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I experimented with a mass'd up (Uwe Ebony body) DL103 on a Rega arm. I ran mine through a Auditorium 23 SUT. A rich weighty midrange was its top virtue. The experiment lasted about a month as I got tired of the whitish highs I was getting on the Rega. I moved on to vintage MM's. My current favorite is an Ortofon M20FL. It builds on the midrange of the 103 with much improved highs (extended but natural) and a much better bass weight and heft. Very organic cart that really brings the music alive. Amazingly coherent. The one caveat with this cart is it needs a fair amount of capacitance to shine. I run mine at 350pF/47K. It doesn't look like your Phono pre has adjustable capacitance loading. You would need to be comfortable with a soldering iron.
Not only has this cartridge displaced the 103, its also has a Shelter 501 II, a DV 17D3 and an EMT TSD 15 sitting on a shelf.
lewm and smc, the M20FL Super was one of the MMs touted in Raul's very long post on MM cartridges, a few years ago when Raul was still held in high esteem by most Audiogon readers. ;^) Actually, I don't remember now if Raul was the one making favorable comments on that Ortofon or another responder?
But I'm curious Lew why you would refer to the M20FL Super as "such an unpretentious cartridge"? Many models recommended in that post were/are available for very modest money, compared to many popular new cartridges. And it had a modern nude, fine line stylus, so why single out the Ortofon as unpretentious?
Like several others there I ended up buying several recommended MM cartridges since many were inexpensive. In fact I accumulated so many I've still not listened to them all, including the Ortofon. So I'm sorry I can't offer further impressions. However, mine has a silver body, rather than gold.
I’ve been using DL103R low out MC with my Linn Axis for years and think that setup is the cat’s meow in terms of overall musicality (the best I have ever had and I’ve gone through many quality budget cart setups over the years) and would have to spend a lot to do better in that regard.
Others might have more exact experience but if the DL103 maches up within reason on paper, and the tone arm is at least moderate mass, I can easily recommend to give it a try.
Guys, thanks for the responses. My concern was pairing a low-output MC with a budget phono stage with 61dB gain and no loading options. I'll have to think about it before make a decision.
Jperry- the Rega Carbon is a super-basic cartridge, so I'm pretty sure that upgrading the cartridge is going to make a bigger difference than immediately buying a new tonearm. I will note your recommendations for the long-term if I decided to yank out the RB101.
I found this statement about DENON 103 pretty useful:
I have been using a denon 103r for about 5 months as my emt tsd-15 was being rebuilt in Germany. This is probably my least favorite cartridge of the ones that I have used in my system. My use of it was on a well tempered amadeus II into the Auditorium SUT designed for this cartridge and then into a Shindo Auriges MM. In direct comparison to my EMT I found it had limited dynamics and was somewhat flat sounding. I also like the benz glider HO and and clearaudio maestro better than the denon as well but these were used on different tables and systems so it is not really a direct observation but drawing on memory. I also very much liked the ZYX Airy-3.