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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: Denon 103: myths and the reality
Post Subject: Re: Is the 103’s reality a sane substance?Posted by Thorsten on: 12/7/2004

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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.

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