It’s been quite a while since I’ve given my Denon DL-103 MC phonograph cartridge a good listen, so I thought I’d get the Denon out, mount it up, and play some music.
The arrival of the hot-rodded Denon DL-103 from Audio MusiKraft, which I’ve been listening to for a while now, got me to thinking about my well-loved ol’ Denon DL-103.
The idea of the Audio MusiKraft hot-rodded & tunable Denon D-103 really intrigues me, as the concept of being able to voice the cartridge to match my tastes and system aligns exactly with my audio adventures of late.
For me, being able to voice a component is central to achieving musical satisfaction in a given hifi system.
Whether it’s fine tuning the voicing of electronics or crossovers with resistors and capacitors, or using cabling to dial in the exact sound & musicality I’m after, through custom headshell leads, interconnects, speaker cables, or internal loudspeaker wiring, being able to voice a component is powerful.
But I digress, as what I really wanted to do was give my stock Denon DL-103 a good listen to serve as a baseline for the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, which I’ll be writing an article about for Positive Feedback in the not too distant future.
To compare the two Denon cartridges on equal footing, I decided I wanted to use identical headshells and headshell leads.
I bought two Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshells, and because I already had two sets of Art of Tone 22GA headshell leads built, I pressed them into service.
To connect my Auditorium 23 SUT to my vintage McIntosh MX110Z I used a shielded pair of Duelund DCA20GA interconnects.
Then I put on my Johnny Cash Solitary Man LP, and let the needle drop on side one, which starts with Tom Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down”.
The combination of the Denon DL-103 with the Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshell, the Art of Tone headshell leads, Auditorium 23 SUT, and the shielded Duelund DCA20GA interconnects, more than matched my musical & sonic tastes on Solitary Man, it was bloody brilliant!
I was thrilled to hear Johnny Cash and Tom Petty sing “I Won’t Back Down” (godspeed Tom Petty), and I marveled at the overall natural tonality, the richness of their voices, the realistic timbre, as well as the superb presentation of tempos, melodies, and dynamics.
Natural, rich, colorful, truth of timbre, and exciting to listen to, the stock Denon DL-103 is a formidable phono cartridge, and when properly setup, its combination of musicality & sonics can go toe-to-toe with just about anything, regardless of price. The fact that the Denon DL-103 is so affordable (~$299 USD) is icing on the cake.
One album doesn’t make for a baseline of comparison, so I’ve got lots more listening to do, but starting off with such superb musicality and sonics with so little effort is a real treat!
I’ll have a lot more to say as I get more listening time in, so stay tuned for further impressions.
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!