Denon DL-110 Phono Cartridge
Hi-fi World Review of Denon DL-110Perhaps it's because Denon provides cartridges to NHK (Japanese radio) that the Denon DL-110 is best described as having a "broadcast" balance. Walton's Belshazzar's Feast sounded like a good, spacious live broadcast, with plenty of depth, a fair degree of ambience, good tonal color and lively dynamics; true diminuendo and crescendo. . . The Denon produced an excellent balance of sound, particularly well-suited to acoustic jazz. It also made more than a fair stab at perspective, managing to keep pace with rhythm and time signatures.
Jerry Raskin Comments on Denon DL-110The owners manual claims in both English and Japanese 1.6mV of output, but when I tested the cartridge it produced 2.2mV. That's the difference between an easy-to use and tweak cartridge. I've always suspected the output was higher then claimed. . . Best diamond stylus in its price range. Under a microscope, it looks like a 100% nude, square-shank diamond with a very fine cut similar to cartridges costing twice the price. I love it.
Ratings & Reviews
by Bill Nolan
I would buy this one again and again! Absolutely fantastic cartridge! I didn't know my stereo could sound so fine. I don't think that this same amount of money invested in any other component would have made as much of a difference.
Very decent sound for little money. Clean and open, if a little unrefined.
by John B
My quest to find the perfect table with the right cartridge stopped with the Denon DL-110. I spent time with the Ortofon Red, the Audio-Technica 120 E and the Denon DL-110 cartridges and the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, Music Hall MMF 2.2 and Pro-Ject RM1 Carbon tables. The final decision was tough, but I am sticking with the RM1 Carbon and the DL-110, at least for a while. Initial though, if you could take all the bad of the Ortofon Red and the Audio-Technica 120 E, the Denon DL-110 corrects them all. If you could take all the good from the Red and the 120 E, I wish that was present in the Denon. Ok, what a forgiving and neutral cartridge. This is the absolute strong point of the Denon DL-110. I’m a huge death metal fan, and this cartridge tracks vinyl better than any other needle I’ve ever laid on a record. Let’s start there. The Ortofon was lost in blast beats, the Audio-Technica could reproduce them, but the Denon made them sound like they were hear just for this cartridge. Zero muddiness on my Cannibal Corpse, Opeth, In Flames, The Haunted and All That Remains vinyls. The moving coil aspect just makes this thing track super-fast. Imperfections on a record? No problem! My copy of Jimmy Buffett’s Son of a Son of a Sailor has been spun more than any other vinyl I own. This thing didn’t miss a note with the pops and cracks of my vinyl. It missed (to toss out a number) about 70% of what the Ortofon would find, and was an improvement still over the Audio-Technical. My warped copy of Storm Corrosion was reproduced flawlessly, this needle didn’t seek out any issues on it. I never have felt that the Denon seeks out static, it is just a very forgiving cartridge. Stereo separation, a lot better than the Ortofon, but second to the Audio-Technica. The sound stage is wide and open. But, as I walk around, there are certain things that slightly bother me that I never heard with the 120 E. Here’s the catch, I can’ put my finger on it. Where I do find a little bit of lacking is the overall warmth of this cartridge. If there is one downfall, it lies here. This cartridge is flat and neutral. End of story. Let’s discuss sheer sound reproduction. Traditionally speaking, the European method of recreation of the sound line is flat. Do not color the sound, you need to hear it the way it was created. The opposite end of the spectrum is the Americanized version of the sound line, the Bose method (if you will). Color the heck out of the frequencies and attempt to make it appealing to the masses. Then there is what I like to call the Canadian approach, add a slight coloration to the sound line, enough to keep it nearly true to the original wave length or frequency, but add enough to just slightly make it more pleasing to the ear. That’s the shade of grey I generally fall into. I have never mentioned my audio set up in any of my reviews. I run the Energy, prior to Klipsch, speakers. (*personal opinion, before Klipsch tarnished the Energy name). I have the Energy Veritas 2.2s on a Yamaha RX-A1020 receiver. I listen to a lot of death metal, progressive metal, progressive rock and then there’s the ambiance, folk music and symphonic music that I listen to. Warmth, the Denon DL-110 does not have it. I am running this on the RM 1 Carbon turntable direct through my receiver’s phono input. In the near future, I’ll add a tube pre-amp to address the lack of warmth. Here’s the catch. I mentioned the above for a reason. If you’re in that category of enjoying a total reproduction of the sound line as true as can be. This cartridge is flat out for you. If you’re looking for that added warmth to the sound line to make it a tiny bit more pleasing to the ear, this cartridge doesn’t have it. It is sterile and boring to say the least. But, it is the best cartridge to reproduce your record collection as they vinyl is meant to be heard. Overall, I like the Denon DL-110, but I do not love it. We’ll see where that changes after the addition of a pre-amp. However, this cartridge is fast, tracks well, gives very true and neutral sound and is well worth the additional money over the Ortofon Red and Audio-Technica 120 E. I am going to rate this at a 4.25 star rating or a middle “B” the same as I gave the 120 E. However, I’m happier to have the Denon over the Audio-Technica on my turntable. The decision you need to make is it worth two times the price of the Audio-Technica and do you want the added warmth? Both are wonderful choices and neither offers a clear advantage over the other, in my humble opinion. -John
I love my DL- 110, great sound.
