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06-08-2004 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 46
Reply to: 46
Denon 103: myths and the reality

Kids, do not let kids to subscribe the popular audio-freakish myths of the records spinning people about “the extraordinary beauty” of the Denon cartridges.  Yes, the myth has some reasons: many more expensive cartridges are bad, very bad for the money, but dose it make the 103 cartridges better? It dose but it does make them better only as a subject for a consumer report. Dose it make the 103 to sound better? Not really. The 103 have own quite ordinary sonic result an if they are better or worth relatively to some other cartridges then it might change only their relative value but not the absolute value (sound-wise). Pretty much the only advantage they have is a “normal” conical shape of the needle that is beneficial for playing some very few records.

The Internet is filled with the saliva drooling Morons that sing the hymns to the Denons 103 sound. Ironically most of them have no idea about a serious analog reproduction, or have no playback systems really capable to take advantages of the better cartridges or no personal cultural ability to understand or discriminate the shortcomings of the Denons 103. Yes, many of them will violently disagree with me but unfortunately (for the Denons) I stick with my visions about the Denon sound and will stick with my well-established perception of the comments of the numerous audio clowns.

There are many Denons. Some of them are horrible and some of them not necessary horrible. However, none of them are really great. Generally the Denons are $200-$300 worth cartridges and it is remarkably well portrays their place in the cartridges hierarchy. There are well more expensive cartridges and way more capable sonically. Denons cost $200-$300, and if we conditionally accept a rule (juts for a sake of the illustration) that a price has any relativity to sound then Denons sound exactly at the $200-$300 mark.

Yes, there are many Denons....

The simplest and the less expansive of them is DL103. This is plane-vanilla ultra-low-compliance cartridge with gray, no extreme, no colors…. natural sound. It stiff like hell and unit you have well over 35g of effective mass in your arm then better do not even touch this needle. Have you seen many 35g arms? My experience indicates that if a person was smart enough to abandon to use the junky-light arms then he will not wast a good heavy arm for a primitive sounding needles as DL103. Do you know what I mean? I’m hearing that the DL103 admirers scream that 103 is not a monochromic cartridge. Well, it is. What you, boys call colors and “quality” in 103 is a constant attack of the notes ten times sharpener then it should be. And please do not tell me the kindergarten stories about the using the correct arms and  the correct lodging of the cartridges….

DL103R in an “evolved” version of the DL103 with “better” extremes. Once again: yes and no. DL103R has all negative quality of the DL103, including the high tracking force (did you see many arms that allow to modify the horizontal tracing force: the eventual way to get anything out of the rigid 103R?) In addition to it the DL103R has too aggressive HF that you will not be able to subdue with any imaginable cartridge loading, damping or arms selection. The DL103R is even more poisoned and more “#” then 103.  If you have a full-range, single speaker driver (courtesy to Lowther, Fostex, Supravox, Jordan, Reps LES, AER, PHY-HP and other wishful thinking) that sound originally like my Cat when I step on her tail, then you may probably to preach about the “magnificent” HF of the 103R.   However, any people with ears, brain and the tweeters would be laughing.  The 103R should be avoided as well due to its high amusicality, artificially accelerated HF and insultingly sharp and fasten rolling of a note to it’s pitch... not to mention that none of the Denons ever produced any more or less serifs upper bass (that is super critical) without even mentioning any mod or lower bass, that is just impertinent.

Denon 103D. This cartridge had normal eliptical tracking and the normal compliance that allows playing it without any “tricks” with the “conventual” arms and without wasting the good old heavy arms for the mediocre sounding cartridges. It is better then the 103/103R… but it still sounding like “nothing”. I mean literally. When you remove from the 103 the stiffness of the suspension that converts each classical vocalist into a screamer, then the King turned out to be a quite naked: the 103D sound like the rest of the Denons only more lush and liquid, less problematic but still tonally too generic, none-discriminative, dynamically too gray and so on….

Denon 103M. The same as the 103D only 3 time less output and 3 time more vivid sound. However, it is still 3 times less “interesting” then it necessary. It is challenged humidity-wise and it has very questionable dynamics that was not able to recuperate even using the most advanced dynamic recovering methods that have in my disposal.

The Denon of 102, the mono cartridge has  too “confusing sound” and not good as well, despite of the cries of the Sakuma-like and the custom curve to cure the “strange” response imperfection.

Denon 103C. I have not had it. It is a conical stylus that is great for some old records but will it sound different then Denon 103D? I doubt. It will mechanically read the certain records better but the electrically it should sound the same.

There is at least dozen of other versions of the 103 cartages, some of them are very slightly different form others and another’s are just pure marketing BS. I did not have all of them what among what I have I feel let me make some conclusion.


