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  Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
While delving through my stash of phono cartridges came across this Denon DL 110 high output phono cartridge. Can't remember where this came from, but was new in box and never open. Oh well, remember fellow audiogon member Ed Kobesky had done a review on its big brother the Denon DL 160 and found that I agreed with him completely on the DL 160.

Have owned many Denons in the past 47 years in the hobby such as the 103,103D,103S,103R as well as the DL160 and now the DL 110. It is very hard to fault the overall Denon line of phono cartridges and when it comes to price/performance ratio, nothing else even comes close to the sonic superioirty of the Denon line up. And that has held true for well over 30 years.

With what we have in analog turntables and software today,with the vast majority of the used LPs to me it just doesn't make sense to spend tons of dollars in this medium,for it is all limited to the source material that is available.

Some of the so called new 180 gram and 200 gram pressings are worse in quality than finding a pristine or good used example from years gone by. There have been very few so called audiophile pressings that are worth the money to buy and some are just horrid sonically. Beware of the new audiophile pressings most are not worth the money spent on them.

Same with the hardware, turntables over $1,000.00 generally won't perform any better than a $500.00 table and much can be said of phono cartridges as well. In my opinion spending more than $400.00 in a phono cartridge is sheer lunacy. But it is your money and do spend it as you wish and remember the words of PT Barnum in doing so.

By any standard one would care to judge the venerable Denon DL 110 Moving Coil cartridge,one must agree that for its price point, this is a stellar phono cartridge,that his stood the test of time and continues to impress to this day. If memory serves me correct these broke onto the market in 1982 or so at about $125.00 retail for the DL 110 and now some 25 years later still in production and the retail price has gone up by $15.00 dollars to $140.00. Now thats value par excellence.

But none of the above would matter, if the DL 110 did not deliver the music. It does and has that wonderful Denon signature. The Denon DL 110 has a way of getting into the grooves and extracting the information contained therein with total authority. And when playing used vinyl there is hardly a better performer than the Denon DL 110, it will play vintage vinyl with aplomb, where other and more expensive phono cartridges just give up. Due to its diamond shape surface noise is all but non-existent. As well as several albums I have played that I thought had surface noise,when played by the Denon DL 110, that noise was gone!

Listed below are some of the Albums I used to audition or more precise to reaudition with the Denon DL 110.

Albums Are:

Bob James - Hands Down (Columbia FC 38067)
Hiroshima - Self Titled - (Arista MFSL1-525)
John Coltrane - Blue Train - (Blue Note BST 81577)
Wes Montgomery - Bumpin' - (Verve V6-8625)
Rickie Lee Jones - Self Titled - (Warner BSK 3296)
Wynton Marsalis - Live Blues Alley - (Columbia PC2-40675)
Eric Gale - Forecast - (KUDU Records KU 11)(CTI Records)
Kenny Burrell & Grover Washington Jr - (Blue Note BT 85106)
Earl Klugh - Finger Painting - (Blue Note MFSL 1-025)
Larry Carlton - Friends - (Warner 23834-1)
Sadao Watanabe - Autumn Blow - (Inner City IC 6064
Doobie Brothers - Minute by Minute - (Warner BSK 3193)
Santana - Zebop - (Columbia FC37158)
Pat Metheny Group - American Garage - (ECM 1-1155)
Frederick Fennel - Cleveland Symphonic Winds - (Telarc 5038)

A few others were used as well, but this gives you the idea of the music used.

I am not going to go into a long narrative and blow by blow description of each album and the resulting findings. But make no mistake the Denon DL 110 played all the above with a verve to total musicality. Balance,tonality,attack,decay, were spot on. Great frequecy response and channel separation to die for.

Here is a product that truly delivers well over its price range and how Denon can keep producing this stellar performer for $140.00 is a mystery to me. But I am certainly glad that they can.

Specs Below:

Denon DL-110 Specifications:

Output: 1.6mV

Stylus: Special Elliptical Solid Diamond

Cantilever: Aluminum

Frequency Range: 20 to 45,000 Hz

Tracking Force: 1.5-2.1g

Weight: 4.8g

Found that in my rig a setting of 2 grams tracking force with 2 grams anti skate worked just fine and yielded the best results.

In phono cartridges of today, one can do far worse in not picking the Denon DL 110. In my opinion having been around as long as I have in the hobby, this is an Icon product, that not only has withstood the test of time, but continues to do so today.

