Denon DL-160 Cartridges

DL-160

high output moving coil cartridge

User Reviews (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9  
ArmyDicked   AudioPhile [Aug 06, 2017]

I have lots of friends but very few who are still speaking to me. I live to enlighten people, to correct people, to save them from themselves. So it is with my present review of the Denon DL160 Moving Coil cartridge. I retired my entry level 1986 Systemdek IIx with Linn Basil + arm in 1992 when I purchased my ADCOM GCD575 CD Player. OK, that's a lie. I walk away from my Systemdek IIx when I broke the Cantilever to my Sumiko BPS for the s-e-c-o-n-d time in 2006. At $550.00 for refilling, it was interfering with my drinking and so I had to cut her loose. My newest Failed love affair is with my current Demanding mistress which is my Acurus ACD11 CD player and her demand bi yearly for an outboard DAC, $500 @!!!

Purely by accident, I discovered my ancient (pre 1984) Denon DL160 in the back of my closet (That I had retired early because of the syren call of the Sumiko BPS). It's like falling in fove with vinyl all over again!!! In the Army we used to brief 3 up/ 3down. So I will do here:

UPs:

SOUNDSTAGE: No cartridge, sub $3,000.00 can touch the Denon DL 160 on SoundStage. Read any review on it and they will scream Not just wide but W-I-D-E-S-T Sound Stage on the market today!!!

BASE & KICK DRUM are superb for the price. It Will readily pick up base notes 16hRz and lower. Think Japan Quiet Life, Herbie Handcock's Chameleon and Beatles Lovey Rita or While my Guitar Gently Weeps...or you can just put on MFSL's Love Forever Changes (45 rpm). Why go to church when you can stay at home, crank the volume to 85db and touch the face of GOD?!!!

HICAP MC: The Denon will go to places no self respecting Moving Coil will go. My Outboard Phono amp is a Bellari VP129 with Millard 12AUX7 valve (review coming). Can't run a Low Output MC on Valve equipment---which my Denon DL160 sneers at.

Downs:

DENON KILLED the DL160 in 2014. I bought mine for $160.00 in 1984. Used DL160s routinely go for $3-350 on EBAY. Thank God for the built in Anti Klutz Guard as refilling is not possible:

FUSSY &DEMANDING upon set up. The pressure gauge is 1.6-1.9 grams. Don't even THINK of installing one without a styli pressure gauge.

CONSTRAINED MIDS & TREBLE. We old Rockers lost our hearing in that range DECADES AGO so for us, no big. However if you are a fan of Opera Musique and Long Hair Chamber musique, this is not your cartridge, Hey, I traded up for a Sumiko BPS because I felt deprived. I adored the BPS on its life like MIDS & Highs but pouted my lips ?? at its anemic base and pinched soundstage. $600.00 cartridge---whattya want?!!!

You looking for a killah entry level ?? cartridge for your killah entry level table? This is your cartridge. You could send thousands more but why put a Porsche engine into a Volkswagen Beetle? Are you feeling me?!!!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Fons Weijtens   AudioPhile [Feb 14, 2016]

I use this cartridge on a modified Dual 714Q turntable. Modified means that I've put more mass on the ULM tone arm of this still beautifull (40 years old) working turntable. Also recently I bought a acrylic mat instead of the standard rubber one. Also used for the months a rubber/cork mat. Aparently the combination of the acrylic mat and the heavier ULM tone arm does wonders! Im a dreaming or is there even more volume? When I close my eye's soundstage is very, very wide with lots of tiny placed details and the music is "flowing" with also a great very pleasant warmth in the music. Will I do even better, I'll have to buy a cartridge 4 times as exprensive I think. I listen to great audio for about 45 years and this is manna from heaven. So a little tweaking in a turntable pays off. I have a moderate priced phono-pre amp from Cambridge Audio, the 651P hooked on the MM entrance. I bought this excellent cartridge 4 years ago for only Euro 160 first hand and it is still shining. Very strongly recommened folks!!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
davetruestory   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 26, 2009]

This is my 6th cartridge worth more that a 100, but this beat the others in overall presentation, yes the Grado Platinum have better bass, the Sumiko Blue Point better highs, the At 440 better tracking, but the DL 160 have enough of those characteristics to do magic with every kind of music. In one phrase "the DL 160 is to cartridges, what the Grado 60 is to headphones".

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
sqlsavior   AudioPhile [Nov 10, 2008]
Strength:

Large soundstage.
Excellent detail and clarity.
Fantastic mid-bass.
Good tracking.
Reasonable price.

Weakness:

None that I have found.

I recently got an all-new (to me) 2-channel-only system. The cartridge and speakers were bought new, the rest used. I had been living for years with a crappy Technics P-Mount turntable, which was replaced by a Music Hall MMF-5. Although I had put an Ortofon MCP-15 moving coil on Technics, the turntable was just two noisy to get me excited about my records.

That has changed with my new system. I am hearing new detail and complexity on my LPs, sometimes for the first time. In particular, I can here bass tracks note-for-note, that used to disappear into the rest of the music. While some of this may be partly due to the rest of the system, that detail was turned into an electric signal first, by the cartridge.

