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Welcome Licorice Pizza (LP) lovers! Setup guides and Vinyl FAQ.

Zu Audio 103?

"What I want in a new cart. is the 103 mid-range with more refinement at the top and bottom."

Why not try one of Zu Audio's versions? This will give you the 103 sound with more refinement at either extreme.

Read about a comparison here.

"Unless you had a chance to hear it, nothing prepares you for what doubling the cost but paying a still reasonable $439 gets you. The Zu-modified DL-103 has initially very little in common with the stock version and had I heard it blind, I would never have identified it as a DL-103. After a while, you will recognize the great tonal richness of the stock cart but what will be initially striking is the increased resolution, the almost absolute lack of distortion which results in deep wide staging and tremendous microdynamics. Leading edges are sharper but not aggressively so. The treble gains in resolution, extension and gets cleared from any compression you hear in the original. Keep the fun and tonal richness, push up accuracy, resolution and stereophonic effects orders of magnitude higher and you have an idea of what an extra $200 buys you. If you want to isolate some remaining weaknesses in the Zu-DL103, the bass definition remains somewhat looser than and not as deep as the pricier cartridges here and a hint of upper midrange glare remains. But you really have to be used to hearing it in the original to even notice it.

Like many others who modify DL103s, Zu strip out the cheap plastic body and replace it with a beautiful black anodized military-grade aluminium body and stabilize the assembly with a secret sauce. Their deep knowledge of materials and their mechanical characteristics really show. It is hard to imagine when listening to a stock DL103 that so much potential is being masked by the physical flimsiness of the original. Zu also go a step further and measure every modified cartridge individually. Depending on how tight the loosest measurement is, the cartridge will be labeled standard (within 2.5%) or grade 1, 2 and 2-Prime (within 1.0%, 0.5% and 0.1% respectively). 2-prime cartridges are very rare and therefore cost significantly more. The review sample was a standard and as the Zu team state on their website, it is already "pretty darn fine". Higher grades will yield better stereophonic image in systems that can deliver it but the other aspects of the performance will remain unchanged. If you get the impression that I am in complete awe of the transformation conjured up by Zu, you would be correct. For my biases and how I enjoy the music, I gladly give up the last bit of bass resolution and tunefulness to take advantage of the glorious midrange and imaging. Throw in great dynamics and resolution to wrap it up. It would be excellent at $1'000. At less than half, it is hard to think of any better option out there."

You have to write to them and get on the waiting list, as they produce them in batches.

Big J

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

Edits: 06/03/17 06/03/17

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