March 2019 Issue
Our review, to be published 20th February 2019, comprises three pickup cartridges of low output moving coil technology and one moving vane optical from DS Audio. With the light powered DS002, we have the Audio Technica AT-ART1000 ‘direct coil’, the LINN KRYSTAL ‘skeletal’ moving coil, and the Rega Aphelion ‘skeletal’ moving coil, all benchmarked against the magazine's resident Lyra Delos. In a marathon session Colloms and Bryant carried out extended comparisons for these five cartridges.
Below is a close up of the unusual Audio Technica showing the amazing pair of tiny micro coils, bonded to the boron cantilever just above the stylus. The V-shaped sections are the magnet poles and in use the coils are settled into the two gaps under the influence of the optimal down force.
Audio Technica AT-ART1000 direct coil design is physically heavy. This is also a low output design, and is priced in the UK at nearly £4,500. It is clearly an Audio Technica flagship.
Rega’s Aphelion is of UK manufacture and costs £3,149. Also a low output moving coil, the latter assembly becomes correctly aligned when the correct tracking force is applied. The generator is a tiny micro cross coil assembly distinguished by an absence of the usual tie-back wire tensioning to the assembly to the magnet. Instead the boron cantilever is supported on a specially designed rubber mount where the correct alignment occurs at the correct tracking force, and then may be micro-adjusted by ear for best sound quality.
LINN’s KRYSTAL is a development in their ‘skeleton’ series, though at a more moderate price. The somewhat rough hewn appearance is set off by gold plating of the integrated body and magnet poles. It has a fine line naked diamond stylus of low tip mass with an alloy cantilever. Three point mounting is possible.
DS Audio : DS 002 This is the third design in the DS optical series and comes complete with a self powered preamplifier/RIAA equaliser delivering line level output for a line level preamp, this somewhat mitigating the high price.
This cartridge needs four wire connection as each channel’s electro-optics are powered via the lead-out wires from the custom head amplifier-equaliser. The stylus is a Shibata line contact. Lightweight vanes are hidden inside, at about half the extent of the cantilever, with infra red LEDs and matching photo diodes to sense the motion driven by groove modulation.
Lyra Delos - The current HIFICRITIC mid-price reference is the Lyra Delos, a budget example in Lyra’s range, but pretty exceptional in this, low output moving coil class and a useful benchmark.
Martin Colloms has a passion for audio and music and has written for many of the key hi-fi magazines worldwide.