So, where is the famous Denons “superb” sound? I did not see any. All that I have heard so far were the stories told me by the people with aluminum woofers, uranium tweeters and who told me that Denons are wonderful to position the audio-moron’s perpetual girlfriend Patricia Barber at 43 inches dorm the corner oh her piano. I do not listen the Patricia Barber and I do not care where she stays, in particularly (when the Barber’s voice and her piano were recorded in opposite absolute phase (as usually they do).

There is one Denon Cartridge out there that might be different but I never had: it is the Denon DL-S1. I do not know how about this $700 needle but… am I at liberty to have some prejudices?

Rgs,
Romy the Cat




"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
06-14-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 2
Post ID: 60
Reply to: 46
Denon 103: Amendment #1

Since the post above was posted I’ve receive a number of emails from the different people who complain about my use of word “Gray” while I described the 103 cartages.

Well, I am not completely comfortable with the word “gray” as well.  However, I did not use it as a deficiency of colors and did not mean to present it as an anti-Rimsky-Korsakov cartridge. :-)  I implied that 103 have low contributive-beneficial colors.

In context of the colors: the red via 103 is red; the density and the color contract are perfectly fine. The color is perfectly recognized by my as RED but it dose not affect me as RED. I would say that the 103 does not create red that might be associated with my perception of a full-grown apple, the color of blood, the dusk a day before storm or yeas of my Cats when she see tuna...

The 103’s Red (or the colors generally) is not red but they are “looks like red”. The same Shelter 901 for instance, might have more subdued absolute colors but the relative colors are way more powerful and way more perceptually beneficial.

There are many reasons why the 103 behave in this way (primary the dynamic harmonic deficiency) BTW, tt’s easy to detect the 103 “misery” at 2,3,4 levels.

So, my phrase “gray” should be interpreted as “no color results” instead or “low-colors”…

Rgs,
Romy the Cat



"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-04-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 180
Reply to: 46
Denon 103M

Hm, I just paid attention that over 1000 people  have reviewed this thread…

I’m keep receiving emails form people who feel “insulted” that I did not keep the popular DL103 and DL103R at the level of respect as it treated by those Audiogon intellectuals and other audio-lumpenproletariat that dominates Hi-Fi.

Yes, the “stiff” Denons with high VTF are bad, very bad and you will NOT be able to move them with high affective mass arm. I would not be able to explain to the most of the Audiogon-like audio hoodlums what exactly wrong with Sound of 103/103R as they have no sensibility, not remote comprehending of real sound ingredients and not civilized methods of audio evolutions.  Let them die with this pathetic secret…

If you are so desperate to stay with Denon family then stay with “soft” Denons: S1, 103D and 103M.

The 103D is not available anymore and it has as I said above quite gray and “cotton” sound. The top of the line S1 is quite expensive but it should be fine (I personally did not have it). The 103M is a new mystery for me.

I own 103M for a year or so and I made multiple attempts to deal with it. It is ultra low output (~.12mV... so, I use 74dB gain in RIAA corrector) and some kind of “very kinky” suspension. This cartridge is VERY different, constriction-wise, from any other Denons. It has superbly fluent and liquate sound with very strange and very attractive sense of peacefulness. However, it lucks some dynamics, actually quite sensibly and  has somehow challenged transient response. Recently I did find a way to make it a little bit more jumpy, to perform dynamic-wise almost OK and I am falling in love with it. I have been using the 103M for a few months now as my second or “ever day, casual needle” and I have to tell you that it is ||-so close to where it should be that sometime I do not bother to switch to the “better” arm/needle (but, do not fool yourself, the delta certainly is still there and sometime I do the switch)...

The Denon DL-103M is available from Denon for a little over $220 and I feel that it is a very much ultimate Denon among all that I had.

The image below is the Denon DL-103M playing the Ravel’s Concerto For The Left Hand via Andrey Gavrilov and Simon Rattle with London SO in 1978...

Rgs,
The Cat
 


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-17-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 218
Reply to: 180
Re: Denon 103M

I have recently received two CDs from a friend who owns a SME turntable, has been using a Van den Hul Colibrí cartridge, and for fun purposes, set up a DL-103 on it (which I own but still have to set up). I have been listening to both recordings, playing the same tracks from several vinyls ranging from rock to classical and jazz.

IMHO the DL-103 is everything Romy says. It is balanced, quite detailed, fast, but it doesn't have the harmonical richness of the Colibrí or the Frog I own, which I've also compared. Kind of gray scale. Perhaps it's not a bad cart for the money, in fact I've not been lucky to find a better sounding cart for the 120 euros it costs in Europe, but it doesn't make it outstanding.

When I set up mine, I'll come back with my direct impressions.

10-17-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 5
Post ID: 219
Reply to: 218
A rant about cartridges and everything else.

