Denon DL-103 MC cartridge

Low output MC cartridge 

Stylus: conical

Made in Japan

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Manufacturer : DENON

350,00 €

Shipped within 3 to 5 working days Available within 1 or 2 weeks


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The Denon DL-103 MC cartridge was initially designed in 1964. It was thought out in collaboration with the Japan Broadcasting Corporation Research Laboratories. The initial project was to conceive a high performance and high reliability cartridge for broadcasting purposes, and particularly Japanese AM and FM broadcasting stations.


The DL-103 low output MC cartridge is still manufactured today thanks to its simple and approved design, and superb reliability. This is therefore a low output and high impedance MC cartridge.

The pretty low 0.3 mV output voltage requires an MC phono preamplifier having a 64-dB gain minimum. It’s impossible to use a transformer because of the excessive internal resistance (40 ohms), unless you have the original transformer which was offered by Denon.

The armature of the Denon DL-103 is placed in parallel magnetic fields. The coils are wound around the armature, they’re in charge of generating voltage when the moving system is going. The phono cartridge design is perfectly symmetrical between the left and right channels to obtain stable dynamic characteristics.

The moving system is maintained by a short and thin piano wire.

One of the major features of this system is the fact that the stylus tip moves up and down and from side to side, but does not move in the forward direction of the sound groove. For this reason, an optimum damper can be used regardless of the fulcrum.


The stylus used is very hard and resistant. It’s cut and mounted taking the crystal's orientation into account. It allows the hardest part to be in contact with the groove of the record.

This stylus is historically conical. It’s mounted on a two-part light alloy cantilever. The cantilever double construction helps minimise vibrations while being light and very stout.

The optimum tracking force of the stylus tip is 2.5 g ± 0.3 g.

In the case of an unwarped record in good condition, the stylus pressure may be reduced to 2.2 g.

You should know that the compliance of this cartridge is pretty low so a tonearm with an average/high effective mass (> 14 g) is required.


A cross-shaped armature was been adopted to reduce the equivalent mass. Moving coils for right and left channels are independently and symmetrically wound around the armature. They provide good dynamic balance and involve little difference in sensitivity between the right and left channels.

Each Denon DL-103 MC cartridge is still individually adjusted and finished by hand.


It’s important to choose a well-conceived tonearm providing good dynamic response. It must have above 15 g of effective mass (minimum). In reality, the ideal mass would be 20 g. You would also need a phono preamplifier with an impedance adjustment superior to 100 ohms! The legendary and “inexpensive” Denon DL-103 MC cartridge is therefore not really versatile, because an appropriate tonearm and an excellent phono preamplifier are required for it to work properly. So, this cartridge is not for everyone!

But if you do have all these elements, then you will indeed discover a cartridge with “vintage” reproduction. Of course, it doesn’t have the definition and dynamics of modern competitors equipped with an elliptical stylus. However, timbre quality and balance are excellent. Treble is soft, but if the cartridge is well loaded, this register is not dark and provides sufficient definition. In fact, the greatest asset of this cartridge is its consistency and timbre quality. On these criteria, it’s better than the competition. From the first few measures, we are stunned by the realism of vocals and the organic side of the instruments. It’s surely the reason why this Denon cartridge was produced for so long and what contributed to its legend.


Type: Low output MC

Output voltage: 0.3 mV 

Channel sensitivity difference: 1 dB or less (1 kHz)

Channel separation: over 25 dB (1 kHz)

Internal impedance: 40 Ω/ohms ±20% (1 kHz)

Recommended load resistance: 100 ohms or more 

Compliance: 5 x 10-6 cm/dyne

Compliance at 10 Hz: 9 

Stylus pressure: 2.5 ± 0.3 g

Frequency response: 20 Hz - 45,000 Hz

Weight: 8.5 g

Customer reviews
(1 review)

Customer reviews


une diva!!

1969, tahiti: je découvre la hi fi japonaise.bye bye la stéréo en valisette..c'est le nirvana aux décibels tout y passe et suite aux conseils d'un tecnicien collégue je monte ma premiére denon dl 103;ouaouh l'ambiance punch et veau à la broche. c'est mélodieux au possible...6 ans plus tard, retour en métropole sans la denon; un collégue chinois l'a récupéré d'autres marques se sont succédées dans mon audit' mais je conserve une certaine nostalgie de la dl 103.

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Denon DL-103 MC cartridge

Denon DL-103 MC cartridge

Low output MC cartridge 

Stylus: conical

Made in Japan

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