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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The DST revamped... Audio Technica AT-ART 1000 Direct Power Stereo cartridge

Everybody goes Direct, these days, folks…

In cartridges world, after boron and ruby cantilevers, agatha and lapislazuli bodies, and silver-wire coils, the Nirvana is DST aka DPS – i.e. just a few turns of ultrathin OFC wire to obtain a non-magnetic core coil placed within the minuscule 0,6 mm gap of a powerful magnetic circuit.

Where I already read about this approach?

Is it a new patent, or…?

Of course it’s not!

Look at the coils!

From Neumann DST and DST 62 to Victor MC L-1000, from Lumiere DST to Leonid Sinitsin’s Tzar DST to Audio Technica AT-ART1000, all the above uses the above briefly described concept and building approach.

… but it’s not only the shortest distance from diamond to coils, as also Deccas’ and Ikeda 9 are very rigidly built,  cantileverless designs… so what?

The uniqueness of the above mentioned cartridges is the VERY precision job needed in turning the micro-coils and aligning in the gap… unbalance and inconsistency in Left/Right balance and frequency at 1khz is quite common and varies quite worrying and wildly from sampler to sampler…

VTF, for example is always an issue in virtually all DST’s carts: Neumann DST are 6.5 grams, DST 62 5 grams, but I heard a superbly tracking white DST working at 4,5 grams… one of my two Lumieres’ goes at 3,5 grams, the other at 5 grams… AT-ART 1000 is individually measured (of course) and VTF varies from sampler to sampler between 2 and 2,5 grams… Tzar is reportedly giving its best at 3,8 grams, as well.

Maybe, only Neumann and Audio Technica has been able to tame the L/R unbalance… Lumiere and Tzar are hot-rod artisanal cartridges, so you may have the real Magik (A. Crowley will forgive me...) and the average, so-so samplers, like on the Kikuchi's Lumiere DST: owned several and all, say ALL sounded different… from sublime to... talking about consistency!

What I find worth pinpointing is the return of such a difficult to properly manage, exotic and esoteric designs, almost getting a mythical status among analog lovers and scholars…

Nothing new under the sun, apparently…

Hideo Matsushita-san, Audio Technica's founder, a pictures I took at last MOC 2016.

The Audio Technica AT ART 1000 literature claims the following:

Audio expertise with cutting-edge materials and design – incorporating a Direct Power System, often viewed as a theoretical ideal in cartridge development – which renders the most subtle sonic details and delivers unsurpassed transient response, vividly reproducing the finest sonic details, incredibly accurate medium and low frequencies and delivering unsurpassed transient response”.

If not being a long time user and owner of this mighty design, owning, listening to and highly appreciating my Neumann DST, DST 62 and Lumiere DST’s I would think the above statement to be pure bullshit and audio hype at its best, but… it’s DST (or DPS) design perfectly described in few words!!!

Historically, this kind of design was strongly needed and advocated by Neumann itself for their studio work, where the comparison had to be made was between master-tape, lacquer and vinyl test-pressing… nothing would have been able, back in the ‘60s and now, to stand the task, sure not a compressed sound coming from some home system cartridge.

I’m not surprised that all the above mentioned cartridges are in the proud hands of people also enjoying open reel tapes and – quite often – rigidly mounted, not springs or rubber mounted idler-wheel or direct driven turntables.

Everything in the audio chain must be painstackingly considered and tuned, but this overall rigidity – i.e. cantileverless cart, heavy. Rigid, heavy turntable, solid state Class A and high efficient drivers and horns, etc. etc. abruptly blossoms as… smoothness and silkiness and highly uncolored, unbleached sound.

Long live DST and its declinations… I look forward a cheap DST in the future, as I cannot stand this unique beauty is only for tycoons or... stereo kichigais;-), like myself!

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