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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge by Ron-C

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REVIEW: Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge

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Model: DL-103
Category: Phono Cartridge
Suggested Retail Price: $220
Description: Moving coil, 0.4mV output, conical stylus
Manufacturer URL: Denon
Manufacturer URL: Denon

Review by Ron-C ( M ) on June 15, 2003 at 13:43:35
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for the DL-103

I recently picked up a 103 from the web and paid $140.00. The reason I bought this was the strong web buzz on the 103. I am using a SP15 Technics on a large heavy base with a SME 3012 arm and dampening assembly using the large paddle. The head amp is a MCP-1 McIntosh.
The 103 was set up using the Hi Fi News and Record Review set up disk. Tracking was set so the third out of four test bands would be tracked. The 103 tracked the third band at 1.8g. and 1.5g. anti-skate. This was surprising as a V15 type 5 needs 1.25g. on the same band in the same arm.
The sound seems very even, flat and the image is stable, clear and open. This is on the 90 ohm setting of the head amp which sounds flatter than the lower ohm settings which are somewhat bass heavy.
Overall I am very impressed with the 103 in both sound and track-ability. I would not have believed a spherical needle could track this well and I can now play the mono long plays to boot.
A Technics SH-50P1 stylus pressure gage, Hi fi News protractor and McIntosh MPI scope were used in the set up of the arm.
The reputation of the Denon 103 seems to be warranted by this sample and the owner's manual makes a big deal about the, "High-reliability cartridge conforming to Specifications for Broadcasting Stations" in discussing the 103. They say every one is tested and adjusted to strictly conform to this standard.
I would give the 103 top recommendation for performance, ease of use, sound and value based on this sample.

Product Weakness: Not tweaky or expensive enough to have credibility with some users.
Product Strengths: Even sound, track-ability, value.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Various
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): C22 C
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Technics SP15 / SME 3012
Speakers: McIntosh / Senn. 600 phones
Cables/Interconnects: Various
Music Used (Genre/Selections): All
Room Size (LxWxH): 16 x 24 x 9
Room Comments/Treatments: furnishings
Time Period/Length of Audition: Week.
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): none
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge - Ron-C 13:43:35 06/15/03 ( 10)