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Denon DP 300F Belt Driven Turntable

Discussion in 'Equipment Reviews & Opinions' started by johnda, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,914
    Location:
    Southold, NY
    I had been looking for a turntable to replace my still operating but aging 31 year old Technics direct drive SL-2000 turntable. After reading numerous owner reviews and pricing different units, I decided to take a shot at the Denon DP-300F. The turntable arrived today, and I set it up in my 12x14 listening room.

    The Denon DP-300F has a built-in preamp that is switchable so that you can use it with amplifiers and receivers that either have a phono section or not. It also allows you to hook it into your computer's sound card, with the proper adaptor cable, and transfer vinyl to CD if that is your wish.

    The unit was well packed and all the components were separately grouped including the audiophile styled rubber record mat. If you are interested in knowing more about it, you can go to the Denon website www.denon.com and download a copy of the owner's manual. I did this before ordering mine and it did help me to understand what the turntable had.

    I did have a momentary heart stoppage when unpacking the unit, because I thought at first that they had forgotten to pack the headshell, cartridge and counterweight! Not to worry, they are in one of the two styrofoam liners, they are just packed on the outside of the liner and are not visible until the liner is pulled from the box.

    You can do the following setup either where you will have the turntable or in a convenient place, then move the turntable to where it is going to play from. I chose to do the setup on my stereo cabinet and also made the audio leads hookup to my receiver, but I made sure that all power was off. The turntable should not be plugged in until the setup is completed.

    The very first thing you do is set the preamp equalizer switch to ON or OFF. It comes preset to ON with the assumption that many of today's amplifiers and receivers do not have a phono input. My Sherwood RX-4109 receiver has a phono input, so I set the switch to OFF. Since the switch is under where the platter will go, be sure to set it ahead of placing the platter on the turntable.

    Next, you mount the cast aluminum platter on the center spindle. The turntable has two square hole access openings and one opening has two red ribbon tapes that are taped to the turntable. Place that opening over the belt roller. The tapes go around the rubber belt. Loosen them from the turntable and then use them to gently pull the belt out over the roller and center it on the roller. Once it is centered, remove the tapes. Next give the turntable about five to six turns to set up the mechanism and set the belt.

    Place the rubber mat on the platter, then mount the headshell which has the Denon cartridge premounted and the counterweight. The cartridge has a stylus guard and you should keep the guard down while setting up the arm. Swing the arm over the platter to release it (POWER IS OFF!) screw the counter weight in and balance the arm. Once the arm is floating level it is balanced. Turn the counterweight dial(just the dial) until it reads zero. Then rotate the dial and counterweight together until the scale reads "2". The supplied cartridge tracks best at a 2 gram setting. The small dial on the base is the anti-skating adjustment and set this to "2" also.

    Set the arm on the rest, flick the stylus guard up to expose the stylus, plug in the turntable, and turn on your receiver or amplifier and you are almost ready to go.

    There are two buttons on the turntable deck and two buttons in the front. The two deck buttons are for speed (33/45) and size (30cm or 17cm).
    Since I use 33's I set the speed for 33 and the size to 30cm.

    Lay your album on the turntable.

    There are two ways you can operate, fully automatic and semi automatic.

    For full automatic just push the START button in the front of the unit. The turntable will start spinning, the arm will swing over the record, drop down and play. At the end of the record the arm will lift and return to the stop and the turntable will switch off.

    For semi-automatic operation, you use the cuing lever to lift the arm from the rest, swing the arm over the record to either the start of the record or the selection you want. The turntable will start spinning, then you lower the cuing lever and the arm will drop to the record. The cuing lever is not well damped, so lower it in a smooth movement. Once the record is finished it will revert to the automatic operation for arm lift and shutdown. You can also stop the playing of an album at any time by pushing the STOP button to initiate the shutdown.

    I guess the big question is how does it run and sound?

    I found the turntable to be very smooth in operation and the turntable could operate with the dust cover up or down. When the arm lifts it clears the cover just fine. I normally like to run with the cover up, so that's how I operated, other than to check the clearances. I listened to a number of albums this afternoon, from Frank Sinatra to Mozart.

    Tonight, when things had quieted down, I played one of my Musical Heritage Society Inc. albums. I played the Edvard Grieg Sonata in A Minor, Op. 36 for Cello and Piano.

    My speakers are Polk Monitor 30's and a Polk PSW10 subwoofer and if there is ANYTHING wrong with the reproduction, these speakers will tell me.

