Breaking in a new cartridge,..Denon DL 103 R.

Just installed a R today in replacement of the 103 regular.
What is the breaking period time on that cartridge and which aspects of it's early stage sound should be expected to improved once it's '' done it's time ''.
My experience with the 103R is that it can be a bit aggressive and a little thin sounding for about the first 10-15 hours. At around that time, there is a pretty amazing transformation and it really smooths out and fills out quite dramatically. From there, I would say that there are further improvements in the same way until you hit about 50 hours but they are much more subtle. Once you hit 10-15 hours, it's as though a light comes on and there's magic.
IME different cartridges break in differently. On some the bass takes a while to open up. On others its the highs that need a while to come in. On still others it's both, while a rare and happy few models seem to change very little at all.

I've never broken in a Benz so I've no idea what you're about to experience. Listen and enjoy the changes. They'll help you understand your new cartridge and fine tune it even better. Then share your experience with us and you'll be the Ruby break-in expert! :-)

Sorry for talking nonsensically about a Benz. I saw "R" and my brain thought "Ruby". Senior moment.

I haven't broken in a Denon either, so I'm sticking to my guns on the rest of my post!
Start off at 2.5g VTF. Break in should be relatively short. I heard a gradual improvement, but the cart basically sound good out of the box. Break in is short.
Thanks guys....
It seems the cart. is going to a phase as the one described by Hdm.
I need to clarified the '' resistance coil '' of this cartridge in order to select the jumper position of my phono amp pertaining to this issue.
Aside from offering load selection options my phono offers 3 settings to accomodate the resistance coil of one's cartrige,.......low, medium or hight.
What could be the coil resistance of my cartridge ?
I know that it's electrical impedance is 14 ohm.......but that doesn't help me........maybe someone knows ?

Denon used to provide a frequency response curve with every catridge. I reflected the response of the cartridge and recorded the impedance at which the catridge was tested. If they are still providing that info: Match that impedance and you can't go wrong.
Pboutin, if you are using an active phono preamp then the best loading for the 103R is 100 Ohms. No need to experiment. If you are using a transformer based phono gain stage then I do not have enough experience to help.

BTW Rodman, Denon still does supply frequency curves with these carts, but they run that test into a 47K load. Seems kind of odd.
As Rodman said the frequency figure is based on them using a 47K load.
Their suggestion is to use 100 ohms in the phono amp
or 40 ohms if using a transformer.
I have elect the 100 load over the 470 or the 30 that
my Dynavector p-75 provides.
This phono actually provides another load option called
the '' phono enhancer '' or 0 load option.........this is where my regular DL 103 likes to be connected.....unlike it's little seems so far.
Again they also differ when I select the setting relate to the resistance......the 103 prefer the medium setting while the 103R prefer the high setting.
All and all it's a little time consuming and I thank all
the one that have shipped in.
By the way does 47K ohms represente the same figure
than 470 ohms ?
47K ohms is actually 47,000 ohms. The 103R should sound quite good into the 100 ohm load; the other setting that you should try out is the 30 ohm load. It is quite possible that it will sound even better to you there. Don't worry about it if it doesn't as this is a subjective hobby and there are many things to take into account such as system synergy, related pieces of equipment etc.

My advice would be to get 15-20 hours on the cartridge tracking it around 2.6 or 2.7 grams using that 100 ohm load and then try the 30 ohm load. I'm not familiar with the Dyna phono stage, but it sounds like the "resistance" setting is actually a gain setting, with "high" giving the higher gain. With the lower output of the 103R vs. the straight 103, it would make sense that the R would prefer that "high" setting.

Good luck and enjoy your 103R. It is a great cartridge (especially for the money!!!).
To speed cartridge break in I get a real cheap, brand new 45 RPM dance single ($2 or so) and play it on for a few times each day (at low volume levels). Them heavy bass modulations @ 45 RPM are quite something! I use a particular Spanish Flamenco-Disco that uses a really loud kick drum beat. Works for me.

Let me join in and support "hdm" and "Psychicanimal" sagacious advice. A 7" 45 RPM record dance record with lots of octave divided synthesized bass is GREAT for break-in because 45's are cut 12dB hotter than LPs. I do not know if 45 EPs are cut hotter as well or not. After 10-15 hours you will know basically what you have and between there and 50-60 hours it just gets better - kind of "warms up".

For cartridge matching please see my old primer article on 6 Moons Audio (I think that it is still there?). The DCR is 40 Ohms and the impedance is well .. who knows... cartridge impedance is a misnomer. The 100 Ohm load thing is just a convenient guess, or starting point, provided by the manufacturer. The overall electrical system is too complex for any absolutes - it all MUST be derived empirically.

