Free Shipping on All Orders 1-866-764-1801

Vist our Online Store
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1

    Member Sales Rating: (12)

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Plainfield, Illinois
    Posts
    5,385

    Default Denon 103R Cartridge Aluminum Body Mod

    The Denon 103R is a low output (.25mV) MC (moving coil) cartridge that retails for $379. It is a low compliance cartridge and is not compatible with all tonearms. It is a great bang for the buck cartridge, provided it gets along with your tonearm and you have a phono pre amp you can pair it with. You need sufficient gain (50dB or greater) and be able to adjust the input impedance to the manufacturer suggested 100 Ohms.

    The basics. Getting rid of the plastic body on the Denon 103R changes the physical resonance of the cartridge and will have an effect on the sound. You can run the cartridge nude, but many folks report that adding a wood or aluminum body is a very good thing. The added mass is said to improve broad-band resonance suppression compared to the light plastic body. Folks say it transforms this cartridge from a very good to a great one, CP members Carl (schwarcw) and Larry (analog97) among them. Adding mass also increases compliance with the tonearm.

    The process. Note that you can easily render your cartridge useless by breaking the coil wires, knocking the stylus off or bending/breaking/removing the cantilever. I didn't stop to take pics while nuding mine; didn't want any break in concentration.





    A nude your Denon body video on you tube.

    http://youtu.be/-ENq8PoXhaU

    Some of the best cartridges use boron, ruby, or diamond cantilevers. If you want your re-bodied Denon to be able to get into the ring with cartridges costing thousands of dollars, send it to Soundsmith to replace the aluminum cantilever with a Ruby cantilever/ Nude "Contact Line" diamond ($250) or their top of the line Ruby cantilever/Nude "Optimized Contour" Contact Line Diamond ($350). They also have a wood body with brass plate option they will sell you and install for a fee.

    IIRC Zu Audio was the first to offer a Denon 103 with an aluminum body. They also tested and graded cartridges, with the better matched channel ones selling for a premium price. Wood bodies such as Uwe were/are offered in a variety of hardwoods (Ebony, Panzerholz, African Rosewood). Wood bodies are said to be softer or relaxed in presentation compared the aluminum bodies. Zu also potted them, that is using a small amount of epoxy (not completely filled) to securely hold the cartridge to the new body. Most DIY folks just go with a friction or press fit into the replacement bodies. I've also seen a tiny Allen screw used in an aluminum body that tightens against the cartridge frame.

    Since I am a detail freak with esoteric tastes (extremely dynamic, neutral with shades of warmth) I went with an aluminum body. I used wood glue to secure the cartridge to the body in the event I wish to remove the cartridge (hopefully anyway). ISOkinetic is a popular supplier of quality aluminum bodies available in three colors for the Denon priced at 79.99 euro ($101). Knock offs of wood or aluminum bodies are also available on ebay but you would have to research if they are quality.

    ISOkinetic web site.

    http://www.cabezon.eu/index.php?cPat...776f087b4fbe86

    I purchased my Midas aluminum body from David (daiwok), a Lenco Heaven forum member whom lives in Hong Kong. It ran me 105 euro ($132). Shipping was free to Lenco Heaven forum members. It is priced higher than other aluminum bodies but I liked his rounded corner design shape (he offers both squared and rounded corner bodies) and it was supplied with a stylus guard. The stylus guard is also sold separately for 18 euro ($23) and fits Uwe and ISOkinetic bodies. I like a guard as I do swap between two arms and it helps keep my stylus/cantilever safer. Some tape on the sides of the guard prevents marring of the body.







    Lenco Heaven web site (but you have to be a member to view the Market Place/Traders forum).

    http://www.lencoheaven.net/


    My Turntable. Rest of gear in sig.



    A heavy plinth, trimmed top plate heavy platter Lenco idler drive named Beveley in Cadillac Black. If done properly, there isn't an arm or cartridge a modded Lenco could not run. (The list of tables folks gave up when they got their modded Lenco is pretty impressive). My mods include a heavy layered Baltic Birch glued and screwed plinth with a larger aftermarket stainless spindle and bearing. Table, metal idler and Swiss made motor disassembled and re-lubed. The field coils were precisely adjusted around the motor armature to ensure minimum vibration and maximum speed/torque.

