Denon Aluminum Body Cap
I've been a Denon DL103 user for more than two decades but never considered risking my $250 investment to modifications which involved removing the old and installing another body.
To circumvent the risk of damaging the stylus/cantilever assembly, Steve Bedard came up with the Denon Aluminum Body Cap.
The finely machined aluminum cap slips over the Denon DL103 body. I noticed a slightly tighter fit on the DL103R and DL103C1, due to the different housing material used for these higher end models.
Two longer metric bolts are supplied to fit the original Denon nuts to compensate for the added thickness when mounting the cartridge/cap combo to a head shell.
It has been my experience in this hobby that every time the frequency extremes are improved, something gives and usually, it is the midrange that suffers.
The classic DL103 is a case in point. It has a wonderful midrange but it has a tendency to congest in the high frequencies during complex musical passages. Brighter recordings can also sound sibilant while the lower frequencies can gain more definition.
Through the years, Denon has addressed these issues with "upgraded" DL103 versions by revising the coil with finer quality wire and by using more inert materials for the housing. I have two of them - the current DL103R and its predecessor, the DL103C1. Both models refine the frequency extremes but at the expense of a drier and "less colorful" midrange.
Thankfully the "capped DL103" retains and focuses that midrange warmth, almost mimicking an SPU, while the frequency extremes are tidied up. There's just a hint of sibilance and congestion left with the "capped DL103."
Even if there was improvement across the audio band with the aluminum cap installed on either DL103R or DL103C, what was most apparent was better definition in the lower frequencies.
Could it be that the upgraded DL103 models benefit less from the cap? Perhaps the distinction might be system dependent and/or merely a matter of taste? Just remember, I'm not a mainstream audiophile. 😉
What I like most about the Denon Aluminum Body Cap is, it doesn't dampen the virtues of the DL103/103R/103C1. It highlights and improves upon what's already there.
In the big scheme of things, it's hard to find this level of sonic upgrade for under $100. My DL103 is "capped" for good, highly recommended! 👍