I read other reviews of this cartridge here and at other sites, so I expected to be pleasantly surprised, and indeed I have been. I have had some very highly regarded cartridges in the past, and am hearing more now, so it can't be bad!
I love this cartridge and highly recommend it.

Similar Products Used: MC: Fidelity Research FR3MkII, GAS Sleeping Beauty, Ortofon MCP-15
MM: Audio-Technica, Grado, Stanton

Rest of system:

Music Hall MMF-5 turntable
Denon DL160 high-output moving coil cartridge
Marantz CD5001 CD player
Apt-Holman pre-amp
Hafler DH220 power amp
Magneplanar MMG speakers
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
jandanhof   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 13, 2008]
Strength:

crisp, detail, depth, dynamics

Weakness:

sometimes a bit harsh, but that me be caused by the quality of the source LP

I think it is quite stunning to read so many reviews on such a small thing, the Denon DL-60 cartridge. I haven been using it for more than 10 years if I'm not mistaken. First on a Thorens 480 player, but later I switched to a Technics SL-1710 and it still amazes me how well it reproduces the music. And music is a thing we must enjoy foremost. I use it with a Rotel RA980-BX amplifier and this one has a very good phono stage, both for MM and MC cartridges. The DL-160 performs well with the MM output, but really shines on the MC output. It sounds crisp, clean, with lots of detail, depth and a lot of dynamics. A lot better anyway than all things I used before (Stanton, Shure and Pickering). I still have lots of LP's, so there is still a lot to enjoy. One example; I have a recording of Romeo and Juliet with Ricardo Muti and this LP has more dynamics than I ever got from the CD. After all these years it still astounds me. The price I paid is not exactly budget in my view, but worth every penny paid for it.

Similar Products Used: Stanton, Shure, Yamaha and Pickering
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
hyperpsyched   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 26, 2008]
Strength:

price
musicality
tracks like a race car
digs deep into the grooves

Weakness:

none,at this price point

There exist a few things in our universe that polarize the opinion of any group of people into two camps: you either love it or hate it, period. I can think of no three better examples (moral and political themes aside) of this strange phenomenon than operatic music, Durian fruit and the venerable DL-160 high output moving coil cartridge. It seemed after reading every review I could about Durian fruit that people either fell in love with the taste or described the smell as "rotting carrion...". I tried Durian anyway and loved it. Keep that in mind reading this review.
If you are STILL reading this review than you are probably either starting to research cartridges or knee deep in online cartridge literature. So here is my two cents worth... hope it helps. First off, for the money I paid I do not consider the DL-160 a budget cartridge. 90 Euro for a cartridge was more than I wanted to spend. Do I have any regrets? None at all! I am a grad student, and as such I do not always have the resources to pay as much as required for a mint copy of artist X, especially the older jazz. I very often have to settle for VG+ condition (and have often settled for less). All my vinyl is hand washed using a Knosti LP cleaner with a super secret cleaning solution ;)... so at least the LPs hit my deck clean as a whistle. (It's amazing how much old tobacco tar and grime come of second hand LPs that look pristine... yuck.) The diamond on the DL-160 is tiny, far surpassing anything in this price range and well beyond. The result is a cartridge that is very forgiving of vinyl in less than stellar quality. It reaches FAR into the groove to extract the analog gold hidden within. Surface noise is reduced and tracking is excellent. From the first grooves to the last, the DL-160 tracks like a F1 racer. Older vinyl that may be unlistenable with my other carts comes alive. No, all the surface noise is not magically disappeared, but it is reduced... substantially. So, first point in favour of the DL-160: Very forgiving of used vinyl, and there is a lot of used vinyl out there. I do not know if I would even run a 4000 dollar Koetsu on a used LP I picked up for 5 bucks (even in great condition) on eBay. Losing 160 dollars seems easier to stomach. Better yet, pick up a second turntable with a AT-95 cart installed as a test TT. I digress.
Even on less than stellar vinyl the DL-160 sounds great. I am not over exaggerating. It sounds great: musical, life like and as I listen to a lot of vinyl for long periods of time I will also say non-fatiguing. It makes my old vinyl sound like music. I do, however, have some LP's in perfect condition. Yes, sometimes you get lucky on the eBay :) On vinyl that has been cared for, the DL-160 sounds like heaven. Very engaging, the cart will suck you into the music. From the lower registers to the more intricate cymbal work in a lot of jazz, the DL-160 presents the signal realistically without sounding muddy or harsh. Staging and depth are very good and I suspect these are limited more by the rest of my gear. With the right LP, it will surpass the sound quality from my CD player.
The DL-160 sounds great with my pop and jazz. From Blur to Lou Donaldson it keeps up with the pacing and rhythm. The only times I have ever caught the DL-160 with its pants down was with very difficult classical passages. Even then the loss of definition between the orchestral sections is never grating or muddied, just lessened. From what I have read even the best cartridges out there stumble here. However, when listening to Lou Donaldson, for instance, there is no mistaking Lou for the accompanying trumpeter. The two instruments are spatially distinct and clearly differentiated as they should be. This is a test many of my other budget cartridges fail. Opera, love it or hate it, sounds great with this cart as well. Voices in general sound very life like... again, as they should.
So, there is no surprise as to which camp I belong to in regards to the DL-160. However I am in this camp because I have owned the cart and listen to it daily. I have not learned to love my DL-160, it was love at first listen. I do not see how you could be disappointed... Go ahead, take a bite of the Durian ;)

