What turntable and TONEARM brands sound best with the Denon DL103 and DL 103R? MC's


Need some recommendation for turntables with TONEARMS that provide the best sound quality with either the Denon DL103R ( retail $379) or Denon DL103 ( retail $229) MC's cartridges.

Is there a major difference in sound quality between the two LOMC's??

Thank you, SJ

sunnyjim
The first question, as usual, is what is your budget? These low compliance carts require a high mass tonearm for best results. An idler-drive table, 12" heavy arm and DL-103 is the very definition of synergy.
Thomas Schick "12 tonearm made for Denon 103 if you’re looking for new tonearms for reasonable price.

About 103 vs 103R: the difference is stylus tip and coil wire, the "R" is superior compared to 103, but if you want even better look for higher compliance vintage 103D which does not require heavy tonearm to perform at its best.

Cartridge does not require a specific turntable, good cartridge works on any good turntable. Dedon made fantastic direct drive turntables, most of the Japanese broadcast studios equipped with direct drive like Technics Sp10mk2 etc. Denon 103 was made for broadcast use along with DL-107 (MM alternative of DL-103).  

p.s. you can easily google all info about denon variations and tonearm matching, this is not an exotic item with no info about it, tons of information online. 

@sunnyjim Are you giving up on the U-Turn already? We didn't get a post of your evaluation of it as you promised. Thought your plan was to use the Ortofon 2M then replace it with a Denon 110? Did you try those and decide to back up the plan a step or two?
Is your budget still $1100?
Cheers,
Spencer
Yes- are you taking a U-turn sunnyjim (-:
Audio Technica ATP-12T can be had for not a lot of money and works
very well with the DL103.
For more money the AT 1503 and Fidelity Research FR64s.

Thanks to all who have responded

To fjn04, I have not decided to make a U-Turn....yet

To Spencer, I not giving up on the  U-Turntable, but  keeping the bullpen warmed up is my style ( maybe a bad one).  This turntable quest has had its "price limit" up and downs since it first begun I should take my own advice: "that you get what you pay for" (almost all of the time), and if you keep pushing the envelope, it will break on through to the other side. I think Jim Morrison said that..

Nevertheless, I  actually like the looks and sound of the turntable. It is quiet, spins smoothly, and appear stable with low wow and flutter. However, receiving the TT with a bad motor (that produced a hum during play) right of the box was not a incentive to keep it. However, UT replaced the motor and installation was easy, the hum seems to have disappeared or has been significantly reduced to be almost inaudible.

Caveats: The belt supplied with the TT is very difficult to install around the pulley and  the acrylic platter which seems fairly well made for a TT in this price range. The supplied RCA phono cables look antiques packed with 1970 era tape decks, and will be replaced soon.

Sound quality using the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is good to very good. The soundstage is wide, but depth is just average. Imaging is better than  above average, and not furry around the edges of voices or instruments with.an acceptable amount of  air around the instruments.

The cartridge/ tonearm interface work well enough to produce good tight bass with little to no overhang. Clarity  overall is good, but gets less so in the upper mids  and lower treble range.

I have used 2M Red cartridge before on a Rega P3-24 TT which I sold 4 years ago when the downsize devil popped up again. Therefore, I can again identify the limitation of the 2M Red, even in the U-Turn tonearm which is probably  not equal to Rega's 301b arm on the P3-24 table.

Overall, I would recommend this table to budget-minded audio system builders, which I said to myself during yesterday's  LP listening session. I think I can push the performance and sound quality envelope  of the TT with the Denon DL-110 which I mentioned before. Based on a few reviews of the Denon DL-103 and DL103R, the DL-110 is less of a hassle to install and calibrate, and  lighter than the bigger brothers at 8.5gms each.  Cheers, SJ  

 

Do you get a chance to listen to many others' systems, hobbyists and/or dealers? If you can describe other rigs that met your needs better, that might put it in perspective. 
If you plan to change tables because you love the sound of 103R or 103, well tell us about the rig that it impressed you on. 
I still think that is a cart before the horse approach and you should choose table(& arm in this price range) as most important and costly, then get a cart that suits the table/arm. Cheers,
Spencer 
The fact that Ortofon 2M Red is very popular and the Ortofon is one of the biggest manufacturer today, it doesn’t make this cartridge any better even compared to their own (vintage) M20 FL Super. 

$250-300 Stanton 881 (with Stereohedron stylus) will put it in a shame for less money. I already posted here about this case, it was direct replacement for my local friend. After hearing Stanton 881s mkII in his system his new Ortofon 2M Red was removed and he said he’s gonna sell it as it was a day and night in sound compared to Stanton 881 Stereohedron. I’m a big fan of stanton cartridges and my own Stanton CS-100 WOS is my favorite MM.

To sbank,  No, I have not checked out audio other dealer, or hobbyist's w  analog set-up that impressed me.  But, your last point is well taken and good advice. Unfortunately, I have not visited many audio shops since I left Honolulu, Hawaii in 2014 which were convenient to travel to. Los Angeles county where I currently live is a huge place. Most, if not all the decent high-end audio shops are in the western half the county where there are many rich communities like Santa Monica and West Hollywood, just to name a few. 

