SOULNOTE E-3: Phono stage for DS Audio optical cartridges


SOULNOTE unveiled the SOULNOTE E-3 phono preamplifier, tailored to be compatible with optical cartridges from DS Audio. This means it doesn’t have the usual inputs for connecting moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) cartridges.

SOULNOTE E-3 – phono stage for DS Audio optical cartridges

The SOULNOTE E-3 phono preamplifier features a unique balanced amplification circuit called the Type-R circuit, designed specifically for optical cartridges. With only four transistors in the signal path, this NFB-free design ensures the music signal from the cartridge remains pure and unaltered.

SOULNOTE E-3 – phono stage for DS Audio optical cartridges

The Type-R circuit has got three transformers in it: a pair of big power transformers for the left and right channels, and one for the optical cartridge LEDs. This power supply provides a 19W phono stage with the same amount of power as a 500W power amplifier, guaranteeing a consistent and steady music playback.

SOULNOTE E-3 – phono stage for DS Audio optical cartridges

The XLR input jack is designed to work with the Separate Power Phono Cable created by DS Audio and Uesugi Laboratory. By separating the lines for the analog phono signal and the LED power current, the signal-to-noise ratio and dynamics are enhanced when using optical cartridges.

The SOULNOTE E-3 phono stage will come in Premium Silver and Premium Black options. It is set to be released for sale in August 2024.


  • Inputs – 1 (XLR), 1 (RCA) (do not connect both at the same time) – DS Audio optical cartridges only
  • Outputs – 1 balanced (XLR), 1 unbalanced (RCA)
  • Input sensitivity – 50 mV (1 kHz)
  • Nominal output voltage – 2.54 V (balanced output), 1.27 V (unbalanced output) (1 kHz)
  • Maximum output voltage – 12 V (balanced output), 6 V (unbalanced output) (1 kHz)
  • Gain (1 kHz, balanced input) – 34 dB (balanced output), 28 dB (unbalanced output)
  • RIAA Rejection – ±0.2 dB
  • THD (1 kHz with low-pass filter 20 kHz) – 0.03% (balanced output 2.54 V)
  • Dimensions (W D) – 454 x 189 x 407 mm (including studs)

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