Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

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pinkfloyd4ever
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Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by pinkfloyd4ever » 15 Jan 2020 18:49

I'm considering an upgrading my cartridge to the Nagaoka MP-110 or the Denon DL-110. I know, fairly different carts and fairly different prices, but nonetheless, those are the two I have my sights on.

I have a Technics SL-1600 (the original version, NOT the MkII), and I'm using the phono stage on my NAD 1600 preamp. The preamp has a MM/MC switch, but from what I read the DL-110 is usually best suited to MM settings since it's a HOMC. Input impedance on the NAD 1600 is 47kOhms + 100pF.
Input sensitivity on the NAD 1600 is 1.3 mV on the MM setting, and 0.1mV on the MC setting.

Are either of the above cartridges better suited to my turntable and phono stage?

All else equal, which do you prefer, Nagaoka MP-110 or the Denon DL-110? How are they different in sound quality and tonal characteristics? Does one of them reduce surface clicks/pops better than the other?

Thanks,
Kevin

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by patient_ot » 15 Jan 2020 20:04

What is the effective mass of your tonearm? Neither cart is great IMHO. If you have problems with clicks and pops I would look to some type of real cleaning system like an RCM or pruning the rougher condition records from your collection. If you have rougher records with sentimental value, get a cheapo conical cart for those, like an AT3600/AT91.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by raphaelmabo » 15 Jan 2020 20:12

According to this, the tonearm has 22g effective mass which is moderately high. But the text says "Effective arm mass has been kept very low (22 g) to accomodate premium high compliance cartridges." Hmmm... I would say low to medium compliance is preferable rather than high compliance...
https://stereonomono.blogspot.com/2013/ ... -1600.html

I don't know the compliance @ 10 Hz for the DL-110 or the MP-110, I've only seen official specifications @ 100 Hz which is useless for judging tonearm compatibility. We really need @ 10 Hz. But the specifications sugests that they are medium compliance. I'm unsure about if they work or not on that tonearm. A Denon DL-103 is probably a safer bet, and it's LOMC so will run in the MC input of your amp.

Oh, I haven't used nor heard a NAD 1600 but I've owned a NAD 3020i (MM), NAD 306 (MM/MC) and a NAD PP1 (MM external phono pre-amp). So I would suspect a NAD 1600 being close to the 306 in terms of built-in phono stage. I was quite happy the way my NAD's produced vinyl sound, I remember them being a bit on the warm side from factory but with soft-clipping turned OFF the tonal balance changed and they became more open and clean and clear.

Yes, a DL-110 should be used in the MM setting. It's designed to work well with standard MM settings.

I haven't done a side-by-side comparison between the DL-110 and the MP-110, but I've owned and loved a DL-110 for many years and I did use it with my NAD-equipment with excellent results. I did find the treble and bass being better or more expressive than the midband that I find a little underwhelming in comparison. But overall a sweet and very pleasing and enjoyable sound that works great with most music styles. It sounded open and clear, clean.

I have only heard the MP-110 briefly and not in my system, but it had more warmth to the sound than my experience with the DL-110. I would rate the DL-110 higher because it's more detailed. I didn't find the MP-110 to be anything special, but I do know that it's highly rated in this forum. Personally, for a warm sound I prefer Sumiko. :)

Now I'm using a Benz MC Silver which for me is an upgrade over the DL-110. :)

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by chiz » 15 Jan 2020 20:28

raphaelmabo wrote:
15 Jan 2020 20:12
According to this, the tonearm has 22g effective mass which is moderately high. But the text says "Effective arm mass has been kept very low (22 g) to accomodate premium high compliance cartridges." Hmmm... I would say low to medium compliance is preferable rather than high compliance...
https://stereonomono.blogspot.com/2013/ ... -1600.html
The specs say “Effective Mass: 22 g (6,0 g cartridge weight, 1,75 g stylus pressure)”
Possibly the 22g is with the 6g cartridge fitted?
Although this is slightly unusual I have seen Jelco quote effective mass in a similar way:
effective_mass_jelco_tonearms_WM.jpg
(116.84 KiB) Downloaded 132 times
raphaelmabo wrote:
15 Jan 2020 20:12
I don't know the compliance @ 10 Hz for the DL-110 or the MP-110, I've only seen official specifications @ 100 Hz which is useless for judging tonearm compatibility. We really need @ 10 Hz. But the specifications sugests that they are medium compliance. I'm unsure about if they work or not on that tonearm.
I measured the DL-110 to be around 17 cu at 10 Hz on an undamped statically balanced arm.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by chiz » 15 Jan 2020 21:59

