For many audiophiles coming back to vinyl after a long absence and many first time analog lovers, an automatic turntable looks very appealing. Unfortunately, it is hard to find one that does not compromise sound quality for convenience. The Denon DP-300F turntable is this rare gem.
The Denon DP-300F is a manual-type turntable with automatic features. Itcouldn’t be easier to use. Start and stop the music at the touch of a button. The arm lifts up after playing a record, so you don’t have to worry about your LP endlessly spinning when you doze off at the end of your listening session. Another one of its “automatic” features is the ability to switch between 33 and 45rpm without having to move the belt. Dustcover is included as well.
A belt driven table with fantastic speed accuracy, the DP-300F has a sophisticated tonearm, a DC motor and a balanced aluminum platter. Furthermore, itcomes with a pre-mounted moving magnet cartridge and a built-in MM phono preamplifier (but the DP-300F has a switch to turn the internal preamp off, if you want to use an external one). It doesn’t come more plug-and-play than this; Just connect the DP-300Fto any input on any audio system and you’re ready to spin those cherished records!
Review of the Denon DP-300F
The DP-300F has been designed with heavier base construction for reduced vibration and performance. On the outside, this turntable looks absolutely terrific. It has a far more vintage feel to it than, say, the Pro-ject Debut III. This is a much-appreciated characteristic, as a lot of ‘entry-level audiophile’ turntables look ultra-modern. The DP-300F’s 4mm-thick cabinet wall that offers both strength and high density has been beautifully finished with a gloss coating, adding to its classic, evergreen look. With a body width of 434mm, it combines very elegantly with full-size system components and would fit right in with a vintage amplifier and speakers set-up.
The Denon is built with a DC motor, which means you can use a transformer when you’re overseas, and it will turn at the correct speed. The more common A/C synchronous motors can’t do that.
The arm design is right up there with the likes of Rega’s and Music Hall. The DP-300F’s straight tone arm brings out the maximum performance of cartridges with superior tracing capabilities. And if you’re one to always look for improvements, the supplied cartridge can be replaced with a variety of commercially available cartridges (Compatible cartridge weight: 4.5 – 9.5 g).
The record play is easy by having manual arm lift lever, and it returns automatically at the end. Now you can use the auto start feature, but record start grooves are not standardized and can cause problems like skips. 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. 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.
Overall, the automatic operation is smooth, quiet, and dependable.
If you find automatic play a little slow and enjoy using the manual cueing lever more often than not, you should realize the automatic option can be quite nice in dim environments. Another nice thing about the automatic feature is that it makes using the turntable easy for guests that are not familiar with vinyl, as they can safely push play and spin vinyl of their choosing without risking damage to your records.
The Denon DP-300F’s main selling point is its low wow & flutter specs (max .1% WRMS) and low rumble, which are outstanding.
Playing complex music, likes a piece of classical will reveal rich cello with a good bass line and beautiful top end. Piano has excellent presence, with great sense of each key. The midrange, where most of the music happens, is clear and balanced. The soundstage is wide, with instruments placed all across the space between the speakers. Balance is spot-on, and vocals are right out front where they belong. The highs roll off smoothly.
In the spaces between tracks or movements, you will hear total dead silence. That’s one of the great things about the DP-300F: you will hear no rumble, no speed shifts or flutter. There are really no annoyances: no footfall issues, no feedback, no rumble, nothing. Just beautiful dead silence. The isolation the turntable has from outside vibrations is truly pleasing, and is one of the best out there.
If you experience a small buzzing/humming issue at lower volumes you can solve that easily by grounding the turntable to the receiver: Create your own ground point by running a drain wire from a screw in the turntable’s chassis to the receiver’s ground.
Overall the sound is very pleasing. The table sounds warm, meaning that it is not crisp and analytical, but smooth and musical. Of course, it doesn’t compete with tables costing thousands of dollars. It is, however, a great improvement over MP3s and most CD players. You will be able to listen to this record player for hours on end without getting a headache and the warmth and presence of the real performance comes through fantastically.
You can do the 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. Just start by making sure all power is 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. However, if your receiver is a few decades old and has a phono input, or if you want to use an external preamp, 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, mount the die 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 (keeping power off!), screw the counter weight in and balance the arm. Once the arm is floating parallel with the platter, 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 ready to go.
The cartridge’s quality is not as high as that of the turntable, so we advise you to get a new one. The cartridge mount is very easily removed. However, note here that the tonearm on this table does not allow VTA adjustments, so keep that in mind when considering a new cartridge (though most MM/moving-iron cartridges from Audio-Technica, Grado, Ortofon, etc. should work just fine).
With that in mind, we advise you to get the Audio Technica AT440MLa cartridge with micro line stylus, an Ortofon 2M, or a Denon DL-160 cartridge. You will need a stylus force gauge to set up the new cartridge.
The Denon DP-300F comes with an extra set of cables that run from the cartridge to the headshell, should you break the ones it already comes with trying to remove them to change the cartridge.
The Denon DP-300F is right up there with the best of them. It is not the cheapest model on the market; however, the audio quality, performance, build quality and features it offers compete with several higher-priced turntables. The Denon DP-300F is a solid alternative to offerings from Music Hall & Pro-ject, with its own unique look. With a few tweaks, this record player will make all but the most hardcore vinyl enthusiasts very happy campers.
Offering a high quality, affordable entry into a kind of musicality that digital stuff can’t deliver, the Denon DP-300F provides a fully-automatic turntable experience, while at the same time preserving the manual functions of a serious record player. Whether you want to play the record at the touch of a button or manually move the tonearm to a different track, this turntable is a great model for your home.
- aluminum platter
- built-in phono preamp
- belt-drive system with DC servo motor
- dynamic balance tonearm with universal mount
- fully automatic operation
- manual lifter mechanism
- replaceable moving magnet cartridge included
- removable dust cover
- attached RCA audio cable
- heavy base construction
- minor assembly required
- two speeds: 33-1/3 rpm & 45 rpm
- wow & flutter 0.10%
- weight: 12.13 lbs.
- 17-1/16″W x 4-13/16″H x 15″D
- warranty: 2 years
Drive type: Belt drive
Motor: DC servo motor
Speed: 33-1/3 rpm, 45 rpm
Wow & flutter: 0.10 % W.R.M.S
S/N ratio: 60 dB
With dust cover closed (HWD): 5x17x15”
With dust cover open (HWD):16x17x16.5
Power supply: 120VAC @ 60 Hz
Power consumption: 2 W
Weight: 12 lbs
Type: Static Balance, Straight
Effective Arm Length: 8.72″
Each step = 0.1gm
Cartridge Range: 4.5 – 9.5 g
Headshell weight: 10.0 g including screws and nuts
Output voltage: With equalizer OFF : 2.5 mV
With equalizer ON : 150 mV
Tracking Force: 2.0gm Recommended
Owner’s manual: Download