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Thread: Denon DL-103 impedance load

  1. #1
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,166
    I'm Alex.

    Default Denon DL-103 impedance load

    After upgrading my Rega RB300 tonearm to Jelco SA-750E, the new configuration gave new lease on life to my trusted old DL-103.

    I was experimenting with different impedance loads on my phono (iFi Micro iPhono 2). First I compared the sound between going straight into MC inputs vs. going into Denon AU-310 SUT and then into iFi Micro iPhono 2 MM inputs. The SUT didn't sound as good as straight into MC inputs. So Denon SUT is now up for sale.

    Next, I experimented with impedance loads for DL-103. First listened to 100ohms, then to 250ohms, and finally to 1000ohms. The difference between 100ohms and 250ohms was subtle, and quite difficult to discern. But the moment I jumped to 1000ohms, the cart came to life! It is amazing what a difference 1000ohms make in this configuration. It's as if someone flipped the light switch on.

    I find that surprising, because if memory serves most people recommend choosing 100ohms for DL-103. What's the consensus among DL-103 fans on this forum? Is optimal load dependent on particular configuration, or are there values that in general guarantee best results regardless of the tonearm/phono?
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2008

    Location: Down South

    Posts: 2,418
    I'm Neal.

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    100 ohm load for a 103? not in my book Rule of thumb is 10x the cartridge R. The 103 is 40ohms so I would use 400ohm as a starting point, then tweak to suit. I tend to load the 103 at 330 ohm, suits my ears and system.
    Listening in a Foo free Zone...

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 109,843
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Lol... Well, here we'll simply have to agree to disagree. I've always loaded 'vanilla' 103s (the R and some other models are different) at 100ohms, and it's never failed to sound superb. Think about what Denon's own (fixed) SUTs, designed to be used with the 103, load it at... Yup, 100ohms! And that's no accident either

    There can be some advantages, in my experience, depending on the sonic synergy of the partnering phono stage, to load it slightly higher, at up to 250ohms, but 1000ohms, sorry Alex, not for me.

    However..... At the end of the day, if to YOUR ears in YOUR system it sounds best loaded at 1000 ohms, or in Neal's case, 330ohms, for whatever reason (as achieving optimal cartridge loading for SONIC, not merely electrical purposes, is somewhat of a black art), then ultimately that's all that matters!

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,166
    I'm Alex.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Lol... Well, here we'll simply have to agree to disagree. I've always loaded 'vanilla' 103s (the R and some other models are different) at 100ohms, and it's never failed to sound superb. Think about what Denon's own (fixed) SUTs, designed to be used with the 103, load it at... Yup, 100ohms! And that's no accident either

    There can be some advantages, in my experience, depending on the sonic synergy of the partnering phono stage, to load it slightly higher, at up to 250ohms, but 1000ohms, sorry Alex, not for me.

    However..... At the end of the day, if to YOUR ears in YOUR system it sounds best loaded at 1000 ohms, or in Neal's case, 330ohms, for whatever reason (as achieving optimal cartridge loading for SONIC, not merely electrical purposes, is somewhat of a black art), then ultimately that's all that matters!

    Marco.
    Yes Marco, I was surprised too. Received wisdom teaches that 100ohms is ideal for DL-103. However, using Denon AU-310 SUT (presumably calibrated at 100ohms) gave me a ho-hum sound. Switching to straight to MC inputs with 100ohms gave me a super sweet, pleasing sound which was excessively 'hi fi' and lacked the body, the slam and the fire-breathing that DL-103 is world famous for.

    Upping to 250ohms -- similar thing. Maybe a bit more bite, but that's all. Both 100ohms and 250ohms produced noticeable high frequencies rolloff.

    Then, with 1000ohms -- bingo! Fire breathing, molten lava, but with loads of finer details. Maybe not so much 'oh my god, ultra high-end hi fi' sound, but lots of balls. Bach's Branderburg concertos sound fierce on 1000ohms.

    I measured SPL on all configurations, and they were kind of similar. Maybe 1000ohms config is a tad louder, but nothing significant.

    So weird, eh?
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 109,843
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    Hi Alex,

    Hope you're keeping well, btw! Anyway....

    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    Yes Marco, I was surprised too. Received wisdom teaches that 100ohms is ideal for DL-103. However, using Denon AU-310 SUT (presumably calibrated at 100ohms) gave me a ho-hum sound. Switching to straight to MC inputs with 100ohms gave me a super sweet, pleasing sound which was excessively 'hi fi' and lacked the body, the slam and the fire-breathing that DL-103 is world famous for.
    Yup, but that could be just as much down to the AU-310 being a "ho hum" SUT, as the effect of 100ohms loading, or you may just prefer how things sound directly, without an SUT... In that respect, much will depend on the design and overall quality of the phono stage.

    The AU-310 is no more than an average sounding entry-level SUT, and so incapable of *optimising* a 103. For that, if you want to use an SUT and stay with Denon, you need to look at the AU-103: http://www.auduo-1.com/newgoods/C-D/...103/AU103.html

    Quite simply, top-notch transformers cost money! Or even better in my experience, is going the active route with a head amp, and using a Denon HA-500. That will really make your 103 sing (especially when updated with new caps, etc)!

