Review: Denon DP-61F Turntable

Category: Analog

Have had this table sometime as a back up table. It is in this context that prompted this review. Picked up this Denon DP 61F while I lived on Palm Beach. Was in church thrift store there,so the price was totally ridiculous low.Totally ashamed to tell you what I paid for this table.New it carried a price of $650.00,in 1985. It appeared to have been used very little. So as of late the Oracle needs some TLC and the Denon DP 61F has been pressed into service.

First of all this table is fully automatic,with Denons Dynamic Servo Tracer Tonearm. Finished in a beautiful rosewood cabinent,with brushed silver controls and accents. Picture does not capture the true beauty of this fine table. Also has adjustable feet so the table can be leveled out,nice touch there. Massive platter,with an above average turntable mat.

So this weekend set up the Denon DP 61F,which is an absolute breeze to do. Had an Audio Technica AT450P that was also pressed into service.

This has been a total surprise as to what this table is capable of. First up was the Michael McDonald LP "If Thats What It Takes". Was totally astounded by the sonic signature of this table and cartridge combination.The level of detail and apparent sonic holograpy,just completely stunned me. Okay, vocals are damn good,better than they should be. Well lets see how it does on Jazz. Put on Spyra Gyra "Morning Dance" LP. Once again just could not believe what I was hearing. My beloved Oracle was being seriously challenged by this direct drive mid-fi table. the soundstage on the Spyra Gyra album really came to life.I didnt have to sit in the so called sweet spot to hear the separation,the sonics just enveloped the room. Okay,one more test,this time with a Classical Album. This was to be the Telarc # DG 10050 Frederick Fennel and the Cleveland Symphonic Winds. Selections were Arnaud: Three Fanfares for Brass & Percussion(Olympic Themes) then Vaughn Williams:Toccata Marizale / Folk Song Suite,then followed by Grainger: Lincolnshire Posy / Shepherds Hey. Once again this combination just cut through the material with a verve I would not have believed,if I had not been there.

You see to my mind this is a total Mid-Fi set up,yet it was and is truly challenging my Oracle. Over the next several hours through several LPs on its platter,trying to find true fault with this table combination. I cant, it just plays beautiful regardless of the program material it is challenged with.

So is it a keeper-- yes,very much so. At this point have ordered a Denon 103 MC Cartridge for it. It certainly deserves a better phono cartridge.

Now for the caveats.While this was a flagship model for Denon,it came with fixed RCA Interconnects. Wish I could use other interconnects,however the ones on the table are very good indeed and are gold plated. Fully automatic table,not crazy about that,but is very silky in its motion. Perhaps I am being trite here.

Denon has always made way above average products and the DP 61F is certainly no exception to that statement. So I can heartily recommend this fine piece of vintage Denon. It is very heavy weighing probably 30 pounds or more and with a superb build quality,that has become a Denon benchmark. Not all that familiar with the Dynamic Servo Tracer Tonearm. However it performs it functions very well indeed. Setting the Tracking Force and Anti Skate by one control seems a little out of the norm,but it works. The Q-Damping Control which is to be set the same as the Tracking Force. Not up to speed on what the Q-Damping really is.

So if your on a tight budget and want a fabulous turntable for little money the DP 61F should be on your short list. According to Audiogon Blue Book Average Used Price is $286.00. Thats an outright steal,based upon the true performance of this table.

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Ferrari, the Denon Direct Drive TT's were some of the best direct drive tables made, in the affordable category. It does not surprise me that it challenges the Oracle Alexandria, but it will never beat it. The DL103 cartridge is going to be a real surprise for you. It will totally stomp the Blue Point that you have on your Alexandria. Take my advise on this, and get a DL103R from Martin on the A'gon Classifieds, for $230. The ad is on there now. I just changed from a regular 103 to the 103R, and the improvement was staggering. Very little price difference. When you hear what the 103 can do, you will soon put a 103 on all your TT's. So that is why I'm making this recommendation for the 103R. Put that one on your Oracle. It will kill you. You will freak right the hell out. It is the equivalent of an $800 to $1000 cartridge, no kidding. You'll see.
Have heard many good reviews on the Denon 103R and in fact did order one from Martin last night. Back in the 70s did have a Denon 103D,and remember it was very good indeed,then moved to the Dynavector Ruby 17R I think. Cant use the Denon on the Sumiko arm on the Oracle as it will not accomodate cartridges over 8 grams. The Denon 103R is I believe 8.5 grams. Like I said bought the Denon as a back up because the price was like a CD purchase. Just wrapped it and forgot about. But the Oracle needs service now,nothing major. So thats why the Denon came into play and thats what prompted the review. Certainly in my mind,this has been a very unexpected surprise. So at this point the Denon will sit next to the Oracle in the system.I can live very easily with it.
Have now installed the Denon DL 103R on this table. The results are spectacular to say the very least. Set up on the Denon table was totally right on from the get go. The VTA and Overhang was dead on. No fussy set up. Naturally being a Denon to Denon product. After about 25 hours break in the 103R really came to life. The defintion,clarity,dept,impact,plus a very wide soundstage. The 103R delivers the music with a verve I had not heard in a very long time. So if you have the need for a new MC cartridge give the 103R a try. It will challenge all MCs up to the $800.00 plus level,it is that good. One of the true bargains in all of high end audio.

I just picked up a Denon DP-61 turntable at the flea market last weekend. The unit appears to be in excellent condition, however, it doesn't seem to play very loud.

Could it have some problem internally or is this something that a new needle would rectify?

Any insight is greatly appreciated.
Could be the phono cartridge is a Moving Coil phono cartridge and your pre amp does not have enough gain for the cartridge. Also defective cartridge as well. Doubt if it is with the table. This was Denons flagship model and has a superb build quality.
There should be a ground post on your pre amp usually located next to the phono inputs on the pre amp. Before opting for a Denon MC cartridge make sure your pre amp can handle MC. If not go for the High Output Moving Coil the Denon DL 160. Can be had from for a good price.
The hinges are metal, not plastic.