    During the performance the Cello was rich with a good bass line and beautiful top end. The Piano had excellent presence and sense of the keyboard keys. In the spaces between the movements, there was total dead silence. No rumble, no speed shifts or flutter could be noticed by me.

    I was quite satisfied with the performance of this turntable. Does that mean it is the best around? No it does not, as I'm sure there are more expensive turntables with higher priced cartridges that can get you more out of an album. I may try my Grado Black on this turntable later on to see how it does, but it sounds quite good with the supplied cartridge. I have owned a number of Dual turntables, an AR XB, an early Technics SL-1200 and the Technics SL-2000. I feel that the Denon DP-300F is right up there with the best of them.

    I purchased mine through Amazon.com for a price of $244 including sales tax, but with free shipping. Since this price includes a cartridge, that is a decent deal. The turntable looks "Right" and makes a nice appearance, in addition to operating quietly and smoothly. It's one to consider.:music:
     

     

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  2. eteller

    eteller AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,831
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    Very detail review. One that has me thinking about how I can come up with a spare $244 before christmas. :D
     
  3. pmsummer

    pmsummer simul justus et peccator Subscriber

    What's the base made of/like?
     
  4. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Southold, NY
    Y'know, I'm not sure what the material is, could be aluminum or even a plastic material. Probably the only way to test it would be to do a scratch test, and I'm not interested in doing that. The turntable is not a massively built heavyweight, but has about the same heft as my Technics SL-2000 which lasted me 31 years so far and is still operating. I'm not going to be around to see if the Denon lasts as well and I'm sure the Denon would not pass my AR XB "Drop the hammer" test, but I don't intend dropping any hammers on it!:D
     
  5. pmsummer

    pmsummer simul justus et peccator Subscriber

    Is it thick or thin? It looks very solid, but it could just be a thin shell. Thick or thin, that's what inquiring minds want to know. :yes:
     
  6. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,914
    Location:
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    When I lifted it, there was not any sense of flexing so I would say possibly thin, but well braced. I'm not going to use it in my jeep, it's just going to sit up there on top of my stereo cabinet and play nice music. If it stops doing that job properly, you folks will be the first to hear about it!:thmbsp:
     

     

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  7. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Southold, NY
    Update:

    I poked and felt and lifted the Denon DP-300F turntable. I think the case is made of a plastic material. When I rapped the top of the plinth it had a hollow feel to me. (gasp)

    When I pushed the on button there was a slight clunk sound as the mechanism started.(My GAWD!)

    At night I like to listen to only one record album and just focus on it.

    Tonight I chose Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Igor Oistrakh with the Moscow Philharmonic, David Oistrakh conducting, Melodiya Label.

    Once the arm came down on the record, all my fears vanished. Once again the music flowed out of a silent background without any sense of ANYTHING to detract from the music. Igor's violin soared through the Concerto going up into the highest reaches without any mistracking. I was THERE!

    Folks, we all have our pet likes and dislikes about what we listen to and how we listen. Some folks will not like any turntable with a plinth not made of the finest wood. Guys will argue until the cows come home about the quality of belt drive against direct drive. I happen to enjoy listening to good music, but I'm not too picky how I get there. If it sounds good to me, I'm happy.

    If you tap the Denon's case and don't like the feel of it, or don't like the "clunk" when the mechanism works, pick something else. It's what floats your boat that counts. It may turn out that the Denon will not last long because of the way it is constructed, or possibly it may be as reliable as my Technics SL-2000 is. We'll see.

    In the meantime, I'm just going to enjoy the music. Happy holidays folks!:music:
     
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  8. pmsummer

    pmsummer simul justus et peccator Subscriber

    Sounds like a great deck, and a bargain! :thmbsp:
     
  9. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Update: I am contemplating getting an integrated tube amp in the future, possibly a yaqin MC10L or Jolida 102B. Neither of them have a phono input, so I figured I would test out the Denon's built-in phono amp. I unhooked the leads of the Denon from the phono input on my receiver and then hooked them into the aux inputs. I removed the rubber mat and turned the platter until the opening was over the on/off switch for the built-in amplifier and turned it to "On". Although the supplied manual does not state that the amplifier is set to RIAA standards, the manual does call the amplifier an equalizer, and I have seen reviews that say it is to RIAA standards. I played an album and the equalizer operated properly. The sound level was proper and the equalization was within spec. I do have to say that the sound of the phono in on the receiver seemed to give a slightly warmer sound, but I could definitely use the turntable on any amp that did not have a phono input. The turntable has been operating quite well with no problems.
     
