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Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge

10 Reviews

Denon's Famous MC Cartridge

The DL-103 is a living legend in audio product history. Denon collaborated with the Japan Broadcasting Corporation Technical Research Laboratories in 1963 to make this extremely reliable, high performance low-output phono cartridge. As the first moving coil cartridge, the DL-103 will always be the standard of reliability in every aspect, even the price. From quality inspectors at EMI and Decca, to recording studios, broadcasters, and music lovers around the world, the DL-103 is synonymous with great sound. The mark of the Denon is excellent tracking, as pops and ticks are pushed farther into the sonic background.

Widely used in the past for broadcasting , the Denon DL-103 uses a high-quality nude, square shank meticulously mounted to Denon's own conical aluminum cantilever with a cross-shaped armature. This reduces mass such that rich tonal qualities are natural and convincing. This cartridge boasts independent moving coils, a flat frequency response, and a single-point suspension system.
  • Frequency response (Hz): 20-45,000
  • Output@1khz, 50mm/sec: .3mV
  • Output impedance: 40 ohms
  • Load impedance: 100ohms
  • Channel seperation at 1kHz: over 25db
  • Channel sensitivity: 1dB or less
  • Tracking tip: 16.5 micron special round solid diamond
  • Copliance: 5x10-6cm/dyne (100Hz)
  • Tracking force- 2.3~2.7g
  • Cantilever: aluminum, conical
  • Mass: 8.5g
  • Ratings & Reviews

    10 reviews

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    Amazing cartridge for the price. I am using it with the Isokinetik stabilizer. Deep bass, great soundstage, amazing details. The mids are a little laid back for my taste.



    I am using this cartridge in my Akito arm on a Linn table. This cart can sound blurry, without focus and detail when paid no attention to setup. I find the cart very sensitive to setup changes (VTA, overhang). When you get it right this cart sounds amazing, with nearly the same ammount of detail retrieval as my Audio Technica AT-OC9. But with better bass performance and musicality. The cart sounds great in the Akito arm without the need of extra weight and deserves an excelent phono stage. Give this one a change and experiment with VTA different Arc templates such as Baerwald and Lofgren. Good luck!

    Larry in Canada


    Purchased after reading several on-line reviews. Used in an ancient Technics direct-drive turntable, with passive Denon transformer [ordered from Japan via eBay] for impedance matching. Results are outstanding. An almost unbelievable transformation of the system. Amplifier: integrated YBA, with phono stage. Speakers: YBA [made in France]. For sure 5 stars, and an incredible value. Vinyl sounds unmistakably richer and more detailed than the YBA [$4k] CD player.

    P P Wilson


    I've been using the 103, and the 103PRO for about 5 years. This cartridge presents music exceptionally well, as a detailed , integrated performance. There is an industry tendency to sacrifice music performance for sound detail, especially where exotic stylus profiles are concerned. With the proviso that attention to detail in azimuth alignment, VTA, and lateral tracking error are all correct, this cartridge will sing, no question. My favourite, and yes, I do get to play with other , very high end stuff as well.



    I dare you to find a better sounding cartridge for the money. Only downside is it will have to go if I ever put an SME309 on my SL1200, as it needs a heavier mass tonearm. I am in no hurry though thanks to this cart.

    Craig Schmidt


    This cartridge is a steal. i have been using them for almost thirty years. i also use it in a technics sl1200mk2 with added counterweight. it sounds wonderful. what a bargain!



    I've gone back to the basics with Rega 2 and Michell arm. Wonderful combination. You don't need to spend more. A real bargain.



    Very satisfying once properly dialed in. Mounted on Technics Sl1200 arm with extra weights added to headshell and six coins added to rear of arm using new screw from Home Depot. This cartridge is old fashioned "stiff" and has to be used in a very heavy arm to give it something to "push" against. It will sound very lacking in bass if used in the typical super light arm of today. My install looks very factory stock unless you notice those are coins added behind the counterweight, lol. I opted to use a step up transformer from K and K and experimented with six different loading resistors looking for the smoothest clearest sound...voila! This cartridge is everything they say it is---for the price it is amazing, very rich, involving and deep taut bass without any screechy "moving coil" nasties. My Sl1200 has a wire upgrade in the arm and I use very high quality interconnects everywhere. As a result the sound has lots of "bloom" and very palpable tactile realism where big viol;ins like cellos and basses practically exude reach out and touch it realism. Gotta buy some spares in case these get hard tio find like in the old days...

    A musical instrument


    I have a lot of cartridges, MM and MC (both LO and HO). I keep coming back to the 103 because it makes music. There's just something about this cartridge. It's not the last word in detail but the midrange is fantastic. It doesn't sound clinical like some carts, it just sounds like music. My favorite by a mile.

    Listen with your ears, not your wallet


    Its cheap it sounds good. I've had many dealers tell me that a conical is garbage and that I'm ruining my records etc. However, I've tried all sorts of cartridges and I get 95% of what the most expensive one offered for much less money with the Denon. I doubt its ruining my records either.