Before we get into our Denon DP-300F Review, let’s consider that the turntable has come a long way as time has passed. Its development started about 1887 when it was called a ‘gramophone.’ At some time in the 1940s, the generic term became a ‘record player.’
Invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, it had wax-coated cardboard cylinders. A stylus moved in a zig-zag groove to play the sound. In the 1890s, Emile Berliner made the transition from cylinders to flat discs.
Big bulky ‘radiograms’ with needles like implements of torture in the 50s. The Dansette Junior or similar in the 60s. They didn’t sound very good, but we didn’t know any better.
By the 80s, their use began to decline. Cassette’s, CDs, and other digital formats began to take over. It was suddenly very ‘uncool’ to have a record player. Thankfully they never went away, and eventually, ‘uncool’ became the ‘new cool’ as some realized what we were missing.
Vinyl returned with a ‘how dare you’ vengeance. Now once again, we could hear the Beatles as they were, warts, and all. Even tracks recorded purely on digital formats were converted to vinyl.
Turntables became excellent pieces of very technical equipment. We are going to have a look at one of those, the Denon DP-300F.
Who Is Denon?
Founded in 1910 in Japan by an American, they began by making disc recordings that were single-sided. They also made the gramophones to play them on and were one of the original pioneers of this developing technology. They designed the first disc recorders for professional Japanese broadcasters in 1939.
Denon now produces a range of consumer audio products. Their reputation has grown to the extent that they are recognized for the quality of the products. Denon has a proud history littered with dozens of awards for innovation and design.
Denon DP-300F – A Brief Overview
For anyone wishing to rediscover their passion for vinyl on a budget, then this is a great option. The Denon DP-300F is a fully automatic turntable and proves itself to be a good choice. Stick around, and you will see why.
It is a simplistic but attractive turntable that has a real vintage look about it. This, to us, is a nice thing. Sometimes entry-level turntables have designs that try to be too modern. This turntable is not like that. Looking nice is one thing, but is it any good?
Let’s find out…
The Denon DP-300F is a two-speed turntable with a belt-driven DC motor. It has 33⅓ and 45 rotation speeds. Having DC voltage allows the changes between rotation speeds to be at the push of a button. It will assist in ensuring the stability of the speed. There are some high-end manufacturers switching from AC to DC. To change between speeds, there is a button next to the tonearm.
It has a gloss-coated rigid die-cast aluminum construction providing a solid base and a low level of vibration. In this price category, most turntables have an MDF plinth. Denon’s inclusion of the aluminum base is thought to produce less external noise. Lower vibrations will give better performance. The heavier base gives you a noise-free, detailed, and richer sound.
The newly designed straight-arm tonearm has a headshell that is removable. This makes replacing the cartridge a simple operation. It will accept any standard mount replacement between five and ten grams. There is a counter-weight balance for the arm which needs to be set up. This can be a tricky operation. The arm has tracking force and anti-skate controls, both of which are adjustable.
It is a fully automatic table giving the benefit of hands-free operation if you choose. It operates at just the touch of a button. However, there is a cueing lever for manual use if required. An essential for all good automatic turntables. We must say that the automatic action is very smooth and gentle.
The adjustments available in the tonearm use allow this, of course. But when set up properly, it is not going to damage precious vinyl.
There is an Equalizer switch, which gives you connections to line-level inputs as well as phono. The equalizer could also be called a preamp and lets you use the turntable with a receiver that does not have one. To avoid any confusion, this preamp will not let you connect the turntable to a computer for downloading your vinyl to digital.
On the leading edge are the only two visible controls, the start, and stop for automatic play. There is also a removable plastic cover and a rubber mat.
It is a very plain and simple design that is not ostentatious in any way. The build quality is good, and the glossy look finish is quite attractive. The only matter of concern would be the balancing of the tonearm, which we mentioned, but there are instructions included. A well-made turntable, it is nicely designed with some good features.
Whilst not being a unit that has the “look no hands” claim, it is about as close as you can get. It looks like a plain and simple manual turntable, but all is revealed with the touch of one button. The motor starts, and the arm is raised. It lowers it gently onto the record, and when it is finished, it returns the arm to the rest.
The turntable is then shut off. We have already mentioned the manual cue arm, which is available if you wish to select certain tracks.
The built-in preamp or phono equalizer, as Denon prefers to call it, helps to deliver a wide, open sound stage. It brings your vinyl to life but still maintains the integrity of the original recording. The aluminum construction we have already discussed plays its part in producing a quality performance level. The rotation is flutter-free, and it has a very uniform rotation.
The sound is worth a brief mention. The mid-range is very full, and it has a rolled-off treble. The bass, though, is a little disappointing and uninspiring. It is though at its price point, a good sound and one that has a certain warmth to it.
Denon DP-300F Pros & Cons
- Easy setup, making it perfect for beginners.
- Fully automated playback.
- Nice retro styling.
- Quality built-in phono preamp.
- Easy to upgrade.
- The cartridge is not the best, and an upgrade will produce vastly improved sound quality.
- No USB recording.
More Choices at Various Budgets
Are you looking for some more options? If so, check out our reviews of the Best Turntables under 100 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 200 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 300 Dollars, the Best Turntables under 500 Dollars, and the Best Turntables under 1000 Dollars currently available.
What Do We Think?
This is very much a starter-level turntable and must be judged as such. For its price point, there is no doubt that it is on par with some and better than most. It has a similar performance level as the better models in the range but beats most of them on features.
Looking around at similar products, you can find automatic turntables that are cheaper. The Denon, though, gives you a better tonearm and aluminum construction. It also lets you interchange between cartridges very easily.
The sound and its performance are the most important issues. The performance is very good, and the sound more than acceptable if a little bass-light, but it has one other positive. The styling gives it a vintage feel, which we have already mentioned. There is something quite appropriate about that.
We said at the outset it will prove to be a good choice. We have shown enough to confirm that view. It is a well-made turntable with some nice features and a good look. It is set at a price point that makes it an attractive return to vinyl. Denon welcomes you back to music as it should be.
Happy vinyl listening!