  10. thunderroad

    thunderroad Life begins at 140 mph.

    Messages:
    1,601
    Location:
    SF East Bay, California
    I'm glad to hear that you are still using your Denon 300F and still enjoying it! Are you still running the stock cartridge? If so, you might want to try a Denon 110 or maybe an Audio Technica AT440MLa on it. Needledoctor was also recently selling the 300F with the Ortofon 2M Red premounted on it as a package deal too. So, that must be a pretty good choice as well!

    Just tryin' to help! :D
     
  11. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Hi Thunderroad!

    Yep, I'm still using the stock cartridge, I was thinking that I might try the AT440MLa next. I'll also check into the Denon 110 when the time comes. Right now I'm thinking hard about going tube, perhaps this summer or the fall. I like the duce coupe in your avitar, had a 56 chevy powerpack, nosed, decked, lowered and striped many years ago!
     

     

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  12. Rygen

    Rygen I can break any motor.

    Messages:
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    Great write up, thank you. Was curious what you thought of the arm on this table?
     
  13. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,616
    Location:
    San Antonio
    I put a Shure M97 in my 300F, sounds good. Nice record player; plays the records and shuts itself off, a nice feature when I doze off at night.

    Last night I was listening to a record of the score from Lust for Life conducted by Miklos Rozsa himself. Nice.
     
  14. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Location:
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    Update: 5/6/2010

    I had some quiet time tonight and played a sample Windham Hill album with excellent varied pieces. Deep bass drums, piano, string. I tested this with my Polk Monitor 30 wall mounted speakers and a Polk PSW10 subwoofer. Sherwood RX-4109 receiver. I'm still using the 300F just as I purchased it. I just sat there with the lights out as the album played, chilling out and concentrating on the music. Amazing. The sound was really good and the only item that was not absolutely perfect was the slight sense of roughness from the Sherwood receiver ( not sure if it is the receiver, could be the album, I'll do more listening) . This was VERY subtle and under normal listening would not be noticed. I may some day drop some big bucks on the amplification stage to get a more silky reproduction. In any case the deep bass was right there, the piano was as real as fitting a concert grand into a 12x14 room can be. The stylus never mistracked and the sections between selections was dead silent. No rumble, no NOTHING! dead silence. I have also been very pleased with the isolation the turntable has from outside vibrations, it is one of the best in this regard that I have seen. I posted my first review in December of 2008 and here we are cruising along in the spring of 2010. I just noticed Rygen's question about the arm. The arm, to me feels just fine with the standard cartridge installed. I haven't bothered to try anything different yet because I am very happy with the performance. This turntable is a winner.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2010
  15. deaner33

    deaner33 Drew loves Thin Lizzy

    Messages:
    2,109
    Location:
    Brandon, Mississippi
    I've almost pulled the trigger on this TT more times than I can count. One thing always nagged me a little bit - unless I'm mistaken it does not have a ground wire. Somehow that seems wrong to me, but if it doesn't hum when you're playing it I guess it's fine. Can you comment on that?
     
  16. pbinpb57

    pbinpb57 Well-Known Member

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    Nope, no ground wire. No hum, no issues at all. Pull the trigger.
     

     

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  17. thilaseen

    thilaseen Super Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    I've had one for nearly 2 years and can confirm what's been said about it.
    Mine replaced a Technics SLB3 which started giving me speed variation issues after nearly 30 years of very solid service. I agree that it looks a bit lightweight but it does the job and does it well.
    I can confirm no ground wire and no hum.
     
  18. Live_Wire

    Live_Wire Realistic Ak'er

    Messages:
    794
    Location:
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    I have this table as well, and I can confirm it's an excellent player. Does it's job, and it does it well. Of course, I upgraded from a 20 year old Optimus (RadioShack brand, later product, not so good) and I love it.

    I know it's been said, but I'll confirm it another time, no ground wire and no hum issues at all. :)
     
  19. johnda

    johnda AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Right, no ground wire and no hum. Go for it! We're right behind you!
     
  20. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan AK Member Subscriber

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    Location:
    San Antonio
    My Denon doesn't hum. I've had other record players without ground wires; they didn't hum either.
     

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