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Antonio,

I would like to point out that your replied to my post about the 103M cartridge. The 103 and 103M are totally different animals , even contraction-wise. In fact it is shame that they named them as they were the similar model number. Performance wise they are very different as well: the 103 is a cheap hi-fi cartridge, sort of fundamentals pusher, nothing more. The 103M is perfectly balanced everywhere but lacks dynamics and transient response.
Yet, they both are good for money but I do not like this “benefits”. I believe that the cartridges that perform better and that cost 7-10 times more expensive are grossly overpriced. There is not big difference between “good sounding” Koetsu Onyx and “bad sounding” Denon 103. Perhaps Koetsu Onyx has $30 worth most expensive material and a different constriction. However, if this Koetsu Onyx wouldn’t be manufactured by a "kinky Japanese grandfather" in his basement, 100 pieces per year, but by the Denon’s production and distribution force then the Koetsu Onyx would cost the same $200-$300.

There is a lot of BS going on in the cartridges world. When I hear about those new $5.000-$10.000 cartridge and about the idiots-reviewers that drool over thier performance (ironically when I go into the reviewer’s listing room I hear a sound that is mostly so pathetic that $100 worth MM Grado will be more then sufficient for their systems, I am not kidding) I really got disgusted by the fact that cartridges might cost so much.
I think the price of the cartages and the paranoia that the idiotic industry creates around the cartridges is one of the most revolting things in audio. The dealers charge 50%-70% over the cartridges price without providing ANY service. You go to a dealer, pay him for instance $7K but the dealer has no idea about the cartridge, no operating analog setup in-house, no ability to facilitate your education about the purchase and even not skills to support a conversation about this dame cartridge! After all, you have to share with him an extra $4000 juts because he is your "local distributor"! How different it from any other form of extortion?

The fun part that you do not even know what you buy (show me a dealer who has home-try cartridges!). The only thing that left to you is to be influenced by the “opinions” audio crowd that is mostly highly ignorant, exceedingly agendanized and has no commonly supported neither sound reproduction evaluation methodologies nor the skills to conduct those evaluation.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-19-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 6
Post ID: 220
Reply to: 219
Re: A rant about cartridges and everything else.

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Thanks for the comment, since I read your other post about the plain 103 and other 103 models, I decided to post my reply here, but it had been better in the other thread. I have no experience with the 103M and in general with phono carts. You're right, one has to have good luck selecting his cart since it's not possible to try them, so you need a trusty pal or a lot of good luck, but there's few people one can really trust these days, and surely they're not into the "audio bussiness".

I'm quite glad with my Frog, but once it dies, thing it will do, I'm thinking about a Shelter 901. I know you like it, but no friend of mine has it. Do you have any recommendations about the tonearm (eff mass, length, settings...)

Regards.

10-19-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 7
Post ID: 228
Reply to: 220
The tonearm Messiah is coming :-)

 Antonio J. wrote:
 Do you have any recommendations about the tonearm (eff mass, length, settings...)

Antonio,

I generally do not offer advisement about gear. I do not fine it pleasurable and generally it is not my style. 

By the way I am in few weeks will finishing (I hope) a project with my own custom version of one old “might be interesting” tonearm. I will be called  “The Chernobyl Spinnaker”. When it will be done I will post the phonographs and perhaps some description… if it perform well. At this point I have no idea how good or bad it will be. Currently the arm is being manufactured.

Rgs,
The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-20-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 8
Post ID: 231
Reply to: 228
Re: The tonearm Messiah is coming :-)

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Thanks Romy. I didn't ask for advice about brands or models, just knowing the technical features an arm should meet to work fine with the Shelter, the same you commented that the Denon needs high mass arms of about 30 grs.

I'll read your post, sounds very interesting.

Regards,
Antonio

10-20-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 9
Post ID: 232
Reply to: 231
About cartridges, tonearms and a “Big Conspiracy”

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Actually the popular stiff Denons (103, 103R) with compliance of 5 need no less the 35g of effective mass, but even this mass will not help them. The Shelter has a “normal” compliance, I do not remember how much exactly but I think that it is somewhere around 12. With this compliance you might use an “average” effective mass arms. However, I personally have a tendency to the heavier arms and I usually add at least 30% to the “calculated” values. Besides, I use contemporary comparatively light cartridges that are too light anyhow. For instance in my system the Shelter 901sits in SME 3012. The 3012 MKII I believe has somewhere around 14g of affective mass that makes it according to “rules” a perfect match. Now is the interesting part: you begin to add mass to the headshell and you observe sound – it will be better (way deeper lower bass, more richer harmonics in upper bass, better tractability and more “connected” HF to the rest of the music). I purely experimentally figured out the I need to add 16g to the standard SME 3012 headshell (as an alternative you might use the older MKI version of 3012 with heavier tube (affective mass) but I really hate the old 3012’s output connectors). I personally stuffed the 3012’s headshell with 16g of silicone patch…

Generally most of the cartridges will be hugely benefited by using heavier arms. But here is where the story about the “big conspiracy” kicks in: the contemporary manufacturers do not manufacture heavier arms. One of the reasons because the morons-audiophiles unable to appreciate anything else then their industry sponsored sharp and punchy sound with the famous “fashionably-ported” bass, or exactly what the light arms help to produce.

