denon dl 103 w/ origin live silver mk II: help


I recently purchased a rega p3 with a origin live silver mk II tonearm mounted on it. It is hooked up via a musical surroundings mk I preamp. I had previously had a planar 3 with a denon DL 110 and was very pleased with the sound. So with the new deck I figured that I should go with a new cartridge. Enter the denon dl 103. No matter what I have tried (changing load settings, adding mass to the head of the tonearm), nothing improves the sound. It is shrill, sibilant, and fatiguing. I have had quite a bit of experience with mounting cartridges and always produced excellent results. I have been very pleased with rest of system sound wise. Is it just a bad match with my tonearm or do I just need to let it burn a lot longer. Suggestions???
micah79
I'm probably sticking my neck out a little, but what you describe is what I usually hear when silver wire is somewhere in the signal path. At least that has been my experience. YMMV.
I dont have much technical knowledge to pass on, but I current own a OL silver mk 2 on a OL table, and I used to have a musical surroundings mk1 phono stage. The silver is a medium mass arm and can accommdate a large variety of cartridges. The musical surroundngs is extremely flexible. Of course Im sure you already know this. I am considering getting a Zu modded Denon. Compliance with the denon should not be a problem, so I dont think its a compliance issue. I can t think of 2 possible issues: 1) Remember, when setting vta for the silver you look to see if the top of the arm is level with the lp, no the bottom of the arm like others. 2) That aside, I have heard the denon requires lengthy break in, perhaps thats the issue? Good luck
Adjust VTA
Thanks for the tips. I am going to give it another two weeks and maybe look into a higher mass body for it. If things don't settle down by then, it's back to the drawing board.
it will take more than two weeks for that silver to burn in. but it's worth it. get an old trashed record and run it continuous for 24 hours and see if you hear a change. 24 hours is not too much to lose on a cartridge life span.

actually you could get an old cart and run in the wire that way for a continuous week.
The vta was going to be my first course of action. But given the length of the base on the origin live tonemarm was not adequate to add an aftermarket vta adjuster. At least not while mounted on a rega p3-2000 plinth.
The Riggle VTAF is a mod to allow vta setting on the fly (made by Pete Riggle). Google it.
Another way to lower the VTA is to add a thin turntable mat to the one you already are using. A lot less trouble than the tonearm-based alternatives.

Also, you didn't say how much weight you added to your tonearm. The DL103 is both light and VERY stiff (compliance of 5). That's one reason the Zu103 works so much better--it adds about 10 g of effective mass to the equation. You need close to 30g effective mass to get the DL103 to hit optimum cartridge/arm resonance capability.
I think Johnnyb53 is correct. If the Denon is that light you could have compliance issues.

Also, another way to adjust vta is to add washers between the table and arm.
09-05-12: Tbromgard
I think Johnnyb53 is correct. If the Denon is that light you could have compliance issues.
I may have overstated the difference a bit. The DL103 is spec'd at 8.5g; the Zu
103 at 14g. Still, 5.5g is significant, especially when we're dealing with a
compliance rating of 5 at 100 Hz. With the Zu103, if you have a 12g effective
mass tonearm and a 14g cartridge plus .5g mounting hardware, you're at
nearly 27g total effective mass which is an advantage over the stock cartridge.
I've read somewhere that Denon's rating at 100 Hz may not be equivalent to
other cart vendors who specify at 1000 Hz. By that standard, the DL103 may
have a compliance of more like 7 or 8, maybe even 10.

Even with that consideration, if you look at this cartridge compatibility chart, it's a challenge to get a DL 103 at 8.5g on a 12g arm to get into the green area.

I'm pretty sure that if the compliance of the cartridge is too stiff relative to the
arm's effective mass, you won't get much bass response.
09-06-12: Johnnyb53

09-05-12: Tbromgard
I think Johnnyb53 is correct. If the Denon is that light you could have compliance issues.

I may have overstated the difference a bit. The DL103 is spec'd at 8.5g; the Zu
103 at 14g. Still, 5.5g is significant, especially when we're dealing with a
compliance rating of 5 at 100 Hz. With the Zu103, if you have a 12g effective
mass tonearm and a 14g cartridge plus .5g mounting hardware, you're at
nearly 27g total effective mass which is an advantage over the stock cartridge.
I've read somewhere that Denon's rating at 100 Hz may not be equivalent to
other cart vendors who specify at 1000 Hz. By that standard, the DL103 may
have a compliance of more like 7 or 8, maybe even 10.