    Upping to 250ohms -- similar thing. Maybe a bit more bite, but that's all. Both 100ohms and 250ohms produced noticeable high frequencies rolloff.

    Then, with 1000ohms -- bingo! Fire breathing, molten lava, but with loads of finer details. Maybe not so much 'oh my god, ultra high-end hi fi' sound, but lots of balls. Bach's Branderburg concertos sound fierce on 1000ohms.

    I measured SPL on all configurations, and they were kind of similar. Maybe 1000ohms config is a tad louder, but nothing significant.

    So weird, eh?
    Loading at 1000ohms, compared to 100ohms will result in a markedly louder sound, so yes that *is* significant, as you can only judge these things properly by level-matching. The loudness advantage will be particularly significant if the partnering phono stage lacks a little in gain, simply because the resulting 'boost' will, sonically, cause a perceived increase in drive and 'dynamics', but which of course is false, not real.

    I can say with some certainty, based on my many years of using DL-103s, that loading it at 1000ohms will result in a much brighter sound than it was designed to produce, and so I'd suggest that the reason why you enjoy that setting is probably because of a deficiency elsewhere in your system (perhaps with the partnering phono stage and/or set up of the cartridge), causing it to sound duller than normal - and which you're trying to address by loading the cartridge much higher than is recommended.

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  6. #6
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,166
    I'm Alex.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Hi Alex,

    Hope you're keeping well, btw! Anyway....
    Hi Marco,

    I'm finding myself more and more drawn into music, getting together with friends, playing music, recording, listening to records, tweaking audio gear. This is partly due to the unbearably awful political climate (reality TV host presiding over the US, Brexit, many other things, let's not open that tired can of worms). So I'm retreating into my man cave, don't want to know about those idiots leading us to the precipice. Head in the sand...

    How are things with you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Yup, but that could be just as much down to the AU-310 being a "ho hum" SUT, as the effect of 100ohms loading, or you may just prefer how things sound without an SUT... In that respect, much will depend on the design and overall quality of the phono stage.

    The AU-310 is no more than an average sounding entry-level SUT, and so incapable of *optimising* a 103. For that, if you want to use an SUT and stay with Denon, you need to look at the AU-103: http://www.auduo-1.com/newgoods/C-D/...103/AU103.html

    Quite simply, top-notch transformers cost money! Or even better in my experience, is going the active route with a head amp, and using a Denon HA-500. That will really make your 103 sing (especially when updated with new caps, etc)!
    Thanks for the suggestions! I'll consider upgrading...

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Loading at 1000ohms, compared to 100ohms will result in a markedly louder sound, so yes that *is* significant, as you can only judge these things properly by level-matching - and that loudness advantage will be particularly significant if the partnering phono stage lacks a little in gain, simply because the resulting 'boost' will, sonically, cause a perceived increase in drive and 'dynamics', but which of course is false, not real.

    I can say with some certainty, based on my many years of using DL-103s, that loading it at 1000ohms will result in a much brighter sound than it was designed to produce, and so I'd suggest that the reason why you enjoy that setting is because of a deficiency elsewhere in your system (perhaps with the partnering phono stage), causing it to sound duller than normal; a problem which you're trying to address by loading the cartridge much higher than is recommended.

    Marco.
    Makes perfect sense. In my case, I've tried to adjust the volume to make sure all four settings (with SUT, with 100ohms, 250ohms, 1000ohms) are playing at approximately same level (impossible to do, I know, but I was doing my best to stay in the ballpark).

    So, at very similar SPLs, all four configurations sound different. The 1000ohms sounds staggeringly different. Much brighter? I don't think so. It's more like much more powerful -- wider/deeper soundstage, more precise imaging, more palpable bass, more extended highs.

    One of the reasons I decide to reach back to my old DL-103 is precisely because I was finding my system too bright. I attributed that to Ortofon OM20, which does have a characteristic clinical, analytical sound (often sounding close to CDs). So, far from being dull sounding, my system was bothering me with all that brightness.

    Sure enough, DL-103 brought things back to pleasant. No trace of brightness. No trace of clinical, analytical rendering.

    Like I said, with 100ohms, DL-103 sounds super sweet, mellow, extremely pleasant. But so do many other mid-range MC cartridges, so there isn't anything characteristically DL-103 I could hear in that configuration. And I also felt that other, more expensive cartridges, are better at playing that 'mellow, sweet and warm' hi fi game. DL-103 is unique, one of a kind, and on my system it shows its colours with 1000ohms. That could indeed be caused by some other anomaly in my chain, I don't know. Certainly worth upgrading to 103 SUT or Denon HA-500 in order to find out.

    Thank you so much for sharing your formidable DL-103 wisdom
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Feb 2008

    Location: Down South

    Posts: 2,418
    I'm Neal.

