Jump to content

The Denon 103 thread


Recommended Posts

The denon 103 & 103R are great MC cartridges for very little cost in todays market and has been on the market in one variation or another since the 1960's and has a cult status with a lot of audiophiles.

PRAT is brilliant with this cartridge and so is the overall tone - on the warmish side. One weakness is the cheap plastic body of the 103/103R. In the 103R this can give a slight disjointed unbalanced sound - quite big bass coupled with a slightly ragged treble. PRAT is brilliant with this cartridge and so is the overall tone - on the warmish side.

There are many variations of the denon 103 these days, with most of them offering different bodies to the stk one. Zu audio have aluminium, Uwe had the original pressue fit wood bodies and even denon have the 103SA to name a few.

I bought a Stereo lab Ebony wood version of the 103R from Germany and it arrived yesterday. Setup is very easy now as the wood body has tapped screws, rather than the frustrating screw and nut on the original.

photo's below

http://www.stereo-lab.de/tonabnehmer/mc-moving-coil/ebenholzgehaeuse/index-1.html

How does it sound?

Well, it looks really kool and sounds smooth as soft butter, still with nice detail. The somewhat ragged treble has disappeared and the boomy bass has become one with the rest of the musical spectrum. the 103r is still fast sounding and highly addictive, even if it does not have the ultimate transparency and detail of other MC's.

Setting it up on a expensive TT may seem like a little crazy, however the Ebony body gives it such a balanced performance it is not outclassed and sounds really nice.

Soundwise it is in the Koetsu mold and not the Lyra/Clearaudio. If your system is warm and cuddly, the Stereo-lab Ebony 103R or any 103 will be too much of a good thing. However if your system is around neutral or slighty detailed/lean, it could well be a great match.

Well worth the 445 Euro and highly recommended to any music lover.

Gents, give us your experiences with the denon 103.

4071757000_dba50ce73c_m.jpg4071754008_36909e0d6f_m.jpg

4070999309_80ff522233_m.jpg4070998077_a1c8e49856_m.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 274
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I really like what this cart can do. It has a fun factor, even if it isn't as refined as some other carts.   My current collection, Denon DL102 mono, 103R Shibata, Uwe Panzerholz 103R, Wood 103R, Al

All the chatter about a nice full bodied sounding cartridge and the Denon 103r go hand in hand. @@drdarkfish   had to put the Ebony Denon 103R onto the table.   yes, playing Bernard Butler album, I

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Great Post turntable :cool: and nice cart.

The 103R or one of its variants has long been on my wish list of cartridges, and there is a ton of info out there if you dig deep. Can't remember offhand what the match would be like with a RB300 arm, if suitable I might get around to buying one sometime.

But.... what to buy?

The standard 103R, 103Pro,103SA,nuded 103R, the ZU, or the model Shane has?????? So many choices.

Chris

Link to post
Share on other sites
Great Post turntable :cool: and nice cart.

The 103R or one of its variants has long been on my wish list of cartridges, and there is a ton of info out there if you dig deep. Can't remember offhand what the match would be like with a RB300 arm, if suitable I might get around to buying one sometime.

But.... what to buy?

The standard 103R, 103Pro,103SA,nuded 103R, the ZU, or the model Shane has?????? So many choices.

Chris

From memory Chris, you will need to add a headshell weight to the rega to get the best results - plenty of rega's users have 103's.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the round ebony body of the new Stereolab 103R. :cool:

it looks very different.

Another 103 fan here.

I'm using a 103 in Uwe Ebony body with a 12 inch Jelco 750L tonearm on my Garrard 301 at the moment.

Uwe103.jpg

And a 103R in a Aluminium "Midas" body ( made by a friend on Lenco Heaven forum) on a Schick 12 inch tonearm until a few weeks ago.

Midasshell.jpg

CommonwealthwithSchickarm.jpg

I'd found the top end can still be a bit ragged at times with the aluminium body but it sounded good on the Schick arm,very lively, dynamic with a punchy mid range.

It's currently at Expert Stylus waiting for ruby cantilever and paratrace stylus. I'm hoping this will improve things even more and it will become my long term main cartridge on its return.

Edited by jaspert
Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, aligning a circular cartridge must have been a little interesting?

not really, depending ont he protractor used.

Some you line up the cantilever rather then the cart itsef

others that rely on lining up the cart, yep, lots of fun i reckon :cool:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow, aligning a circular cartridge must have been a little interesting?

You are correct it could be. I use a Mint alignment guage for my Phantom & Exclusive EA-10 tonearms so I align the cantilever against the mirrored line on the guage. see below

But you could align reasonably with any protractor either aligning cantilever to the line of aligning from the screws in the headshell.

best.JPGlincoln21.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always wanted one but they seem to like higher mass tonearms so I've never got it... Who knows, I might give it a shot as the 10.5i has a bit more weight than the 9 Sig, but still...

