Denon DL-103. Any opinions ?

M

MJ.

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I've heard that these cartridges are really quite rated amongst the knowledgeable hi-fi fraternity and represent seriously excellent value for money.

Does anybody on here use one and, if so, what is your opinion ?

 

Frizzy brizzy

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Good question .Always wondered myself, is fact as good as legend, I hear you need a step up tranny that suits its musical ways.

 

surayne

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I haven't got the most extensive experience of carts on here by a long shot, but I do like my 103. I use it on the end of a Jelco 750D into a Denon AU-300 SUT. I've never really had trouble with mistracking and it's very listenable. I had a DL160 before this and find the 103 more detailed with more weight in the bass. I experimented with a DL304-II briefly but it didn't go well with the Jelco.

I've heard the 103R and find it a lot brighter - it may suit some setups but I think I'd find it too fatiguing.

My only issue with the 103 is that I notice inner groove distortion - many say that the old stylus design makes tracking inner grooves less precise. There are all manner of tweaks and upgrades you can try - removing the body altogether, using a metal or wood body or complete cantilever changes, take your pick. I haven't really felt the need so far, it makes decent music as it is. I'm sure that better can be had, but I would expect you'd have to fork out at least double the price of the 103 to hear any worthwhile improvement.

 
M

MJ.

Guest
OK, so about 50 / 50 pro / anti.

bmtell - yes, I had seen some recent anti 103 comments but I wanted to know, particularly for those of us with lower value systems, what the more general tent view was.

In all seriousness, what could be had that is better for about £100 used ?

 

fordy

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As long as you accept it's a cheap and cheerful old school MC with a huge conical nugget on the end then they are OK. The standard 103 is energetic and OK with Jazz while the 103R is a bit smoother but loses some edge and sparkle. Both are seriously comprimised when it comes to detail, soundstage, air and so on. They are described as musical but that is just usually an excuse to describe a lack of detail and refinement, a bit like a fat lass with a nice personality. Its when people start trying to "get the best out of them" that it stops making sense.

You can get them to sound much better for sure with a heavy tonearm, alternative body/cantilever/stylus and an optimised SUT but you'll end up building your system around a nail just cos they interwebs hyped it up to be a Koetsu beater. It's a beater for sure but not a Koetsu beater.

By the time you've faffed around improving it and your system and you're at least 2K invested you'll eventually realise that any number of 500-1000 quid carts (from Benz, lyra, Dynavector etc...) will shit all over your tricked up Denon and you could have kept your Rega tonearm and modest MC phono stage after all and put the rest of the dosh into sensible improvement elsewhere in your system.

Ask me how I know...

I feel exactly the same about the Techy 1210 too.

 

HoopsOnToast

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I quite like the DL-103 I had, preferred it to the Sure M97xe and even on a less than optimal arm.

Good value IMO. :^

 

dudywoxer

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It is a very personal comment, but of the carts I have used over the last 30 years or so, the 103 is by far the worst. Its tracking performance on inner grooves is woeful, it sounds mono rather than stereo on less than perfect recordings. On older Jazz albums its OK in general, and the same applies to a number of 60's albums from Sinatra and Natt King Cole type recordings. I have only used it on various Rega arms, which I am told it does not suit, but I would much rather have a DL110 than a 103 any day of the week.

 

JANDL100

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DL-103.

An excellent cart for the money.

Negative comments, imo, tend to come from folk who haven't used them in synergistic arms.

Upbeat, dynamically bouncy and full of the joy of the music. I like them a lot.

They go very well in the likes of Technics 1210 TTs, which I also like a lot. Those old Jap medium mass arms suit them well. Add a Sumiko headshell and it gets even better.

I guess they have a quite distinctive presentation, but for £150 rrp or less I've not heard a cart I'd rather listen to.

I've a Zu-ed version at the moment, in a massive aluminium body. I think it sounds great, a definite 'up' on the standard model ... and it looks pretty, too, in a chunky blingy kind of way. :)

shapeimage_1.jpg


 
M

MJ.

Guest
OK folks.

We have to remember that we are looking at a DL-103 because they are cheap, so £500 carts just don't come into it, unfortunately.

I have used (and still do use) the majority of the cheap carts (AT95, DL110, AT440 etc) and rate the 103 as the best of the bunch. I agree with both fordy (it's never going to be an AN or a Koetsu and isn't worth spending a rake of cash to improve), but also with Jerry (it can sound good if synergistically set up, even cheaply).

Doesn't seem that there is better out there for the money.

 

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