I was wondering if anyone on the site has first hand experience with the Zu Audio Zu/DL-103 MK.II or even an earlier version? I currently have and AR ES-1 with a Denon DL-302 mounted in it. It still sounds good after many years. I’ve considered replacing the table with something like a Rega P-8 but I really don’t listen to vinyl all that much. It’s hard to justify the expense. The table and cartridge are at least 35 years old. I’m sure the cartridge could stand to be replaced and I’ve read a lot of good things about the Zu cartridge.
I know two people with that Zu/Denon cartridge. Both are happy with it. I heard it on one of those tables, a Dr Fiekert and it seemed quite nice; nothing in the overall system sounded unpleasant.
At Axpona, Michael Fremer was very enthusiastic about the Rega P6. He described it as the “sweet spot” of the line. And it’s roughly half the price of the P8.
Hi David. To what Ron said, keep in mind the Rega is a very different sounding beast. It’s a very good table, but it won’t sound anything like an ES-1. Not saying which is better; they’re just different. I owned an ES-1 for many years and did just about everything you could do to it, in terms of upgrades. Depending on what you want to do (or spend), you may consider looking at whatever upgrades are still available for the table from George Merrill. If you feel it’s time for a change, then by all means tables like the P6 are worthy options.
I have a Denon DL-304 on my Linn Sondek with an Ittok LVII. I like it for it’s detail retrieval in comparison to the Zu/DL-103 MKII. The ZU/DL-103MKII is no slouch, and has a wonderful midrange. Good chance you’d be happy with it on your AR ES-1. I also have Rega’s newest version of the Planar P-8 with an Apheta 3 mounted. I run it into a Luxman 509X. It is a wonderful turntable giving a presentation of the music floating on air.
If money is a concern go with the Zu, if you treasure vinyl playback go for the P8.
I have a friend who has a P-6. I don’t remember what cartridge he had put in it. He’s very happy with it.
It’s interesting you mention the Linn Sondek. When I was buying the AR back in 1987 or so, the dealer also had a Linn Sondek which he described as his favorite turntable. The AR was $500 and I think the Linn was $900. I just couldn’t afford it then. I like the sound of the AR quite a bit. I’m just wondering if I can make it a bit better. I also really like the wood base the table is in.
I’m pretty sure it’s cherry and it’s beautiful. There have been a number of times when I’ll play the same thing on the AR and then on my Mark Levinson 390S. Except for dynamic range, people almost always prefer the turntable.
Since I really don’t play the turntable that often the cartridge upgrade sound appealing. If I were to consider a Rega table, the dealer I bought the AR from is still in business. The original owners grandson runs it now. If he had a given turntable in stock I could probably convince him to lend it to me overnight Then I could do a proper A/B and decide.
Thanks for the feedback everyone.
Good luck with your decision.
This sounds like a fun journey. Please update us.
I have a DL-103R as upgraded by Expert Stylus with a sapphire cantilever and paratrace tip. They’ve been selling these for 15 years +. It’s a giant-killer.
I also have a paratrace on a DV XX2Mk2. They last about 18 months, not very long, but are top performers, relatively cheap and local to me. I’m having an Urushi rebuilt elsewhere with a Fitz Gyger assembly, that should last many years.