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AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

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AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby martinman » 09 Jan 2017 15:25

I had a strange discovery this weekend. I had an older AT440ML/occ laying around that I picked up used. It came mounted to a Sumiko headshell and the price was right so I nabbed it. I finally got around to installing it.

Technics 1200 (KAB Tonearm rewire)
440ml/occ & denon 110 - Both Sumiko headshell (Baerwald setup)
Way Excellent II-4mm Turntable Mat
Lounge Audio LCR MK3
Pioneer Elite
Kef LS50

I've been running the denon for almost all of 2016 with and was impressed with the relatively even presentation. My initial thought is that the denon does alot of things really well coming from (at the time) an AT120ET. After being away form AT for a while - and running the denon for almost a year - I was floored when I installed the 440. I always though reading the reviews that there would be a subtle difference between the 2, but wow was I wrong. I have to quantify this as an upgrade - I was quite surprised at the difference. What I here is much more refined detail, bass tightened up, and highs are more present. I don't think the bass suffered on the 440 much as some of the reviews pointed out. All in all, moving from the 110 to the 440 was a profound difference in rendering ability. I'm going to stick with it a while and then go back to the denon to see if my ears are fooling me. Don't get me wrong, the denon is no slouch and was indeed a big upgrade from the at120. I guess I'm surprised at the differences between 2 equally priced carts (though MC vs MM with vastly different outputs).

Wondering if anyone has a similar experience? Am I missing something with Denon / MC using a MM stage?
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby Alec124c41 » 09 Jan 2017 16:02

The Sumiko headshell is heavier than a standard Technics one. That's why your bass is good with the 440.

Cheers, Alec
Keep them spinning.
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby needlestein » 09 Jan 2017 21:41

What you are experiencing never goes away. I think that what when audiophiles describe the new cart as almost universally more exciting in some, most or all ways over the old cartridge, they are really simply dealing with amnesia, reorientation, wear, or just another point of view.

After you listen to the 440 for a while--a good long while--go back to the Denon and see if you aren't suddenly blown away again.

I think swapping cartridges is often like sitting in different chairs at a concert. You gain new things from the point of view and you notice those almost immediately and which are exciting, but you also lose things that you don't usually notice right away unless it's drastic, like moving to a wet seat or one with a view obstructed by a pole.

You think your old seats weren't as good. Then you go back to your old seats after a while and you're like (Hey! This isn't as bad as I remembered and there's a certain feature that I think is pretty cool!).

It's like this with cars, cameras--anything I ever had enough of to compare.

That isn't to say that there aren't leaps forward, like moving from the nosebleeds to the middle of the house, or even up to the first row. There are, of course. But I do think that mostly we are just moving furniture so to speak, but also learning something along the way.

This is why it's very difficult for me to say that one cartridge over another is better. I pretty much limit myself in reviews to pointing out differences. The Denon DL-110 is airy with a wide sound stage and plenty of depth and height in the soundstage. Highs should be a bit more crystalline in character--more shimmer in the cymbals. This is characteristic of "the moving coil sound." But the 440 is more focused and tracks like a mongoose. Detail rendering should be tighter and transients should have more impact and greater detail.

Which one is better? That's up to you.
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby RDC » 10 Jan 2017 13:18

Just read this as I am going to be deciding between those two myself. Very good summing up - really applies to all other equipment too! (and just about everything).
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby balky » 12 Jan 2017 10:24

I own the two of them (and also use the 1210 MKII).
I swap regularly between the two depending on which type of music I am playing...

I use the DL-110 mostly for Jazz and AT440 mostly for Disco (80ies)
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby needlestein » 12 Jan 2017 18:07

balky wrote:I own the two of them (and also use the 1210 MKII).
I swap regularly between the two depending on which type of music I am playing...

I use the DL-110 mostly for Jazz and AT440 mostly for Disco (80ies)


That's a great strategy. As they say, "In audio, there are no free lunches." You can't have it all, and no cartridge that I've run across (and I've run across a few) can do everything well. This is why I either need a turntable with an easily swappable headshell, or some other cartridge sharing strategy like multiple arms on one table. I've never had one table with multiple arms, but I have tons of cartridges all mounted in headshells and ready to go.

Some say that if I only invested in one very high quality cartridge that my need to swap cartridges would disappear, but I disagree. Heavy-tracking DJ cartridges do things that no light-tracking "audiophile" cartridge can do, for example, like push the bass into your chest with incredible, startling dynamics and without being flabby.
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Re: AT440ML/OCC vs. Denon DL-110 (technics 1200)

Postby balky » 12 Jan 2017 19:05

needlestein wrote:
balky wrote:I own the two of them (and also use the 1210 MKII).
I swap regularly between the two depending on which type of music I am playing...

I use the DL-110 mostly for Jazz and AT440 mostly for Disco (80ies)


That's a great strategy. As they say, "In audio, there are no free lunches." You can't have it all, and no cartridge that I've run across (and I've run across a few) can do everything well. This is why I either need a turntable with an easily swappable headshell, or some other cartridge sharing strategy like multiple arms on one table. I've never had one table with multiple arms, but I have tons of cartridges all mounted in headshells and ready to go.

Some say that if I only invested in one very high quality cartridge that my need to swap cartridges would disappear, but I disagree. Heavy-tracking DJ cartridges do things that no light-tracking "audiophile" cartridge can do, for example, like push the bass into your chest with incredible, startling dynamics and without being flabby.


Well... it can't be better said than you have just said... I mostly use my Ortofon Arkiv when I play my (not that many) Reggae records, got quite a few original studio one pressings and not even the AT OC9-MLII comes anywhere near when the Arkiv gets going with the bass on those records... I agree, it sounds very very CD-like, but it sounds really good...
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