Make a trip to any show-room or to any privet installation of any industry conformist and you will hear the same immediately-aggressive, hi-fi sound.  I’m not saying that this sound comes only form the light arms but the light arms is one of the means to get “there”.

Most of the cartridge manufactures (who know what they do) intentionally manufacture crappie needles especially optimized to be played with  those light arms…. why?… because no one manufacture today heavy arms. I remember the Grado owner was laughing when I complained him about it. He told that he read all drooling industry reviews about his own cartridges but those industry “professors” were completely clueless that it was necessary to add 30g to their “high-tech tonearms” to get out of those Grados what they really could…

However, here is the catch: if you are a “reviewer” who extorted from a manufactured a free $3000 worth tonearm (along with a number of other “reimbursements”) in exchange to write a 2000 word of brainless worshiping about their new product then will you suggest to a “wonder expecting audiophile” that they should spend $3000 and then begin to fix the tonearm in order the tonearm produce a Sound Result instead of an Industry Sponsored Idiocy?

The answer is not pending. You will find the answer in each and single audio publication.

Rgs,
Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
10-22-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Antonio J.
Madrid, Spain
Posts 272
Joined on 08-16-2004

Post #: 10
Post ID: 234
Reply to: 232
Re: About cartridges, tonearms and a “Big Conspiracy”

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On its great majority, I share your opinion about reviewers and the audio industry goals and means. That's why I don't give a damn about their articles, but it's just entertainment reading them.

Have you tried teflon tape wraped around the tonearm's tube to increase eff. mass? I wonder if it has any audible effect increasing mass this way compared to adding the mass just at the headshell.

My current cart has a high compliance (about 30, the old model was 35) so it really needs low mass arms and it doesn't fit badly with my current arm, which has 11grs of eff. mass. I suppose that using a Shelter on it would require increasing mass substantially, and probably getting a heavier counterweight... don't know if trying this way is worth the effort or whether it would be better getting a more adequate tonearm.

Regards.

11-29-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
starboy
Posts 23
Joined on 09-10-2004

Post #: 11
Post ID: 320
Reply to: 234
Denon 103

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Well I'll 'fess up to the possible reason that this thread has had so many hits, I linked it to a thread on another site that has a few 103 owners (and remember for every owner there are many reading/waiting to become disciples due to the "legend" of this cartridge) I put forth the fact that the 103R which I once owned was okay in the context of its price point and linked your thread to throw some napalm to the fire.

I feel the fact that this cartridge is a broadcast cartridge is why many will purchase and assume if its good enough for NHK Japan, well it gotta be damn good. Well no. Alas there are some who will chase broadcast equipment of any nature good and baaaad.

Martin Colloms whom I respect tested the C and D in '79 and both didn't get a recommendation though the C did fair much better with concerns about sibilance and trackability limitations at high frequencies, together with some intolerance of disc distortion especially at end of side.

I used a 103R then tried a 103 which I preferred and will keep in my stable when my lady is in vinyl mode.

Koetsu Silver Onyx

Benz Micro MC-3 (The original Ruby)

Clearaudio Signature

Ortofon SPU Garrott Brothers re-tipped

Ultimo 30C Expert Stylus re-tipped

Ortofon SPU Royal N

Nagatron 360 CEX

Dynavector Karat 17D" MK 2

Supex 900 Super

All the above IMO

Regards

p.s I dig this site but why are so many too shy to post up...?

12-07-2004 Post mapped to one branch of Knowledge Tree
Thorsten


United Kingdom
Posts 65
Joined on 12-06-2004

Post #: 12
Post ID: 346
Reply to: 46
Denon 103 - back to reality

Folks,

This thread caught my attention, because here Romy waxes lyrically about the failings of the Denon Cartridges. Now I only consider ONE Denon worth bothering, the ORIGINAL 103, it is often inaccuratly called 103C. It has a medium compliance (around 2..2.5g tracking force) and a spherical stylus. All "improvements" are basically garbage and DO NOT WORK. You might as well get a modern pickup.

And the real 103 has many ideosyncracies, which make any stetup suited to modern MC pickups completely unsuited to it's use. Sadly Romy choose to do much evaluation in that context and got the results one would expect.

Before I cover the differences between modern MC pickups and the 103 one or two more comments, the 103 will never be the last word in extreme LF or HF nor quite in resolution, still, it does at least as well as MANY modern High End pickups do in average setups, if placed into a context in which it works well.

Differenes are many....

1) Difference in mechanic - modern MC (and some MM) cartridges rely on "dumping" unwanted mechanical energy into the tonearm, which thus requires high rigidity, extremely close coupling of the whole mechanical system and very tight bearings.