It might seem crude, but buy a couple of different headshell weights and listen. You will be pleasantly surprised

Link to post
Share on other sites
It might seem crude, but buy a couple of different headshell weights and listen. You will be pleasantly surprised

I've been playing with the idea for a while as I think the Shelter would also benefit from a few grams... I might give it a try...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a denon dl-103r nuded and mounted on brass which cleans it up quite a bit. I use it in a fidelity research fr-64fx...sounds really great. Sometimes I add some weight to the headshell to increase the mass, it all helps.

I prefer the 103r vs the 103 on my ZU's which are a bit dark, as the top end seems to cut through a lot better.

I have heard the Denon's love vintage transformers, and I used a cinemag for a while which was great but a little noisy on efficient speakers. The 103r still works great on the phono stage of my nakamichi preamp now loaded at 50ohms, very happy.

I had a 103d for a while too, which was smoother and more detailed, but I prefer the 103r in my current system. When I had speakers with ribbon tweeters, the 103d was my favorite.

I havent foudn any carts yet that give weight to the music like the 103 series, but I havent tried a SPU, xl-55, fr-7, etc yet...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Have had my Zu modded DL-103R for about a year now and find it a big step up from the Ortofon OM-30 cart I was using before it.

[ATTACH]11297[/ATTACH]

I also love the styling over the original.

Link to post
Share on other sites
From memory Chris, you will need to add a headshell weight to the rega to get the best results - plenty of rega's users have 103's.

Yeah, I just like Denon carts period and the HOMC DL-160 is a great sounding cart too. I have the DL-103 over here in Adelaide but I've been thinking about the 103R for a while...........this thread will be enough to tip me over me thinks.:cool:

I tried the additional weight/mass in and out on an RB300 arm here and really didn't notice much difference if any really..........settled on no additonal mass and it sounds really good indeed.

Good thread too turntable. Where are you Tony?......... I'm sure you can add some knowledge here mate.:(

Cheers,

Keith

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

An update. I now have my Ebony 103R on my Excluisve P10 and it sounds really nice and has better synergy than with my raven.

any more updates from other inmates?

Looking forward to getting my rebuilt UWE Ebony 103R from ECS with a so called better profile stylus. Just when I am not sure.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Inmates?!:) Hopefully sometimes late February would be my guess. Very much looking forward to getting mine back too from ESC. I'm hoping for a leap or two in performance level.

Link to post
Share on other sites

ebony I've never had one, but 103 (retiped by G.Brother), normal 103r, and current spinning one dl-103r retiped by soundsmith ny (ruby cantilever) in sme3009/thorens-124II, isnt punching/bright like standard 103r, openess very well and big improvement in mid-range. would give another update in another 20 hrs spinning.

[ATTACH]13645[/ATTACH]

Edited by fatgen
photos
Link to post
Share on other sites
how sigificant difference do you notice the 'before' and 'after run-in the ebony 103r?

To be honest it sat in the draw for a mnth or so when I took it off the raven. can't really say, except that it sounds better on the P10 and the sound has not changed much since on the P10.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Inmates?!:) Hopefully sometimes late February would be my guess. Very much looking forward to getting mine back too from ESC. I'm hoping for a leap or two in performance level.

Keep chasing them, i am interested in their retip work too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep an eye out for the white bodied Denon DL-103S cartridge also. No longer made but it sounds VERY good. In its day the 'S' version sold for 27,000Yen (about $280USD) when the ordinary DL103 sold for 17,000Yen. Sounds better top-to-bottom than my regular 103 and tonally even better.

DSCN4918Medium.jpg?t=1265004003

The Denon literature describes it as "...the DL-103S is an improvement on the basic design of the famous DL-103. A cantilever, suspension, damping system of superior materials and a finely finished diamond stylus all work together to lower the weight of the entire assembly so that higher compliance if possible. A t lower tracking forces, tracing is clearer and sharper, with response all the way up to 60kHz for true high fidelity playback."

Regards,

Steve M.

Edited by Steve M
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used the 103 with a modded RB300 and was happy.

My favorite is the 103r on a 3009 SME

At first sounded ordinary till I stuck a 5gm lump of stainless between the cart & headshell.

The increased mass made it sing! -It does need a good stepup trannie though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used this cartridge on a Tecnoarm and felt it needed extra mass. I added a piece of sheet lead as a spacer and had the feeling that this was also soaking up some resonances.

I have also tried it, again with additional mass, on an otherwise stock SL1200 with a Sumiko headshell. With a lot of music it seems to work quite well on that, but there are pieces, usually busy, that unsettle it, indicating to me that it needs something a little more substantial to push against.

In a similar vein, though rarely considered so, selection of the loading impedance seems somewhat dependent on the combination arm and cartridge mass.

Variation of the generator load will affect the mechanical resistance of the generating system effectively altering the resistance of the stylus to movement and conversely its need for mass to push against - the object here being to hold the body still whilst the stylus moves.

