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FAQ

- The world’s first and only “Customizable" phono cartridge -

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I use your cartridge on my (“X” brand) tonearm?

Q2. Does your cartridge fit on my (“X” brand) headshell?

Q3. How much does your cartridge weight?

Q4. Can I use your shell with other brand/model cartridges?

Q5. How do I modify my stock DL-103 or DL-103R to fit in your shell?

Q6. How do I install my DL-103 or DL-103R in your shell?

Q7. What is the use of having 10 threaded holes on the MusiKraft shell cover?

Q8. Should I wait to buy additional wood insert sets?

Q9. How do I change the wood inserts for going from one species to another?

Q10. How much torque should I apply on the three (3) micro-tuning screws?

Q11. What will affect putting more or less tension on the micro-screws?

Q12. Do you offer other wood species or finish not mentioned on your website as I would like to personalize the shell to my taste?

Q13. Can I run the cartridge nude without wood inserts?

Q14. What are the recommended load and gain for the DL-103 or 103R when using a step-up transformer (SUT)?

Q15. What are the recommended load for the DL-103 or 103R when using a pre preamp or 'head amp'?

Q16. What are the differences between the DL-103 and 103R motors?

Q17. What are the sonic differences between your alloy collection?

 


 

Q1. Can I use your cartridge on my (“X” brand) tonearm?
A. You will first need to know your tonearm specifications. We recommend medium to high mass tonearms. So far we have tested them on SME 3009, SME 3012, Rega RB 300 and they are perfectly compatible with these arms. However, on Rega arms, we recommend a heavier counterweight for maximum flexibility for the VTF adjustment. As of VTA, our shell's height with an installed cartridge is 0.7" /17.7 mm from shell top to diamond tip (measured free air)

Q2. Does your cartridge fit on my (“X” brand) headshell?
A. We designed MusiKraft shells to fit on standard 1/2" headshell mounts. The MusiKraft shell top is flat and measures (LxW) 0.945" x 0.708" / 24mm x 18mm.

Q3. How much does your cartridge weight?
A. Depending on which wood option selected and once combined with the DL-103 / 103R our shell kit weigh varies as follows:

Audio MusiKraft cartridge weight chart (grams)

Series Shell (nude and w/o motor) Cartridge and wood inserts
No wood Min. mass Max. mass
Magnesium (Mg) 2.8 10.1 10.4 10.8
Aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) 3.9 11.2 11.5 11.9
Aluminum (Al) 4.1 11.4 11.7 12.1
Bronze (Br) 13.1 20.3 20.6 21.0

To answer this question more precisely, refer to the specific cartridge product page. The total weight is the addition of three (3) components (shell + wood species + modified cartridge). Added wood finish mass is negligible and we will not consider it here. Standard weight for a modified (nude) Denon cartridge is 7.25 grams.


Example; if you choose the MusiKraft S-Mg103-COCO magnesium shell with the red cedar inserts, the following implies:

  • S-Mg103-COCO = 2.79g
  • Red cedar wood inserts = 0.32g
  • DL-103 cartridge = 7.25g

Total weight of new MusiKraft cartridge = 2.79g + 0.32g + 7.25g = 10.36 grams


Q4. Can I use your shell with other brand/model cartridges?
A. No, the MusiKraft shells have specifically been designed for the Denon DL-103 phono cartridge or any variant in its family with the same shape.

Q5. How do I modify my stock DL-103 or DL-103R to fit in your shell?
A. If you decide to go ahead with the change by yourself, many videos are already available on the internet. “Google search” and “YouTube” are great places to start, do a search using these keywords: ''Denon DL-103 Modification Tutorial''. Of course, take great care if you DIY, it is a risky and delicate job to remove the plastic housing as force is involved with a sharp knife, use of applied force as well. Be careful not to use metallic tools close to the magnet as you can damage many fragile parts. We strongly recommend that you send us your cartridge and let us service it for a small extra fee.