The denon was designed in an age when rigid arms simply did not exist. A Denon would bolt into the plastic removable headshell of a EMT Arm, onto the small contact area of an Ortofon Arm "G" type removable headshell or onto an SME 3009/10/12 removable headshell. That means several mechanical breaks and soft couplings between cartridge and finally the Turntable. The Denon is actually designed to work well under such conditions. Bolt it into a modern rigid arm and you losse a large degree of the perfomance.

The 103 actually REQUIRES arms that by modern standards are crappy. If you cannot find a suitably crappy arm (as they tend to fetch prices that are obscene on e-gay) use two small plastic washers between the cartridge body and the actual headshell mounting surface and do not overtighten the cartridge screws, the whole idea to avoid coupling the cartridge rigidly to the arm.

A little story, without the "washer" trick the 103 sounded exteremly "grey" in my Originb Live RB250 and the Silver 250 and while using a fairly modern headshell on a very cheaply picked up MKII UNIMPROVED 3009 I still did not get the sound that I knew was possible. Before actually laying down the long green to buy an old 3012 I managed to snag an original 3009 Headshell off a friend and voila, all fell into place.

2) Difference in electric - modern MC cartridges (the better ones anyway) have very low impedances (< 10 Ohm is common) and use very strong magnet systems. The 103 uses an old style Alnico magnet and has coils that are no heavier than modern cartridges, but wich are wound with much finer wire and have more turns, meaning the DCR is 40 Ohm and the inductance is notable.

Now that means that the 103 cannot be used with (most) modern MC Stepup transformers, they usually are optimised for very low impedance sources and loose extension at the frequency extremes (already a somewhat weak area) and due to the relations to the magnetic core also resolution is lost.

What this means is that the 103 is actually MUCH more at home with a studio Microphone stepup transformer with a nominal 200 Ohm primary impedance (common types are 200:10..15K) and it should be loaded quite lightly with something in the 500R - 1K region. Getting good medium impedance microphone stepup transformers is not easy, meaning you may be better off using active stepups.

Finally, if you use modern Valve Phonostages you have another problem. Old MM Phono's tended to be variants of the Marantz or Dynaco feedback equalised designs. They have fallen out of favour for good reasons but have one particular feature that makes them different and more suited to the 103 than the non-nfb equalised modern types. That feature is that the input capacitance is much reduced by the NFB. At high frequencies where the input capacitance of conventional ECC83 (> 200pF) or of a WE 417A (>200pF) starts causing potential trouble the NFB equalised valve ponostage actually reduces this input capacitance due to the very large amount of NFB applied (around 40db more than at 20Hz).

Now 200pF are not a bad load onto the 103, but if you use a 1:10 stepup transformer the actual capacitive load onto the 103 becomes in effect around 2nF enough to cause audible problems (I tried).

So, if you really want to know why some people are gaga about the 103 (and no, they are not all morons, sorry Romy) you need to place it into a symphatic envoironment. The cheap solution is a generic modern arm with the washers and a simple good MC capable solid state phonostage allowing >1kOhm MC loading.

The expensive solution is an old, nonimproved SME Arm or equivalent with the right type of transformer (certain old german mike stepup transformers are rumored to be the ultimate) and a low input capacitance MM Phonostage which would have to be most likely DIY as few commercially available ones exist that make sense.

Considering that the 103 only costs < 200 Bucks in an age where "quality" cartridges retail for at least 10 times that and considering it's peculiar requirements it will always remain a well kept secret and as long as enough reviewers get their setups dramatically wrong this state will thankfully remain, keeping the 103 cost down, as only people with right setup and studio's want it.

Ciao T




"It is to Madame Justice that I dedicate this concerto, in view of the holiday she seems to have taken from these parts." V
12-07-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 13
Post ID: 349
Reply to: 346
Is the 103’s reality a sane substance?

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T, ‘m glad to see you around.

Your position is quite educational although not an unproblematic. I do not agree with some of the points you brought up (I mean that 103-is very low compliance cartridge - 5x10-6 cm/dyne (except D and M), disagree with effect of capacitance to the 103, disagree the 3012, disagree with estimate of the loading and many other things) but instead of debating with you about your single proclamations I would suggest the readers made up their own mind and you and I did. In the end it is not about sharing experiences: which cartridge is “better” but rather to share experiences how we approach the process of cartridges evaluations and the way in which we interpret the results.

I still stay with my not-thrilling sentiments about the 103.

It should be considered that I used 102, 103, 103R, 103D, 103M and I consider the “default” cartridge is 103 not 103C as you suggested. I do not know 103C and I do not know anyone who use it. Also, and this is quite fascinating… I know dozens of people who parse the 103 and none of them use or are familiar with 103C. Practically all of them admire the “improvements” of 103R and so on. All of them suggest me that I “have no idea what I am talking” when I tell them that do not like those 103s and all of them use very different, mostly controversial arms and other tools. The most invigorating that you propose totally alternative vision and totally different way to used this 103 and you suggest that other ways are disabled to deliver a positive result. So, if both of you are correct and if you use totally antagonistic and opposite-exempting approach and methods to utilize this cartridge then is it possible that one of you wrong? How could it be if you both like the 103 very much?

