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MC cartridge help needed: Grace G840 - Denon 301 mk2 - Denon 103R


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Hi all 

 

Seeking your assistance please!

 

I am about to upgrade to a low output MC cartridge (along with a MC tube phono stage). And I am confused by tonearm weight, cartridge compliance etc

 

I have a customised Rega tt, with a Grace G840 arm. Full set up is listed below. 

 

I think I have narrowed it down to the Denon 103R, and the Denon 301 mk2.

 

From what I have read, I may find the 301 mk2 has 'better' sound, due to its elliptical stylus. It is apparently best suited to a low mass tonearm.

 

The 103R (conical) is more suited to high mass arm.

 

But, my Grace G840f is a medium mass arm apparently.

 

From what I gather, the Grace G840 will definitely be fine with the 103R, and most likely also fine with the 301 mk2, which is the direction I am leaning.

 

The Grace G840 has effective mass of 18g, and a recommended cartridge weight of 4-19g. The price difference is negligible (the 301 is around $100 more).

 

Can anyone offer me some guidance?  

 

My set up is as follows

 

Rega customised TT

Grace G840

Primaluna Dialogue Integrated Premium

Tannoy XT8F 

Project Phono Box S2 (currently upgrading to a MC tube phono stage currently) 

SVS SB-2000 Pro

 

Thanks very much in advance 😊

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I should add. If anyone has recommendations for a similarly priced low output MC, that would be well suited to the Grace G840, I'd love to hear about those too. Thanks again

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6 hours ago, Dexx13 said:

 

From what I gather, the Grace G840 will definitely be fine with the 103R, and most likely also fine with the 301 mk2, which is the direction I am leaning.

 

My research with the VE cart database and Resonance calculator agrees with you!  :thumb:

  • D103r will be excellent.  :)
  • D301 Mk2 may be fine.  :huh:

Another input to your purchase choice might be the load that will be optimal for each cart:

  • D103r:  load range 100 (minimum recommended in the specs) - 1400 ohms
  • D301 Mk2:  load range 100 (minimum recommended in the specs) - 4K ohms.

What load options does your intended MC tube phono stage offer?

 

  @MattyW - do you have any suggestions for Myles re. any other good-sounding LOMCs in the same sort of price bracket?

 

Andy

 

Edited by andyr
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Certainly,  when available the Phillips GP922 is one of the most transparent carts you'll ever come across. Very organic sounding.  I had mine retipped with an FGS.

 

They were made by Namiki. 0.12mv from memory? 

 

10Hz-60kHz and >30db separation. They're an air core like the Fidelity Research MC's were.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/264863965694

 

Will compete with carts between $1k and $2k. Far better than the lower end Denon carts like the 103 or 301. The closest thing to it in the Denon range was the DL-S1.

Edited by MattyW
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Thanks for the replies gents. Appreciate it. 

 

It looks like it is configurable to between 100 and 1K, I believe it is an open up job to modify though. I think it is set in the middle of that range at the moment. 

 

So, it sounds like the Denon 103R is a better option than the 301? 

 

And, the Philips 922 which I've not heard of. It does look like the infrequent reviews are good. 

 

@MattyW - your advice would be to grab the one you've just posted? Would that tip be original, and does this matter anyway? 

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I once had Grace 840f and I have warn you that although the 103r sounds beautifully, while mounting with this arm, it is very sensitive with resonance  and may results in "hum" sound. I think 103 is better match with more mass arm than this. 840 is medium but kind of medium light one.

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On 19/09/2020 at 4:11 PM, Dexx13 said:

Thanks for the replies gents. Appreciate it. 

 

It looks like it is configurable to between 100 and 1K, I believe it is an open up job to modify though. I think it is set in the middle of that range at the moment. 

 

So, it sounds like the Denon 103R is a better option than the 301? 

 

And, the Philips 922 which I've not heard of. It does look like the infrequent reviews are good. 

 

@MattyW - your advice would be to grab the one you've just posted? Would that tip be original, and does this matter anyway? 

Yes, they're a relative unknown by most and fly under the radar.  You won't get better for the money. The only other cart I'm partial to is the Supex SD900 Super which tend to sell for $900 or so. Both are medium compliance carts and will work well with your Grace tonearm.