So when your ready to jump off the snob bandwagon and start to really enjoy the music again, the Denon DL 110 or Denon DL 160 will be waiting for you. After all in the long run this hobby is about the music and not the gear and paranoia that surrounds this hobby.

My thanks to Ed Kobesky for his review on the Denon DL 160 which prompted this review on the Denon DL 110. If it had not been for that review may have put the DL 110 up for sale, instead of using the DL 110 and would have missed a very musical experience. This has been a very pleasant surprise and reaquaintance with the Denon DL 110. This is one cartridge I will just wear out, then get another DL 110.

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by Ferrari on 07-03-05 

 Denon DL 110 MC

 Denon DL 110 Packaging

 Denon DL110 3/4 view at work

 Denon DL110 3/4 rear view at work
  Follow ups
Click title to read one, or click date to read all below it.

07-03-05   Thanks ferrari for helping to make more people aware of ...   Musicdoc

07-04-05   I still have a denon 304-low output....i'll probably re ...   Bluenose

09-23-05   I replaced a linn k9 with the denon dl110 and i really ...   davenolan69@

09-26-05   turntables over $1,000.00 generally won't perform any ...   Ozzy62

09-27-05   Generally speaking turntables in the $500.00 to $1,000. ...   Ferrari

09-28-05   Having owned a number of turntables from $500 to $1000 ...   Ekobesky

09-28-05   I think you need to reread what he wrote. turnt ...   Ozzy62

10-30-05   So areading kobesky and this review,i'd like to knowbr ...   Bobobozo

10-30-05   Either the denon dl 110 or 160 are superb budget mc pho ...   Ferrari

10-30-05   I agree completely...i've been buying the dl-110 lately ...   Ekobesky

11-04-05   I have been very happy with the denon dl-110 that i hav ...   Gadfly

01-23-06   It's funny, wayy back i had the lp12-valhalla/ittok/koe ...   kjr5499@

01-23-06   Adcom, levinson, mcintosh...they've all given up their ...   Ekobesky

02-04-06   High enough output for the bellari? i want to get the v ...   Moverbob

02-06-06   This cartridge puts our 2.1mv +/- .1. this ~migh ...   Gadfly

02-06-06   Well, i've since been advised that the dl-110, though & ...   Moverbob

05-08-06   Can anyone confirm or deny the experience that i've had ...   Tapashead

05-08-06   I would not characterize the denon 110 or 160 as cold a ...   Ferrari

05-08-06   Tapashead: needledoctor's site suggests that the output ...   Hdm

09-19-06   Hello, thanks for the thorough review of the 110. i ...   Bewegt

09-20-06   You can buy the denon dl 110 from a company in germany, ...   Ferrari

09-25-06   Interesting review, as for the $1,000 dollar plus turnt ...   ceciltweet@

09-30-06   Actually william thackker is now selling them for $119, ...   Winegasman

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I'm not sure it's worth it to bypass your local dealer to save a measley $12. Someday we'll turn around and they won't be there anymore.

My guy mounts and aligns the cartridge with a Dennesen rig for no additional charge and he used to take care of exchanging the cartridge with Denon back when they used to offer that service. I've never taken advantage of either but both are more than worth the extra $12. Just my 2 cents.

Ekobesky 10-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Dealers in my area, no longer have a clue to what a turntable is much less a phono cartridge and how to set one up. With that being said, if a local shop did have that capability, then Ed is right, support them. My nearest dealer with analog experience is some 2 hours in travel time, and with what gas costs today not worth the expense.

For me with 48 years in this hobby and with the proper setup tools, fortunately I can handle this task quite easily.

Ferrari 10-15-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
How does the Denon 160 compare to the 103r? I can afford either, but I'd rather save the money and buy the 160 if there is a lot of similarity. I listen to rock. A lot of record show and thrift shop vinyl. I have a stock Planar 3/rb300.

I'm looking for a cartridge that leaves out a lot of surface noise. I currently have a Sumiko BPS (1995 version) and an even older AT 8008 ($100 cart circa 1992). The AT has a linear contact stylus. I've noticed the AT picks up substantially more noise, although the music it produces is beautiful. I need to put the BPS back on to compare the music, but the noise floor is way better on the BPS.

