REVIEW: Soundsmith Denon DL103

The decision to purchase this cartridge took a considerable time to evaluate...
- exactly how much better was it over the stock DL103?
- although more revealing, it would probably reveal more issues with some of my older pressings?
- what about setup? - is it as easy as a spherical stylus?

Well - it is SO MUCH better than the stock DL103 - no comparison! But it still retained the very nice balanced performance the stock DL103 has always delivered - it just had more of everything!

More revealing in so many ways - the worst of which effects albums that are not in premium condition - now I know which albums are in serious need of replacing.

Setup has taken on a whole new level of precision. The more precision you apply in cartridge setup - the more magnificent this cartridge sounds.

The hi-end details are superbly clean and crisp, with a smoothness that has me believing it is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.

Low-end control is tight, with textures I had never heard before.

Mids are full bodied, warm and extremely textured.

Imaging is considerably deeper than the stock DL 103 and the venue acoustics had me believing I was in the performance.

Orchestral pieces convey an enhanced spacial awareness in depth and width across the entire orchestra - just as in a live performance

Now, I didn't have Soundsmith mod an existing cartridge, but I would assume the improvements the Ruby cantilever makes would apply to them also.

Not really anything new here - most other reviews report similar findings - but my comments apply to the venerable Denon DL 103!

I have an Audiomods Arm which uses a Rega Arm Tube, so I did need to augment the effective mass with a brass head-shell spacer/weight - but what an improvement!

I think Soundsmith's advantage lies in their Ruby Cantilever, which conveys extremely fine details in a very controlled manner.

If you are undecided about a Soundsmith mod - come on in - the details are incredible.

One of the best value upgrades I can think of

Ph - I opted for the standard plastic body with the Ruby OC/CL stylus. Just testing the waters at present.

I applied my own brass baseplate which allows for firmer mounting without stressing the body.

I figure that was enough for starters - perhaps I'll upgrade in a year or two :-)

Is the boron cantilever that much better than the Ruby?
Does Thomas have a faster turnaround time than Soundsmith?

I'll definitely keep an eye out for your review

I have the same cartridge with the addition of the compliance upgrade. I concur with your assessment.

Williwonka, Boron is not nessesarily better. Schick also does a saphire cantilever ~ saphire is the same material as ruby. corundum. Ruby just has a bit more trace iron and magnesium that gives it the pinkish color ~

I opted for boron because it's bit more robust (the ruby/saphire is very delicate and will snap before it bends) and the fine line because it's less of a battle to set up properly.

My ss retiped 103 is ruby w/ line contact not the OLC. I never felt the need more grove detail.

I seek an emotional sound rather than extreme detail ~ I also love to find and play old records that some would not think of puting on their tt.

And, yes. Turn around time is two~three weeks rather than 3~4 months.
PH - thanks for that detail - maybe I'll opt for Boron when I get my old DL-103 reworked down the line. It will be interesting to hear the difference

I too was concerned about playing old records, but fortunately most of mine in relatively good shape and I haven't noticed anything really bad so far

All this info is great to tuck away for future reference

Many Thanks to everyone :-)
Willie, Just peeped your system. Nice! Your tt and arm can do a bangin job! I suggest : a potted midas or ebony body and/or the Mapleshade tonearm resonance kit.