Very good neutral, detailed sounding cart, not the best tracker for my stock Technics sl 1100 but a good fit for the sound that goes out. On my other 1100 with Jelco 250 tonearm, it sounds much different, bringing the mids too much in front on my system and sounds just too analytical for my taste, maybe not the best match for my system, but those who crave for a detailed mid and mount this cart on a Jelco will love it.
Great cartridge , I had the Goldring 1042 fitted before so I was slightly skeptical about there being a improvement but boy was I so wrong. So glad I read the reviews on here first. Thank guys
by yannick Guilbeault,Canada,Qc.
Excellent company, overall a smooth transaction. This cartridge is the best match with technics tonearm, so i mount mine on a modified technics sl-Q2 .... the sound is clear and just smooth.The bass is punchy without highs and mids Being muddy.They are in the right place in the room, very pleasant to listen to. Pink Floyd The Wall is almost 3D .... a very nice soundstage. if you are looking for a cartridge that sound true and classy ... this is the one. And my advice to you is buy 2-3 if you like it, Because They already discontinued the denon dl-160 ... next on the list is the denon dl-110..._ ...
Bought this cartridge because of a friend's recommendation. I was shocked to find that I prefer the DL-110 over my Ortofon OM 20. The highs are very good but as crystal clear as the Ortofon - the bass, however is much better! Tight, punchy and much more detailed. This cartridge is a great buy.
by Dimche Ivanoski
Wow...now the records are alive. The neutral sound, the clarity it amazes me. The siblance is gone.....sounds natural, neutral. The imaging is excellant. Firstly I tried it on MM setup in my amp a it was ok as it was stated that will work fine with MM pre amps, but the magic happened on MC pre amp. The sound stage is excellant. Could not compare to my previous shure realistic and stanton 500 broadcast. It can be compared to much more expensive carts. If you in think about this cart, do not think, just go for it. You will be supprised in very positive way. And at the end I am very gratefull to Brad and the whole team at needle doctor.
I write this review, partly because I’m so blown away, and because I want to share what I’ve learned. I’m a wann-be audiophile, with modest stuff, searching for sonic nirvana. I’ve finally found it. I got out the old turntable last year, and have been tweaking it for months. After an on-line dealer told me not to buy a new one and just get a good cartridge, I decided to do just that. The cart in the table was a Grado Black. Unfortunately, it sat in the head-shell in the attic for 15 years, and when I resurrected the table, it was dead. There was no life to the music. I deduced the magnets began to degrade and it needed to be replaced. I did a lot of research, and everyone was recommending the AT95E for my turntable, so in one went. It was ok… nothing to write home about, my nice Denon CD player killed it, and I just wasn’t satisfied. So I began working on the table. Total rebuild. New spring dampers, new cast aluminum head-shell (for damping resonance) thick rubber tape under the deck and platter for the same reason, granite slab on Sorbothane to kill the stand resonance, and so on… I also did a lot more research, and heard awesome things about the Denon DL-110 cart. Well, it came the other day. I spent a good hour adjusting balance, cant, overhang and angles. What I can say is, from the moment it hit the vinyl, I could tell. Not 10 seconds later… immediately. There was a life to my system I have never heard before. My CD player comes close, but never before have I had this abount of sound out of the turntable. Now I know the meaning of Airiness and Clarity. Of Wide Separation. Of Height. Of 3 dimensional sound! I now have to back off of the bass and treble. People mention how “easy” this cart is to listen to…. My gosh, the S’s are now perfect. No more overdone “sss” that was on all my vinyl. All my efforts over the years, and I was missing one piece of the puzzle. I never thought my old table, which I bought new in 1973, could ever be worthy of such quality sound! How disappointed I am, that for all these years, I wasted my time and pleasure on what I thought were decent cartridges. If you’re even considering buying this cartridge… go for it. Even though it’s a Moving Coil cart, it’s a High Output and plays perfectly thru my MM phono stage on-board my amplifier. (cart rated at 1.6mv but actually measures at over 2mv) The volume knob is only about 15% higher than normal, a perfect match. I’m so excited, I ordered a Cambridge 651P Pre-amp. A friend of mine loaned me an old Parasound, and it was a little better than my on-board amp, so on again to the quest for sonic nirvana!!!! My Stuff; 22 year old Pioneer Elite Receiver / Class A amp 100 watts RMS per chnl 0.03%THD $500 new 18 year old Denon CD player $450 new 41 year old Pioneer PL-12D Turntable $100 new / Denon DL-110 Cartridge $139 new 42 year old RTR #HPR-12 Tower Monitors (12” woofs, 12” passive, 5” Mids, 1” Dome Tweeters) 20-20Hz Paid $1200 new for the pair in 1973! One year old Infinity #P363 Towers (6” woofs, 6” passive, 5” Mids, Dome Tweets… awesome for $100ea!) See my review on these! Not as good as the RTR’s but damn nice for the money! 15 year old Monster #HTS-3500 Power Protection $150 new 2 year old Samsung 46” #8000 LED TV (it Rocks!) Do not buy Samsung under #7500! Insane Resolution!! 2 year old Universal Remote #URC-R50 $180 new (another stellar performer!)
