Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge
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. Read Full Review: Stereophile Listening #58 Denon DL-103 ($229): Audio maven extraordinaire Garth Philippe, who passed away in July, was among the most eloquent proponents of this simple, reliably musical device. (So, for that matter, is friend and fellow Listener alum Rob Doorack.) Gray-market samples were all we could get for a while, but thankfully the DL-103 is once again an official part of Denon's US product line. Like Bill Monroe's lost love, the DL-103 gives you body and soul—and it's a hell of a bargain. The Denon has an unusual combination of output and impedance specs, which are 0.3mV and 40 ohms, respectively. Its compliance is quite low, and its stylus profile is conical. Read Full Review: TNT Audio Review of Denon DL-103 As opposed to 'modern' sanitised hifi components the DL-103 sounds powerful and enthusiastic. The midrange thrives on instrumental timbres that seem correct and that, simply said, are beautiful to hear. Drums are tight, dynamic, and explosive, and as such, are one full notch above what I'm used to from more expensive cartridges. Read Full Review: Audiogon Denon DL-103 - DL-103R The sound of the regular DL103 is outstanding, and a super bargain at it's price point. Many have heard of it referred to as a super-cart, or giant-killer. And it is. It has the wonderful characteristic of allowing the music to come across as a composition, and not as a group of dis-jointed parts. Read Full Review: AudioReview.com Denon DL-103 Very good soundstage, very low noise level, good dynamics. This far outshines every comparably priced cartridge in its class and outperforms many costing multitudes more. Using an ADC test record, the DL103 clearly recreated 1K and 5K tones and when seperated left & right had no discernable crosstalk. Read Full Review: HomeTheaterReview.com Denon DL-103 At under £100, and working enchantingly, no, make that almost magically in a Rega arm, it has to be - after three-and-a-half decades - the entry-level moving-coil cartridge. Considering that in real terms it costs less now than it did in 1970, you are entitled to think of it as a blessing, a mitzvah, in these days of the 99p litre of petrol. So take my advice: buy one now, before it goes the way of the Shure V15. Or, even more likely, before Denon realises what it's worth and quadruples the price. Read Full Review: Positive Feedback - the Funk turntable and a few words on the Denon DL-103 cartridge However, I still have to look at the fact that the Denon sells for only $229. Based purely on its ability to make music on records sound great, and to mate up extremely well with the Rega arms, I have to think the DL-103 is one of the few true bargains in the hi-fi world. I'd say the new hot ticket has held that position for about forty-five years! Read Full Review: Denon DL-103 - a true classic mc cartridge The Denon DL 103 was developed by Nippon Columbia / Denki Onkyo (Den-on) and the japanese radio and television broadcast corporation NHK in 1962. This “standard” DL 103 is still in production. User Manual Denon DL-103
Ratings & Reviews
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
by 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
by 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.
by 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.