need some help with Denon DL-103r OR Suggest a different cartridge

had a Denon DL-110 cartridge and liked it and something happened to the stylus and had the money , so bought a new cartridge.   picked up a Denon DL-103r, got it all setup and did some adjustments on the SIm Audio Phono preamp and not liking what I am hearing.            

I am not sure if a setting on the phono preamp is not right, but dont have nearly the overall volume that I had before and the bass sounds weird now ( speakers are Magnepan 1.7i's and they sound as if the music is distorted ?)

Capacitance : I have set at  0
Resistance :  I have set at  470
Gain           :   I have set at 66

On the tube preamp I have, the builder adds a gain dial on the back to match the amp better, and have tried adjusting that along with the main volume on the preamp and no improvement .

Is there a another setting that I should try ?           Or look for a different cartridge ?

You can try different loading for any MC to find out what’s the best, it will change the sound. You can load your cartridge at 100 Ohm , 500 Ohm , 1000 Ohm, 10 000 Ohm or even 47 000 Ohm ... but only if you have this option on your phono stage.

Basically you’re using an oldschool cartridge with Conical tip, the contact area of the tip is very small, so do not expect deep bass or clear highs with your 103R cartridge. It was designed for Radio Broadcast in the ’60s!

Your DL-103r cartridge is low compliance and you must have superheavy tonearm to use it.

Also your ex DL-110 was 1.6mV (with Elliptical tip) which is much easier to drive by any phono stage.

Your DL-103r has very low output 0.25 mV (with Spherical tip), so make sure you have the right phono stage to drive it.

If you want to get rid of all the problels associated with Low Compliance, Low output MC then try some decent MM or MI instead, at least you could compare them side by side. Maybe you have to invite friends with different cartridges ? Anyway to suggest a better cartridge it woule be nice to know the budget, you can always go up to $12k for an MI like that new TopWing from Japan, designed by ex Grace employee, but i think there are many great vintage MM/MI cartridges for $400-600 or near.
Since you liked the DL-110 you should get another one. Try to get a refund on the new DL 103r or try to sell it for the most you can get for it!
Not sure how many cartridges did you tried in your system, but even if you like the entry level DL-110 it does not mean that you have to stay with it forever. You'd better try a cartridge with different stylus profile, the DL-110 was an Elliptical, look for LineContact type (Shibata, MicroRidge, MicroLine, Gyger, Replicant 100 and related). Look for better cantilever such as Beryllium, Sapphire, Ruby, Boron. And more important, if you don't have enough gain, look for MM or MI with output of 1.2 - 4mV, (don't buy High Output MC it will only increace the mass of the coil). You have to take in count an effective mass of your tonearm to choose the right cartridge (compliance). 
What arm are you using?
using the Moerch UP-4 Tonearm

the Simaudio LP-5.3 has adjustable settings for Cap, Resistance and Gain.

for budget, would like to stay in th $400 - 600 range.

Have had the DL-110 twice .
Do you know what the mass is on that arm?
1. Get a Jelco tonearm. 2. Get a SUT (step up transformer). I have many years experience with Denon mc cartridges. At the moment have a 103R on the Pioneer PLX1000, used with a Denon SUT. Sounds just fine! This cartridge is capable of excellent SQ! Just takes a bit of care in setup!

  according to the Moerch site....I have the green dot and the effective mass is : 4g
The Grado Sonata or Platinum would be a good match for that arm.
You can use this to find out what cartridge will be compatible with your tonearm!
The Moerch is definitely not a a high mass tonearm, and you can’t add mass because the headshell is not removable, you can only add mass a little bit with two heavier mounting screws for the cart.

The effective mass of the tonearm for your low compliance Denon must be 25-35g !

Moerch is a nice tonearm for modern mid and mid-high compliance cartridges.

What you’re using is not only an inferior rolled off cartridge designed in the 60’s for radio broadcast, but a total missmatch with your modern tonearm (effective mass).