My advice? No? Well I'll give it anyway... eventually try to forget active (head amp) and go with transformers for MC step-up! The UTC A-11 based box I built for Jeff Day's Denon 103D or the Altec 4722 sound simply wonderful with the 103R,D,S, etc. series.
Active's are nice at being flexible for a wide range of cartridges but a good transformer is far superior at really hearing the cartridge.

The DENON MC cartridges are absolutely a bargain! Even in today's market! Yes, they have their foibles and limitations but they definitely provide "most bang for the buck!" OTOH, they just might get you hooked on MC cartridges. ;^)
My old primer on MC phono step-up transformers can be found on 6 Moons Audio at:

Enjoy! :)
Thanks for the link, Jhendrixfan. I believe I saw a familiar face or two in the photos. Are you trying to kick up old dust around active vs. passive MC gain? :) I'm currently in the active camp as I believe that step-ups cannot avoid a level of filtering of the LOMC signal and thus hinder some of the micro-dynamic information. Just my .02. What currently available step-ups do you prefer and with what cartridges?


Hi Dan,
Thanks for checking it out - you may have recognized Sandy Gross (Definitive Technologies), Terry O'Sullivan (Garrard/Loricraft), Roger Tolbridge (Garrard/Loricraft), and Frank Schroder (Schroeder ?).
Not everyone likes the same things - that's what makes horse races (or something like that?). Anyway since we are talking about DL-103 series I really like the ALTEC 4722's (set at 150 Ohms) with this DENON series of MC cartridges. But then again I'm a nut (as you can see from the article photos) that likes heavily restored vintage equipment. The 4722's work well with quite a few other MC cartridges as well. So they really provide an excellent starting point.

The UTC A-11 unit that Jeff Day borrowed for awhile (He returned it and I still have it) is another nice step-up. A bit more flexible as it has 50, 100 and 200 Ohm settings.

I really have not noticed any "filtering" effect of the micro-dynamic information by using step-up transformers but perhaps you are speaking more of the readily available commercial versions. Also, everyone that hears my transformers (and some others) has reported favorably.
Personally I think it all depends upon the preamp phono stage input impedance. I do not care too much for the active RIAA type for many reasons. The passive type usually presents a much more stable and predictable input impedance to any step-up device.

I have never really found any (Shelter, Denon, Audio Note, Ortofon_ of the commercial step-up transformer devices to be to my liking. I don't exactly know why but they leave me wanting. Probably because I know that they are not tailored for specific things but are more "generic" or a "guess" at what will be "generally acceptable" to consumers (a.k.a. "will work with a wide range of preamps"). I mentioned this tidbit in the MC article as well. I find it intellectually vacant for cartridge specs to mention "impedance" at all as all it does is convolute matters. Cartridge manufacturers rarely, if ever, actually run impedance curves on their cartridges. When confronted with this fact they use the Mikey Fremer defense logic of "what difference would it make? It's what consumers HEAR that matters". Hence many users just select active where "tweaking" is a LOT easier and more straightforward from a conceptual point of view.
"I really have not noticed any "filtering" effect of the micro-dynamic information by using step-up transformers but perhaps you are speaking more of the readily available commercial versions."

Tom, you would be completely correct in my case. Do you have an opinion on the MU step-ups? I love my Alaap MC FET but I also love to tinker!


Although I have never heard one, I can't blame you about liking the Nick Doshi Alaap MC FET active step-up. Seems like custom made stuff that is easily tweaked by the user. Probably not for the average bear though.

Bent Audio Mu step ups do not interest me as they also seem like a compromise for the masses. Small transformers, resistive loading, etc.

DaVinci MC step-up transformers look like something that is noteworthy but I have never heard one, nor do I know how much they cost. However they appear to be REAL magnetics and not tinker toys in a fancy box.

Just my $0.02 worth.

Are using a Tri-planar still or a Schroder?
Tweaky? Not sure what you mean, I haven't tweaked anything on the Alaap and the custom features I went with were just simpler volume controls and a range of phono input loads. I thought we were talking about stuff that was not so generic, but you mention "not for the average bear". I'm not pokin' any sticks but I'm a bit confused. Then again, I don't remember all of the options Nick offers. :)

The MU interests me because of the flexibility of loading. I don't understand from experience how resistive loading is a compromise.

Yep, I use my triplanar. I'm not inclined to wait 1 1/2 to 2 years for a schroeder. And that's no slam on Frank, he makes a fabulous tonearm. It is more a realization that a one man assembly line has multiple points of failure.