    An Advanced Analog MG-1 air bearing liner tracking tonearm is installed. The MG-1 has the option of damping but I'd prefer to not damp a tonearm. I run two mats to further isolate the idler drive platter from the record. A rubber mat sits on the platter and then a Boston Audio Mat 1 on top of that which is made of carbon graphite. The spindle hole on the Mat 1 is large enough so it can be adjusted to not contact the spindle. The table has a very dynamic sound and speed is constant no matter what a record groove throws at it.

    My Lenco build thread.

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/show...ject&p=1786185



    My Impressions.

    LP's used;
    Jennifer Warnes /Famous Blue Raincoat 180g 45rpm 3LP Box Set.
    Steely Dan / Gaucho 200g Universal Japan pressing.
    Rob Wasserman / Duets 180g German pressing.
    Madonna / Something to Remember German pressing.


    After 75 hours of break in, I did some serious listening to the listed LP's then modded the cartridge. Compared to the Denon plastic body, the 103R with aluminum body sounds cleaner and more solid in the overall presentation. To me it sounds like more information with less distortion from top to bottom. Mid band clarity and high frequency extension became greater and more refined yet still remained musical.

    My other cartridge is a Dynavector Karat 17D3. Compared to the Midas bodied Denon, it has even better defined bass, and a more fleshed out and articulate midrange (much better detail and transparency) along with an even more refined top end. I can also run less VTF (tracking force) with the Karat (1.5g per Soundsmith, 1.9g mfr suggested versus the 103R's 2.3 g).

    The Karat does retail at a higher price compared to what I have in the Denon (Denon 103R with aluminum body $512 retail versus Karat at $1150 retail). Since I have the Karat, I won't invest any more in the Midas bodied Denon. I had my Karat inspected by Soundsmith and they say it has another 1K hours left in it if I don't abuse it. Unsure of what the economy will be like at that time, but I'd surely consider a Soundsmith Ruby cantilever upgrade for my Denon to get more out of it versus plunking down $1K or more on a cartridge.

    In summary, doing the Denon body mod is worth it if you have the nerve to nude it. It got me closer to my better cartridge with a small investment. Your tonearm may need additional counterweights added due to the increased mass added by the body. I cobbled an added weight to get me by until I am able to figure the exact weight of the proper counterweight needed and order one.
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 06-30-2012 at 06:18 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  2. #2

    Member Sales Rating: (10)

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Winfield, IL
    Posts
    1,333

    Default

    Cool writeup, Rich. I mistakenly remembered your table was Beverly, not Beveley. Bevel cuts on the plinth, yes? She remains a beaut.

    How challenging was the work on the Denon compared to the micro-soldering involved in your DAC project? I just may let you in on my own DAC modding project.

  3. #3

    Member Sales Rating: (12)

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Plainfield, Illinois
    Posts
    5,385

    Default

    Thanks Jay. Cutting the plastic body off isn't too bad. You just can't quit thinking about that stylus/cantilever while cutting/removing the body. Then you watch where you grab the nuded cartridge.

    The tiny Litz wire used on the tonearms is pretty challenging to solder. The connectors need more heat than the wire. I have a clean area on the bench when you are ready. Don't you have crossovers to do as well?
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  4. #4

    Member Sales Rating: (3)

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    328

    Default

    Another very informative write-up. Your experience is similar to mine. The Denon 103 in these aluminum bodies is well worth the effort. Considering that a 103 can be purchased for under $200, it's difficult to imagine a better buck-bang than this combo. The upgrades from Soundsmith are also intriguing. The improved cantilever/stylus shape may offer improvement that would approach the $1,200-$2,000 cartridges.

    Rich, that's a nice stylus guard...I assume it came with the Midas? There is no stylus guard that come with the Isokinetik.

    Thanks for your skill and taking the time to share this story.

