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Monday, June 14, 2021

Analogtechnik DST15 - first impressions


I’ve been impressed many times during my almost 50 years-long music-audio journey, but only an handful of time I was scared to death: Studer C37, Quad ESL, 300B amp, Garrard 301, The Peak arm and DST cartridge(s).

Scared by the incredibly huge improvement a single gear may be able to introduce in my system.

Maybe a bit scared about the impressive 6-6,5 grams VTF, but as you know, with a deep-groove conical diamond, isn’t that heavy for vinyl… and, hey!, we all own so many discs we simply cannot be over-worried 😄 to worn-out a disc, most of all if the orgasmic enjoyment reaches highest peaks!

… scared or blessed?

Maybe the latter, as the feeling is a satori-like enjoyment, something so sought-after…

A few days ago I got a parcel from Germany contaning two hand-made cartridges of the noblest breed: Analogtechnik DST15 and DMT25 - i.e. Neumann DST replicas.

These cartridges are handmade to such an impressive quality standard to put to shame the elusive made in Japan DST replicas, quite often suffering of bad quality sampler-to-sampler consistency (thinking about the infamous Lumiere DST).

After tuning the impressive 6,35 grams VTF on my new digital scale and overhang and null-points on The Peak arm, I was ready to hear the first notes played on freshly made (not 50+ years old like my vintage NOS Neumann DST!😱) cartridge… 

The first disc I choose - Pierre Dørge/John Tchicai live in Stockholm - was a shock!

I listened to this disc on Steeplechase label yesterday with Lumiere DST and today, with Analogtechnik’s DST15, the Gibson 335 and alto sax lively recording sounded even more fabulous and lively, so naturally better then my previous listening session!

How is it possible 😄?

Well, words aren’t able to say it all… the feeling is you simply don’t need to explain anything to anybody, as quality is so impressively apparent.

Even more impressive considering it’s a few hours old cartridge, still breaking-in and opening: for example, first grooves sounded with noisy background, like the cartridge was extracting too much informations from the grooves… this lasted just one side, then only music poured from Gotorama.

Maybe the cantilever stiffness diminished within half  an hou or the diamond self-polished while playing first disc… dunno.

After the Steeplechase disc, I enjoyed a Gustav Leonhardt’s disc, Bach’s The Art of Fugue recorded by Tomas Gallia on BASF/Harmonia Mundi and a Rucker’s 16th Century harpsichord was in my Studietto!

The DST cartridge excels in impressively differentiating the parallel musical lines and Analogtechnik’s isn’t second to none, but at this level of resolution and enjoyment, you doubt about your senses.

You feel like a virgin, a newbie and I admit it’s so pleasant 😄!

Imagine if this would be possible with other human activities… a time machine!

While listening to Bach, I was holding the old, premium quality paper booklet and the subtle pleasure of handling this booklet, appreciating the paper crispness and corrugations wasn’t so different from re-re-rediscovering a beloved masterpiece like you listened to it for the first time!

Isn’t this any audiophile wet-dream - i.e. enjoying the music you like as it was the first time?

A gift, rare as it can be.

I look forward to the further improving of the brand new cartridge, also if it already sounds… yes 😇, scaring good!

My sincere compliments and kudos to Maestro Daniel Kim for his achievement in analog art and cartridge making!


P.S. - a couple of suggestions: be careful to properly handle the larger than life DST15’s headshell body as it will sometimes hit an 80mm clamp at end of most discs… and like other DSTs’ carts, please tune the arm VTA for sweetest spot (thanks to Fidelity Research B60) which will apparently look “wrong” - i.e. a bit “seated”, almost touching the vinyl surface with cartridge belly 😄 but the headshell front will be perfectly parallel to disc.

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