I am using this Phono cartridge with my Phase Linear turntable. The sound clarity was unbelievable. It makes wonder why I ever bought CDs. I am so glad I found this website. I also bought a Pro-Ject pre- amp to use with this cartridge. I am sure this made some of the difference too. I would recommend this phono cartridge to any one.
by Jeff D.
I just got back into vinyl after thirty yrs of cassettes then CD's. This is my third cart and all I can say is WOW! I thought my recent purchase, a Denon DP 45f was just an outdated table. This DL110 smokes my 2M red and brought my vinyl to life! Its not even broke in yet! Already it's smoother and more articulate. The bass is tight and well balanced with the rest of the music. Great job Denon!
I've previously used Goldring Elan, Ortofon om5E and Ortofon 2M Red in my system (Technics 1210, Roksan Kandy L111 Amp, Dali Ikon speakers). This Denon wipes the floor with all of them, albums which previously sounded dynamically flat have now come to life, cymbals and 'S' sounds which used to fizz are now crystal clear, the difference is night and day, highly recommended.
Without a doubt my favorite cart. This is what analogue is about. Smooth, engaging, lush, punchy, vivid, spacious, non fatiguing. most of all extremely fun and a joy to listen too. priceless i say... regards, a fussy audiophile.
The DL-110's performance to price ratio is huge. Nothing in this price range can touch this cart's performance. The sound is neutral, detailed, wide frequency range, deep soundstage and very natural. Surface noise is reduced compared to my AT95e & M97XE. Highly recommended.
Possibly the best cartridge value out there. This cartridge is far better sounding than a couple of more expensive Ortofon MM carts I have owned. It is forgiving of less than perfect vinyl and does a good job of combatting surface noise and distortion.
I have used this cartridge for several years with my Denon DP-300F turntable. It has a big, open, generous sound. So many non-audiophile guests have told me they can't believe they're hearing vinyl playing because it sounds too good, it's too clear and quiet. This isn't a totally neutral cartridge, but it just about everything sounds great through it. At the price what more could you ask for?
Dave H North Carolina
by Dave H North Carolina
Was using a Grado Red and was not happy with the mid-range and just overall quality of sound..Purchased the DL-110 after reading numerous postive reviews. I have a Technics SL-1200 MkII turntable and a V-LPS pre. I love the soundstage and level of detail this inexpensive cart provides. If you are on a budget this one should merit serious consideration!
Sounds fantastic on my Denon DP-47F. It looks beautiful too. Worth every penny.
Remarkable performance, maybe 94% up the scale! Top quality enviable construction especially cantilever and diamond. Generous tracking ability. Balanced tone free from treble emphasis. Orchestral bells true to life. Jazz direct to disc perfectly presented including the cymbals and high energy trumpet. Bested only by DL-301-II, or higher. Remarkable value instantly distinguishable from M97xE or Grado Gold. Alive and distnguished.
The cartridge shows more air and openness compared to my Ortofon cartridge. The reverb tail on voices are more present and noticeable. The stereo image is quite larger too. In conclusion, the DL-110 is really more musical. The only downside lies with the output signal which is lower by 6db. But I don't have any problem to compensate for it. Thanks for your recommendation, Needle Doctor.
Bought this after reading great reviews here and elsewhere. Mounted it on Rega Planar 3 with new RB300 arm. The results were nothing short of amazing. Great response, sound stage etc. An absolute bargain
Wasn't really feeling the sound from my Shure M97xE, so I decided to give this cart a try. Wow. There's really hardly anything subjective about it at all, this thing flat-out sounds a LOT better. Doing an A/B comparison, the Shure sounds like there's a blanket draped in front of my monitors. Goodbye, Shure.
At this price what is your excuse for not having one? This cartridge is brilliant. Tracking at 1.5g mounted to a Rega RB250 on my Kenwood KD-500. Clarity, punch and dynamics are excellent. It excels at everything I have thrown at it and that is primarily indie rock, electronica, hip hop and reggae. Plenty of punch, power, dynamics and personality. Best of all - the reason I bought it - the resolution is awesome!
I've been back into tube audio for awhile, and had a nice Scott integrated amp rebuilt for use at home. When I decided to play around with vinyl again I focused on how I could get the most for the least, so to speak. First I found a decent Technics turntable on ebay, and then did significant searching for a cartridge that got excellent reviews for providing bang for the buck. I don't have much comparison to more expensive cartridges, but this thing sounds really, really good. Much better than any of the cartridges I had laying around from the good old days. On top of that I stumbled on a very nice pair of ADS speakers at Goodwill for 10 bucks each and I now have a system with excellent dimension, warmth and presence. Bottom line: IMO this cartridge earns all the positive reviews you'll find. Save your money for the vinyl :)