I am not exactly typing to justify my use of word “Morons” – I can do it, as you know, freely and without any justification. You know that I do not trust audio people and I speak only on behave of my personal account. During my experiments with all my 103s I was not able to get the result that I would consider worth attention, and I did use quite different arms including some of them that were specifically built for 103 in 1976 (Unless the Cho-sun, the Micro Seiki chef, was lying to me)….

Now the important part: I have no doubts that you are quite familiar with this needle and that that you was able to get out of it what you might consider good sound. However, a few years ago, I pitched to the AA Morons (I do no think it is there anymore - it was vandalized by the AA administrative dirt along with anything else that was valuable at that site) that there is in fact a much smaller distinction between cartridges then I commonly believed. The concept was that each single cartridge might be placed in a specific operational condition when it would yield a superiors performance and looking at this level of performance… you might observe a very littler differences between the cartridges. (Probably with exception of tractability)

So, what do you propose? To take the estimable 103, find for it a “special tonearm” (and it is not exactly know if this arm would “embrace the 103’s idiosyncrasies” or it would l mask out it’s imperfections), find for 103 a “special transformer”, and find a “special SS cheap phonostage”…. Besides that you suggest that the “special tonearm”, the special transformer” and the “special SS phonostage” should be crappy (even you have quite sensible reasons to propose what you propose) may I ask you what we are doing by working so hard with 103? Are we exercising your wishful thinking by proving to ourselves that it is theoretically possible? In addition, T, I know that you are familiar with good phonostages, so tell me: how a SS phonostage taking out a receiver would benefit that “exceptional performing quality” of the 103?

In the end, would the efforts spent to “dealing with 103” and off-the-wall tools that it needs be used worth anything. Isn’t it better to cash out the time a person would spend eBaying the microphone transformers and junk arms into a billable hours and for a few extra bucks to get a problem-free needle for $800?

I think the primary beauty of the 103 is that fact that it cost very littlie and for whatever reasons people attribute the low cost as “sonic factor”. When I talking about the PERFORMING CHARACTERISTIC of audio gismos I approach them in  a mode completely disconnected with their price. Would it cost $100 of $30.000 is irrelevant. The subject of my attention is what they do but not my attempt to build up a consumer report guide. I do not deal with purchasing decisions, have no interest in it and therefore the price is not a factor. Certainly we have price as a consideration when we buy or sell but what it has to do with a sonic potency?

Yes, one more thing.

I know that you like some older SPU needles… so would you be able to divulge any advantages of using the “better” Ortofone cartridges loaded into your 7788-RLC-7721 corrector instead of using that 103 loaded into a God know what? The pun is very much intended….

The finally, Thorsten , why should a person to waste a tonearm on his or her TT if “the 103 will never be the last word in extreme LF or HF nor quite in resolution, still, it does at least as well as MANY modern High End pickups do in average setups”. I understand I am playing it but I am a multi-armed freak and I use 103 with a dedicated arm that I play while I am working and do not care how it sound…

Rgs,
The mildly sarcastic Pussy




"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-07-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Thorsten


United Kingdom
Posts 65
Joined on 12-06-2004

Post #: 14
Post ID: 350
Reply to: 349
Re: Is the 103’s reality a sane substance?

Romy,

Just a few notes....

I did use the term "crappy" in the connection with the tonearm in an ironic sense. Have you lived so long among US Americans you lost your sense of irony? Also, i do not suggest crappy Phonostages, merely ones with low input capacitance.... ;-P

What I actually tried to point out was that the 103 was designed to perform well in a certain context and taken out of that context into one that suits very different cartridges is not conductive to getting the best from it. If you then pass judgement from the wrong context you are simply not being fair.

It matters little if you agree or not on specific points. I have on more than a few occasions demonstrated to friends and aquaintances that on many LP's my combo of Denon 103, SME 3009 (MKII non-improved) and S&B TX-103 (which was designed to be fairly insensitive to source impedance variations) was equal in most areas and superior in some to other Arm/Pickup combo's that in themselves perform quite well in the context of "modern" systems.

In some ways my position requires the faith that SME, EMT, Ortofon, Denon, Neumann et al actually GOT IT RIGHT all those ages ago and what we have done since was less to offer real overall improvements in replay then to provide marketing features which in turn forced other changes elsewhere.

In many ways the situation is similar to that in Speakers & Speaker Drivers.

It seems that in the last 40 years we have added much "high tech" and frippery as well as fancy modern materials, yet the results achieved for any number of reasons do not match those achieved 40 or more years ago in areas that to me at least are crucial.

