the home of the turntable
Reviews Turntables Tonearms Cartridges

Cartridge Reviews: 2074

To add a review or rate a cartridge, browse for the model and use the review form.



Denon DL103 Reviews

displaying reviews 1 to 20 of 43

Denon DL103

Denon DL103

9/10 by pvb_2004

DL-103SL does have the same as DL-103 sound style, except the midrange which is much clear. Also guess DL-103SL has ceramic jacket as it's noticeably heavier than DL-103

10/10 by kolob

My first dl 103 and is obvious from first spin way
It's so loved it's just plain musical
Smooth response well balanced Sonics
Mine is mounted on a rega planer 3
Using a creek obh9 phono stage
It's a keeper

5/10 by DSJR

Many love it but it does have faults, mainly due to the crude if well polished conical tip. This thing is revered for its ballsy sound and clear midrange, but the conical diamond will and does lose hf at end of side (tracing ability) and tracking ability will be dependant on the tonearm used - verifiable, audible and not just opinion I'm afraid. I confess to preferring a more line-contact kind of stylus given half a chance, but these will be fussier to set up and imperfections in the music mix as well as the vinyl pressing itself may be reproduced more clearly, so I suspect that's why cartridges like this one with its beefy and slightly more 'cloudy' presentation up top are preferred by domestic audiophiles without access to the original recordings. So, buy and enjoy but please have an open mind as to what this cartridge is actually doing, irrespective of what it's connected to.

9/10 by gorangers+

Great value. Paired with a dl 103 tone arm through an SUT and into my Fisher 500b. Makes great sound for very little money. Beats my Grado Reference Platinum MM fairly easily.

9/10 by levman0545

If your looking for the best entry level Low Output Moving Coil cartridge and you have a solid M.C. phono stage in your preamp or externally, look no further!

I researched this Denon for about 2 weeks before deciding to drop the $167 on the new MC cartridge. I was hesitant because my Shure M97xE and Sumoko Pearl both MM phono cartridges has issues with static and also seemed to raise the noise floor.

Well the Denon DL-103 takes care of business and then some! For it's price/performance it's simply unbeatable!
It's .3 mv output is perfect for my Carver C-1 preamps MC phono stage and really lowers the noise floor of vinyl during playback.

I had to add an extra felt anti-static mat (2mm) to my rubber (3mm) main mat to get the proper V.T.A. but once this was set up properly I get unreal sound playback with this DL-103.

I'm also running a Technics SL-Q2 turntable that works like new. I'm stating this so others know that this SL-Q2 table is about the lowest end table you would want to use with this Denon DL-103. The tonearm on a SL-Q2 is medium weight and does a good job with this Denon.

I can also say I will never buy a MM cartridge again! When my current DL-103 gets too worn I'll buy a new one or up-grade to the DL-103r for the extra $100.
I'm giving this a very high 9 out of 10 stars which is above excellent! I have to admit that although I knew cartridges sounded different, I had no idea how much better a cartridge could track and playback vinyl, limiting static and lowering the noise floor.

If your on the fence on whether or not to buy or try one of these DL-103 cartridges I hope this review will convince you to take the plunge into M.C. cartridge bliss............

10/10 by tuttifruti

Absolutely best bang for the buck. There are a few gotchas!, however:

1. Needs to be matched with proper tonearm (on the heavier side)
2. Can truly shine only if fed into a good SUT and then into a good MM phono stage
3. Needs quite a long break-in period (30 to 50 hours minimum; sounds quite stiff and 'polite' before it breaks it)
4. Each cartridge is unique in a way, being hand-assembled, so you never know what you might get
5. May not be to everyone's liking. To some this cartridge may sound quite 'rude', even 'crude'

On my system, this cartridge makes music come alive. Warts and all. It is all about 'tone'. Yes, there are details galore, but the overall tone quality is so overwhelming that I barely ever have any attention left to focus on finer details. Same goes for the soundstage and imaging. It's good, it's sharp, but who cares when you're drinking from this shiny sparkling fountain of eternal youth!

10/10 by Peter4103

Picked up a vintage Denon DL 103D this week. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind. WOW! What a great cartridge this is! It outplays my DL 301 cartridge with ease. I have played with many different cartridges, but this is by far the best one I have had. It is a keeper for sure. I can recommend buying one if you are ever lucky enough to come across one. 10 out of 10.

5/10 by fossilinus

According to my experience the DL103 is a very sketchy cart. Firstly it is only performing properly using a pre that exeeds the expenses for the 103 by far or better, using a appropriate step-up. Secondly it is very choosy with tonearms and thirdly it is imperative to release it from its plastic body and put it in a alu or wooden body depending on tonearm that carries it. Anyway: Under the conditions outlined above i.e step-up and alu-body, it can make you smile, for a long long time.