Q6. How do I install my DL-103 or DL-103R in your shell?
A. Installing the cart into the shell is fairly easy as it is only a matter of sliding the cartridge into it and fastening the cover with the supplied screws. Doing this takes a minute. For visibility, we recommend laying down a white paper sheet on a flat work surface:

  1. Unscrew the cover from base, lay base upside down on your flat work surface
  2. Lay also beside it, your modified cartridge upside down
  3. Make sure the three (3) fine-tuning screws are not protruding from the inside
  4. Slide-in the cartridge
  5. Flip slowly sideways the combined cart and shell
  6. Insert cover in guide pins and install screws.

You will find video supported help in our "instructions" page.


Q7. What is the use of having 10 threaded holes on the MusiKraft shell cover?
A. This feature adds convenience for tonearm effective length adjustment and/or overhang.

Q8. Should I wait to buy additional wood insert sets?
A. We suggest buying the extra wood insert sets at shell's date purchase as we can precisely machine them to your specific shell. Even though our shells are machined to very tight tolerance (± 0.001"), there may be slight differences in the insert openings depending on batch.

Q9. How do I change the wood inserts for going from one species to another?
A. To carefully change these, first, it's necessary to remove the cartridge. The inserts are held in place by pressure and are tight fitted from the factory (there is no adhesive involved). Use the provided wooden pushrod tool sent with your shell kit. With the tool, exert pressure on the rear side edge of the insert and it will slip out. Installing a new set is somewhat different. Not to damage the visible face we rather recommend using your fingers to push them back in. Insert them parallel to the surface. MusiKraft shells have built-in rear tabs as depth limiter, push them back in until they sit well. We machine all inserts to an exact 2mm thick. You will find video supported help in our "instructions" page.

 

Q10. How much torque should I apply on the three (3) micro-tuning screws?
A. It is important to mention that the purpose of these micro-screws is only for “audio tuning”, NOT for fastening the cartridge. As of torque, use common sense! A cartridge, as we all know, is extremely fragile, so care should be exerted in NOT applying too much torque on the screws. In fact, once in contact with the cart, no more than a quarter (1/4) is required for the rear lateral screws and no more than an eight (1/8) turn is necessary on the front one. You will find video supported help in our "instructions" page.

Q11. What will affect putting more or less tension on the micro-screws?
A. We are currently working on a sound charter and it will soon be available. We suggest to try these three (3) settings;

  1. without tension
  2. slight contact
  3. with tension

Note that the front screw will provide a different effect from the rear lateral ones, though during your explorations do not hesitate to alternate between these.


Q12. Do you offer other wood species or finish not mentioned on your website as I would like to personalize the shell to my taste?
A. Yes, it will be a pleasure for us to look into your needs and check the feasibility. However, as this would be a custom order, there would be an extra charge and involves a few weeks of manufacturing delay.

 

Q13. Can I run the cartridge nude without wood inserts?

A. For the purist, yes absolutely and we invite you to try it. This will affect the sound considerably.

 

Q14. What are the recommended load and gain for the DL-103 or 103R when using a step-up transformer (SUT)?

A. The recommended load for the DL-103 is 40 Ohms (or slightly higher) and you are looking for approximately 20dB of gain (step up ratio of 1:10). For the 103R, 14 Ohms (or slightly higher) and approximately 22dB of gain (step up ratio of 1:12). In both cases, a couple of dB below or above those respective values remain acceptable.

 

Q15. What are the recommended load for the DL-103 or 103R when using a pre preamp or 'head amp'?

A. In both cases, the minimum recommended load should be 100 ohms (based on Denon's own recommendations) or as a general rule of thumb, no less than 10X the cartridge's internal impedance. Finally, it is also OK to experiment with different values when the 'head amp' features a choice of loading and select the more pleasing of the range simply by ear.

 

Q16. What are the differences between the DL-103 and 103R motors?