I just did the CS4 upgrade on my Bottlehead Seduction phono pre last night, which is mind-blowing. My current vinyl setup blows the transistors off of my digital setup.

Sgtpeeper 12-12-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
With your listening taste and vinyl sources. My opinion is go with the DL 110 or DL 160. The 103R I have found works better with Jazz and Classical. Another choice would be the Audio Technica OC9 Moving Coil cartridge. New they run about $300.00. Still biggest value for the dollar is the Denon DL 110 or DL 160 only difference I can tell is the cantilever. the DL 160 uses a tapered cantilever while the DL 110 uses a non-tapered cantilever. Both have very low surface noise and to my ears both sound the same.

If you decide on the 103R keep in mind this is a heavy cartridge at 8.3 grams. Make sure your tone arm can handle that weight and is of medium or heavier mass.

Ferrari 12-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Other than a notch in frequency response can anyone explain how one cartridge reproduces more surface noise than another? I don't see how the stylus can distinguish a groove bump due to dust or a vinyl defect from a groove bump that is music. (A computerized pop and click eliminator can do it, but that's another story).
Eldartford 12-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Various stylus tips such as shibata,micro ridge and Fritz Gyer get further into the groove of the LP than an ellipitcal or conical stylus. While the Shibata, micro ridge and Fritz Gyer reproduce some stellar sonics, unless the record is absolutely clean and static free, those stylus shapes will reproduce those noises as well. A lot has to do with the recording itself and the pressing process used. While I was at Columbia Records, we had to assume that the conical stylus is the one that would be used the most for playback, as this tip was and remains the most prevelant in consumer use. Not all but certainly most low output high end Denon cartridges use a conical stylus and I have at one time or another used all Denons in the 103 range with my favorite being the 103D which uses a conical stylus, has a stellar signature and offers a very low surface noise. The Denon DL 110 and DL 160 use a ellipitcal stylus and that shape can be prone to surface noise. These are a .3x.7 ellipitcal as opposed to some that are .2x.7 which are not as quiet as that shape traces deeper.

I am not saying which is better for you, thats up to you to decide. Keep in mind that LPs from Columbia,RCA,Capitol and their spinoff labels were produced for mass market playback. We had to make sure the product played back on the most pedestrian of record players in the market place.

Very few LPs such as Mobile Fidelity series were aimed at the high end market. Although at Columbia we did have a swing at 1/2 Speed Masters. Which sold in very low numbers and were not that profitable.

Ferrari 12-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Ferrari...Thank you for the info. I have been told that the Shure V15mr, which I use, delivers more surface noise than many other cartridges. In other respects, like tracking, it is excellent. However, surface noise is what bothers me most about LPs, so maybe I ought to get a good old fashoned conical stylus cartridge.
Eldartford 12-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
There is a trade off in tracking force and wear on the LP. The Shibata,micro ridge and Fritz Gyer track at lower VTF than the ellipitcal and conical. However with that being said I have never worn out a LP by playing it. And I have been in this hobby/business since 1957.

One other item to note is that prior to the fuel crisis of 1974 vinyl LP had several grams more weight to them. During the fuel crisis, vinyl, being an oil deriavtive product, was in short supply. But production numbers had to be hit. So the record companies in response to this shortage cut back on the weight of the vinyl. Take most any pre 1974 LP vinyl and feel the heft to it as opposed to post 1975 vinyl. With this came a certain amount of warpage that was due to the thinner vinyl. The record companies after the oil crisis never again produced heavy vinyl, except for certain special editions.

The Shure V15MR is a fabulous cartridge, but depending on the vinyl it can be unbearable at times. It will retrieve everything and I mean everything from the grooves, the good,the bad and the ugly. But it does have a sonic signature that has few peers in moving magnet cartridges. Actually the Shure M97xe which is similiar to the V15MR, has an ellipitical stylus with less surface noise and sounds very good indeed and price very right today.

With the new vinyl being produced today as well as used vinyl in the market place,I see no need to spend more than $400.00 on any phono cartridge. Thats just my opinion. Feel free to spend whatever you wish.

Ferrari 12-13-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Thanks for the response Ferrari. I'm starting to lean toward the 110. I've heard more than one person say the 160 and the 110 sound the same. As for the 103R, I've since read about the conical stylus (more wear), the higher tracking weight, and the debatable need for a higher mass arm than the rb300. That being said, there are many people claiming good results with the 103 on an rb300.

