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...http://image99.net/blog/files/23c020f75290d3392577113371f4dc94-38.html
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