Cartridge/arm matching

Hi. I have to admit I know next to nothing on this subject. I have a Rega RB 250 arm with a Shelter 501 mk 11 cartridge. There's been some suggestion that that may be a less than great match as it's a medium mass arm with a low compliance cartridge.

I'm on a very tight budget… don't really want to change the arm as I've rewired it with Cardas & bought an Expressimo Half Moon Heavyweigh counterweight (the latter made a massive positive difference). Would a Denon DL 103R be a better match for the arm?
The 103R is similar in compliance to the Shelter, so it's unlikely to be a better match in this regard.

I wouldn't go buying other cartridges trying to fix a problem you haven't even heard. Is there some aspect of the sonics you dislike? Or are you just afflicted with audiophilia nervosa? (A common malady in these parts!)

If there is a sonic issue, and if insufficient system mass for the cartridge compliance is the cause, a simple fix would be to add mass to the headshell. You could trial this by taping a nickel (= 5gm) to the headshell. Rebalance the arm and set VTF to the same value you use now. Listen and compare. If you like the improvement, there are various ways to make the change more secure and better looking.
I agree...the heavyweight counterweight makes a real difference. There is also a gizmo out there for adjusting the VTA. Anyway.....what don't you like about the way your setup sounds as it is?
You should get a test record. I use the Shure Era 4 obstacle
course(about 20 bucks on Ebay). It has a test for tone arm
resonance to test your arm and cartridge compatibility. You can
also get a Technics 3 gram headshell weight,if you need to add
mass to the arm (about 5 bucks on Ebay). These are very
inexpensive tools you should have if you are into vinyl.
Rega RB 250 effective mass is 12g
and you know the compliance of your cartridge @ 100Hz (Japan standard)
make sure to multiply it on 1,5 or 2 to find out actual compliance at 10Hz

and then simpli check the diagram illustrates the relationship between cartridge compliance, tonearm mass and the resulting resonance frequency:

you will see which cartridge (compliance @10Hz) will be the best match for your tonearm (effective mass) to stay in desired resonance range from 8 to 15 hz
The Dynavector 10X5 would be a great fit on the RB250. You wont miss the shelter. IMHO.
The formula noted by Chakster is correct but it has a very limited purpose, viz., assuring that a particular cartridge/arm combination resonates somewhere around 8-15Hz. A resonance frequency in this range is presumed to avoid excitation by either musical signals cut in the grooves or typical record warps.

The Shelter/Rega combo falls inside this safe range, as do probably 90% of all cartridge/arm combinations. No need to fuss any further about the math, it won't tell you anything more and certainly won't predict the sonic behavior of any cartridge/tonearm combination. For that there is only one test, the ears of the listener.

As I originally posted and Stringreen repeated, what sonic issues (if any) are you trying to address?
>>The 103R is similar in compliance to the Shelter...

Actually, no. The compliance for the Shelter 501 MkII is 9 x 10-6 cm/dyne, while the compliance for the Denon DL-103 is 5 x 10-6 cm/dyne. That's quite a difference. There are very few if any, modern cartridges with lower compliance than the DL-103 family, which makes them a difficult challenge for use with most light, short tonearms (like the RB-250.

Resonance compliance is a complicated subject- it's not just about cartridge/tonearm weight or damping. Adding a heavier counterweight or mass to the headshell will not make a DL-103 sing on an RB-250 arm.

The Shelter should work with the RB-250, although as Stringreen mentioned you will need some method to adjust VTF, and you have few good options for azimuth adjustment, which is critical in order to achieve best sound with any MC cartridge.
Actually, yes. ;-)

The compliance Denon quotes for the DL-103 is based on a measurement at a 100Hz, which is not industry standard (or particularly useful). When measured at the industry standard (and more useful) 10Hz, the DL103's compliance works out to be approximately 11x10-6cm/dyne, which is actually a bit higher than the Shelter's.

Fully agree with the rest of your post.
Again, no. The adjusted compliance for the Denon DL-103 at 10Hx is often mistakenly quoted at 11x10-6cm/dyne. The fact is that no standard formula that works for converting compliance from all cartridges due to differences in construction and materials. Although Denon has always listed the compliance for the DL-103 at 11x10-6cm/dyne, the actual demonstrated compliance is a little less. The base rule of thumb for converting from 100Hz to 10Hz is to multiply by 1.5. Assuming that the actual compliance is 4.5, multiplied by 1.5 comes out to 6.75 calculated. I use 6 as a planning rule.

From 1973-1978 I worked for a Southern California audio dealer with several stores. We were also a distributor for Nippon Columbia, Denon's parent company. Among other brands we also carried Denon turntables and cartridges, but not the DL-103. One day in 1975 (as I recall), a technical engineer for Denon visited and made a training presentation for the sales teams. Shugita-san referred to the suspension and aluminum cantilever on the DL-103 as having the lowest compliance and being the most stiff and unbendable of any other cartridge on the market. He also stated that this cartridge was completely unsuited for any of the tonearms that we were carrying, including Denon, Luxman, Micro Seiki, Philips, Sansui and Thorens.

I have tried, many times, to get a DL-103 to work (aka sound good) mated with a medium compliance tonearm, always unsuccessfully. It simply does not sound the way the cartridge was designed to sound by the manufacturer.
I would not recommend that combination to my customers.
**** The base rule of thumb for converting from 100Hz to 10Hz is to multiply by 1.5

Audiodistinction, i'm not a technician but are you sure that multiply by 2 is incorrect when converting @100Hz compliance to @10Hz compliance?

**** I have tried, many times, to get a DL-103 to work (aka sound good) mated with a medium compliance tonearm, always unsuccessfully.

I have the same feeling when i tried higher compliance cartridges on heavier tonearm designed for Denon DL103 family (Thosam Schich "12 Tonearm). But i can't find effective mass for Shick tonearm anywere, i wish to know.

***** DL-103 as having the lowest compliance and being the most stiff and unbendable of any other cartridge on the market.

Except Ortofon SPU probably: 8 µm/mN (10Hz)

For adding weight/mass to a tonearm, a model train store will sell you some little squares of lead you can put on the headshell (or even between it and the cartridge, to damp the cartridge body's vibrations somewhat).

Yes, I am sure that using a multiple of 1.5x is incorrect. But it provides a closer usable value for the DL-103 than a higher multiple. As I said in my previous post, there is no simple formula that can accurately convert cartridge compliance from 100Hz to 10Hz because there are several variables that need to be factored into the equation.

Yes, many of the Ortofon SPU cartridges share a compliance value of 8x10-6cm/dyne. The new SPU A95 is rated at 9, and the Mono GM cartridge is 12.