A. Mechanically speaking, once removed from their plastic body the cartridges are the same except the “R” version has a high purity copper wire and of bigger diameter. The external motor finish on the latter is gold plated.

Electrically, the “R” version has a lower DC resistance and a slightly lower output voltage than the regular 103. The recommended load is slightly different from each other.

Matching:

Choosing between both cartridges is firstly a matter of personal taste; it all depends on how your ears perceive sound, secondly on the sonic results you are looking for, and thirdly the matching equipment. Both 103's are good choices, both sound very good, but simply a bit differently.

Our sonic perception:

Through our multiple listening sessions we noted that the standard 103 is a cartridge which is fun to listen to, it provides vivid sound and is lively, which translates to a more “forefront” presentation. Listening to the regular 103 shows there is more mid presence than the 103R and can be perceived as an interesting added color. Its top end frequencies are slightly rolled-off, the 103R are more extended but sometimes may be interpreted as exceeding. The person looking for a more neutral, laid-back and analytical reproduction will prefer the “R” version. Subjectively, the 103R has a flatter frequency response in its entire pass band. We’ve noted that it has slightly better and refined timbre than the 103, especially in the mid range portion; we suspect that it’s most probably due to the use of higher purity copper wire.

 

Q17. What are the sonic differences between your alloy collection?

A. Audio MusiKraft cartridges are presently offered in four materials:

  1. Aluminum (clear and champagne anodized)
  2. Aluminum-Lithium (hand polished)
  3. Magnesium (chemical conversion coated)
  4. Bronze (hand polished and patinated)

Here is a simple selection guide to help you understand the sonic differences between the aforementioned alloys:

  1. We recommend the Aluminum (Al) cartridge shell as a versatile highly competitive candidate, and one that provides excellent performance in a wide variety of contexts. It is lively, dynamic and provides fine focus and attack; you can literally map the soundstage. It is easily tunable across a wide musical & sonic spectrum through the use of different sets of tone wood inserts and by adjustments of the tuning screws.
  2. The Aluminum-lithium (Al-Li) cartridge shell has a slightly damped and relaxed sound compared to the aluminum shell, providing a more intimate presentation of the musicians while the instruments core and timbres are better perceived. Aluminum-lithium cartridge shells sound warmer and pleasing. The slightly emphasized DL-103 mid band is more laid back. The high-frequencies are silkier, and are not unlike going from a metallic dome tweeter to a silk one in a loudspeaker. The bass is rounder. The copper content in this alloy provides a well-balanced damping effect that gives this warmer and silkier result.
  3. The Magnesium (Mg) cartridge shell is for those wanting maximum transparency with the least coloration of the sound. It is the most analytical of the three, but does not overdo it. The magnesium tends towards an immersive headphone-like 3D effect, delivering a lot of the micro-information that is contained in the vinyl grooves, with excellent left to right soundstage nuance. Given its mechanical properties, it delivers a shorter decay time. It restores the textures and provides a more neutral tonal balance with a less weighty presentation than the other alloys.
  4. As for the Bronze (Br), it distinguishes itself by the lower octaves extended bandwidth as well for its more significant footprint than other metals in upper-bass and lower-midrange tonal level. One can feel the veracity, the syncopated rhythm and the presence of the midrange's fundamental notes. Given its more laid back effect on the high-medium and treble, listening with this alloy steers the listener in a more passive, less cerebral direction, yet maintaining the right mix of details. The soundstage foundation is more entrenched.  The background is noiseless and dark which permits to restore every subtlety. This alloy makes the cartridge sing effortlessly. The mass of bronze, which is double that of the other shells, largely contributes to exploiting the DL-103's low compliance. It should be noted that this model will most probably require an additional counterweight to compensate for this twenty-one grams (21g) cartridge.

All our models are fully customizable; refer to the respective product descriptions in the web store for the available options. 

If any more question arises, please feel free to contact us.

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