Cartridge Dilema For New Turntable


I am ready to purchase a VPI Prime turntable and I am not sure if my current cartridge (ZU/Denon DL103) is up to the task. The cartridge was their best grade and I paid 650.00 for it. It is presently on my VPI Scout turntable of which the Prime will be replacing. Do you think my present cartridge is in the same league as the Prime? I like the tracking and that it doesn’t emphasize the clicks and pops on my well worn Rock records.  I am quite satisfied with the sound of it.
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Yup. Keep it. If you need to change it, look at the AT ART9.
@stereo5 I like the tracking and that it doesn’t emphasize the clicks and pops on my well worn Rock records. I am quite satisfied with the sound of it.


I think you should look for Shibata stylus instead of your conical Denon:

Playing back a record with Shibata stylus which has been previously worn with a cheap conical or eliptical stylus can result in near pristine sound - this is because the Shibata shape can "read" the groove wall in areas that were not contacted by the simpler cheap stylus shapes.

Don't hesitate to try vintage MM cartridges, because the sound of MM is closer to original mastertape than MC. That's why MM was the industry standard at the best disc mastering studios like Sheffield Lab etc. You already have classic MC cartridge modified by ZU, try classic MMs like JVC Victor X1 or X1II (both have Shibata), Grace F-9F or F-9U (line contact and shibata), Audio-Technica  AT-ML170 or AT-ML180 (micro liner), Garrott p77 (micro tracer). Those carts are simply amazing (but rare).      

 

Your cartridge should be fine until it needs to be retipped. If you do not have a rector day cleaning machine you should buy one. The VPI 16.5 or new Pro-Ject RCM would be a good place to start.
A friend is happy with that same cart on a VPI Scoutmaster that is arguably better than the Prime. I agree that you should be fine with it. Cheers,
Spencer
If you are concerned that you may not be "getting the most" out of the turntable you can always have the 103's stylus/cantilever replaced.

Soundsmith does a great job and offers different high performance stylus profiles that will perform up to the abilities of the deck.

The "Denon sound" is still there - just with more detail, dynamics and imaging.

I purchased a re tipped Denon 103 that had a ruby cantilever and Optimized Contour Contact Line stylus.

The improvements across the board were amazing. However, the conical stylus of the stock 103 is much more forgiving when it comes to pops, cracks, surface noise. Also, setup needs to be more precise

Take a look at....  http://www.sound-smith.com/articles/stylus-shape-information

But as the other posters noted - the ZU 103 is very good cartridge.

I'd wait until it needs replacing
Thanks guys, thats what I thought as well.  Looking forward to the new TT.  I must be out of my mind as I just put a 4K deposit down on the new GE Triton Reference speakers which I should receive late May/early June.  I am retiring at the end of 2017 so I want to get my audio purchases out of the way before I start living on a fixed income.