A summary of my thoughts of this cartridge on a Linn Sondek - LVII, through a Project Phonobox SEII at 100 ohms
The DL-S1 is quite a different proposition and in many respects, not typical of many of the LOMC's that I've experienced.
What struck me most was the fuller overall presentation, without that slight top end lift I've typically come to expect.
In fact in this respect, it is a little different from it's DL-304 sibling.
I actually found the DL-304 quite akin to the AT OC9ML II, slightly less prominent in the top end but still a relatively bright cart, both being highly articulate and detailed.
In comparison,the DL-S1 keeps a pretty even keel all the way through the frequencies, plus it has that lovely agility of the better MC's – Incredibly clean & dynamic with no flabby edges.
A slightly more fulsome lower end presentation too, more akin to a good (Woody) Grado, possibly not quite as "fat" but still firm and strong.
The DL-S1 is not entirely dissimilar to the Grado Reference Sonata 1, a nicely filled out lower end providing extra body to vocals and instrumentation.
The RS1 does provide an added dose of lower order "warmth" and I found it a difficult call between these two carts.
Another strength of the DL-S1 is that it really does dig into the detail, for example I can clearly hear plucked double bass strings vibrating and along similar lines, there's also real timbre and feel to piano notes.
There's no added shrillness to female vocal which I have witnessed to varying degrees on certain recordings with some other LOMC's. Vocals across the board come across nice and natural without any hint of sibilance or strain.
In terms of tonal character it is similar to the Dynavector 20XL, but personally I'd take the DL-S1 over the DV, it just offers that next level of detail and openness.
Yes an excellent cartridge – It's a mighty close call between this and my hither to fav LOMC, the Audio Technical 0C9 ML II.
So which of these two LOMC's do I prefer?
Well, first thing to say is that we're getting firmly into system matching and personal tastes here.
My principal preference is for a taut, punchy, dynamic and articulate presentation, but I don't get on with anything remotely dull and lifeless.
The OC9 delivers the preferred elements 100% of the time but, it's livelier top end can be a little tiresome on brighter recordings.
Here the DL-S1 really scores, the top end being held in perfect control at all times, never dominating.
But a contra position can be found with slightly duller recordings; here I prefer the added vitality that the OC9 provides.
Ultimately, it is that more fulsome overall character of the DL-S1 that tips the nod its way.
Neither of these carts though are leaving the stable