Denon only produces 3 turntables right now and the most popular one is the DP 300F turntable. This turntable is a step up from the “budget” record players, but is not overly expensive (Check Current Price)
The bottom line is this is a pretty good value for cost turntable, though there are some things you should be aware of before buying.
Read on for my full review.
Denon DP-300F Cartridge and Stylus
The DP 300F comes with the pretty mediocre MM (moving magnetic) stock cartridge. This is the biggest drawback to this turntable because it misrepresents the sound quality that is possible. Most of the negative things I have heard from people could easily be solved by replacing the cartridge.
Luckily the headshell is removable and putting a new cartridge in is a simple task. You can use any standard MM cartridge weighing between 5 and 10 grams. I recommend the Shure M97XE (~$80),the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge (~$100), or the Audio Technica AT440MLA (~$200). Get the best one you can afford. It really makes a huge difference.
I wont go into exactly how the included cartridge disappoints. Just know that if you buy this turntable, you will have to replace the cartridge to get high quality sound. Take that into consideration when comparing costs.
Denon DP-300F Tonearm, Platter and Motor
The body of the DP300F is made from cast aluminum and is very ridged and heavy. This helps to greatly reduce any vibrations coming from the motor. Cheaper tables generally use more plastic. This causes them to be light and prone to more skipping and interference.
The platter is belt driven which also decreases unwanted noise from the motor. Because this is belt driven turntable, this is better used for listening to music than for DJ’ing. If you want to DJ, then you need to look for a direct drive turntable like the Audio Technica AT-LP120 (Read My Review).
The DC servo motor is capable of 45 and 33 13 RPM. You can switch between these speed with the turn of a switch.
The tonearm is fully automatic, meaning that when you press a button the player automatically places the tonearm on the record to start playback and then returns it at the end of the record. This is a very nice feature and will prevent any undue damage caused by dropping or manually placing the the tonearmstylus to hard on the record. Being fully automatic is not usually seen on turntables in this price range, so this give it a good leg up on its competitors. You can also manually place the tonearm on the record yourself if you want to start somewhere in the middle.
The DP300F’s tonearm itself is very high quality. Well balanced and very rigid.
The turntable sheet is pretty cool. It’s 5mm thick and somehow uses “hologram vibration analysis” to hold the record. Denon claims that this new technology provides a better sound that a traditional record mat.
The overall finish and construction of the turntable is pretty high quality. Aside from the cartridge issue that I addressed earlier, all of the components are well made and perform well. These features are the reason turntables in this price range cost more and perform better than their budget alternatives.
Denon DP-300F Inputs and Outputs
There are no input jacks on the Denon DP300F and the only output is a provided cable with Phono plugs. You can use this cable to connect to either Phono In or Audio In jacks.
The turntable has a built in preamp that works ok, but you may want to upgrade to an better external one. Most people experience an increase in playback quality when the do so.
Denon DP-300F Sound Quality
As I mentioned above, people who are disappointed with the sound quality of the Denon DP-300F almost universally are using the stock cartridgestylus that it came with. Once the cartridge is upgrade those complaints go away.
The Denon DP-300F that I tested was packaged with the Ortofon 2M Red cartridge. I found the sound to be very warm and pleasing. The mid range frequencies were very good. The bass levels were good, but started to sound off as I increased the volume. Not by much, but noticeable. This was only a problem when I really cranked the volume past normal listening levels, and was fixed once I went through my own preamp.
Denon DP-300F Upgrades and Adjustments
I know I’ve said it over and over, but you need to upgrade the cartridge. Just buy one at the same time that you buy the turntable. You will be sorry if you don’t.
You should also think about buying an external preamp. If you are planning on running the turntable through a receiver with an internal amplifier, then this isn’t necessary.
Denon DP-300F Review Video
Here is a great video showing you how to setup the Denon DP 300F:
The Denon DP 300F is a very good turn table in its price range ($300-$400) as long as you replace the stock cartridge. This of course adds another $80 to $100 to the price tag and puts it on the high end of the range. Adding a separate preamp further increases costs.
Really at this price point it often comes down to aesthetics and if you like the look of this turntable, which I really do, then you will be very happy with your purchase.