The OC9 is still on my list, however. The one thing that worries me about it is surface noise. I'm wondering if the microline stylus on it is just a linear contact like the one on my AT 8008, which is picking up gobs of junk in the grooves.

Sgtpeeper 12-14-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
The OC9 stylus is very similiar to the AT8008. If you don't like the AT 8008, then you probably won't like the OC 9.

Keep in mind that the Denon DL 110 takes about 50 or so hours to break in and develop its signature. Don't really evaluate till it has had proper time to develop.

In fact placing an order now for a DL 110 for a tuentable I just got in. A very big value in high output Moving Coils.

Ferrari 12-14-06

Denon DL-110 vs DL-160
The DL-160 is a bit faster and more detailed than the 110. Not a huge difference but enough for me to be very happy with it after using the DL-110. The price difference is so slight as to make the 160 something to think about.

Also, I am not so sure that the fine line stylus all on it;s own makes for more noise. I would think it would be quieter in most cases. And probably a number of records that are too noisy will become playable because the stylus gets lower than the groove damage that might be causing the problem.

Gadfly 12-14-06

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Appreciate the review, Ferrari. I've been using a DL-110 for more than 10 years. Which has me wondering: What's the expected stylus life for a cartridge like this? How often should one have the stylus checked, or need to replace it?
Syaeger 01-29-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I usually change the cartridge at about 300 hours, just to be on safe side. Although I have heard this cartridge can go for about 500 hours though.
Ferrari 01-29-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I've heard tell of this stylus going as far as 1000 hours and more. In fact, I had a DL-160 once (bought it along with a DP-47F turntable) with about 500 hours and my dealer told me the stylus was just beginning to show some wear and that I could expect about 300-500 more hours if not more. I changed it just to be safe but with proper care, who knows?
Ekobesky 02-05-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I'm new to this, so please bear with me. Do I understand correctly that the Denon DL-110 and DL-160 styli cannot be replaced, and that one must instead purchase an entirely new Denon cartridge once the stylus wears out?

Also, can anyone offer a sonic comparison of the Denon DL-110/DL-160 versus a Shure V15 MK III with VN35MR sylus?

Tvad 02-06-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Yes on the Denons, the stylus cannot be replaced. However it can be sent in on trade for another Denon DL 110 or DL 160.

Impossible to compare the Denon to the Shure as the Denon is Moving Coil and the Shure is Moving Magnet. Its a matter of which sonic signature pleases you.

I am very famaliar with the Shure V15 Type III as it was one of the most popular cartridges in it day. However in my opinion the Shure M97XE easily suprpasses the venerable Type III in overall signature. The Type III time has come and gone, while it was special in its day, it has been eclipsed by todays mid to upper range Moving Magnet phono cartridges.

Ferrari 02-06-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge

02-06-07: Ferrari
Yes on the Denons, the stylus cannot be replaced. However it can be sent in on trade for another Denon DL 110 or DL 160.
Thank you.

Impossible to compare the Denon to the Shure as the Denon is Moving Coil and the Shure is Moving Magnet. Its a matter of which sonic signature pleases you.
Surely it's possible to compare the sound of the two regardless of their electromechanical structure. We do this all the time when comparing tube amps to solid state amps despite differences in their designs and parts.

Which has more energy in the highs, or which has more forward mids, or which has deeper and more controlled bass, etc...

However, upon further research, the comparison is moot because my Thorens TP62 II tonearm requires a high compliance cartridge, and the DL-110 is a low-medium compliance cart.

Tvad 02-06-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Comparing tube vs solid state is like comparing apple to oranges. Was into tubes for 20 years and now solid state for 27 years. Both have strengths and weakness's. Same applies to Moving Magnet vs Moving Coil. After 47 years in this hobby have not heard any MM that remotely could be considered to have a MC signature and vice versa.
Ferrari 02-14-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
After 47 years in this hobby have not heard any MM that remotely could be considered to have a MC signature and vice versa.
Ferrari (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)
I understand. Perhaps I did not make myself clear and I misused the word "compare". I was not asking you to make judgments regarding the sound of one versus the other, I was asking you to describe the sound of each as separate one might describe the sonics of a particular tube amp, and one might describe the sonics of a particular solid state amp, without offering an opinion of which sounds "better". However, I'm moving on...

