I used a Denon DL103 on a P3/RB300 with great success. The Denon/P3 is a great combination, with a wonderfully direct and lively sound. That combination was legendary in Europe 15 years ago, long before the DL103 become popular in the US again. I am currently running a DL103R in an RB600/Tecnodec, which is not quite as musical as the P3/DL103 combo, but is tonally more neutral, with great high frequency extension and detail. A dropped counterweight, e.g. Expressimo Heavyweight will help.
I used a 103 and 103R in an OL Silver (basically a Rega). Works fine. However, it performed a good deal better using the TWL HI-FI mod as described extensively in other threads, here. Personally, I prefer the plain jane 103 to some of the other variations available on today's new market.
I've had a 103, 103R and 103D in an RB300, rewired w/ Incognito.
All were a good match, and a bargain.
I agree with 4yanx--the plain jane 103 is no joke....
Marty, one caveat. Unless I also had a Pete Riggle VTA adjuster, or equivalent, I would never own another Rega-based arm. Pains in the hynie, IMHO.
Rene, David and Milos, thanks so much. I had read about the cartridge working well with modded arms, but I will be flying stock for a while, so I was interested in the performance sans tweakage. David, I have always used the spacers, can I get in the ballpark on VTA this way, and if so, 2MM or 4MM? Finally, just to add a bit of consternation to our little party, what tracking force is everyone using? I really, really appreciate all of the guidance.
I have found the 103R to not be very interested in VTA. I tried it on an RB250, Graham 2.2 and Basis Vector. I varied VTA quite a bit (within reason) and just never really found much difference than having the cartridge level. So lack of VTA may not be a big deal. Mine seemed to be more interested in VTF.
Everything I have read so far implies the 103R bests the standard 103. I can purchase a new 103 for $116 less then the 103R. Have I been misinformed?
Marty, I had to go back and look at my old notes because I no longer have a Rega-based arm in my home. My son has one but it is doing the "Jazz Goes to College" tour! :-)
Anyway, like Dan, the VTA was of less importance than VTF. We set the VTA just a cat's whisker below level in the back and my notes say the "best" VTF was at 1.83 using my cheap digital scale. This was based on a "standard" thickness LP and the VTA mentioned. SO, your mileage can, and most certainly will, vary but that should get you in the ballpark. Let me tell you, it is nice to have a cartridge that you don't have to adjust VTA too often with the Rega arms. I would imagine that those folks who like to adjust VTA for each and every LP thickness would sooner have the crabs than a Rega arm. I am not quite that obsessive about VTA, but I do like the ability to adjust for differences in cutting angles and thicknesses on my favorites and when doing VERY critical listening. Even at that level of finicky, I'd strongly suggest the Pete Riggle VTA adjuster.
Did you guys ever see the "DougDeacon VTF Adjustment Tool" for Rega's using TWL's HiFi mod? A.K.A, a heavy paper clip bent into an arch that spans above the bearings and attaches at both ends to the weights. Moving it back and forth would add or subtract from the VTF. I never tried it but several members reported good results.
In this thread and several others on this site, folks prefer the 103 to the 103R so EVERYTHING you've read cannot be in favor of the 103R. :-)
Seriously, some will agree, some will disagree. The only way to fnd out is to listen for yourself. Or, if you have found that there is someone whose word is correct in every instance, follow their advice and hope they are correct in this case, too.
"Bests" is in terms of qualities usually sought after by audiophiles, in this case (in most cases actually) mostly detail. Extracting more detail from the venerable Denon DL-103 is achieved at a cost which is acceptable, or inaudible, or unimportant to some; and important and unacceptable to others. The plain vanilla DL-103 is considered by many Denon aficionados (not all, or even the majority) to be the best-balanced and most integrated of all Denon DL-103s: all frequencies singing as a united whole, timing across the frequency spectrum also united and thus extremely compelling, the area which makes the Denon such a classic (also the dynamics and drive, and the large and beautiful midrange). According to those who have owned a variety and come back to the plain DL-103, the extra detail of the other versions disturbs this balance and causes some brightness, aggressiveness and coarseness problems, as well as some unevenness. Others swear by the improvements, at least some of these because they automatically equate more detail with superiority, and deny costs, or do not hear them, or are not sensitive to any cost. I personally love the plain vanilla edition, which I find so good in every respect, indeed supremely balanced and musical to a degree I have never yet heard from any other MC, that I am not remotely interested in purchasing the other and pricier variants. In fact, I would be afraid to mess with the formula, afraid to disturb its supreme balance, which is clearly audible. Not that I wouldn't be interested in hearing one of these variants given an opportunity (especially the "D" version), and see if the balance truly is disturbed. So you've not been misinformed exactly, but it is more difficult to find the writings of those who are willing to sacrifice detail for balance and poise in this era of Detail Uber Alles (a consequence of the Information Age), or even consider these things important.
