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Author Topic: Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge  (Read 5310 times)

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Offline raymonda

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Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge
« on: May 11, 2015, 10:42:24 AM »
I just picked up a Denon DL301 MK II, LOMC cartridge to play with and have been listening to it throughout the weekend and must say that this budget priced piece is really a fantastic bargain. Out of the box it showed great promise...with a rich low end and smooth, but organic high end. The mids were a bit problematic but this was most like due to the suspension not yet broken it. Over the ensuing 15 hours the cartridge really started to bloom, with the mids and the highs opening up. Not fully broken in yet, this cartridge, again, leans towards that rich low end. If it tightens up a bit over time that would be icing on the cake. Detail retrieval is good. You can really hear down in the mix. Reverb tails are striking and easily discernible.  The noise floor is good, with only a hint of mist at louder volumes. It tracks well at 1.2 grams and has not demonstrated any problems in that department, as I threw a few difficult albums at it.

I have owned a few Denons...DL 103, DL110 and a Dl160 and, even at this point in time, I can say that this might be my favorite of the Denons. Is it as good as my more expensive Benz? Well, no. But then again my Benz cost 4 to 5 times as much. However, this is a fantastic cartridge that might possibly be the "beer budget/champagne taste" smart buy! I can't wait to hear how this is going to sound after another 50 hrs or so.

« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 11:53:20 AM by raymonda »

Offline raymonda

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Re: Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2015, 10:43:11 AM »
Oh, and BTW, it crushed the Grado Platinum Reference!

Offline raymonda

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Re: Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 10:22:20 AM »
So, I've put some more hours on this cartridge and have been really impressed with what it brings to the table. No pun intended! I'm using it with my highly modded Thorens TD 850/Origin Live/Michell Tecnoarm, into an AcousTech PH1 into Audible Illusions M3A. The amplifiers being used are Rogue M120's driving highly Modded Magnepan MGIIIA's. M&K high pass is used, as well as a pair of M&K 150 subs. (I'm listing the chain to give you a total picture of what is being used to evaluate the sound.)

Anyway, I would suggest that anyone looking for a top-notch, refined and balance moving coil but does not have more that a dozen Ben Franklin's laying around might find this little gem a worthy substitute for more pricey units. Granted, I have not heard everything in this price range but I have owned and listen to many of the other so called giant killers, none of which, IMO, really are.

Okay, so what do I like about this cartridge and what makes it special? Well, in the above listed system it brings a dynamic well resolving natural presentation. It uncovers details that other cartridges in this price range mask over. It plays the soul of the music and sits very well in your ear. You can listen to the cartridge for hours without fatigue. No, make that, you want to listen for hours to this cartridge. Finally, the price is right. Although it goes for around $325.00, or so, It can be found for $275 and at that price it is a steal!

Why should you pay more for a higher price MC? Well, if you have the money you can improve upon all the traits of the Denon 301II but it will come at a price. I've listen to $800-1200 cartridges that do not offer anything that this gem doesn't offer. However, to run this cartridge you will need a phono stage that can power it. It is a LOMC with .4 output, so MM phono stages need not apply.

For those that follow the Denon line of cartridges you know that the 160 was discontinued a few years back and the 110's price was doubled from $125 to $250 or so. This cartridge's price has held firm at $350 but I wouldn't be surprised if they raise the price on this too. As Janis said, "Get it while you can"!

« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 10:29:47 AM by raymonda »

Offline thunderbolt

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Re: Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 04:11:05 PM »
I've used this cartridge too (still have it, and should probably swap it back in), and I agree that it's a giant killer.  You have to spend quite a bit more to get a big leap forward in sound.  I run it with C-J amp/preamp, HW-19 Mk. IV/TNT platter, and a Graham 2.2 tonearm.


Offline raymonda

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Re: Denon DL 301 MkII cartridge
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 05:25:45 PM »
I've used this cartridge too (still have it, and should probably swap it back in), and I agree that it's a giant killer.  You have to spend quite a bit more to get a big leap forward in sound.  I run it with C-J amp/preamp, HW-19 Mk. IV/TNT platter, and a Graham 2.2 tonearm.

 I bet that Graham would really sing on my table.

 

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