Similar Products Used: many crappy cartridges in 50 bucks
AT-95e
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Phil Canard   AudioPhile [Nov 06, 2007]
Strength:

Smooth, detailed, dynamic, extended. Natural timbre. Excellent tracking. Good noise rejection. Good voltage output. There are no digital devices I ever heard that can compare in quality if your LP, turntable system and phono amp are up to the task. For those who want a cartridge that is fairly analytical without sounding dry. Good recording sound really good.

Weakness:

Not the easiest cartridges to locate, but Needle Doctor, PhonoPhono, and a few other online merchants have a good selection with good pricing. Keep iron bearing devices away from the cartridge, as the magnets are VERY powerful and can pull them against the stylus, causing possible damage. Not for the euphonic crowd. The faults you may hear are probably elsewhere in your system. An upper midrange emphasis was traced to slightly microphonic tubes in my phono stage. Bad recordings sound really bad now.

The DL160 is underappreciated and rarely reviewed in audiophile publications. That's because it spanks far more expensive cartridges and would cause major loss of advertising bucks if the real truth were told. Old timers like me know the history of Denon cartridges and the value they have long represented. Denon is a longtime supplier of radio broadcast cartridges in their DL103 model, and there has been several audiophile versions down through the years. Problem is, it is very low output, and thus the DL110 and DL160 are made for folks with moving magnet phono stages. They are the same cartridge except for stylus assemblies. The DL160 gets a lighter tapered cantilever with a finer cut nude mounted elliptical diamond for digging a bit deeper in the grooves. Thus, the DL160 does a good job of attenuating surface noise and has a 50 KHz frequency response that is very flat. The DL110 supplies the DJ and rough user group as its cantilever is straight and has a spherical cut stylus. I use my DL160 on a VPI HW19 with an Audioquest PT-6 tonearm. The DL160 should be compared to other cartridges that sell for twice its price, so this is a balanced combination. The output is rated at 1.6 mV under JIS standards, which converts to 2.2 mV output under European and USA standards. Thus, you can easily use a MM phono stage in most situations.

The sound quality is very smooth, extended, dynamic and detailed for a cartridge at this price point. It sells for less than most other MC stylus retip costs, so it's no big financial loss when it wears out. It can handle complex passages and vocal music with ease. I tested it for tracking with my Shure test records, and it was very good. The low 1.9 gram tracking force will protect your valuable records as well. It replaced a Grado Signature 8MR, and it is superior to the Grado cartridge in every aspect. It has less coloration and character of its own, making it a better analytical tool. Under a microscope, the quality of the stylus construction easily surpasses the Grado. The nude mounted diamond allows a very low tip mass for exceptional tracking ability. Denon doesn't push their cartridges very hard, as they have a loyal customer base that buys them again and again. I just replaced my old Grado headphones with new AKG K601 cans. Grado has done a good job of having audio reviewers rate their cartridges and heqadphones highly. I found that there are better products out there from some big companies with the R&D and manufacturing capability to allow economy of scale to take over and provide a lower cost on a better product. Denon always had a high end segment throughout their history that co-existed with their mass market products, and few high end manufacturers thus have the production capabilities that Denon possesses. Denon's higher priced cartridges are designed to compete against others regardless of their cost. Other Denon users have said that if Micro-Benz made the DL160, it would cost at least $400. Don't let the low $180 price fool you. It's 4-star even when rated against more expensive cartridges, and 5-star within its price class.

Customer Service

Haven't needed it.

Similar Products Used: Grado Signature 8MR and Grado standard line.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
eagertrader   AudioPhile [Oct 07, 2005]
Strength:

It gives a taste of the high end without the high end price.

Weakness:

None that I can hear.

I have this cartridge mounted on a Project RPM4, and using a Creek MC phono stage. For the price it represents a fine value, good tonality, quiet in silent space, crisp highs and tight lows, and a wide and deep soundstage in my opinion. Warm and musically engaging best describes this cartridge.

Similar Products Used: Denon DL60, Grado Black, Empire
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Jim4knee   Audio Enthusiast [Jun 03, 2005]
Strength:

Clean, clear sound it is all in the details. Smoth effortless reproduction of the source LP. Excellent value and performance.

Weakness:

None

This is a very good budget cartridge. I bought is to resurrect an old Denon DP 62L turntable. So far I am very happy with the results. I need to get my tone arm a little better balanced and set up but first impressions are very positive. Highs come through crystal clear, mids are dynamic and clear and the bass is very clean and tight. I could not be happier with a $180 cartridge. I bought it on a recommendation from a fellow member of the Klipsch Forum and I thank him, it outperforms the budget I set forth for this project well done Denon

Similar Products Used: Sure; various cartidges
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-9 of 9  

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