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Author Topic: Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body  (Read 998 times)

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Offline raymonda

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Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body
« on: August 02, 2016, 12:15:27 AM »
OK, so this review is about 50 years too late. Just because the party is almost over doesn't mean it is too late to show up. Better late than never when it comes to something good.

Anyway, I picked up a new DL 103 and let it sit in the box until I got around to buying a slide in ebony body for it. I have no idea how this cartridge sounds sans the woodie, but I've read great things about replacing the plastic body with a woodie, or even an aluminum body. Heck, some reviews say the aluminum is even better, but I went with the ebony.

After watching the you tube video on how to perform the surgical procedures I bought an exacto knife and within 10 minutes I had my modded cartridge. It certainly looked good but how would it sound is the question that needed to be answered. So, immediately I went on my way to my modded out Thorens TD 150, took my Soundsmith Ruby cantilevered Benz Glider off and replaced it with the ebony DL 103.

In short, I was immediately impressed. This cartridge is plain darn fun in all the best ways. It has punch, midrange presence, sweet and organic treble and just plain plays music. Comparing it to my  Benz Micro M.9 it lacks the extension in both direction, as well as the resolution. However, what this inexpensive cartridge does to the enjoyment factor is really surprising. It just touches the soul in a way that is hard to explain and might be all the cartridge one needs if musical satisfaction is the ultimate goal.

Really, this is one freaking great deal for $200, if you are a smart shopper. You get some really good sound that reproduces what is in the groove in a way that really expensive cartridges do. Again, it falls short in extension and resolution, which can be easily heard when you A/B it with a much more expensive cartridge, but what it does within its own context is remarkable in its own right.

Bottom line, if you have a phono amp that can handle low out put moving cartridges you owe it to your self to try one of these and make it a part of your cartridge stable. It will easy become  a cartridge you will turn to when you want to just enjoy tunes. Heck, it might even become your primary cartridge.

Don't let another 50 years go by before you try it out and don't let the low price fool you. This cartridge could sell for much higher and still be a great value. For now it is my favorite Denon.

I'm going to play it until I wear out the diamond, which should be around 300 hours, which is normal for its profile. After which, it will get sent off to the Soundsmith for some magic. I've heard great things about the ruby upgrade and if it is true, I might be thinning out my stable.

« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 01:31:20 AM by raymonda »

Offline Fried Chicken Boy

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Re: Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2016, 01:19:54 PM »
Sounds like you have a real winner there, raymonda.  Did you by any chance take pictures during your project, or have a final shot of the modded Denon on your turntable?  A little gear porn is never a bad thing. :)

Offline raymonda

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Re: Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2016, 01:02:37 AM »
Well, I've made a few more mods to the cartridge. The ebony body has been sanded, filed down and a 3mm carbon fiber spacer added between the head shell and the cartridge body. This seems to have brought it up to the next level. The high end and midrange seem to have opened up a bit more.

Until this mod I actually took the cartridge out of the system and replaced it with my SoundSmith Gilder, which slightly beat out the Denon on a head to head listening session. Now, I'm not so sure. This is sounding might fine. I'll compare it over the next few days. For now it is impressive and sounding darn good.

Ill post some before and after pictures tomorrow.

Offline nickgregory

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Re: Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2016, 08:37:53 AM »
I am always amazed that manufacturers don't do their own evaluation of modifications and build them into their offerings.  Would end up with a better product as you show time and time again.

Offline raymonda

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Re: Denon DL 103 Modded with Ebony body
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2016, 10:25:18 AM »
Here are some shots of the DL 103. The first shot is in the standard ebony body. The rest are after I modded the body. So, what we have is a modded, mod ebony body. The underside shot is before I notched where the nuts go, so to recess them. Otherwise I had to use larger screws since the body wasn't tapped for standard headshell screws. Using larger screws was a bit problematic since with some headshells the larger ones wouldn't play nice. Now it can be used with standard screws.

BTW, I've relisted the TD150 with this cartridge in yardsale. I've added the cart, extra arm board, extra copper platter and knob at no extra price.

Ray
« Last Edit: August 29, 2016, 01:45:27 PM by raymonda »

 

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