More and more people are becoming interested in vinyl, and audio companies are pushing out more turntable options for the price-sensitive consumer. While a budget turntable might seem at odds with what is traditionally considered more of an enthusiast hobby, the reality is some of these turntables can produce some great sound, especially when paired with the right equipment.
For people who are new to the whole vinyl thing, being a fully automatic turntable, the Denon DP-300F is a great choice. It doesn’t require you to manually raise and lower the tonearm, reducing the risk of damaging the record or needle. There is no denying that this physical touch is part of the magic of vinyl, but there is of course the option to do things manually when you’re ready.
For audiophiles, the Denon DP-300F doesn’t quite it, but the difference won’t be particularly noticeable unless you’re using top of the line speakers or headphones anyway.
- REDISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR VINYL Listen to your analog music in a brand new way with this rigid die cast aluminum turntable that comes with standard mount head shell, MM Cartridge, DC servo motor, and has rotation speeds of 33 1/3 or 45 rpm
- LOWER VIBRATIONS DRIVE BETTER PERFORMANCE: This slim and sleek turntable is designed with a heavier base construction that helps decrease vibrations, giving you a noiseless, rich and detailed sound
- SMOOTH & GENTLE AUTOMATIC MOTIONS: The automatic startup feature allows the turntable to begin play. With the touch of a button, the tonearm gets lifted and comes to rest so smoothly ensuring NO SCRATCHES OR DAMAGE TO YOUR RECORDS
- BUILT IN PHONO EQUALIZER creates an open, enveloping sound stage that enlivens your vinyl collection while staying true to the original recording. Connect it directly to a mini component or integrated amp that lacks a phono terminal for seamless use
- EASY INSTALLATION & SETUP: Assemble the turntable, set it up in your living room or home theater with simple connections and start listening to your old or new records almost instantly
The DP-300F features a piano black chassis that is understated and beautiful. There’s a slight sheen to it, which gives it a bit more class than the matte black plastic look often seen in similarly priced turntables. The silver trim around the platter also contrasts nicely with the rest of the design.
As with most high fidelity audio turntables, the DP-300F is belt-driven. This helps to dampen the vibrations produced by the motor. The base of the turntable has good dampening properties, although it is more sensitive to vibrations than some of the more expensive turntables.
The tonearm has a standard straight arm design with a replaceable headshell. This makes it possible to swap out the cartridge for a better one, something that often isn’t possible with budget turntables. Denon have also generously included an extra set of headshell leads with the DP-300F.
Being a fully automatic turntable, you won’t need to manually change the belt in order to switch between 33 and 43 rpm modes. At the press of a button, you can switch between the two speeds. There is no support for 78rpm playback, which is quite normal for most turntables.
You’ll also want to make sure you choose between 7 and 12 inch record playback accordingly. This is also done at the press of a button. Typically 12 inch records play at 33rpm and 7 inch records play at 45rpm.
A slightly awkward design choice by Denon is the placement of the toggle for the built-in phono preamp. Being underneath the platter, toggling between the built-in phono preamp and an external phono preamp is a bit of a hassle. It isn’t likely that you’ll be toggling between them very often, but there could have been a better place to position it.
Operating The DP-300F
The Denon DP-300F is incredibly easy to setup and use. The start/stop button save the hassle of manually queueing the turntable’s tonearm, and the delicate mechanism will do a much better job than a beginner doing it themselves.
Once the record is placed on the platter, the ‘start’ button will automatically move the tonearm into the position. When the record is finished, the tonearm will return to its original position.
The DP-300F is not going to sound as good as a high end turntable, but costing less than $300, that is pretty much a given. The DSN-85 cartridge and stylus are on the low end of things, but they still perform better than the ones found on the cheaper turntables like the Audio Technica AT-LP60 or Sony LX-310BT.
The bass doesn’t have the same power as more expensive cartridges and the higher highs aren’t as well-defined. The soundstage isn’t very large, either.
That being said, the DP-300F does leave room for upgrades, which can significantly improve the audio quality.
The turntable doesn’t have great vibration dampening, but it’s what you would expect from a turntable in its price range. You’ll want to make sure it’s placed on a flat surface and keep the speakers on a separate surface to reduce the possibility of causing the needle to skip.
Some budget turntables also feature bluetooth connectivity and/or USB output for ripping records to MP3. With the Denon DP-300F, you get neither of these.
Personally, the USB output is a feature I’ve rarely seen as particularly useful.
However, the bluetooth connectivity is a feature that some might want, as it does greatly increase the simplicity of connecting with a range of speakers/headphones – especially as more and more of them are now bluetooth compatible.
If you want a relatively simple way to get started listening to your records, the DP-300F is a fantastic choice. You won’t have to worry about all the complicated components and setup procedure, and don’t even need an external phono stage thanks to its built in one. Paired with a good set of speakers, you’ll be in for a very enjoyable listening experience.
The DP-300F isn’t the cheapest turntable out there, but it’s one of the cheapest that lets you swap out the cartridge. This leaves the possibility for a significant upgrade to the sound. Besides that, the turntable looks a lot better than some of the cheaper competition.