 

The Grace tonearms had rather excellent bearings, like the Fidelity Research arms, which seem to allow them to work well with a wider range of cartridges than you'd expect through from low, medium to highish compliance. Goes against common wisdom really.

 

Definitely grab the Phillips. Retip if necessary. Failing that I have a second GP922 without cantilever which I picked up for something like $80 a few years ago. I could pass that on to you at cost for you to retip assuming I can locate it? Would work out better only if planning to retip. The better the tip the more detailed the sound  ;)

Edited by MattyW
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OK awesome. Clear advice! And anything you can tell about the tip on that one?! 

 

Looks like the guy has good ratings, and rated it as very good

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@Dexx13, my brother has a Grace G707 arm on a Rega 3, have just fitted an Ortofon Quintet Blue to it, he is over the moon at the improve sound, was running an Ortofon MC20, i also have the Quintet Blue on my Rega 2, modified, i smile every time i play an LP, there is a used one in the classifieds!

16005004968611744305813.jpg

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1 hour ago, Dexx13 said:

OK awesome. Clear advice! And anything you can tell about the tip on that one?! 

 

Looks like the guy has good ratings, and rated it as very good

Some sort of basic line contact 

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1 hour ago, ben khuat said:

 

301 will be a better match.

 

 

Can you explain to us your reasoning for that statement?

 

Thanks,

Andy

 

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Thanks for the advice everyone. 

 

I just picked up the Philips! 

 

It should arrive next week. 

 

@MattyW the seller said that the stylus is original and has not been retipped. He said that stylus and suspension are in very good shape. And that the cart came from a collection purchased from a Japanese shop.

 

Sounds like it is relatively uncommon, so it will be easier for me to down the Denon path later if I choose, than vice versa. 

 

Thanks for the tips (excuse the pun!) 

 

I will update when I have tried it out 😄

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I tried both cartridges on this 840f tonearm, they sound pretty much very similar but the 103 has the problem with the resonance as I said above, it s very easy to have that "resonating hum" when you turn the volume a bit loud, with the 301 I dont have that problem. Maybe 301 is better matched with lower mass arm like the 840. 

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21 hours ago, Dexx13 said:

Thanks for the advice everyone. 

 

I just picked up the Philips! 

 

It should arrive next week. 

 

@MattyW the seller said that the stylus is original and has not been retipped. He said that stylus and suspension are in very good shape. And that the cart came from a collection purchased from a Japanese shop.

 

Sounds like it is relatively uncommon, so it will be easier for me to down the Denon path later if I choose, than vice versa. 

 

Thanks for the tips (excuse the pun!) 

 

I will update when I have tried it out 😄

No worries,  let me know how you get on with it  :)

 

The Phillips has a better sound stage than any of the Denon carts. I did enjoy a shibata tipped DL303 for a time.  Still have a few 103's. Never use any longer but can't bring myself to sell them. 

Edited by MattyW
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Hi everyone 

 

Thought I'd follow up for future readers. Far too often people seem to post, promising they'd follow up at a later date with the all important review, but then that doesn't happen :)

 

The Philips GP922 arrived today 

 

It sounds absolutely fantastic 

 

Early days clearly, but I can absolutely say that it has a great level of detail, rich lows and silky smooth mids and highs. And, delivered in a way which sounds natural and effortless. 

 

The Ortofon Om40 that it is replacing is no slouch. And where I would say it is most noticeably different is in its delivery. For lack of better words, the Philips seems to do it effortlessly. Like its not breaking a sweat, doing it naturally and with class. Relatively speaking, the Om40 seems to have a sharper more aggressive edge. But only relatively speaking, because I would never have described it that way previously. 

 

Additionally, the Philips has a sweet vintage look! 

 

Thanks again everyone for your advice. 

20200923_140957.jpg

20200923_141004.jpg

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Lucky man!  :)  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

PS:  what are you loading it at?

I see the recommendation is for >100 ohms - but, given coil resistance is 4 ohms, I suggest anywhere up to 470 ohms could be better.

Edited by andyr
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I'm still waiting on the new tube phono stage, which should arrive tomorrow or Friday. Very excited about that one. 

 

Coincidentally I believe it is pre-configured to 470 (is this a common MC setting?), and although configurable, from what I can tell I believe it might be a solder job to do change. 

 

Currently using my Project Phono Box S2, which only has a couple of impedance options (10, 100, 1K). I started on 100, which sounded excellent. Then, I tried 1K, which I think might have sounded a tiny bit harsher. So I switched back to 100.

 

I've set gain at 60db and tracking at 1.7g

 

:)

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Yes, while a cart like the Audio Technica ART9 will retrive more detail I think the GP922 is the more natural and real sounding cartridge. It's a real sleeper and something of a steal when you can find them. Being air core the suspension on these pretty much lasts forever as they're a sealed unit with no exposure to corrosive oxygen. Either way, you won't find a better cart without spending upwards of $2k Australian  ;)

 

You're right in that this cart pulls off everything in an effortless, organic sounding manner. Very few carts can manage this. When I run mine its also at 1.7g  :)

 

If you ever decide to move further up from the Project phono definitely have a chat to @andyr

Edited by MattyW
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@MattyW I am indeed moving up to a new (used) phono stage. Its on its way and should arrive tomorrow or Friday. It is a hand made pure tube MC phono stage and tube preamp. Can't wait to try it out. 

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42 minutes ago, Dexx13 said:

 

Coincidentally I believe it is pre-configured to 470 (is this a common MC setting?), and although configurable, from what I can tell I believe it might be a solder job to do change. 

 

 

470 ohms is a commonly-available res value (adjacent values are 330 ohms and 680 ohms).

 

42 minutes ago, Dexx13 said:

 

Currently using my Project Phono Box S2, which only has a couple of impedance options (10, 100, 1K). I started on 100, which sounded excellent. Then, I tried 1K, which I think might have sounded a tiny bit harsher. So I switched back to 100.

 

 

Can I suggest a bit more A/B'ing between these two values.

 

I would expect you would hear more 'airy' soundstage at 1K ohms (than 100 ohms) ... with the bass not being as taut.

 

42 minutes ago, Dexx13 said:

 

I've set gain at 60db

 

 

That's a bit low (1000x) for a 0.12mV cart - do you have 66dB gain available with the Project Phono Box S2 (2000x)?

 

Andy

 

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I have 63db gain available, and did know that would be more appropriate 

 

But selected 60db as I believe the tube phono stage in the mail is currently set at 57db gain, and I wanted to see if it was going to be enough

 

Will definitely try the 1K setting on the Project again 

 

Will also update with photos when the new kit arrives 

 

If you'd like to take a look, below is the one that I've picked up. Details are far more technical than I can digest, but please take a look! 

 

Would love to hear your thoughts 

 

http://www.turneraudio.com.au/preamp-rocket-phono-2005.html

 

 

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I should also add, my Primaluna Dialogue Premium Integrated runs 4 x Kt120 power tubes.

 

Hopefully that means sufficient clean power for the new set up. With the Project phono set to 60db, it most certainly was more than enough today. 

 

So I imagine it will be sufficient for 57db gain. 

 

Time will tell, hopefully as soon as tomorrow! 

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51 minutes ago, Dexx13 said:

I have 63db gain available, and did know that would be more appropriate 

 

But selected 60db as I believe the tube phono stage in the mail is currently set at 57db gain, and I wanted to see if it was going to be enough

 

Yes, the gain of that Turner phono stage seems to be 57dB.

 

He said "I have used a Denon DL-103 MC with rated Vo = 0.4mV and I get 280mV at amp Vo. "; your cart is 0.12mV so you will get 84mV.  That is very low - sure, if your preamp has lots of gain ... you can compensate.  However, I suggest your SQ would increase if you were feeding 280mV into your preamp (rather than 84mV).

 

This would require you to have about 64dB gain in a phono stage.

 

You can compensate for your phono stage's low MC gain by using a head amp (before the phono stage) and taking out the link between R5 & R6, to turn it into an MM phono stage - which the article says has 45dB of gain.  A head amp which gave you 25x gain would be sufficient for a 0.12mV LOMC, with the MM's 45dB gain.

 

Using a head amp for this pre-phono stage amplification (rather than a SUT) would allow you to experiment with different cart loading values, to choose the optimum (anywhere from 100 - 470 ohms).

 

BTW, the Turner phono stage is undoubtedly "hand made " - and I'm sure sounds great.  But it is not a "pure tube MC phono stage " ... as it uses a 2SK369 jfet at the input (immediately after C3).

 

Regards,

Andy

 

 

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