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First impressions: Denon DL-103

January 16, 2004

After having multiple thoughts about getting this cartridge, i finally took the plunge.

The importance of system matching hit me recently. When i upgraded my tonearm to the Eminent Technology 2.5 airbearing linear tracking arm, the Aurum Alpha cartridge changed its character. First, more detail can be heard now, without straining my ears. Second, it became sibilant - case in point is Never Been To Me by Charlene. I tried using the TS Audio phono preamp which reduces the sibilance, but is still very noticeable, albeit less annoying than before. So this prompted me to look for another cartridge, besides i've always wanted to "step up" to MC but they're expensive.

Installation:

Well, it took me less than 10 minutes to install it on my turntable and that includes setting the tracking force to the recommended 2.5 grams. It was really easy.

First Impressions:

The first few seconds of playing Stevie Ray Vaughn indicated a positive change.

As i play record after record, which included Isao Suzuki, Charlene, Maureen McGovern, Sergio Mendez & Brasil 66, 1812 Overture (Telarc version), i came up with the following list of improvements:

  • PRAT is excellent, it plays very lively
  • Detail has improved further, SANS THE SIBILANCE
  • Low bass improved

Although not an improvement since the Aurum Alpha is a great tracker at least in my system, the DL-103 did the same.

I was told the DL-103 needs 50 hours of breaking in, so that means there's something more to look forward to.

Great value for money. Thanks to Mickey for making this happen.

Equipment used:

  • Oracle Delphi Mk II, Eminent Technology 2.5 Airbearing tonearm
  • Musical Fidelity X-LP
  • JE Labs 2A3
  • Silver Audio Silver Bullets interconnects
  • Eichmann Cables speaker wire.