View Full Version : Crossroads ? stick with 103Pro or Troika rebirth ?

06-02-2009, 19:05
I have been using my 103Pro in my recently Audioorigami rewired Ittok LVIII (with 6 gram ballast weight) for some time and am now wondering what to do when the tip wears out. It would seem that I have in fact never heard what my cartridge is really capable of as many, Marco amongst them, seem to think the 103 really needs a much heavier arm to really sing even going so far as to imply taking a completely different tack (change t/t and arm) while others insist that a good Ittok really deserves a Troika or similar. TBH I canīt see myself changing my deck (LP12/Norton) at this stage of the game so what should I do ? start looking round for a buggered Troika ready to send it to Exco or get my 103Pro retipped by them when the time comes ?

I like my system, especially since incorporating the Haufe trannies, but there again Iīve never driven a Rolls either and wouldnīt turn my nose up. Living abroad I am not in a position to audition these alternatives to see what I am or have been (or havenīt been) missing out on.
The logical answer would be to get a Troika, rejuvenate it, try it and then decide which I prefer but that would involve much time, and maybe needless expense etc. Any other bright ideas .........

07-02-2009, 10:12
If it where me I'd change the cart. If you like the LP12 and the presentation get a cart more suited to the tictoc....or you could truly put the 'cart before the horse' :eyebrows: and build your front end around the 103 Pro.....new arm / deck etc etc.

07-02-2009, 10:32
I agree with Neal, particularly with the first part of his post. Much as I love the 103 I would not recommend that anyone rebuilds their existing system around it. It would be different if you were starting off from scratch.

It's quite clear, Chris, that you enjoy the sound of your LP12 and Ittok - and why not, it's a classic combination (particularly with the Norton PSU), so I would be tempted to go the Troika route, or perhaps even an Akiva if you can afford it, or find a good used one at the right price.

However, it's also equally clear that you enjoy the sound of the 103, even on an non-ideal arm, so why not get Johnnie to make you a heavier ballast weight (and c/w at the other end to balance it out) for your Ittok so that you get more out of your 103Pro?

I know from experience that the 103 needs 20g of mass at the headshell to perform optimally, so it's a matter of ascertaining what weight the existing headshell is on the Ittok and getting a ballast weight to make up the difference. I think that could potentially give you the best all-round result and the satisfaction you crave.


07-02-2009, 10:41
I use a Troika which has been re-tipped by Expert Stylus (I've just recently had it done again) and strongly recommend this cartridge to you. The Troika has a not dissimilar tonal balance than the 103 but this is coupled to a greater dynamic range and increased subtlety of shading - better detail too.

07-02-2009, 11:01
You could have both, Chris ;)

Increase the effective mass of your Troika to optimise the 103Pro and have a nice re-tipped Troika...

Then simply change cartridges as your mood or the type of music you're listening to dictates :)


I agree with your observations on the 103, but using it with the right arm (high-mass) and step-up transformers cures most of the deficiencies you mention.


07-02-2009, 13:18
Thanks Mark and Marco,

First stop. Find a suitable Troika candidate. Any ideas ? Does it matter to Expert if it is really buggered - can the insides be completely rebuilt by them or better to wait around for a decent working example ?


11-02-2009, 12:18
While I am waiting for the right Troika to crop up, what if I pick up an unused, unopened NOS AT-32E to see the effect of a cartridge theoretically more suited to an Ittok than my 103PRO. Its body shape is the precursor of the AT-33ptg that many are recommending and IT has an elliptical tip. I seem to remember people liking it a lot way back when (Jimmy Hughes ?).I know what they say about perishable rubber parts but from other NOS cartridges of similar vintage that I have bought for friends from this ex AT distributor, I donīt really think will be too much of a problem.
Does anyone remember this cartridge and does it resemble the Troika in any way, even the mechanical properties ? compliance etc.
In the worst case escenario I daresay I could probably get some or all my money back on ebay.

13-02-2009, 18:25
Well, Iīve been and done it. Picked up what would be an immaculate Troika if it werenīt for its futuristic cantilever shape. So itīs over to you, Mr. Hodgson.

See yīall in about 3 months

13-02-2009, 20:06
Nice one, Chris. Keep us posted on how you get on :)


14-02-2009, 13:36
Will do Marco.
By the way, I daresay most Troikas were used in their day with Naim K boards and things. Did anyone ever use one with a SUT and if so what value should it look at ideally. When I eventually get it set up Iīll try it with the Haufes at 40 ohms but just in case Iīll hang on to my variable value Audio-technica AT-650.
By the way, I installed a DL110 in a Technics 1210 today for a mate. I was amazed by how much it improved after playing just 2 LP sides. He is going to Berlin next week, anyone happen to know where he can pick up a Sumiko HS12 (or alternative) heavier headshell in Berlin ?

14-02-2009, 14:36

You're right about Troikas being used with Naim 'K' phono boards, so I think your best port of call would be to ask on the Naim forum as people there (not to mention Naim themselves) are bound to know what the loading value is of the boards. I would suggest from memory it's around 100ohms.

I've not heard a Troika through an MM stage with an SUT, but there's no reason to suggest it wouldn't sound good!