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Tonearm for Denon DL-103R

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Posted on November 26, 2009 at 09:11:31
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
I just purchased a Denon DL-103R cartridge and started to research a tonearm and got confused.
The specification for compliance at 5 appears to be closer to 9 instead according to some people who say the way that Denon specifies compliance in a different way than other manufacturers.
The fact is that with the value of 5 a compatible tonearm that will produce a desirable resonance between 9 and 11 with this cartridge is very difficult to find, EMT and Fidelity Research are the 2 that come to mind, and they are very expensive, but specially, these tonearms will limit you in turn in the ability to get cartridges in the future to a very few with probably very elevated prices.
I know a lot has been said in this forum about the DL-103R but I would like to get information from owners with successful systems that will guide me better to buy a new or used tonearm, I am interested in all prices to be able to make an educated decission.
6 Moons reviewed the Denon DL-103R with an Origin Live Silver 3, go figure, I saw other comments from people using the SME 5 and other medium mass tonearms.

 

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I can't tell you what works, but ..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 09:36:52
Quadzilla
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Posts: 2036
Location: Southwestern Ontario
Joined: July 31, 2003
I can tell you that the 103R bored the hell out of me in my Linn Ittock. Heavier is better, and I didn't think that the Ittock was a particularly dainty tonearm.

Prehistoric 4-Channel Lizard

 

9-10 x 10-6 is about right for the 103. Denon, along with a few other, posted on November 26, 2009 at 09:39:12
cart makers, spec compliance at 100Hz, rather than the more conventional and useful 10 Hz. A cart spec'd at 5 x 10-6 at 100 Hz will be at 9-10 at 10 Hz. I ran 103s on both the Technics SL-1200 arm with the heavier Sumiko headshell and the JMW-9 arm (7.7 g mass) with 3 g headshell weight with excellent results.

 

SL1200 & Sumiko Headshell ?, posted on November 26, 2009 at 10:58:02
AbeCollins
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I believe the Technics headshell is 7 grams. What about the Sumiko?

I have a 9 gram Ortofon headshell but I haven't moved the DL-103R to it yet. Do you think it might be a better match with the 2 gram additional mass vs the Technics 7 gram headshell ?

 

Agree!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:10:16
amandarae
Audiophile

Posts: 2089
Location: So.Cal
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I sold my shelter 501 and 901, plus a Koetsu Rosewood once I dialed in the 103R/103 on heavy mass tonearm and never look back. There's no substitute! Sure it will work on medium mass tonearm, but once you reach the 24 and above tonearm mass, currently running ~> 26 gms on all my TT's with 103/103R it is a different animal.

regards and Happy Thanksgiving!

Abe

 

RE: SL1200 & Sumiko Headshell ?, posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:17:35
amandarae
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Posts: 2089
Location: So.Cal
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The Sumiko headshell weighs around 11.4 gms

You can also consider the Yamamoto HS-1A



Much better looking than the pedestrian Sumiko HS12

regards and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

"103R bored the hell out of me", posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:22:51
AbeCollins
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Was it the 103R itself or the 103R combined with the Linn Ittock tonearm that was boring? Did you end up finding a good tonearm for the 103R or did you ditch the 103R for another cartridge? What did you end up with? Thanks.


 

RE: SL1200 & Sumiko Headshell ?, posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:30:20
AbeCollins
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Nice scale! I like mine for measuring VTF but it tops out at 5 grams so I can't use it for measuring headshells.

Interesting. Thanks for the info on the Yamamoto and Sumiko. I've been too lazy to move the perfectly aligned DL-103R to my Ortofon 9 gram headshell.

 

Jelco 750D, posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:30:36
blake


 
Jelco 750D will work very well with the 103R. You can also mass the 103R up with a heavier wood or aluminum body-you may have to go with the optional counterweight on the 750D then (it is $90).

You can also get into heavier headshells such as the 16 gram Orsonic or ones similar to the Yamamoto below to increase the effective mass of the 750D.

Lots of flexibility. Very reasonable price. Excellent arm. Great match with the 103R. You may be able to do better but I think you'd have to spend a lot more.

 

You are killing me man!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:34:59
Quadzilla
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Posts: 2036
Location: Southwestern Ontario
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LOL ... I just answered your first post, and then you deleted it so my reply was discarded. Anyway ...

I had a Linn Asak installed since I bought the turntable, but I wanted a change. I bought into all of the 103R postings and tried one. It wasn't bad per se, just boring ... no dynamics and absolutely no detail. I know that a lot of guys worship them though, so I put it down to its match-up with the Ittock.

I would never ditch the tonearm (unless I bought a better Linn arm for my LP-12), so I did a trade through the Asylum Classifieds with another Inmate. He loves my old DL-103R (so I am sure it was the tonearm matching), and I am extremely pleased with the Grace F-10L (high-compliance low output MC) that he traded for it.

I had always liked the Grace F-9E MM cartridge (before you could no longer get stylii), so I took a chance on the moving coil. It is wonderful. I am using a Clearaudio Balance (low output MC only) phono stage, connected to a Bryston BP-26 with balanced Cardas Neutral Reference interconnects.



Prehistoric 4-Channel Lizard

 

along the same line..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 11:39:23
kuma
Audiophile

Posts: 7812
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A 103R with a Naim ARO, dynamically compressed and sounded just bleh. ( same with the 103 )

It must be due to ARO being too light ( as Ittok ) for the cartridge, perhaps.

 

RE: Tonearm for Denon DL-103R, posted on November 26, 2009 at 12:34:51
Stitch
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Location: Camden (New Jersey)
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FR-64, FR-64s
" to trust is good - not to trust is better! "


 

Sorry about that deletion..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 12:47:52
AbeCollins
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...I was trying to be more clear so I revised my post and didn't realize you were replying to it about the same time. ;-)

Thanks for the clarification. I'm always curious and decided to do some searching for Grace cartridges but couldn't find any at the usual popular places like MusicDirect, Acousticsounds, LPGear, Needle Doctor, etc.

I like the 103R but that doesn't mean I won't be trying something else in the future so I'll file Grace away as a possibility.

 

RE: Agree x 2!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 12:54:49
Heavy is good with the 103/103R. I have a FR64fx tonearm and I'm running an aluminum body on the DL103R plus a heavier headshell.

It's not quite as dynamic as my Decca Gold, but the 103R in a heavy arm has the same overall character. Easier to align and use, too.

Pete

 

I don't think the Grace is made any more., posted on November 26, 2009 at 12:56:58
Quadzilla
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Posts: 2036
Location: Southwestern Ontario
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I think it is about 30 years old, but it is pretty much brand new.

Prehistoric 4-Channel Lizard

 

RE: Agree x 2!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 13:16:41
AudioSoul
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Posts: 3545
Location: north central AZ
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Does anyone know who makes a heavy arm anymore. That may be why I didn't care for my DL103R so much......

 

IIRC, the Sumiko HS-12 is 11-12 g /nt\, posted on November 26, 2009 at 13:36:46

 

501, 901, Koetsu Rosewood..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 14:03:05
DanWKW
Audiophile

Posts: 625
Location: Hong Kong
Joined: June 17, 2009
Strange enough to me. In my system, yes, Shelter 501 and Koetsu Rosewood may be possible. But apparently not a Shelter 901 when comparing to my DL-103SA(or DL-103R?!) assuming all carts are all original and in good shape:)

Just curious, what other rigs you have in your system?
What would be your favorite music genre?

Best regards
Dan

 

RE: Agree!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 14:50:32
Tre'
Industry Professional

Posts: 9728
Location: So. Cal.
Joined: February 9, 2002
So the Cartridge Database says the published compliance is at 100Hz and will be higher at 10Hz. But doesn't say how much higher.

Does anybody know?

The Dl103R, at a compliance of 5, would need a very heavy tonearm for sure. Heavier than your talking about.

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

RE: 501, 901, Koetsu Rosewood..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 16:09:42
amandarae
Audiophile

Posts: 2089
Location: So.Cal
Joined: November 30, 2004
To name a few I can still remember:

Linkwitz Orion Plus, ATI 6012, Supratek Preamp (Current)
MLTL base Fostex 167E (current)
Bozak Rhapsody and Concert Grand (sold it last year!)
Magnepan (1.6Qr x2), Martin Logan Aerius, Aeons, Ascents - All gone now!
SET base 2A3/45 driving OB Altec 604-8G (current)

Amps I had: Threshold S500, S250 Odyssey Mono Blocks, MR RM200, Cary V12
CJ MV 60SE and Premier 9.

Frankly, can't remember all the gears that had come and gone from my listening room anymore.

I listen to 80's pop (about 300 records and counting so far), have a collection of 40;s, 50's and 60's Jazz. Also rock (ACDC, Scorpions, Pink Floyd Jetro Tull, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heap, Iron Maiden, etc.). Have 28 Music Matters Jazz releases not counting AP records and Classis Jazz releases (Jazz probably about 1500 records). Classical is probably around 100 records or so. Also have several hundreds of CD's as well of different genres..

To me, if we are splitting hairs, I like the Shelter 501 much better than the 901. But to my preference, I can get the same satisfaction running Denon 103 series. So I figure, what's the point of keeping the carts un-use while if I really like too, I can get the same one in the use market easily. Besides, I think I am moving to classic Ortofon SPU's before buying any other cartridge manufactured today. I do not know, but I subscribed to the old thinking that every thing else in audio was figured out many years ago, at least that's what my experience led me to believe after falling over and over again from the fast moving merry go round of audio upgrades due to the "flavor of the month" raves that I encountered.

To each his own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Abe

 

RE: Agree!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 16:42:26
amandarae
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Posts: 2089
Location: So.Cal
Joined: November 30, 2004
Hi Tre',

See post of another member above (link below).

I thought the reason why we try to figure out the right cart to tonearm matching is to avoid the rumble (low freq) that the system will pick up if there's a considerable mismatch? Am I wrong with this?

Rumble figures aside, I am just saying that in my experience the Denon 103 series sound much better when using a heavy arm than with a mid mass (14 or lower) tonearm. In fact, when I posted this before, someone commented that using a heavier arm on a 103 is like "polishing a turd" (show's you how much intelligence and education of the person where it came from). I am just stating my observation that work well in my system the way I prefer the sound in my system, nothing else.


In my case, using 5 as the compliance figure on a 103(8.5 grams) with 11.6 grams headshell plus fastener weight and 16 gms tonearm mass (Schick 12 for example), the figure comes out to be 11.8347 Hz and 8.82 Hz at compliance of 9. Either one gets me close to 8-12 Hz range as preferred by many. I use wood shells for my 103's and that increases the 8.5 gms weight of the cart, and IIRC, the resonant freq is about 10-ish for the combo.

regards

Happy Thanksgiving!

Abe

 

RE: Tonearm for Denon DL-103R/ ...make it high mass, posted on November 26, 2009 at 16:48:41

Above image of a Zeta tonearm holding a Denon DL-103R. The DL-103R is housed in a Uwe Panzerholz body. It has also been re-tipped by Peter at SoundSmith with a solid ruby cantilever holding a fine-line diamond stylus.

The Zeta tonearm, now regarded as "vintage" and no longer in production, is rated at 16 grams effective mass. I ended up adding some ballast weight into the headshell to increase the tonearm effective mass. See the plate sandwich of cf/brass/cf lying between the cartrige body and the headshell mount. This had the effect of lowering the arm cart resonance, as measured on the hfnrr test record, to between 9 - 10 hz. The Denon sounds good like this.


Btw the choice of phono stage is important for low output mc cartridges like this one. I'm using a Wright WP100C in combination with a 10:1 step up transformer. This puts my load to the cartridge at around 470 ohms. In the context of my system this nets a nicely balanced tonality. There is much discussion here at VA within the archives (search them). Many folks load at 100 ohms. Others try to match their load to the internal resistance within the cartridge (14 ohms) or more commonly at 37 ohms, like for the standard DL-103. However this, imho, is really system dependent stuff. And also listener dependent. The different loading changes the overall tonality of the sound. Lower loads: darker sound, higher loads: brighter sound.

The Wright phono stage is known for its dynamic qualities and seems to compliment the Denon in this configuration.

Previous history with the Denon DL-103R:
I first tried the bone stock plastic bodied cartridge in an Expressimo RB250. The Expressimo probably has an effective mass of around 10 grams. I was immediately underwhelmed. Boring, non sparkle sound. Full bodied and dynamic, though.

I played it from new for about 20 hours then couldn't stand it any more and took it out. Somewhere in the archives here at va there will be a post by me to that effect.

At some later time I put the Denon back into the Expressimo and then proceeded to put some hours on it. My example seemed to loosen up and sound fuller, better at around 50 hours of use. Still not a so-called giant killer. Not the most happy listening, but not so bad either.

But then I experimented by putting additional weight over the head-shell. (See cf/brass/cf weight insert used in the two photos this post.) To counterbalance this added weight I had to add more weight at the counterweight end. This seemed to wake up the Denon quite a bit. Its sound became more liquid and alive. More vibrant and fuller. Better low frequency extension too.

By this time I knew I didn't have the Denon in the right type of tonearm. It needed to be mounted into a high mass arm. Like the one in the top photo. Or perhaps one with even more mass, like a 12 inch something.... The FR64/67 is often suggested for low compliance cartridges like this one. However those vintage arms are famous, collectible and expensive to buy...generally.

I tried the cartridge in my Graham 2.2. It worked well in that tonearm, especially when using the cf/brass/cf ballast at the headshell end. However the Graham works to better effect in more upscale cartridges.

So, for me, the search was on for an appropriate tonearm for the DL-103R. Just like the one the original poster to this thread appears to be.

With the Zeta I can't say that my search is completely over, but will allow that it seems to be a very good stop-over point. Sound quality is highly dynamic, tune-full, well detailed and extended. Money spent is well worth it imho.

-Steve
ps: compliance ratings and the DL-103 series. These cartridges do have a low compliance rating but not as low as the supplied specification might indicate. The thing to remember is that Denon takes their compliance measurement under dynamic (playing) conditions . While most of us are accustomed to reading compliance as measured at a static (stationary) condition. Hence the difference. The "static compliance" for this cartridge is likely around 10. There is much discussion about this in the archives here at VA. Be prepared to spend some quality time reading and filtering through the various discussion on this subject, but in the end you should become well enough informed to take this journey with the DL-103R to a successful conclusion.


 

Different systems, different approaches, different results..., posted on November 26, 2009 at 16:51:05
DanWKW
Audiophile

Posts: 625
Location: Hong Kong
Joined: June 17, 2009
Hi, Abe,

It seems our systems, approaches, music genres are pretty much different. Some of your audio rigs, if ever existed, are hard to find in Hong Kong now. My LP collection could not be regarded as HUGE as comparing to some of the folks here in VA. Over 70-80% of them are Classical or instrumental Jazz, the rest belongs to Pop/Rock/others. Classical seem growing faster and faster than the others;)

We shouldn't be surprised now to find we would have such different results on those MC carts. We should also recommend VA inmates to take a closer look at one's system profile when one recommends an item for others. As far as I know, there are no such things ever as "perfect design" nor "best product for all systems", etc. Even the best of the best audio products are still very much "system and taste dependent", right?

Happy thanksgiving!!!


Best regards
Dan







 

Audio Technica ATP-12T, posted on November 26, 2009 at 17:17:13
www.records
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Posts: 2806
Location: SW Missouri
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I have been using the above arm with a 103R for a little over a year and am very happy with the results. It is a vintage arm very similar to the AT 1005 arms. I am not sure what the going prices are for these, but I would guess in the $300 range or so. Effective mass is around 20g.

Just thought I would throw a lower priced arm into your mix.

 

Try an AT-1005 it works extremely well with a DL-103R, posted on November 26, 2009 at 17:21:04
zigggy
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Posts: 148
Location: Montreal, Quebec
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I have one and it is a great match

 

RE: Agree!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 17:37:55
Tre'
Industry Professional

Posts: 9728
Location: So. Cal.
Joined: February 9, 2002
"I thought the reason why we try to figure out the right cart to tonearm matching is to avoid the rumble (low freq) that the system will pick up if there's a considerable mismatch? Am I wrong with this?"

We want the resonance frequency of the compliance/mass system to be above the warp tones (4-6) and below the music (20). So that neither will set it off. Most say between 8 and 12.

If we are at 10Hz we are one octave above the warp tones and one octave below the music.

If the compliance of the cartridge is really 9 then a tonearm + headshell + mounting hardware mass of 20 and a stock dl103r weight of 8.5 grams, a tonearm of 20 grams gets us there.

That's 20 grams for the tone arm, headshell and mounting hardware.

We would need a 40 gram tonearm + headshell + mounting hardware if the compliance was really 5 to get the same system resonance frequency.

In the end, it's whatever works for you.

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

Ditto the Jelco 750D, posted on November 26, 2009 at 20:02:44
fishy
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Ditto to all Blake said above. I went with the 8gm copper "Stabilizer spacer" from Sound Hi Fi in the UK. It sounds awesome on my 124 with the 103R.