10/10 by Einstein 2000

I've always been sceptical about all the positive reviews this cartridge received. At last I've bought one and now there is just one thing to say: its worth it! Try it!

9/10 by ofrayray

I'm giving this a 9 only because I'm sure there is something better out there. Besides some run of the mill random carts, I have a Grace F9e, Shure V15iii, Shure 97xe, and recently added the DL-103 to my stable. I was blown away by it, and that was prior to it opening up. When it did break in, I heard in songs I've listened to for years something magical. I finally understood why it's so difficult to describe, review, or recommend a piece of gear to someone, or for that someone to understand fully what is being said to them. Sound and music are subjective I think it's fair to say, add the myriad of gear options and listening spaces to that equation and l think it's impossible to explain what GREAT is. Surely my lack of experience with super high end gear colors my review. I'll never own a $10k cart for example, nor should I as my gear wouldn't warrant it. But this cartridge is a great equalizer for those who want high end sound, or even just great sound for a very small investment. I worked my way upwards in cartridge world to this and here I will stay for a long while. I have the sound I want thanks to this $160 cartridge. It's really a 10/10 in my book, but as I said earlier I need to leave a point for a surprise performer. Maybe the 103R? Get this cartridge, you'll be glad you did.

9/10 by rg33dk

Musicality, musicality and musicality.
Needs minimum a high midrange system or a lower high-end system to flourish.
It´s all about the system´s quality, you can only get, what you have have invested.

7/10 by gregoryd

Smooth natural sound. Average tracking ability. Good sound stage and imaging. Great value!

9/10 by Algral


10/10 by prabie

This is my dayly basis cartridge. I have another, yamaha MC9, that outperforms it but considering is impossible to get another I prefer to user the 103R that's easily obtainable in the net. Excellent cart at an excellent price. I don´t think you can get disspointed after buying one of these. Bass extention is impressive. It caugth my attention how many people recommends to mod them.

8/10 by tomez2

A quick first Impression of the 103..... just mounted my spanking new old School Denon 103 and took it for it's first spin. Of course, not broke in yet with only 3 records under it's belt - but jeezuus! very nice! bolted to a technics headshell on my SL 1200, added the 2g headshell weight and aux. counter weight, aligned it with a Stevenson protractor, added 2.5g of VTF, plugged into the MC plugs on my V-LPS and OMG! Bass? why, Yes! deep, tight, no tubbiness, but not thin, Mids? Just sound natural and right. Top end? In my setup very balanced right out of the box, lots of detail, yet not spitty or hot - again, just right. OH, and the dynamics? Punchy would be the word.

OK, so this baby is new and I presume it is going to get better. There is a reason these are still around and highly regarded. I just found out why.

9/10 by atc333

The 103D is an overachiever to say the least, the price performance ratio is superb. You do need to take time to set it up properly as once it is dialed in, it is most musical. Check out Arthur Salvatore's site for excellent discussions on the Denon and other cartridges.

9/10 by kennethyuen

Still own Zu 103r SS retip and Denon 103C1 to play on my Thorens td-124. They both sound superb with the right combination of headhell, tonearm, mc transformer, tracking force and VTA. The character is netural which can play nearly any music without obvious coloration. Dynamic is also good in a well controlled manner. No doubt, an all-time-classic to music lovers as well as Hi Fi enthusiasts !

9/10 by scaffolder

This cartridge and it's variations are my favorite of all time. Good value for your money, great tracking and great sound. To get the most out of a good phonostage with moving coil adjustments. I personally use a good phonostage with a step up transformer. I use the Auditorium 23 and the Denon HA 500 step ups with great success. Another important factor is a heavy tonearm like the Jelco 750L and Audio Technica AT 12 that I use. If you a music lover this is the cartridge for you. You\'ll get detail but not to the extreme that some of the more expensive cartridges will give you. I find the 103 very warm. It is more forgiving for less than perfect records. If the VTA is set right it is very quiet and has the right amount of bass for my ears.

9/10 by anmpr1

I've owned three of these and was always happy. I'd probably buy another one if they were still made. It was always a very popular cartridge, so I'm unsure about the marketing decision to discontinue the model.

9/10 by desertdog

Good results with 4gram weight added, and used in a damped tonearm. looking to try it in a damped unipvot next. it can certainly equal carts costing hundreds more, a must for any collection. posted 2013

To post a review for the Denon DL103, please login or register a free account

   Next page »