Denon DL-103/103R or DL-301II

I'd really like to hear some opinions on these carts, especially comparisions from folks who have used both. I listen to mostly classic pop/rock with some classical thrown in. I considered starting out with the DL-160 but I suspect the voltage might be too high for the MC stage and too low for the MM.

I will be using a Denon DP-500M tt - PRA-S10 preamp - POA-S10 monos. I'm absolutely new to vinyl and don't really understand the "impedence" aspect (nor the "abnormally low" signal to noise ratio for the MC stage) but I'll list the specs for my preamp:

Input sensitvity Impedence -
PHONO MC: 0.2 mV/100ohms
PHONO MM: 2.5 mV/47K kohms

Max input level-
PHONO MC: 13mv/1kHz
PHONO MM: 160mv/1kHz

Max output- 10V/150mV

Signal to noise ratio:
PHONO MC: 79db (at 0.5mV input)
PHONO MM: 96db (at 5 mv input)

I'm looking at the Denon carts because all my equipment is made by them but if there are better choices ( including MM cartridges) out there I would love to hear those opinions as well.

Dear Bumboola: IMHO you can do better with the Ortofon M20E Super that is a very good MM/MI analog sour alternative.
You can find it in NOS condition through ebay.

regards and enjoy the music,
I currently own a Denon 103D and a 103, and have previously owned two of the original 301s. I would love to give you an opinion of the sound, but I prefer to give a bit of factual insight. The 103 and 103R are low compliance cartridges, they require an arm with high moving mass. Twelve grams or so is the minimum that I would use and they really only sound best in arms over 15 grams effective mass, IMHO. This would preclude their use in the 500.

The 301 is a medium compliance cartridge and matches to medium mass arms. It is more universal than the 103 series in this sense. I don't think a direct comparison between the cartridges is possible, as one would be listening in two different arms. The 301, when used in a sympathetic arm is very smooth and slightly light.

As far as compatiblility with your phono preamp. The 100 ohm loading is fine for either of these cartriges, even though the 103 series has highish impedance. The gain of the phono section is also fine for either of these as well.

Rauls suggestion of the Ortofon is a good one. The JICO MM-1 might also be a nice choice.
Raul, thank you for your suggestion, I will check into that tonight

Viridian, thank you for your infomative post, I had no idea about compliance or tonearm moving mass issues. I wonder why Denon lists the 103R as one of their recommended cartridges for this table? That leaves me with a question though about moving mass and how that is determined, it's not something listed in the specs. I know the headshell itself weighs 9g. but I'm assuming the actual weight of the tonearm doesn't have a lot to do with moving mass. I'm a little lost on that and would appreciate a little insight.

Also, when you describe the sound of the 301 as being "slightly light" does that refer to the bass and to a "thin" sound? If so, tht's not what I'm looking for, I don't want excess bass but I do want it to be somewhat accurate. Any idea if the 301II helps with that issue? I will check into your cartridge choice tonight as well.

Thanks again to both of you.
An excellent primer on cartridge/arm matching can be found here:

I meant a touch light in the bass, not thin or lacking in midrange dimension. I refer only to the original 301 having no idea whatsoever about the 301 II.