So for the time being or maybe permanently, I will stick with the U-Turn TT, and 1)  am replacing the antique phono cables that came with the table with  Audio Sensibility Impact SE phono cables recommented by a member in another threads  2) after evaluating the new phono cable, will eventually replace the 2M Red cartridge with something.....probably the Denon DL-110 HOMC. or possibly the Stanton 881  MM  recommended by .chkster  (see above)

To chkster,  (see above your comment). Thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out. I have not owned a Stanton cartridge( 681EE). since 1973 when I replaced  the Shure cartridge on Garrard SL-95B turntable. I still have the small metal embossed box with the Stanton logo that came with the cartridge  Very handy!.  It stored mounting screws, and later was used to store B&W speaker jumpers, and at times, partially  unfinished  little "doobies" misnamed "roaches"  Shame on me.  But I was living in San Francisco and the Sky, (or better) the "The High" was limit .... LOL ...... SJ.   


.    

@sunnyjim Are you familiar with the LA & Orange County Audio Society? It's probably the largest audio club in the country. You'd be well served to attend some events, meet some local audiofools and go listen to their turntables. Then you will in a better position to make some of these decisions without relying only on the writings of others. Cheers,
Spencer 

To sbank,  Yes, I am familiar with that Audio Society but have not attended  any of their meetings. Occasionally, they have them at  different audio shops in Pasadena which is not far from where I lived in L.A. Metro area.


BTW, I meant to ask you about a comment you made about the "Spin Clean" record cleaning machine. I think you said it would work better than cleaning LP's with a MF liquid clearer and brush. I have seen it, and  is reasonably priced even for the Deluxe model. 

However, I never paid much attention to record machine cleaners because I had a "Record Doctor" unit about 15 years ago that really did not offer much cleaning.  Do you have a "Spin Clean" system or know of people who owned them??     Thanks, SJ 

https://www.audiogon.com/listings/tonearms-denon-da308-a-fantastic-vintage-tonearm-2017-02-24-analog...

This one was specifically made for the DL103 - have 4 of them :-)

Good Listening


Peter
Just get a turntable with a Jelco 750 9", 10" or 12" whatever you desire. This is absolutely the best value in audio these days.  Perfect match for low compliance MC carts.   If the Polytable is out of your budget, get a vintage DD for it.  I have one mounted to a Technics 1210mk2 and it is superb.  I have also mounted one on a Kenwood KD500.  These combos should make you forget about the U-turn.
Rotarius,

Fully agree on the Jelco arms they are a fantastic value, and work very well with the DL103 too.

Good Listening


Peter

I agree with the Jelco 750's synergism with the Denon DL 103 and even the 301II. I have 2 turntables [18 cartridges] on which  many cartridges work quite well, not to mention the ease of changing cart's with the Jelco's detachable headshell Jelco tonearms, are my favorites with my 2 Denons, plus they come with 2 counterweights to accomodate less compiant and more compliant phono cartridges and are comparatively inexpensive.
I love the last three posts and earlier on suggested a Technics 1200 with mods to the OP. The Jelco arm being a perfect example of such upgrade. The audiomods arm is another interesting design that I haven't had a chance to hear but looks worthy of further investigation. 

@sunnyjim Yes, I know people with the Spin Clean who like it. It's not going to do the job like an Ultrasonic, or similar, but it looks like the lowest cost non-DIY way to take your cleaning to the next level. 
Many are upgrading their rcm these days, and used VPI 16.5s are plentiful(I sold mine a few months ago too). They are a notch above the Spin Clean and built to last, but at a high cost. Cheers,
Spencer
@ Chekster: About 103 vs 103R: the difference is stylus tip

NO! The Stylus and cantilever are the same. The difference is just coil material and output impedance.
@breezer 
 
NO! The Stylus and cantilever are the same. The difference is just coil material and output impedance.

Sorry, my mistake.
It's Denon 103D that comes with more refined elliptical stylus tip. 
Personally i would avoid any cartridge with conical tip, i was so disappointed with new conical Ortofon SPU Classic GM mk2 that i bought based on review. Later i realized it's definitely not my kind of sound. Same with MM alternative of DL103, which is DL-107, made for NHK Japan as their official studio broadcast cartridge. Good cartridge (maybe even better than 103), but their super-duper polished conical tip does not sound as good as shibata imo. 

To the 3 responders who recommended the Jelco tonearms..

 1) Is there a major audible difference between  the models: Jelco 750

     and Jelco 250? 

  2)  If so, can you describe the difference?

  3)  Unfortunately, I am not a DIY guy, and am not sure I need to push

      the analog envelope that far, but I believe what you say about the  

      sonic benefits of a quality separate tonearm..

      If I decide to  improve upon the U-Turn table. I will just sell it and look

      for a better table with included arm.    Thanks, SJ 

@sunnyjim 
The 750 is supposed to be better but I can't say how much better.  The 750 has a reservoir for damping fluid, the 250 does not.  The 250 is more suitable for high compliance carts than the 750.
There are TT manufacturers that will sell you a turntable with a Jelco.  Avid, GEM Polytable and Edwards Audio come to mind.  Avoid Edwards, I had a bad experience and they are overpriced for what they are.
I use a Technics SL-1210MKII with a 9” Jelco 750 arm. The set-up is used with a Denon DL-103r which was modified with a hardwood body. The 103r replaced a stock DL-103. The 103r is slightly warmer and has a fuller presentation than the 103.

I performed the arm change out and cartridge modifications myself. It was fairly easy, thanks to a few Youtube videos and forums like this.

Take a look at the SOTA turntables web page, they will sell you a new TT and you select an arm from their menu. Yes, they carry the Jelco 750. I’ve never heard any other Jelco’s arms so I won’t comment.

Good Luck!
My dealer carries Jelco, and says the 750's superiority over the 250 is easily heard. The price difference is relatively small, which should make the choice easy for most.