What's your "buy one of these and get it re-tipped" cartridge suggestion for a DL103 fan?

I have a microline retipped DL103 and I'm thinking of getting another cartridge. I have a 103 C1 that I may send away but I'm looking for other suggestions. Are there obtainable gems out there that I'm not aware of? 
I'm interested in this thread as I'm a Denon DL-103 fan myself. That thing has a really good generator in it, takes well to upgrades.That said, there are some folks in here that will tell you that it's stupid to put any money into a cart as lowly as the DL-103 and your better off buying a more upscale cart. Well, I have several DL-103 carts, one stock, a DL-103 in a wood body with a hyper elliptical and a DL-103S with a fine elliptical. Sitting on the sidelines waiting are a DL-103D and a DL-103R that need to go to Steve at VAS as well. The most I have ever paid for any variant of a DL-103 with a damaged or missing cantilever is 80 bucks. So even if you dump another couple of hundred into it, it's way less than any comparable cart. Plus the undeniable fact that the DL-103 is such a musical cart and retains that trait through various upgrades.

I've acquired an Audio Musikraft shell that uses the DL-103 or 103R.  There are multiple versions - I bought the bronze shell that weighs 21 gm. It's one of the best sounding Denon mods I have come across - in fact it's made the Stereophile Class A list for the last couple of years. All good things come at a price though, but if your table/arm can handle the weight, it's definitely worth it IMO. It truly brings out the capability of the Denon - it can give some of the higher end carts a run for their money. I look at it as an investment - no need to wait for lengthy retips anymore.  

More info below. Not affiliated with Audio Musikraft - just a satisfied customer.

The "Tunable" Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 Phonograph Cartridge (positive-feedback.com)

First Series Cartridges - Audio MusiKraft
@rdk777 Thanks but this is the kind of outlay I’m trying to get away from. I’m looking for great sounding reasonably priced cartridges to retip. A neighbor  mention the Yamaha MC1. Going to do some research on that....
I did something like this, buying a Shure V15 Type IV with no stylus and replacing it with a JICO SAS.  I think it was a little over $300 all-in.
I started with a stock 103 for $229.

I read about the various tweaks WRT aluminum/wood head-shell mods and learned what made each one work.

After some thought - I then applied a simple DIY mod of my own...

For $12.50 - it was a no brainer, but it was one of the most rewarding improvements I have made in my entire system.

I then purchased a Soundsmith Modified 103 (around $600) - with the O.C Contact Line stylus on a Ruby Cantilever. Again, I applied the Brass plate to this cartridge - it has been in my system ever since.

Since that upgrade, I have replaced my amp with a much better model and replaced all of my cables - and the 103 kept pace with those two upgrades and really show off just how good it really is !
- I have no thoughts of replacing it

I still have my original 103 with the spherical stylus - but that will get the re-tipping treatment when the existing one shows signs of wear.

My arm is an Audiomods Series III, which uses a Rega arm tube, so some additional mass on the cartridge was really needed - the brass plate proved to be perfect.

One person commented that I could have simply added some weight, but that would have dome nothing to stiffen up the case of the 103 like epoxying the brass plate did.

A lot has been said about the 103 and lots of people believe there are better options available. But after my mods i can see why so many people tweak this cartridge.

The only "gripe" I have with the Soundsmith O.C Contact Line stylus is that it requires EXTREME PRECISION to set it up properly, so you really NEED a mirrored protractor and if possible - a very young set of eyes to get it right.

For my next stylus upgrade, I might settle for a Shibata stylus, which might not be as PICKY with the setup. But taking that route - I might have to live with a little less detail - but I’m okay with that also.

I find the Denon 103 to be one of the most enjoyable and musical cartridges I have tried and re-tipping a standard 103 is - the icing on a very nice cake!

Hope that helps

Regards - Steve

Are there obtainable gems out there that I'm not aware of?

Of course there are, but you did not mention the budget. 

I’m all for 103 and 103R, Mine too was a Soundsmith. Three total
Denon 110. 103, and a 103R.

I’ve only set up the 103 on a SME 3012 II, on a TD124 I

The 103 R is going on a 3009 II, Thoren TD124 II

110 is going on a Jelco 750E, doing broadcast duty... Russco.

I just looked, it was 1130.00.. WOW 4 years ago..


I'd like to keep the cartridge and the retip under $800.

Wow, why don't you just buy unused ART-9 then ? 

A friend has one and I am trying to get away from that sound. Great cartridge but I already have a Decca Super Gold with a paratrace stylus that sounds similar, but better to my ear. I’m trying to find more of a less is more cartridge like the DL103.
I was right there w/chakster thinking an NOS AT OC9 III would be ideal for funny money.

Maybe a Hana EL could be considered.

When I first heard that cartridge after installing it on my VPI Scout, I made a comment that it was never coming off. Very impressive in its own right.
boothroyd, have you spent time with the Denon DL-103? How does it compare to the Hana? There is a certain musical quality to the DL-103 that a lot of carts lack, instead they are very detailed and sterile or clinical by comparison. Nothing wrong with that, if that's what you want. Sort of like comparing early Audio Research preamps to more modern Audio research preamps.

Very little. While I do have a DL103R, my lack of a tonearm over 9” makes conical/spherical styli pickups less than optimal. 

The Hana EL is anything but clinical and while it does slightly sacrifice “meat on the bone” in the bottom octaves by comparison, the alnico magnets of the Hana EL make for an organic presentation with musicality over ultimate detail and transparency. The nude elliptical stylus just works much better for my scenario.

Hope this helps.