Dec 022017
 

Audio MusiKraft aluminum cartridge shell with a set of maple “tonewood” inserts.

In my last report on the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge I did a photographic strip-tease of the Denon DL-103 as I dismantled it from its aluminum Audio MusiKraft shell with maple tonewood inserts …

Nude Denon DL-103 angle view.

… and then reassembled it in its Audio MusiKraft aluminum shell with oiled black walnut tonewood inserts installed.

Aluminum cartridge shell with oiled black walnut inserts and Denon DL-103 with top plate installed and screws ready to be tightened.

In my tuning adventures so far with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge, the biggest – and for my tastes & system balance – the largest and most positive results, has been twofold.

The first being comparing my Denon DL-103 with its stock plastic cartridge shell to the Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge installed into the Audio MusiKraft aluminum shell.

The difference was dramatic and was much for the better both musically & sonically. Even without taking its tunability features into account the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge absolutely crushes the stock DL-103 performance-wise, and as a bonus it is very affordably priced.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with oiled black walnut tuning inserts in place.

Saying there’s a dramatic difference between the two cartridges is not a dig at the Denon DL-103, as it’s a great cartridge that’s priced so affordably that it’s somewhat of a miracle in and of itself, but rather that the Audio MusiKraft shell reveals the substantial potential latent within the Denon DL-103, and that is very impressive indeed!

The second largest and most positive difference has come from oiling the black walnut tonewood inserts.

Oiling the black walnut tonewood inserts made for dramatically better tone, and pretty much everything sounded better both musically & sonically.

As I mentioned in my last post, I was so encouraged by the results I decided I wanted to now try treating the lime tonewood tuning inserts.

You can buy untreated or pretreated tonewood tuning sets from Audio MusiKraft. You can order the tonewood sets pretreated with oil (+$4 USD), pretreated with white shellac (+$4 USD), pretreated with bees wax (+$10 USD), or lacquered (+$20 USD).

That made me curious about the effects treatments other than oil might have, so I thought I’d try my own little treatment of the wood.

I have a blend of beeswax, lemon oil, and other natural oils, that’s based on an 18th century cabinetmaker’s recipe for conditioning, preserving, and protecting fine wood furniture that I thought would make for an interesting treatment that would be somewhere in-between the pure oil or the pure beeswax offered by Audio MusiKraft.

As you can see in the photo below, it’s kind of thick and goopy.

Lime tonewood inserts being treated with beeswax & oil mixture.

I used the same basic process as I did for the oil-treatment of the tonewood inserts:

  • I spread one pass of the beeswax & lemon oil onto the front side of each piece of lime tonewood in the set.
  • I waited for 1 hour, and then I removed the excess beeswax & oil from them with a soft cotton polishing cloth.
  • I then let them sit for 4 hours.
  • Then I spread the beeswax & lemon oil mixture on all of the sides of the set of lime tonewood inserts so that they were immersed (as above in the photo).
  • I let the set of tonewood inserts sit for one hour, and then I removed the excess oil with a cotton cloth. I then repeated this step two more times.
  • Then I let the beeswax & lemon oil treated lime tonewood inserts sit for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours I remove the excess oil with a cotton cloth.

Lime tonewood inserts treated with a combination of beeswax and lemon oil.

The final beeswax & lemon oil treated lime tonewood inserts are shown above.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with oiled black walnut tonewood and beeswax & lemon oil lime tonewood inserts.

Ok, now it’s time to strip down the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with the oiled black walnut tonewood inserts, replace them with the beeswax & lemon oil treated lime inserts, and reassemble the cartridge.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with oiled black walnut tonewood and beeswax & lemon oil lime tonewood inserts removed from cartridge shell.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 cartridge shell with beeswax & lemon-oil lime tonewood inserts installed.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 all ready to go with the beeswax & lemon-oil lime tonewood inserts.

I installed the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with the beeswax & lemon-oil lime tonewood inserts onto my Schick tonearm and got everything adjusted.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with beeswax & lemon-oil lime tonewood inserts in the cartridge shell playing music.

I’ve been listening to The Alternate Blues so much during phono cartridge comparisons that my ears started to turn blue, so I thought I’d better switch things up a little bit and listen to something else.

I’ve had Louis Armstrong on my mind, so I got out a couple of Louis’ albums.

Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson ‎– Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson, Verve Records ‎– MG V-8322.

First up was Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson featuring Ray Brown on bass, Louis Bellson on drums, Herb Ellis on guitar, Oscar Peterson on piano, with Louis Armstrong on vocals & trumpet – an “all star” group of jazz cats and a great set of songs.

My reaction to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 cartridge with the beeswax & lemon-oil treated lime tonewood was pretty similar to my reaction with the oil treated black walnut tonewood, that is, I thought they both benefitted from treatment, with the overall tone improving, and pretty much everything improved musically and sonically on Louis Armstrong Meets Oscar Peterson.

Beeswax & lemon-oil treated lime tonewood tuning inserts, front & rear tuning screws tensioned.

In both cases I liked the performance of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 best with the front & rear tuning screws engaged and tensioned to an eighth turn and quarter turn, respectively, as that best matched my tastes and system voicing, and made everything sound more natural and real.

Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington, The Great Reunion, Roulette R 52103.

Next up for a little listening was Louis Armstrong & Duke Ellington’s The Great Reunion on Roulette from 1963, which is another great jazz album.

Louis Armstrong on vocals and trumpet, Duke Ellington on piano, Barney Bigard on clarinet, Trummy Young on trombone, Mort Herbert on bass, and Danny Barcelona on drums, this is great music performed by amazing musicians, and is well recorded.

When I listened to the untreated tonewood inserts I liked the lime better than the black walnut, but after treatment the order reversed, and I now slightly prefer the oil treated black walnut to the beeswax & lemon-oil treated lime tonewood, but both were very, very good.

I’m thinking that the difference in my preference between untreated & treated versions of the black walnut and lime tonewood inserts was probably due to the beeswax & lemon-oil combo, so from here on out I’ll stick with the treatment oil that Guy sent with the cartridge.

Ok, that’s it for today.

Next time I’ll report on the oil treated Jatoba and maple tonewoods and we will hear where it takes me!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 1:53 pm

  2 Responses to “Fifth Tune: A Tunable Adventure with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 Phono Cartridge!”

  1. Jeff,

    Enjoying your adventure and discoveries with the Audio Musikraft! So many combos! You certainly have patience! How come I get the feeling in the end, you’ll like the treated maple the most? 🙂 We’ll see!

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