You should really understand what is the resonance frequency for the arm and cartridge and why it’s impossible to use such a low compliance cartridges on retatively lightweight modern tonearms.

The advices from the people to stay with Denon is useless, because it is much cheaper to buy an optimal cartridge for your tonearm than vice-versa. Your DL-110 is also a low compliance cartridge.

You can buy a decent MM or even MI for $400-600 as you suggested.
according to the Moerch site....I have the green dot and the effective mass is : 4g

for budget, would like to stay in th $400 - 600 range.

A few exceptionally good high-compliance cartridges for your lightweigh tonearm (within your budget):

ADC TRX-2 IM (Induced Magnet) with Sapphire Cantilever and Vital diamond. ADC (Audio Dynamics Corporation) under a new ownership continued making High-End cartridges. To develop ADC sound they hired Nakansuka San from Japan, now he’s the owner of ultra high-end brand ZYX. You may think that ZYX is this brave new phono cartridge manufacturer, but its founder and chief designer, Hisayoshi Nakatsuka, is far from being a newcomer. Nakatsuka San has been working for Namiki, Accuphase, Adcom, Ortofon ... Back in the 70’s top of the line ADC TRX series was designed by Nakatsuka San (ZYX). Flagship models ADC TRX-2 with Sapphire cantilever and Vital II nude diamond is one of the best ADC cartridge designed under new ownership.

Sony XL-50 MM with Boron Hollow Pipe Cantilever and Super Elliptical tip, unique jointless delta-type core. My latest discovery, amazing cartridge.

Pickering XSV-3000 MM with Stereohedron tip (just like Stanton 881s) is the best and the cheapest all rounder. I have a spare cartridge and spare sealed NOS stylus.
thoughts on this one :

regarding the Picering XSV, if something should happen to it, can it still be fixed by Stanton or is that not possible ?       

regarding the Pickering XSV, if something should happen to it, can it still be fixed by Stanton or is that not possible ?

All Stanton / Pickering top of the line cartridges from the 80’s can be fixed by the UK company Expert Stylus with their Paratrace profile. That comapy was the original manufacturer of the Stereohedron stylus patented by Stanton Magnetics back in the day. The Paratrace is the closest profile. Actually every Stanton/Pickering collector aware of the Expert Stylus service. My friend @nandric retipped some of the very expensive LOMC cartridges from his collection in the UK at Expert Stylus with Paratrace profile, so i think you can trust.

BUT as i said the NOS (original) styli can be found sealed even today, so no need for retip or refurbish. I have much more expensive and rare Stanton cartridges with a bunch of NOS sealed Stereohedron styli for back up. The goal of the MM is replacement stylus, we don’t need SoundSmith or anybody else to keep vintage MM alive for years. The life span of the Stereohedron stylus is twice as much than the Elliptical

BTW SoundSmith cartridges are not High Compliance, they are 22cu @ 10Hz or even lower , while all 3 cartridges from my recommended list are 30cu @ 10Hz and higher in Complinace which is better for such a light mass tonearm (the OP said it’s just 4g)

I think you should buy a Ortofon 2M Black and be done with it. I was using a DL103 for a couple months and then moved to the Black and I was so happy. I got all the things I liked from the DL103 and more.You’ll need to spend time with setup with the Moerch because azimuth is important, but that’s such an underrated arm that I think will go well with the Ortofon.
had the Ortofon 2M Black and didnt care for that one,  had to much sibilance .


if went with the Pickering.....same arm tube can be used ?

@chakster if went with the Pickering.....same arm tube can be used ?

Yes, Pickering XSV-3000 is a high compliance cartridge, if you have the light weight armtube then it was designed for High Compliance carts by default and must be used with a cartridge with compliance of 30cu and higher.

You will rarely find any modern cartridge with high compliance, but most of the greatest MM from the 80’s (golden age of analog) are high compliance.

