Review: Denon DP-47F Turntable
For those of us who came of age in the 1980s, Denon’s DP-47F turntable is the stuff of dreams—at least, its looks are. The gorgeous rosewood finish, substantial build quality and creamy-smooth automatic operation are seductive to those of us who were weaned on the big, stainless steel integrated amplifiers and tape decks from Sansui, Kenwood, Rotel and Pioneer.
Though I’ve long since outgrown such gear, I was updating my system a few years ago and I wandered into a small hi-fi store at the Jersey shore to buy some cables. While the owner attended to another customer, I wandered into the back room and found a beautiful DP-47 occupying the position of pride on top of a Salamander rack.
I would’ve been perfectly happy to give my Dual CS-505 a re-job (new belt, lube, Ringmat, etc.) and go on listening to vinyl once in a blue moon—even though my collection was fairly large. But one listen to a 1980s (digital!) Telarc recording of Carmina Burana on the Denon and I was hooked again. Of course, the Denon DL-160 cartridge was a big part of the fun, but more on that later.
At $650, the Denon seemed a little steep. I originally ordered the NAD 533, but changed my order and took home the Denon. I skimped on the cartridge and went with a Grado Green instead, since I’d spent more than I wanted to on the table. The Grado, once broken in, exhibited very pleasant playback characteristics—a nice sweet midrange, deep though uncontrolled bass and decent soundstaging.
I started buying some of the Classic Records Shaded Dog reissues, and they were wonderful to listen to. So were my old favorites. But one thing the direct drive Denon failed to do was to forgive garage sale records of their sins—namely, ticks and pops. Even machine-cleaned records were crackly, and every last tick was brought straight to the front of the music. I tried changing cartridges. Over the years, I used a Denon DL-160, an Audio-Technica 440ML, and Audio-Technica OC-7 and a Benz Micro MC20E. The moving coils only exacerbated the Denon’s tendency to bring surface noise to the forefront; the 440ML was more relaxed.
About six months before I sold the Denon, I ordered an Audioquest SorboGel record mat which helped to blacken backgrounds and reduce surface noise. But the prospect of looking at that ugly blue gob (through which you can see the Denon’s unpolished platter) was too much to bear, so I removed it.
Since then, I’ve had a Linn Axis/Basik and Music Hall MMF-2.1. I finally settled on a Rega P2 as my new reference, with the lively, fast Denon DL-160 cartridge I like so much. (See my review of the Rega P2 for more on the cartridge.)
I guess it’s not worth going into detail about the Denon’s sound since its direct-drive nature makes it a mid-fi table, at best. But I will say this: for someone who’s got 100 or so records laying around that he/she will want to play on and off, the Denon is probably a great choice in its price range if sound quality is second to simplicity. It looks beautiful, it’s easy to operate, and there’s no belt to replace. Best of all, setup is a snap. Unlike the fiddly Music Hall MMF-2.1, the Denon is easy to get running—set the platter on the spindle, slide on the silky counterweight, mount your choice of cartridge (not included), balance the tonearm and use the slick electronic control to dial in servo-applied tracking force. That’s it. Cartridge installation is a snap, since the headshell is removable. (No protractor is included, however, so you’ll have to buy one.)
All in all, I had the Denon for roughly two years. You could probably do a lot worse. For above-average quality, tons of features and easy setup, this is a nice table with good (if not hi-fi) sound quality and great looks (if this is your cup of tea).
Rega P2 turntable
Denon DL-160 cartridge
Rotel RC-980 preamplifier with MM/MC phono stage
Rotel RA-970 amplifier
Rotel RQ-970BX phono stage
Sony SCD-CE775 SACD player
Phillips AM/FM tuner
Realistic laserdisc player
RCA DVD player
Apex Digital 27” TV
Polk RT25i bookshelf loudspeakers
Polk PSW350 subwoofer
Paradigm speaker stands
Audioquest CV-6 speaker cable
Straightwyre Harmony II subwoofer cable
Audioquest Jade/Monster 250 interconnects
Monster Power HTS 2500 Power Center
Record Doctor II record cleaning machine/Disc Doctor record brushes
StudioTech HF series racks
Audioquest MC cartridge demagnetizer
Rega P2 2000
Linn Axis/Basik LVX
Music Hall MMF-2.1