Tvad 02-14-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
My integrated amp. (DENON PMA700)has only MM input demanding 2.5mV. Do you think that DL160 would work with it? Can i get a really good performance? 02-22-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Yes it will work fine I use the DL160 with a Creek 4330R MMSE phono card also the Denon really puts out about 2,2mv

Rkay5 02-22-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I wonder how the Denon DL-110 or DL-160 would stack up {yes...a vinyl pun is intended} against the new under $200 Benz-Micro MC 20E II Low in my Pioneer PL-518 or even my PE 3048 {Dual 1200 Series}????
Petsound 05-09-07

Anyone tried the Denon DL-110 cartridge with the P

HI all,

Anyone tried the Denon DL-110 cartridge with the Pro-ject 1 xpression?



Flatsound 07-24-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I can't testify to how it might sound, but the DL-110 should be an excellent mechanical match for the Pro-ject carbon fiber arm. I say give it a try. I've found that Denon cartridges make excellent parters with lower-priced British turntables. I'm using one now on my Rega P3 -- similar in execution to the Xpression -- and love the combinaiton of British PRAT with the big, fast, dramatic sound of the Denon. Which is probably why I've only used DL-110's and DL-160's for years now. I just can't find anything I like better, even up to $500 or $600.
Ekobesky 07-26-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge

I ... love the combination of British PRAT with the big, fast, dramatic sound of the Denon. Which is probably why I've only used DL-110's and DL-160's for years now. I just can't find anything I like better, even up to $500 or $600.
That's nice to know. About 3 wks ago I upgraded my Technics DD from a Shure M97xE to a Denon DL-160. It's been such an upgrade for so little extra money! I'm still taking in all the improvements--transparency, inner detail, clarity, frequency extension at both ends, trackability, smoothness, musicality, and dynamic range. Your post validates what I've begun to expect--that I'd have to spend a lot more money to realize an incremental improvement.

Johnnyb53 07-31-07

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
A friend pointing me to these reviews has saved me from making an expensive mistake, and I am truly grateful.
The question is basically between the 110 and the 160, I understand they are very similar, but does the 160 empasize surface noise more?
This I think will be the main criteria for which I buy

Fallendragon 01-19-08

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Having had both of these cartridges the DL110 and DL160 I find zero difference in them in regards to surface noise. the only thing the DL160 does better is in overall trackability due to its tapered cantilever, which reacts nonoseconds quicker to groove undulations. I find both of these cartridges a total jewel to listen to and for myself have opted for the DL110 on purely a cost conscious move. Sonically I cannot tell the two apart.
Ferrari 01-19-08

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
Back in 1993 i had a denon DL110 on a vpi table. i also had a denon DL300. if you read the science stats between the two, you discover that it comes down to low output vs. high output. now for the sound, the 110 sounded great, the 300 sounded greater. richer in overall sound. the problem today is have you ever tried to find a denon DL300. its like looking for a needle in a haystack. if you have heard this cartridge before you,ll never let go. sadly i lost mine.
Strings04 01-24-08

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
They do a 301 according to the website
Tubiwan 03-21-08

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I just got a hold of a DL-55 II, which on paper looks quite a bit like the old DL-300, and not far off from the 110 or 160. Soundwise i couldn't say, since i haven't heard a 300 (nor a 110 or 160) before, but it compares favorably to my classic DL-103.

Lots of info about all the Denon cartridges here:

Mjm0 07-10-08

Review: Denon DL-110 Cartridge
I found this old review when researching the Denon DL-110 and DL-103 cartridge. Another good one from Audiogon member Ferrari. I wonder if his opinion on turntables over $1000 vs $500 ones has changed since then.

Anyway I have a Denon DL-110 on a refurbed Technics SL-1200Mk2 with an Ortofon SH-4 headshell and this is a quite wonderful sounding combination to me. My phono pre is a Hagerman Bugle2. I don't have any big dollar TTs to compare this combo with but in my experience so far this is a great sounding set-up. I've played well recorded classical music on it a long with modern electronic and rock music and everything has sounded very pleasing to me. If you can get a good condition Technics 1200 Mk2 on the cheap you potentially have a great sounding combo with the Denon DL-110 for little money.

Jedinite24 06-24-13

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