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    May I ask how you are adjusting the loading? A SUT doesn’t IME have a characteristic impedance but some inductance, some primary and secondary DC resistance and a step ratio.
    Listening in a Foo free Zone...

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

  8. #8
    Join Date: May 2010

    Location: Vancouver, Canada

    Posts: 2,166
    I'm Alex.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NRG View Post
    May I ask how you are adjusting the loading? A SUT doesn’t IME have a characteristic impedance but some inductance, some primary and secondary DC resistance and a step ratio.
    I'm adjusting the loading on the phono preamp (iFi Micro iPhono 2).
    Don't you just hate it when you cannot detect where the post ends and a signature line begins?

    Alex.

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Essex

    Posts: 26,061
    I'm openingabottleofwine.

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    I use 390R + 4.7nF.

    Using 100R, I find the DL103 sounds a bit 'closed in' (for want of a better description), whereas using 1000R, the sound is a bit too 'lively' with an uncontrolled or bright treble.
    Barry

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 109,843
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by magiccarpetride View Post
    Hi Marco,

    I'm finding myself more and more drawn into music, getting together with friends, playing music, recording, listening to records, tweaking audio gear. This is partly due to the unbearably awful political climate (reality TV host presiding over the US, Brexit, many other things, let's not open that tired can of worms). So I'm retreating into my man cave, don't want to know about those idiots leading us to the precipice. Head in the sand...

    How are things with you?
    I'm cool mate, as always! I know, don't talk to me about Brexit bull - the lunacy and repetitiveness of it all bores the SHITE out of me... Far more important, as you say, is just enjoying life, listening to music and having fun with your system

    Thanks for the suggestions! I'll consider upgrading...
    Lol - only if YOU feel you need to! The fact is, however, that SUTs come into their own at a price point considerably in excess of that of the AU-310. It's a good little device, but really only suitable for giving you a taste of what SUTs can do. Another recommendation, and which works superbly well with a 103, is the little Lentek head amp: https://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/in...p?topic=2317.0

    Cheap as chips, and a superb match for the 103! You should keep a lookout for one.

    The 1000ohms sounds staggeringly different. Much brighter? I don't think so. It's more like much more powerful -- wider/deeper soundstage, more precise imaging, more palpable bass, more extended highs.
    Does it sound "much more powerful" though, due to it being louder? That's what you have to rule out. However, if you're experiencing all those other benefits, then that suggests something more fundamental is happening.

    One of the reasons I decide to reach back to my old DL-103 is precisely because I was finding my system too bright. I attributed that to Ortofon OM20, which does have a characteristic clinical, analytical sound (often sounding close to CDs). So, far from being dull sounding, my system was bothering me with all that brightness.

    Sure enough, DL-103 brought things back to pleasant. No trace of brightness. No trace of clinical, analytical rendering.

    Like I said, with 100ohms, DL-103 sounds super sweet, mellow, extremely pleasant. But so do many other mid-range MC cartridges, so there isn't anything characteristically DL-103 I could hear in that configuration. And I also felt that other, more expensive cartridges, are better at playing that 'mellow, sweet and warm' hi fi game. DL-103 is unique, one of a kind, and on my system it shows its colours with 1000ohms. That could indeed be caused by some other anomaly in my chain, I don't know. Certainly worth upgrading to 103 SUT or Denon HA-500 in order to find out.

    Thank you so much for sharing your formidable DL-103 wisdom
    No worries, Alex. We're all here to share our experiences and help each other if we can. There's a lot to analyse in what you've just written there, and trust me I don't dispute for one second that in your system your 103 sounds best loaded at 1000ohms.

    However, equally, I can also say with some certainty that my 103 doesn't in mine, and nor has any other 103 I've used (in various different systems) since I first stared using them back in 1981/2, where it was partnered with a Lentek head amp (loading at 100ohms) and the MM stage of a Sondex S-230 solid-state amp.

    Plus, what's really rather strange is unlike others here, including yourself, any 103 I've used in any system I've owned has fundamentally *never* sounded 'dull', loaded at 100ohms - indeed almost the complete opposite, and to my ears just 'right', and how I'd traditionally expect a 103 to sound: ballsy, dynamic, lucid, detailed, weighty, as I simply couldn't live with a dull sound.

    Moreover, as I've already said, why do Denon's own SUTs (and head amps), which were intended to be used with a 103, all load it fixed at 100ohms, if it's going to result in a dull sound?

    That simply doesn't make sense, and as I've said, isn't in any way reflected in my experience. Plus, it's not as if your system sounded a bit dull, so you were loading your 103 at 1000ohms to get a brighter sound... That doesn't apply either. So one wonders what's going on...?

    I've certainly always used a 103, in conjunction with a top-notch T/T and tonearm, all of which has been immaculately set up, and with high-quality (highly revealing) partnering equipment, especially phono stage, but I'm sure that's also the case for the likes of Neal and Barry, who both claim a 'dull sound' when loading a 103 at 100ohms, so I'm afraid that one has me stumped!

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


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