Best,
Dan

 

RE: Agree x 2!, posted on November 26, 2009 at 20:24:23
Thomas Schick - his arm is a great match for the 103R.

Pete

 

Jelco SA-750L 12" tonearm., posted on November 27, 2009 at 10:17:51
jusbe
Audiophile

Posts: 4100
Location: Auckland
Joined: April 4, 2000
Jelco are currently making a highly polished version of this arm for Ortofon and it sells for about €1,600. Jelco's own derivative sells for about $400 to $600, depending on where you get them.

You would need the heavier counterweight, but then will have a choice of two.



Big J

"... only a very few individuals understand as yet that personal salvation is a contradiction in terms."


 

RE: Jelco SA-750L 12" tonearm., posted on November 27, 2009 at 14:17:17
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
What is the effective mass of this tonearm? I couldn't find this info in the net

 

RE: Ditto the Jelco 750D, posted on November 27, 2009 at 14:21:14
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
Are you using the heavier counterweight in your setup?

 

RE: Jelco SA-750L 12" tonearm., posted on November 27, 2009 at 14:31:05
blake
Audiophile

Posts: 632
Joined: May 25, 2000
I don't think you'll find it anywhere online. You'd probably have to contact Jelco. Mass of the 750D is 18 so I would expect effective mass on the 750L to be in the 20-22 range, possibly a bit more.

I could be mistaken, but I don't believe you will need the optional heavier counterweight to balance a stock 103R. If you add a heavier body (wood or aluminum) that takes the cartridge beyond 14 grams in total weight, that might necessitate the heavier counterweight.

I do use the heavier counterweight (my wood bodied 103R is about 12 grams and I have another in for a retip that weighs a bit more and also intend to use an additional 3 gram weight at the headshell-I also use a custom headshell which is a bit heavier than the stock Jelco) and it is very close to the pivot point with the cartridge weighing 12 grams.

If you can accomodate a 12" arm it would be a great way to go IMO.

 

RE: one should also ask...., posted on November 27, 2009 at 15:18:32
what kind of turntable works best with the DL-103R!

In my system I have a Teres 145 and the Thorens TD124. The DL-103R, in an appropriate arm, works to greater effect in the Thorens. Why? Maybe it is the idler drive configuration of the Thorens. Maybe it is the lower resolving power of the DL-103R in combination with an idler turntable which emphasizes dynamic energy over detail retrieval.

I've had this Denon in my Teres. Frankly, the Teres' forte is in detail retrieval, inner details, translating massed instruments, a lyrical quality, etc. These are not the strengths of this particular Denon cartridge. For the Teres, a more upscale cartridge will bring out the strengths of it. But with the Denon, you will become familiar with the Teres' shortcomings; which are lower dynamics and less musical energy output. Less thrust. Less forward. More laid back. The Denon will work in the Teres, but not to the best effect for either the Denon or the Teres.

-Steve
Ps: I noticed you are using a Teres 255. Hence the post.

 

That is a beautiful arm and cartridge combination. I admire the, posted on November 28, 2009 at 01:33:44
hiatt@alaska.net
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November 1, 2005
time, research, and experimentation you have put into that project. You definitely never gave up on the Denon 103R.

 

RE: one should also ask...., posted on November 28, 2009 at 04:55:23
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
Thanks for your observation. Very well taken. I was thinking about the Teres as an option.
I am trying to put together a system with a Garrard 301 OIL BEARING (not idler therefore I don't know if your point applies) mounted on a Cain & Cain platform.

 

RE: Jelco SA-750L 12" tonearm., posted on November 28, 2009 at 04:57:56
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
26 grams effective mass according to the seller in Audiogon.

 

RE: Audio Technica ATP-12T, posted on November 28, 2009 at 05:06:23
Alanpiga
Audiophile

Posts: 148
Location: New York City
Joined: August 17, 2001
what is the effective mass?

 

RE: Ditto the Jelco 750D, posted on November 28, 2009 at 08:17:27
fishy
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Contributor
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October 6, 2010
Hello-

Actually, I just attached a nickel plated washer to the existing counterweight with some blue tak. the washer is almost identical in size to counterweight as far as the outside diameter goes. It works great! I picked that tip up on the Asylum.

Best,
Dan

 

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