Denon DL 103 vs DL 103R

Seems there are a lot of folks who love the 103, but have more mixed feelings about the 103R. Denon seems to thing the 103R is an improved version, which doesn't seem to jive with the popular opinion. Anyone want to offer a few opinions on these two carts (as if you wouldn't)?

Also, how would they compare to some higher cost cartridges? I'm also reading up on the Grado Sonata Wood and the Sumiko Blackbird, recognizing that I might need a phono stage with these. Any other suggestions are welcome.

I think your Rotel RC-1070 preamp might not be enough to squeeze the most out of 103 or even 103R. You might be better of using Dynavector 10x5($400) or 20X($650) or if you want to use >Ds< a step-up is a must (about $350).
Denon 103 or(R) has a large group of folowers and I am one of them. There is a lot to learn and gain in the right set-up. Read some more threads - it is almost all there. What is not there is yours to learn. I am myself half-way there
but you learn something new every day. It is a never ending story.....but how exciting it is ?!?!

I did not hear Denons but for me Grado Sonata and Grace 707 is a no go. I had it on Thorens TD124 and it sounded like $50 NOT $500 cart . It didn't work with REga RB1000 neither (nor with Denon Da-401). Some people though liked DL-103 with Grace. Shouldn't work theoretically but according to some posts it did. Music Maker carts ( based on Grado)have a good opinion among Grace owners there is only a question of putting $1K cart on $100 arm.Regards, L
I have had a Statement Sonata (.5mv), and have a couple 103 and an R, all good choices. But i'll tell you what i will recommend is the Dynavector P75 phono stage, especially the "phono enhance" circuit. All 3 sound great thru it. I've never heard a Grado sound so open, and the Denon sisters love it too! I like the 103 the best, but all have their merits. If your mm phono stage is good, transformers are a good choice also. There are lots of folks who prefer going thru trannies.
If the Sonata is in your price range, you should also check out the sound-smithdot modified Denons
I think you're on the right track. You didn't mention the TT or arm, that could be a deciding factor also.
All the above posters offfer sound advice regarding the Denons.You being like many see the relatively cheap entry price of the 103's and think that you'll get great performance just setting it up, "WRONG" these carts need the same care and attention to detail that >$ 1k carts do ie. solid phonostage, and arm that can control it's otherwise low compliant nature and not to mention a step up that doesn't rob it of it's musicality(bandwidth),and adequate gain.
Mrjstark said it best there is a lot to learn about these carts, and it's all here,you just have to reach out and find it. I have a plain 103 and LOVE it I am still working to optimze it but it is a GREAT cart out the box.Many have found the ReGa 300 and variants to be adequate if not suitable matches for these carts.I use a Origin Live silver with very good results,I have since nuded the cartridge and placed it in a wood body,to tame the resonant nature of the plastic body.
one last point, to oversimplify the differences of the two.
I've heard it described as the 103 being more"organic" while the "R" still retaining the Denon sound err's a little on the "HI-Fi" side of things.
you are on the right track with the choices you've made thus far, but there is more work to be done

just my two pennies
So, set me straight here. Would using this cartridge require the use of both a phone stage and step-up transformer? I'm still not entirely sure what the transformer actually does.

I've also read that these cartridges can have issues with metal platers. Would that be an issue with the Thorens platter?