Even with that consideration, if you look at this cartridge compatibility chart, it's a challenge to get a DL 103 at 8.5g on a 12g arm to get into the green area.

I'm pretty sure that if the compliance of the cartridge is too stiff relative to the
arm's effective mass, you won't get much bass response.

I'm not sure why some Japanese cartridge makers specify compliance at 100Hz, because the frequencies of interest are around 7-14Hz - ie where we want resonance to occur.
The more useful 10Hz (not 1000 as you stated) is more often specified by other cartridge manufacturers.

Empirically I have found (with the HFN test record) that the stock 103R has resonance around 11Hz in a 12g effective mass arm (Graham 1.5T) - which indeed indicates a compliance close to 10cu.
That is the stock cartridge.
My 14.5g re-bodied 103R has a resonance closer to 7Hz in my Graham Phantom tonearm - which is actually getting on the low side - though it tracks beautifully and no misbehavior is evident with warps etc. Higher mass arms may make the resonant frequency of the heavy modded cartridge undesirably low - ie close to footfall and record warp frequencies.

YMMV, but my experience is that the compliance compatibility issues with the 103 cartridges are hugely overstated. Lower quality arms may have issues dealing with the energy from the cartridge perhaps.
Not that it necessarily addresses the "shrill, sibilant and fatiguing" sound you reported in your original post, but any OL Silver owner using a low-medium compliance cartridge (including specifically the DL 103) owes it to him/herself to try the tweak described on the Strange Tonearm Tweak thread.

I did it back in 2003-04 and the improvement was not small. This was widely discussed for a number of years by regulars here and on Vinyl Asylum. I never heard anyone report anything but good results, typically very good.

Further if you read deep enough in that thread you'll find my post describing my partner's tweak to the tweak, which allows instant and easy fine VTF adjustment *without* moving that pesky counterweight. Very handy when fine tuning your cartridge setup.

Total cost of all the above: < $5.


So it has now been a week since I initially installed the denon dl 103. I changed the loading to 400 ohms and set the gain to 61 db on the Musical Surroundings pre. It seems as though it just needed some burn in time. The sound is much better. The midrange has become quite amazing. The bass has filled out. It honestly sounds like a completely different cartridge. The arm was left stock and I also did absolutely nothing to the vta. Tracking force still set at the factory recommended 2.5 grams.

I believe that most of the unpleasant sound that was being produced was a result of poor matching with the load settings and burn in time.

Thanks guys for all your help, insight, and time. I really appreciate it!
Final update. I still was not quite pleased with the sound that the denon dl 103 was producing. It sounded good, but I still was not experiencing what the fuss was about. I ordered an 8.5g cartridge stabilizer from isokinetik and a counterweight modification. Adding mass was the only thing that I had not tried with the denon as of yet. Let me tell you, I finally got to experience the full potential of this cartridge. It was literally as though a veil had been lifted. Everything was much more focused. My last question, has anyone noticed a substantial difference when switching to an under slung counterweight with this particular origin live tonearm? My current counterweight is literally almost hanging off the end of tonearm to compensate for the 8.5 grams of mass added to the denon. I think it might be time for a heavier one.
As usual I am coming late to the dance (this discussion).

Your experience sounds similar to what I experienced with my first 103. I will cut to the chase: what you need is A LOT more mass on the tonearm.
Go to Dicks sporting goods, but their lead tape that they have in the golf dept. Each strip is 4gm. Stick 2 on the shaft of the arm and half of one on the headshell. You will need the rest for the counterweight to counterbalance the additional weight.
It looks kind of Frankensteinis but it works great!

e
I believe the 103 likes a heavier arm, at least medium mass...?

If you run the DL103's factory specs (e.g., dynamic compliance of 5) for arm/cartridge resonance, you'd need a tonearm with an effective mass of 30g or so. Apparently this is not the case and Denon's compliance spec may have been derived from a different methodology than others. Although I have no direct experience with the DL103 series, I have an audiobuddy who has used one quite successfully on tonearms with an effective mass of 12g. This forum also has plenty of confirmations that the DL103 series works very well with medium-mass tonearms.

12g is a very mainstream effective tonearm mass, shared by the Rega RB30x series and even the tonearm on the Technics SL12x0 series.