It is interesting to note that the frequency response plot supplied with each DL-103 is taken with a loading of 1K Ohms.

The normal recommendation for an active step-up seems to be 100 Ohms yet the impedance of the AU-300LC SUT designed for this cartridge will present 470 Ohms load.

ATM I am running it on the Technics @ 470 Ohms and it is generally quite acceptable, though not, I feel, as good as I have heard it on my modded P2/Tecnoarm.

Worth fooling around with mass loading and impedance loading I think and also worth noting that there are setups where this will never be much more than ordinary.

Oh and thanks to TT for kicking off this thread with the rather interesting and tasty looking work of Herr Paulus.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

The wood-body

The best custom-made cartridge for the Denon DL 103 and DL103R.

The magazine LP wrote in its issue 03/2010:

The midrange is much more open and agile than the original and the other custom-made cartridges.

Also the treble is better than the other variants.

The three-dimensionality and the spatial reproduction, is also a compromise in the breezy openness but clearly marked out and clean outlines.

Conclusion: The modification improves the plant model in the area of sound quality, clean, dynamic and spatial reproduction.

You will find more info under www.wood-body.de

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 8 months later...

I decided to put the Ebony 103r back in the system. If anything, it sounds better. Its got that 103 PRAT that is so good.

A few months back, I also got my Uwe wood 103r back from ESC and ruby retipped ( thanks jasper). At first sounded like a different animal. bright and peaky. After 10 hours or so, it settle down and now sounds a lot better. Gotta, put that back into the system soon to give a better sound dscription.

Jasper, How does your ESC re-tip 103r sound?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a snapped 103R which I nuded up last night ready for a DIy ebony body. I am interested in the ruby rebuild, keen for any recommendations on retipping.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have my original 103 is in transit at the moment to ESC so I'm keen to hear your review too Jasper. How long do they normally take with them?

Cheers,

Keith

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith, I will be interested in this journey.

Andy

I have my original 103 is in transit at the moment to ESC so I'm keen to hear your review too Jasper. How long do they normally take with them?

Cheers,

Keith

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been a Denon fan since 1970s. I have an aluminum body 103R which has now been mounted on a Micro Seiki MA 505S tonearm with an additional sub-counterweight. It simply sounds superb and betters a 103D and even a DL304 in comparison.

Aluminum body 103R on a SAEC 308L tonearm

P1130260copy.jpg

P1130247copy-1.jpg

A stock DL 103, on a modified Rega 300, is awaiting installation with the same aluminum body.

DSC01374copy-1.jpg

DL 103D

DSC01618copy.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith,

With the new booking systems, it took me 2.5 months to get a Linn Troika rebuilt by ESC so hopefully it will be about the same for your Denon. But with the festive break, yours might just take a bit longer i suspect. Prior to the booking system, it took more than 6 months for the 2 Denons/SPU i sent earlier.

I have about 30 hours on my Midas bodies 103R with ESC sapphire cantilever paratrace stylus now. It's a different thing from the original Denon 103R after all the rework. First 10-15 hours, it did sound a bit bright and peaky but i don't find that an issue now unless the recording is as such. More extended, cleaner high, more dynamic, and tighter bass to my ears. Sounds more like a 1.5-2K LOMC i had. Some might not like the change though.

It's currently on a slate Lenco /T3 Pro linear tracker/silver wired leads to Nighthawk F117 phono. Tried it again last night and it was lovely.

MidasTouchLenco.jpg

Midas103ESCsideon.jpg

On closer look here , the azimuth is a bit off.:nana

MidasESCfront.jpg

Edited by jaspert
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got the same blue alloy body as kcc123, and am thinking about sending it off to Soundsmith for a ruby CL and better stylus. For what I am using, I'm hoping this is the most I ever have to spend on a cartridge! The carts 0.3 mv running into my benz Micro PP1 already makes for a healthy source, but I can't help thinking Im missing out on better mids, like Ive been reading about. Fairly pricey mod, but.

Isokinetik on Ebay sell DL103 'stabilisers' that add mass to the stock denon shell, but i bought one to glue to my Supex 900 MKIV which had very poor condition bolt holes, and that sorted it out fantastic! So my supex with boron CL and FGII stylus might be my #1 cart, but Im hoping the 103 will surpass it after the mod, mainly because of the .3 mv outpu, which beats the supex by .1.

So, has anyone heard the DL103 with alloy shell and Soundsmith CL/stylus?

Is there a better retip service?

Link to post
Share on other sites

[ATTACH=CONFIG]27799[/ATTACH]

Mine has a 5mm thick teflon inserted in between and the cartridge is now singing with magical power...:(

tracking at 2.5g.

Edited by Mikemaxcel
Link to post
Share on other sites
[ATTACH=CONFIG]27799[/ATTACH]

Mine has a 5mm thick teflon inserted in between and the cartridge is now singing with magical power...:(

tracking at 2.5g.

You've got holes in your rega arm too. Did you do that yourself?
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...