Please note, I do not disagree that the 103 has limitations and is in the end no "ultimate" pickup (then again, I have yet to hear one - Kondo's $ 15,000 pickup is not it, neither is "Music Maker", maybe Lucio "Lucky" Andreoli's pickups? - oops those are largely nude 103's). It's good enough in context that one might feel disinclined to worry too much about it.

Oh yes, as multiarmed freak as well, to me the 103 is ONE of my weapons of choice, but more often than not I find it THE weapon of choice. Maybe what I value most in music reproduction is different from what you after as well, so some of the 103's shortcommings are of modest relevance to me while it's strength (in the right context) agree with my own sonic prejudices?

Lastly, it is my understanding that the plain old 103 and the 103C are actually the same, the C added at some point in time spurretitiously. Oh also, if the 5*10^-6 compliance is right either the effective mass of my SME is well off spec and even decades of dust cannot account sufficiently for that big a difference or the datsheet info is simply wrong.

Anyway, the 103 is a tonic for those who care most about results and are willing to "go along" with the pickup. I find it amusing to see who actually among the manufacturers uses a 103 as reference. But that is just an aside. I do think a 103 is worth having around and is worthing digging out an old SME 3009 for. The results may surprise even the more jaded....

Ciao T

PS, using a MC stepup with a 1:30 stepup ratio from the 103 creates an effective source impedance of around 40k. Combined with a 200pF load this forms a timeconstant of 8uS or a 1st order lowpass with a 20KHz corner frequency. That is VERY audible. Using a 3 Ohm source cartridge in the same situation places that lowpass corner at nearly 300KHz.

Using the same transformer and pickups will also boost for any given level the distortion by a factor similar to the difference between the impedances, such distortion occours both at high signal levels and (perhaps more importantly in the context) at very low signal levels, again this is VERY audible. 

No voodoo here, just basic EE101 level electronics.


"It is to Madame Justice that I dedicate this concerto, in view of the holiday she seems to have taken from these parts." V
12-07-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 15
Post ID: 351
Reply to: 350
More about the 103’s reality.

prednisolon bivirkninger halsbrand

prednisolon bivirkninger open

 Thorsten wrote:
I did use the term "crappy" in the connection with the tonearm in an ironic sense. Have you lived so long among US Americans you lost your sense of irony? Also, i do not suggest crappy Phonostages, merely ones with low input capacitance....

T, hoped you know me well enough that you able to understand my sense irony as well without me spreading those smiley faces…
 Thorsten wrote:
What I actually tried to point out was that the 103 was designed to perform well in a certain context and taken out of that context into one that suits very different cartridges is not conductive to getting the best from it. If you then pass judgement from the wrong context you are simply not being fair.

Fair enough. I did bring my vision on the 103 – the extreme stiffness of the needle resulting a very aggressive, pushy and amusuc sound combined with color deficiency. To me the 103 sounds like a TV with extra contrast but with low color saturation - nice to watch the superball commercials but try to watch in this TV the final scene of the “Casablanca”… the fog in there will look like a sand storm in Iraqi desert… BTW I ran the 103 in the arms of effective mass form 10Gg to 40g with no positive result… Do not get me wring. It sound OK but it did not sound like a needle that worth as much publicity at it has…. I call this 103: the ‘Audiogon cartridge” – referring the level of demands that are popular at the Audiogon forums…, particularly in the music forum… :-)
 Thorsten wrote:
In some ways my position requires the faith that SME, EMT, Ortofon, Denon, Neumann et al actually GOT IT RIGHT all those ages ago and what we have done since was less to offer real overall improvements in replay then to provide marketing features which in turn forced other changes elsewhere. In many ways the situation is similar to that in Speakers & Speaker Drivers.

Well, I have no “position” and defiantly no “devotion of faith” to anything beside a particular result I am getting. You, see, when we give up the things that we sense to the conviction that “someone got it right” than all conversation should stop as it become a cult instead of an experience. The human awareness is very easily corruptible thing The Filenes are way more superior then we are… The do not subscribe BS….
 Thorsten wrote:
It seems that in the last 40 years we have added much "high tech" and frippery as well as fancy modern materials, yet the results achieved for any number of reasons do not match those achieved 40 or more years ago in areas that to me at least are crucial.

T, no one would argue with your but let do not apply the “pleasant to subscribe believes” to the specific topic of the 103 performance. In fact, generality the needles, as much as the entire analog become better over last 40 years. Not because the technologies become better but because the demands become higher. There are a lot of very capable cartridges around nowdays…
 Thorsten wrote:
  Maybe what I value most in music reproduction is different from what you after as well, so some of the 103's shortcommings are of modest relevance to me while it's strength (in the right context) agree with my own sonic prejudices?

Eventually!!!! Here is THE subject that actually worth to talk about: how the 103 enrich your sonic prejudices. Be advised that I use the phrase “sonic prejudices” in highly positive light. May I ask you what you like in the 103 so much and what the 103 does to you (sonically) that you can’t find it on other cartridges.
 Thorsten wrote:
   Lastly, it is my understanding that the plain old 103 and the 103C are actually the same, the C added at some point in time spurretitiously. Oh also, if the 5*10^-6 compliance is right either the effective mass of my SME is well off spec and even decades of dust cannot account sufficiently for that big a difference or the datsheet info is simply wrong.

