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

You can't compare cartridges with different type stylii...

And expect them to sound the same.

A DL-103 with an elliptical stylus or line contact stylus would be a viable comparison with the DL-301II. But they are both Denons.

The type of stylus and cantilever is a paramount consideration with the sound of a cartridge. If you spend time studying cartridges, whole lines of cartridges are differentiated by stylus and cantilever only.

Anyone who has retipped a cartridge or replaced a stylus with a SAS stylus can readily testify to the fact. Retipping a cartridge can effect its sound and there are cartridges that have a high frequency peak that is hidden by its stylus and cantilever. The DL-103 is not one of them...

There is also a price difference due to the type of stylus and cantilever. The LC stylus and exotic cantilevers are more expensive than the aluminum cantilevers and conical stylii.

All of that said, the 301II is a fine cartridge but I believe that the DL-103 with a good retipp and possibly a different body (or no body at all) is a better cartridge. The 301II is a higher compliance cartridge, so it will match a different selection of tonearms, but the 103 matches more tonearms than one would expect.

SoundSmith sells retipped and various body DL-103 and DL-103R cartridges. These can be bought with increased compliance as well.

I am a big fan of Denon cartridges due to the fact its a non-nonsense cartridge that far outperforms its more boutique competitors (in the same price range). Dynavector and others make their main business what you see but Denon is a big manufacturer that makes its cartridges as a side show. As a result they do not sell them for what they possibly could sell them for. Not too many years ago they dropped phono cartridges from their USA product line but that was the dark days of vinyl.

I think you would like and be satisfied with either depending on the compatibility with your tonearm.


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