Viridian, the Denon works superbly well in the Rega RB300, with or without tweaks. I track mine at roughly 2.2 grams, but friends of mine like it at 2.5. I'm still experimenting.
..Of course, said in another way.... ;-)
I've heard of folks tracking theirs heavier, too, but that decidedly wasn't what worked in our expereince with an Origin Live Silver. The 250, 300, etc. must be different in that regard because I've heard others with those arms were in the 2.0+ range, as I recall. Funny, too, because I think 2.2 is at the extreme end of what Denon suggests. (?) Everyone I've spoken with who had the OL arms preferred the lighter weight. I will leave it to someone with more technical chops to explain why that might ne the case.
Better tonearm wire doesn't mean a thing in terms of the ability of the Denons and the Rega to live happily together. With respect to weight and resonant frequency, they're a good match.
The 103 and 103R are both swell. The cheaper 103 is terrific. And, to echo the comments of others, VTA changes haven't made a big difference with these carts, chez moi. I wouldn't worry about spacers, etc.
Thanks to all for great input. It is really terrific to be part of a community where so many are willing to take their valuable time to share their knowledge and experience. I am truly greatful. Now, on to the Thakker store to order my 103!
Yep, I've never tried the plain vanilla 103, but based on what has been posted near and far it would be worth the price the find out.
As far as VTF, I though 1.7 - 2.0 sounded better than the heavier Denon suggested range. That said, it could also be that my Shure balance and cheap digital guage may be that far off.
The DL103R retains this family characteristic and makes quantum leaps in improvement for a modest cost increase. The six-nines copper windings with a lighter coil weight really let the high end show more detail, air, and finesse. Bells, cymbals, and harmonic overtones are much better, with crystal-like clarity. Sibilance is non existant. Microdynamics are awesome. When Rickie Lee Jones does her little comments and whispers between lines on "Woody and Dutch" on the Pirates album, these normally obscured, or hard to hear, lines are superbly clear. The differences in vocal inflection and emotion are conveyed with all of the artist's intentions. But the piano will totally knock you over. I play piano, and am very sensitive to the full, wide palette of sound and harmonics that piano gives. The ability of this cart to portray lifelike piano sound is astounding. The weight and authority of the bass notes, the delicate nuances of the high notes, and the power of two-hand chord playing, including the famous "Steinway Crash" sound in the midrange, is beautifully done. It is no slacker in the bass department either. Drums, bass, and large stringed and horn instruments are tonally accurate, and their high frequency components such as drum skin attack, and string pluck, are perfectly blended with the bass sounds, so the realism of the instrument is kept intact. Attacks and decays are terrific with the DL103R. The lighter coils really show their stuff in minute detail and airy decays. Midrange is very Koetsu-like in its magic. Realism is stunning. Overall, top-to-bottom, this cartridge performs like you would expect from a $1k - $2k cart. And that is not an exaggeration. It is that good.The tracking is outstanding, and much better than the standard 103. High frequency dynamics that would cause the 103 to mistrack, are easily handled by the DL103R. Clicks and pops are less distracting, and there is a lower noise floor.
For the down-sides, there is a hint of edge on some vocals, especially ones that are already edgy voices. It is not the last word in "smoothness" but it is certainly not bad here. It could be a little better though. There is a very slight hint of some upper midrange coloration, like the standard 103 has, but much less. The lighter coils create a slight rise in amplitude over 15kHz, that the standard DL103 does not have. I did not find this to be problematic, although those with a "hot" tweeter may not like this. The low compliance of this cartridge is not compatible with all tonearms. It likes a heavier arm, and really does perform better with gimbal arms. Heavier unipivots, or ones with damping and stabilizing may work, though.
I put the DL103R through the paces on my Teres 245 with most of my favorite "test" records. It never failed to put a smile on my face, as it bettered the standard DL103 in all respects on every record I played. Fleetwood Mac "Landslide" has Stevie Nicks right there in the living room. All the Rickie Lee Jones material is so much more "alive" than before. And the percussive small scale nature of the Rickie Lee Jones stuff shows off the speed and detail very well. Her hard to understand lyrics are much easier to understand and the timbre of the voice is very very natural, and emotion is well conveyed. Soundstage is wide and deep. Imaging is excellent. Top-to-bottom frequency balance is very good. On Manhattan Transfer's "Vocalese", the 4-part harmonies take on a perfect balance of separateness and blend. The large scale big-band accompaniment is dynamic, powerful, and doesn't fall apart. On Walter Egan's "Not Shy" album, the "boogie" aspect is spot-on. This cart can rock, and can get you up out of your chair, dancing around the room. The jazz sax on John Klemmer's Direct Disk album is so perfect, that it is absolutely live sounding.
After experimenting with loading, I found the 40 ohm loading on the Cotter to be most satisfactory. It gave the most air and detail, without sacrificing low frequency accuracy.
VTA was already set for my other DL103 cart, and I needed to make no adjustments there. It likes a very slight positive VTA angle.
To sum up, this cart is a total killer value. It make me wonder why more people don't go for this cart. It would definitely make some very expensive cartridge owners very uncomfortable, because it would be so close to the best, at such a ridiculously low price. It is clearly in the league of a Koetsu Black, and even very close to a Shelter 501. In my opinion, it is better than virtually all of the more well known sub-$2k offerings from Benz, Clearaudio, VDH, Grado, Dynavector, etc. I think it is overlooked because it is not readily available in the US, and is only $300. Alot of folks think if it is not expensive, it can't be that good. That is not correct, it is that good. This is a do-it-all cartridge that perform way,way beyond its price. It is not perfect, but nothing is, and you could by 10 of these for the price of one of the cartridges it can compete with. You can do better, primarily in the "smoothness" area, but you will pay plenty to do it. And you need to have an arm that is compatible.
In my estimation, this cartridge is the best value for dollar in all of audio today. The closest competitor for value is the Shelter 501 at $800, which itself is a superb value at it's price point. But being familiar with both, I am re-thinking the need to move up to a Shelter, or anything else, because this DL103R is extremely musical and provides all the top audiophile attributes at a very affordable price. And if you snag the stylus and break it, you're not out three thousand bucks.
If you haven't tried a DL103, try one for $200. If you can squeeze out a few more bucks, the DL103R is definitely worth the extra money. And please, for God's sake, if you are thinking of getting a new cartridge under $1k, then you have to at least try this out. If, for some reason you didn't like it, there are alot of people who would be waiting to snap it up. When I got my new DL103R, I put my standard used DL103 on the A'gon classifieds, and sold it in 10 minutes - no joke. This cart is worth a try for anyone, not just entry-level, as the price would seem to indicate
I posted a similar question on audioasylum, but am looking for VTF, VTA (rega RB300 arm with VTA adjuster sleeve) and loading starting values. I have the stock platter and felt mat as well.
I'm thinking about starting with 1.5g, 2mm (.5 degree), and 100ohms respectively.
I think it will do fine in the Rega arm.
The Rega/Denon 103 combination works fine. Together, midrange is penetrating and music is articulated artfully, without being too hifi. A Heavyweight or similar counterweight upgrade, and especially the Michell Tecnoweight, will seriously improve sound over the stock Rega arm counterweight. I've been using this combination successfully for many years.
How about with a Premier FT3 arm? Also, must you use a step up transformer with this cart?
I have 103R on the way which I will be mounting on an FT3 when it arrives. I'll keep you posted, but I am not expecting any problems.
I've had my new 103R mounted in my FT3 for about a week now and have about 10 hours on it. It replaced an older Ortofon MC 20 Super and I couldn't be happier with its performance. I have not used any damping on the FT3 to this point and may experiment with that a bit later to see if there is any improvement. My gut feeling is that I'll be running undamped or with very little damping based on what I'm hearing right now. The Ortofon did not like any damping at all, but its compliance numbers are significantly different than the Denon's. So if you have an FT3, I wouldn't hesitate to stick a 103 or 103R on it.
Yes it will. However, there's a simple way to make it 'sing' in this arm.
I took a trip to the local ACE Hardware store. I purchased some brass screws with bolts. Mounted them 'upside down'. Brass screws are recommended by MapleShade (www.mapleshaderecords.com; look under "turntable upgrades").
My stereo sounds better than ever! What I did notice was that there is a big difference in weight between the two screws Denon gives you and the brass ones. If I remember correctly, the Rega has 11 grams of effective mass; the 'perfect match'---the older SME's---have 14 grams of mass.
GET BRASS SCREWS AND MOUNT THAT DENON!! I wonder if this is another way to make the Denon work as it should??