Some MP110 compliance measurements here:
viewtopic.php?f=19&t=107555

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by patient_ot » 15 Jan 2020 22:11

chiz wrote:
15 Jan 2020 20:28
raphaelmabo wrote:
15 Jan 2020 20:12
According to this, the tonearm has 22g effective mass which is moderately high. But the text says "Effective arm mass has been kept very low (22 g) to accomodate premium high compliance cartridges." Hmmm... I would say low to medium compliance is preferable rather than high compliance...
https://stereonomono.blogspot.com/2013/ ... -1600.html
The specs say “Effective Mass: 22 g (6,0 g cartridge weight, 1,75 g stylus pressure)”
Possibly the 22g is with the 6g cartridge fitted?
Although this is slightly unusual I have seen Jelco quote effective mass in a similar way:
effective_mass_jelco_tonearms_WM.jpg
raphaelmabo wrote:
15 Jan 2020 20:12
I don't know the compliance @ 10 Hz for the DL-110 or the MP-110, I've only seen official specifications @ 100 Hz which is useless for judging tonearm compatibility. We really need @ 10 Hz. But the specifications sugests that they are medium compliance. I'm unsure about if they work or not on that tonearm.
I measured the DL-110 to be around 17 cu at 10 Hz on an undamped statically balanced arm.
Subtract the cart and you're looking at 16g EM, which is totally common and reasonable for many 70s Japanese S-shaped tonearms.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by patient_ot » 15 Jan 2020 22:40

Question: Is the 1600 arm similar EM to the Technics SL-1700 MK1? If so, I can tell you some carts that get a good measured, not calculated resonance number on the arm, as I know someone that has the Technics SL-1700 MK1.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by chiz » 15 Jan 2020 22:58

patient_ot wrote:
15 Jan 2020 22:40
Question: Is the 1600 arm similar EM to the Technics SL-1700 MK1?
According to the manuals here they are the same EM.
https://www.vinylengine.com/library/technics.shtml

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by patient_ot » 15 Jan 2020 23:52

chiz wrote:
15 Jan 2020 22:58
patient_ot wrote:
15 Jan 2020 22:40
Question: Is the 1600 arm similar EM to the Technics SL-1700 MK1?
According to the manuals here they are the same EM.
https://www.vinylengine.com/library/technics.shtml
In that case, I would say the DL-110 is a safe bet compliance wise, as is the VM95 series from AT. My friend with the 1700 had an MP-110, but since both he and I agree this cart is very overrated I cannot recommend it.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by pinkfloyd4ever » 16 Jan 2020 17:01

Hmm alright well I'm leaning towards the DL-110.

Is it true though that the stylus on the DL-110 can't be replaced, making it essentially a consumable? How many hours of play can I expect it to last?

Is it possible to trade it in for a new one at a discounted price?

I'm looking at this VM95 series, and I saw someone else on another thread about carts for the SL-1600 recommend the VM95ML. Is the VM95 series really that good? Almost seems too cheap to be very good given the inflation of prices turntables and related equipment in the past 10 years.

I see the shibata version, the AT-VM95SH, is not much more expensive than the VM95ML. Is it worth the upgrade?

I currently have an AT12XE (I'm told it's the predecessor to the AT120E) on the SL-1600. Is there an AT "house sound". I.e. Will another AT cartridge sound very similar to the one have now?

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by raphaelmabo » 16 Jan 2020 21:31

The DL-110 can be re-tipped, this is not something you do by yourself. It’s a precise surgery. Soundsmith is one of the best and with long experience. You have more information here:

https://www.sound-smith.com/options-can ... lus-shapes

As you can see, they can also upgrade it to even better cantilever and stylus.

I haven’t heard the VM95, but it’s A-T:s most basic generator. The VM500 series has a more expensive generator. A VM95 with advanced stylus or a 530 or 540 with a basic stylus? The 500 and 700 are known for it’s well balanced sound.

I would say that a 530 is the replacement for the 120.

And yes, AT has a house sound. Clean, clear, rhythmic. I personally often finds AT to be a touch bright.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by pinkfloyd4ever » 16 Jan 2020 21:33

raphaelmabo wrote:
16 Jan 2020 21:31
The DL-110 can be re-tipped, this is not something you do by yourself. It’s a precise surgery. Soundsmith is one of the best and with long experience. You have more information here:

https://www.sound-smith.com/options-can ... lus-shapes

As you can see, they can also upgrade it to even better cantilever and stylus.

I haven’t heard the VM95, but it’s A-T:s most basic generator. The VM500 series has a more expensive generator. A VM95 with advanced stylus or a 530 or 540 with a basic stylus? The 500 and 700 are known for it’s well balanced sound.

I would say that a 530 is the replacement for the 120.

And yes, AT has a house sound. Clean, clear, rhythmic. I personally often finds AT to be a touch bright.
Awesome, great info. Thank you sir!

