View Full Version : Denon 103SA and 103PRO

24-01-2009, 11:12
Marco, maybe you have overseen my question posted in another tread.
I just wanted to ask you the main audio differences between your (actual) 103SA and the (previous) 103 Pro?
I'm curious if it's a real upgrade in listening.
Do you use the same step up (Audiotoriu23) too?
Ciao from a rainy Rome ---- rainy day, dreams away

24-01-2009, 11:14
Ciao Piero,

Thanks for reminding me about that - I'll get to it later today :)


24-01-2009, 16:03

Yes I'm using the 103SA with the same A23 SUT, and as a combination it sounds utterly stunning! It produces results in my opinion that are well into the 'super-cartridge' league (2000+) :)

The main difference, sonically, between the 'SA' and 'Pro' version is that the 'SA' offers superior filigree detail and 'delicacy' at the top end: the very things that the 103 is often accused of lacking, whilst all the traditional traits of the 103 remain, or indeed are further reinforced, with the 'creamy' sounding 'valve-like' midrange offering a beguiling open window onto the music, and the bass having more 'texture', gravitas and extension.
All in all, the improvements gained are not subtle and translate into one being given a much more complete sonic picture with music as a result of the greater overall control and finesse given by the 'SA'. This is achieved even though the 'SA' has (on paper) a less extended high frequency response compared to the 'Pro'. However, it is simply not what is actually heard with music.

I would put the biggest percentage of the upgrade down to the superior quality body shell of the 'SA', which eliminates the resonances present in the plastic shell of the 103 Pro that serve to muddy the sound and thus restrict its otherwise more extended frequency response, causing the openness and clarity achievable when the A23 SUT is used with either cartridge to be somewhat 'reigned in' and rather more opaque. The other factor is of course the fact that all 'SA' versions are individually selected from the 103R production run as having the most accurately matched electrical specifictions (channel separation, channel output, etc) and this also results in better reproduced stereo through the outputs of both channels being much more closely matched.

Piero, I would say that upgrading from a 103Pro to a 103SA is a complete no-brainer. If you have the money then proceed with confidence! :gig:


26-01-2009, 16:17
Marco, grazie mille, as an italian proverb says:"you're like a pig" meaning by this that you eat everything of a pig without any scraps. This metaphor is perfect for your hi-fi advices every hint is perfect ... making me spend a (lot) of money!
To be more serious. You mentioned that 103SA has a better body but did you try out the 103PRO spoiled from his 3-pence plastic body? I heard that it's easy to brake the cantilever by doing it by ourselves.
Another point is about the prices of 103SA that costs in Japan more then in Europe (about 450 Eur), is it possible or is the japanese model another?

27-01-2009, 07:56
Ciao Piero, e grazie!

:eyebrows: I've not heard of that proverb before.

Comunque mi piace mangiare la porchetta - prendo sempre anche i fagioli bianchi con olio, e sopratutto un bel bicchiere di vino rosso! ;)

Removing the plastic body from the 103Pro does make a difference but I'm not sure that it's the best answer. In my opinion, the correct body is better than no body.

I'm not sure about the Japanese model being any different - I would doubt it. The best (and least expensive) place in Europe now to buy a 103SA is from Dave Cawley at Sound Hi-fi. He is a member of this forum so you can send him a message :)


27-01-2009, 19:15
Another alternative, especially if you already own a DL-103 variant, would be to replace the stock plastic body with a 'uwe' wood body. Apparently easy to do. Look here


for types of wood available, and cost.

Pat O'Malley has done a lot of work with the DL-103 (here) http://home.comcast.net/~omaille/audio/home.html

So has Steve at Analog Dept. http://www.theanalogdept.com/uwe_body.htm

I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Denon-I own a couple of 103Rs, a 103r with a VDH Type 1 cantilever and stylus, and a Zu 103r, as shown here


I have yet to mount the Zu-they recently had a 50% off sale, so I grabbed it for 300.00-barely more than a stock 103r. Sadly, the sale is no longer-but I'll post a listening comparison when I get the chance.

31-01-2009, 18:55
Thanks Frogspit for the interesting links. The problems could only start up to get the body of the 103 because it's easy to break the cantilever.
I'm in contact with Pat O'Malley with his DIY Mods of the Valab Nos Dac that has a great, natural sounding, performance remembering him anyway his 103.