The tonearms designed in the 70’s and in the 80’s for High Compliance cartridges are all have effective mass of 3-6g (Infinity Black Widow, Denon DA-401 just to name a few). The tracking force for High Compliance cartridges is no more than 2g, normally under 1.5g.

Pickering XSV-3000 like the Stanton has a longhair brush infront of the stylus to cleans the groove surfaces just before playing, and at the same time stabilizes the tone arm. This brush is removable.

XSV-3000 has the most advanced stylus shape called Stereohedron which is achieved by grinding four flat surface on the diamond at precise angles to each other and their intersection creates areas used to contact the groove. The advantage of the Stereohedron stylus is that because of it’s long and narrow contact surfaces it tracks high frequency modulation minimizing groove wear.

I know several users of Pickering XSV-3000 here on audiogon and everybody happy about this wonderful cartridge.

If you already checked this article all you need to know is that Pickering XSV-3000 is a prototype of the Stanton 881s, different branding, but the same manufacturer.

thoughts on the Audio Technica  AT 70L ?
Do you know the difference between Nude Stylus (Solid Diamond) and Bonded stylus ? The AT 70 L has Bonded Conical Stylys (the worst choice of stylus, the cheapest).

The best AT withing your budget would be Audio-Technica AT-ML150 OCC with Solid Diamond (Nude) on Gold-Plated Beryllium Cantilever, but this is not a High Complinace cartridge and not optimal for your tonearm of 4g effective mass!

AT20SLa can be good, Grace F9 can be good, both are high compliance.

But the Pickering XSV-3000 is better because of the mode advanced stylus profile.
Add weight to the head shell.  Brass works well.  Get a SUT for sure.  It is a top tier cartridge regardless of price.  If set up correctly, it will bogie and sound like real music.

Enjoy the ride
@tomwh do you want to make a truck out of sport car ?
Lighweight toneam designed for High Compliance cartridges, not for heavy low compliance Denon DL-103 monster from the 60’s which must be used on tonearms like Fidelity-Research with 35g effective mass ! Moerch toneam effective mass is 4g, can you imagine that? I think you have no idea what you’re talking about here.

Most LOMC cartridges are better without SUT but with an active headamp or with a proper phono stage with high gain (like the Gold Note PH-10 for example), why anyone have to buy a SUT for oldschool cartridge with conical stylus if this cartridge can’t extract information from the groove walls because the contact area of the conical stylus is very small ? Read here about diamond profiles. How can a SUT solve this problem? Not to mention that the OP does not have an appropriate tonearm for this Denon cartridge which makes the whole idea simply useless. You can’t add additional 20-30g weight just with two brass screws.

Moerch is a great toneam, but with the right High-End cartridge.

The price of the Denon 103R + the price of the SUT or better phono stage aren’t cheap if you will summarize. Add the cost of retip after 300-400 hrs of use. Buyin’ all these to listen to the music with conical tip in 2019 is anachronism.

Properly selected $300-400 MM or MI cartridge for Moerch toneam is killing it without any extra investment in OP’s system. No problem with gain, no coloration, no etra components in the chain, better stylus profile, extended frequency range, better tracking ability, more everything ... and most important - user friendly stylus replacement after 600-1200 hrs of use with elliptical or line contact profile ... this is all about MM/MI
You might want to look at how effective mass is calculated.  You can make or buy a brass shim/plate which can add alot of grams.  Your constant attack on conical tips is not remotely agreed upon.  There is a cult following around the 103 for a reason.  

In a perfect world he would use a heavier arm.  I am running my own 14" arms.  But  he could try the brass on the cheap.  Cinemags transformers are cheap and work great with 103's.

I could go on and on but I did not write the post to change your mind only to let the OP know some options.

Enjoy the ride

in looking at the Pickering the holes for the hardware to attach to look bigger than what normally comes with cartridges these days ?

guess the issue I dont want to run into is getting any of these cartridges that you suggest and later on down the road, not having a place to send this to for re-tipping.     

What about the Audio Technica OC9ML / 11 OR 111 ?

in looking at the Pickering the holes for the hardware to attach to look bigger than what normally comes with cartridges these days ?

Yes and No.
I don’t know where do you look for the cartridges, but this is why i told you about mounting brackets which comes with every original Stanton/Pickering package, normally resellers does not have those brackets and without adding those brackets it’s imposible to mount Stanton/Pickering cartridges. Each time i see those cartridges for sale without brackets i think the seller has no idea what he is selling.

The brackets for Stanton/Pickering are made of hard plastic and has treated holes for mouting screws, this is how it looks like. And here is another picture of one of my ex Stanton with added brackets, look at that black plastic bracked on the mounting hole. You can also look at the specs of the cartridge when you will see a typical frequancy response from 10Hz to 50kHz (absolutely amazing).

guess the issue I dont want to run into is getting any of these cartridges that you suggest and later on down the road, not having a place to send this to for re-tipping.

You don’t have to re-tip an MM or MI cartridges, all those cartridges have stylus replacement, you can buy a new stylus and add it by yourself in 10 seconds.

However, if the stylus is hard to find you can buy JICO stylus for many vintage cartridges including Stanton and Pickering but do not expect the same sound quality as with the Original Stereohedron stylus (the original is way better) !

Not sure why do you think there is no place to retip an MM cartridge? Any retipper can retip your MM cartridge and the best company to retip Stanton/Pickering is EXPERT STYLUS in UK. You can email them to ask for the price: I got quites from them for re-tip with Paratrace stylus (almost like Stereohedron) and it’s about £120.00 - £180.00. They can also replace the whole cantilever for £291.00 - £330.00. Take in count that Paratrace is one of the best stylus profile available today.

However, the cost of retipping service with a proper stylus profile often very close to the price of a new cartridge, so in my opinion retip is not worth it if your cartridge cost $300-400. It’s better to buy another cartridge for nearly the same price. Or to buy an original stylus fro the same price.

SoundSmith is specializing in retipping and refurbishing Grace cartridges, he even offering his own stylus replacement for the Grace (expensive).

BTW the mounting screws to add weight for MC carts looks like that and you can find them on ebay from the manufacturer (different size available). The AT OC9ML is a good cartridge, but i have no idea why do you want an MC cartridge ? If you think a cheap MC is better than MM please read this thread first.

Well, i think you got maximum infromation from me in this thread about everything. If you missed something please re-read my replies and check the links. Hope it will help
Not saying mc is better than mm, I just want a cartridge that will work with what the tonearm / phono preamp that I have now.

the Pickering might be good but I feel that I will run into some kind issue, whether it’s the hardware or being able to re-tip it later on .    
 I don’t have the experience/ knowledge that you do on this cartridge and just want to get something now that is current and can set it up and get back to listening to tunes.
A Grado was suggested in above post. It is compatible with that tonearm. 

in looking at the Grado Platinum V2 , it gives you the option of 

Reference 4.8mV    or the Statement 1 mV             which one ?

here is what I see on the site

I don’t have the experience/ knowledge that you do on this cartridge and just want to get something now that is current and can set it up and get back to listening to tunes.

Understood, but this is exactly what i suggested: to mount and enjoy the music with the only difference - superb sound quality compared to many other cartridges. Grado, Ortofon or any other cartridges (depends on it's type) require stylus replacement or factory retip (or retip by third-party vendor), no difference, extra expences anyway. Life is easier with MM cartridges than with MC for sure. And while Grado taking care about their MI, the Expert Stylus taking care about all Stanton/Pickering, i believe the cost is the nearly same. Personally i just bought an original stylus replacement for Stanton and for Pickering which i can change myself when needed.
“ Personally i just bought an original stylus replacement for Stanton and for Pickering which i can change myself when needed.“

which is great as you know the places to get, I have no idea where to find this or what to look for, so wouldn’t know if I got what I was supposed to.

finding just the mounting hardware seems to an issue as how would I know what size to get for the finger lift that I have ?

as much as I like vinyl, going cd is sounding better and better 
It all depends how sensitive your phono preamp is. The safer move would be the 4.8mv Reference! BTW, you can return it if you don't like it!

"  It all depends how sensitive your phono preamp is  "

the SimAudio lp 5.3 has plenty of user adjustments.     
I would go with the 4.8mv!
I have no idea where to find this or what to look for, so wouldn’t know if I got what I was supposed to.

finding just the mounting hardware seems to an issue as how would I know what size to get for the finger lift that I have ?

Did you checked your inbox here on audiogon? I Just PMed you again. The mouting hardware (different size) comes with this cartridge along with the brackets (still sealed). I don’t think you need to readjust your tonearm lift, i have 6 toneamrs and never readjusted the lift when i swap the cartridges. They are all more of less standard, this is not the issue. When we look for the original stylus replacement all we need to know is the model number, for the Pickering the Stereohedron stylus replacement number is D3000 (this number printed on the plastic holder of the stylus and also on the box), so i think it’s pretty easly, they are pop up on ebay, you can make your saved search. When you got a cartridge with Stereherdon stylus in Minty condition you have at least 1000 hours before you will have to think about exchange needle. With such a long life span of the stylus you can use a cartridge for a few years regularly. Normally the nature of audiophiles is to seach for upgrade constantly, normally the next cartridge is more expensive and better one. I don’t know people who use one cartridge forever.

When people are buyin MC cartridge they can not buy stylus replacement, they will send a cartridge for re-tip when it’s worn out or broken.

P.S. anytime you need a non magnetic set of screws for whatever cartridge simply buy them in gold or black color from Yamamoto Sound Craft and you will be fine for entire life :)
As others have said, the 103R will NEVER work on your Green dot UP4 arm. Your arm is super light and requires a VERY light and compliant cart. The 103R is the polar opposite -- heavy and stiff and needs a very heavy arm. I’m 100% sure of this as I currently own the 103R, and owned the UP4 in the past.

IMO, some of the advise here is getting way too complicated and expensive to implement. Best option is to just get an appropriate cartridge and use what you have. Problem is, there’s not many very compliant modern carts that meet your needs.

Look into the Cartridge Man Music Maker 3. Do the research -- lesser known here in America d/t poor marketing, but VERY highly regarded HO cart designed to mate well with light unipivot arms. I own it, excellent cartridge. Check online, tons of very positive pro and user reviews.

I used my MM3 on Hadcock 242 and Moerch UP4 arms. Both are lightweight unipivots. Excellent on both. I used the red dot arm tube on my Moerch, and that is what Moerch recommends for the MM3 cart. It is only 3 grams heavier than your green dot tube. I’m sure a headshell weight can easily be added to yours, some ideas here:

Who knows, it may even work with your green dot.

My Hadcock and Moerch arms are both now sold, but I still have the MM3 cart. I can’t use it as all my arms are now heavier fixed pivots, so it’s available. Let me know if interested, I can give you a VG price easily within your price range. I’m so confident that (1) it will be compatible with your situation, and (2) it will bring the musical goods, that I will offer a money back guarantee if it doesn’t work for you. Use is a few hundred hrs, condition is excellent.  I can throw in the Music Maker "Isolator" (do your research).  It is designed to work with the MM3 cart, and will add 2g in mass.

PS: if you wanna stay with the 103R, the earlier suggestion of a Jelco arm is a good one. I pair my 103R with my 10 inch Jelco 750E and it is excellent.

PPS: I had the SS Carmen is my system for awhile. Nice cart, but the MM3 is significantly better in terms of transparency, nuance and inner detail.
On 2nd thought.....

I see the lowest gain setting on your phono stage is 54db. If you use an active line stage, you’ll likely have too much gain with the healthy 4.0mV output of the Music Maker mk3 cartridge.

A passive or very low gain (less than 5db?) active line stage is probably your only chance.