Stepping Up to a Moving-Coil Cartridge

"One of these days I'll get a moving-coil cartridge for my turntable--when I can afford it."

One of our customers at Tenacious Sound told us this a few days ago, so we told him about one of the greatest moving-coil cartridges in history--the Denon DL-103. The 103 has been around since 1963, and it's still favored by many vinyl aficionados because it's such a solid design that has stood up to time. Best of all, it's only $229.

Moving coil cartridges can offer extremely high-performance compared to the more common moving magnet designs. The differences between the two are simple--in MM designs a magnet is placed between two copper coils, creating voltage.  In MC designs, the stylus creates vibrations in the groove that move the coils. The overall sound can be very different between these two types of designs, with MMs sounding more relaxed and laid-back, and MCs revealing lots of detail.

Vinyl novices may want to stick with MM cartridges, simply because they tend to be cheaper, they have a higher electrical output and the stylus is usually user-replaceable. Many MC cartridges have low outputs--although some have medium or high outputs--that may require a special phono preamplifier or step-up transformer to work properly. And that, of course, can cost more money.

But if you have a phono section in your receiver, integrated amplifier or preamplifier that can handle low-output MC cartridges, you might be ready to hear how natural and life-like a moving coil cartridge can be--and the Denon DL-103 is the affordable way to find out!