Not really, this is well know fact and well blindly tested by me. The 103 has 5*10^-6 compliance (although they do calculate thier 5*10^-6 compliance in a slightly differently) and the optimum result with SME 3012 (the default effective mass 14g) I was able to get when I load the SME/103 with 30-32g.

Rgs,
The Cat




"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-08-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Thorsten


United Kingdom
Posts 65
Joined on 12-06-2004

Post #: 16
Post ID: 360
Reply to: 351
Re: More about the 103’s reality.

Hi,

 Romy the Cat wrote:
Eventually!!!! Here is THE subject that actually worth to talk about: how the 103 enrich your sonic prejudices. Be advised that I use the phrase “sonic prejudices” in highly positive light. May I ask you what you like in the 103 so much and what the 103 does to you (sonically) that you can’t find it on other cartridges.

What I like about the 103 is that it sounds colourfull, dynamic and VERY SMOOTH with vocals, the only smoother pickup I know are old ortofon SPU's (not current prodction), but they roll off around 1db/8ve above 5KHz. And that is how I know you never got the 103 in the right context, it does not sound forward or screetchy.

What i dislike about the 103 is that the final LF reach is not quite there (no matter what arm, subjectively the LF below 30Hz is diminished compared to other pickups) and that final bit of air and resolution is missing.

HOWEVER, any pickup (excluding the equally ideosyncratic Ortofon) I have encountered that seemed significantly better than the 103 in the problem areas tended to be a "fair weather" catridge, meaning one that is excellent with some recordings but awful with most.

Ciao T


"It is to Madame Justice that I dedicate this concerto, in view of the holiday she seems to have taken from these parts." V
12-22-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 17
Post ID: 414
Reply to: 180
Denon 103M – the correction.

 Romy the Cat wrote:
Hm, I just paid attention that The Denon DL-103M is available from Denon for a little over $220 and I feel that it is a very much ultimate Denon among all that I had.

Well, going through the jungles of the “Denon’s misery” I kind of was trying to find in the Denons what would depart me form an normal “Denon sound” that I, as I said before, do not particularly admire. That journey brought me last year to Denon 103M that was very different Denon, constriction and sound wise. I do not know what suggested me in my posts above to promote the 103M as something that better then the rest inexpensive Denons (I actually know what but I will not got into the comments). Anyhow, I’m making this post to uniform that I would like to demote the 103M from my high regard (OK, not really “high” but higher then the 103, 103R and so on...) as I have removed it from my system. My apologies of I misled anyone. I admit I was misled myself extending the excessive credit to this cartridge where I should not. The 103M is still OK, very smooth cartridge but it dose not deserve the level of respect as I euphorically extended to it. The primary issues with it: the dynamic challenge and transient deficiency turned out to be way less handleable then I initially perceived.

Guilty as charged,
The Pussy


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-23-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
guy sergeant
United Kingdom
Posts 258
Joined on 08-03-2004

Post #: 18
Post ID: 415
Reply to: 414
further corrections

any chance of a similar climb down on the 'adequate but not exceptional' 834P?

have a good christmas!

Guy

12-23-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 19
Post ID: 416
Reply to: 415
No further corrections.

 guy sergeant wrote:
any chance of a similar climb down on the 'adequate but not exceptional' 834P?
Not really.

The 834PT still holds ground and the more I hear different phonostages the more firmly it does. I can’t tell you if it is due to the SU2 sitting before the 834PT or whatever other reasons (and there ARE few other reasons).

Guy, I hope you understand that our classification of audio gismos and granting to them the adjectives “best” and “worst” is purely a following the rules of the game, the foolish audio game. In reality, the audio games are very much inappropriate and the relevant performance of one or another object of audio is totally out the touch with the real duty of the object. What the SU2-834PT does is completely sufficient to satisfy my demands in phonocorrectors and I personally did not hear any phonocorrectors that would deliver that same level of peaceful satisfaction.

It is really not about a desire to climb down or climb up and if tomorrow I realize that SU2-834PT (in context of my system and my objectives) demonstrate some intolerable weaknesses then I would declare myself a Moron and remove the SU2-834PT from my admirable pedestal. But it is not happening…

If you find yourself in Boston then I will be very glad to demonstrate to you the “weakness” of SU2-834PT in their full glory.

Merry Christmas,
The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
12-23-2004 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Brian Clark
Ongar, UK
Posts 78
Joined on 10-02-2004

Post #: 20
Post ID: 417
Reply to: 416
No further korrektors?
Does this mean the latest korrektor is failing to win your heart Romy?

The full seasoning of condiments to you all!

Brian.
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