Ok then, I'm still leaning towards the DL-110 as I'd like to try something different from what I have now.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by patient_ot » 16 Jan 2020 21:58

pinkfloyd4ever wrote:
16 Jan 2020 17:01
Hmm alright well I'm leaning towards the DL-110.

Is it true though that the stylus on the DL-110 can't be replaced, making it essentially a consumable? How many hours of play can I expect it to last?

Is it possible to trade it in for a new one at a discounted price?

I'm looking at this VM95 series, and I saw someone else on another thread about carts for the SL-1600 recommend the VM95ML. Is the VM95 series really that good? Almost seems too cheap to be very good given the inflation of prices turntables and related equipment in the past 10 years.

I see the shibata version, the AT-VM95SH, is not much more expensive than the VM95ML. Is it worth the upgrade?

I currently have an AT12XE (I'm told it's the predecessor to the AT120E) on the SL-1600. Is there an AT "house sound". I.e. Will another AT cartridge sound very similar to the one have now?
You can retip the DL-110, but hardly anyone does that unless they really love the cartridge and want to try a frankencart. Reason being is the cost of a quality retip will exceed the cost of just getting a new one. Trade in programs come down to the dealer. You're more likely to get a trade in deal on a megabuck cart, not a budget HOMC.

The VM95 series is that good. I am very demanding in terms of my expectations out of cartridges. I put them through rigorous tests. I don't buy cartridges because someone said they have a nice "tone". If I buy a cart or get a retip job and it is not up to scratch, it gets sent back. Retip jobs in general, can be hit or miss. That is something I am dealing with right now. Because I test my carts, I know if something is wrong. Now my recent retip job is going back to the retipper for rework because they dropped the ball the first time.

Here is a summary of my objective test results of the VM95ML:

FR: accurate, near flat out to 20khz (CBS STR100)
Resonance: 9hz on a ~20g EM tonearm, 11hz on an 11g EM tonearm
Tracking ability: 90um (Ortofon Test LP)
Loading: 100pf at phono pre, low cap cabling, no more than 100pf, so 200pf total
Crosstalk/stereo separation: 27dB (Ortofon test LP)
Channel balance: ~1dB

The SH version of the VM95 is not superior to the ML model. It costs more due to supplier costs. That's straight from AT's mouth. The ML is a later, more advanced stylus shape than the SH. It also has the thinnest side radius of stylus you can buy. It's essentially a Namiki Microridge. ML is just AT's marketing term for that shape. The reason the cost of AT cartridges are more reasonable than others is due to economies of scale, and AT's relationship with Namiki. There's no "mystery" here...

RE: the AT house sound, I don't think there is one, personally. Where people run into problems with AT is improper loading. That, or they think vinyl should have a highly colored sound instead of a neutral one. Note that with any cart, you need to load it properly according to the manufacturer's recommendation as a starting point.

Re: the AT VM95 series vs. the VM500/700 series, it comes down to compliance and matching with your tonearm. The VM95 series is medium compliance, and will work on medium mass tonearms and heavier tonearms. The 500/700 series is a high compliance cartridge by today's standards. It is ideally meant for a tonearm 10g or less, but may work okay on some tonearms that are say 11-12g.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by raphaelmabo » 17 Jan 2020 04:39

patient_ot wrote:
01 Jan 1970 01:02

You can retip the DL-110, but hardly anyone does that unless they really love the cartridge and want to try a frankencart. Reason being is the cost of a quality retip will exceed the cost of just getting a new one.
Not true. You can have a look at Audiokarma and Hoffman forum and it’s not uncommon to retip the DL-110/160.

Soundsmiths level 1 retip cost less than what the DL-110 sells for in the US, this gives you a hyperelliptical with an aluminium cantilever.

The level 2 option with a line contact gives you an upgraded DL-110, better than new. For similar money as buying a new one. And then we have higher levels that enhances the quality further.

So it can really be worth doing!

Re: your bad experiences of retip, I notice that Soundsmith states on their web that they won’t save carts that’s been damage by other retips. Soundsmith has worked with retips since the 60’s, that’s how they started. They are not the least expensive ones, but they claim that they are the best. And since they’ve had their retip business going for so many years, it may be true. They definately has the longest experience.

And I say that AT has a house sound, all makers has one. AT continue to use their dual-magnet design. It gives a certain effect.

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Re: Are the DL-110 or MP-110 good choices for my system?

Post by chiz » 17 Jan 2020 11:02

raphaelmabo wrote:
17 Jan 2020 04:39
No idea how they compare to Soundsmith but this German company will retip a DL-110 with a microridge or shibata on a boron rod for €300:
https://techne-audio.de/angebote/retipp ... l-110.html

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