  5. #5

    Member Sales Rating: (10)

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Winfield, IL
    Posts
    1,333

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SCompRacer View Post
    The tiny Litz wire used on the tonearms is pretty challenging to solder. The connectors need more heat than the wire. I have a clean area on the bench when you are ready. Don't you have crossovers to do as well?
    Yep, got crossovers to do in very near future. Should have Gimpod boards in very soon & have the caps/resistors in my possession, need to secure a few small parts in order to be wholly ready for that. I've done crossovers before and the nice macro-size of all parts doesn't intimidate me at all, desoldering tiny parts on electronics PCBs does spook me a bit! Let's look on the calendar for a date this month to get together.

  6. #6

    Member Sales Rating: (16)

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Six 'Burgh (Pittsburgh), PA
    Posts
    6,885

    Default

    Thanks for your review Rich!

    I like the stylus guard and also the stylus guide on the front of the Midas. I miss that. I have a new 103R sitting in a box. I am contemplating a cantilever upgrade. The modded 103R has to be the best bang for the buck in a low output MC. I think Comet Supply has the 103R in stock for around $230, about $100 for the ISOKinetic. As noted it would take around $1,000 to get to a better cartridge,

    I am dying to hear that table with the air arm!!
    Carl

  7. #7

    Member Sales Rating: (12)

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Plainfield, Illinois
    Posts
    5,385

    Default

    Thank you all for the kind words! Thanks to Carl and Larry for the encouragement to do the body swap!


    Quote Originally Posted by analog97 View Post

    Rich, that's a nice stylus guard...I assume it came with the Midas? There is no stylus guard that come with the Isokinetik.
    Yes, the stylus guard came with the Midas body and is also available separately. A little DIY effort could also make one from some thin aluminum.

    Quote Originally Posted by agfrost View Post
    Let's look on the calendar for a date this month to get together.
    Most Saturdays and Sundays free, weekdays are still OT hell. Email me with some dates so I can let my boss know.


    Quote Originally Posted by schwarcw View Post

    I like the stylus guard and also the stylus guide on the front of the Midas. I am dying to hear that table with the air arm!!
    I like the stylus guide too. It helps my old eyes get the drop right. I look forward to your visit! One thing the large body does is make alignment difficult. I have a narrow angle to view the stylus on the target from the side using a light source from the front.

    Some folks at Lenco Heaven actually fit various MM cartridges in the aluminum Midas body and report improvements. Some members have made wood bodies for various cartridges. Lenco Heaven is truly representative of a worldwide forum where English is not a first language for many members. You see systems running from very modest to wild. The shared common bond is the pursuit of the best vinyl playback. You will see mostly Lenco along with other brand turntables in OEM form and with various levels of mods. It is well worth a visit there.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Salk SoundScape 8's
    Krell KRC-HR Class A Pre w/ Reference Phono
    Krell Class A KSA-250
    Harmonic Technology Pro 9+
    Squeezebox Touch / Welborne Labs PS / I2S Out Mod
    Denon 3910 w/I2S/DSD Out
    Twisted Pear Buffalo III Dual Mono ESS Sabre32 DAC
    Sennheiser HD650
    Heavy Plinth Lenco L75 Idler Drive
    AA MG-1 Linear Air Bearing Arm
    AT33PTG/II & Denon 103R
    Shunyata Hydra (Original)
    NHT B-12d subs
    GIK Acoustic Treatments


    CP Showcase

  8. #8

    Member Sales Rating: (16)

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    In A Van Down By The River
    Posts
    21,240

    Default

    As usual Rich, very cool!

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

     

Similar Threads

  1. For Sale Denon DL-160 MC Cartridge
    By starkiller in forum For Sale (FS) Classifieds
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 08-05-2010, 04:22 AM
  2. Wanted Denon 103R cartridge or ZU
    By HB27 in forum Wanted (WTB) Classifieds
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-26-2010, 09:41 PM
  3. Wanted Ortofon OMP or OM Super Cartridge body only
    By Fongolio in forum Wanted (WTB) Classifieds
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-01-2010, 04:09 PM
  4. Alternatives for Denon DL-160 cartridge?
    By Bubinga99 in forum Electronics
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 11-12-2009, 01:12 PM
  5. Wanted Denon DL-160 cartridge
    By ajcllc in forum Wanted (WTB) Classifieds
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-19-2009, 03:49 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts