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Denon DP-30L Turntable Service & Review

I recently serviced a lovely Denon DP-30L direct-drive turntable and decided to spread the word a little about this great deck.

Denon’s DP-30L is an excellent turntable with great features like a quality motor, solid chassis and excellent speed-control circuitry. The DP-30L weighs in at just under 10kg, much more than today’s lightweight decks. This deck also has commendably low wow and flutter. This is in part due  to Denon’s use of unique speed control methodology.

Unlike most other manufacturers who use hall sensors or printed circuit traces to generate the speed control signal, Denon chose to print a magnetic strip encoded with a waveform, on the underside of the platter. This strip is read back by a magnetic tape head, very similar to the type you’d find in a cassette deck. As the platter spins, the tape head reads the signal from the strip and feeds it into a comparator. A reference frequency is also fed into the comparator. As its name suggests, the comparator ‘compares’ the two and speed adjustments are made based on the difference between reference and generated frequencies.

Denon utilised this method of speed control in all their direct drive decks from this period, and it works very well. In fact, it’s more reliable than some other methods of sensing rotational speed. Of course, speed control relies on the measured signal being precise. Nothing is perfectly machined or completely flat, so some wow and flutter is inevitably ‘built in’. The result is still usually far better than belt-drive decks.

The DP-30L would make a perfect deck for someone upgrading from a belt-drive deck, perhaps buying their first proper direct-drive. You can expect dramatically improved pitch accuracy, lower rumble and more predictable operation from a quality direct-drive deck like the DP-30L. You’ll also get a nice tonearm and the ability to play with most medium compliance MM and MC cartridges.

You can read more about the Denon DP-30L at the awesome website Vinyl Engine!

Specifications:

Drive system: AC servo motor, direct drive
Wow and flutter: 0.015% WRMS (servo)
Signal to noise ratio: 78dB
Tonearm: S-shaped (mk1), straight low mass (mk2)
Dimensions: 450 x 140 x 403mm
Weight: 9.5kg

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Typically Denon – neat and easy to work on
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All control circuitry is on one large board. the heatsink is for the motor driver transistors.
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It’s always worth opening and re-lubricating a direct drive motor of this age
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Out comes the rotor, leaving the stator, and ball-bearing, behind
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Close up of the rotor and shaft, note the concave end, where the ball bearing sits. Clean her up and then add a few drops of synthetic bearing oil.

Denon DP-30L

7.6

Chassis / Motor

8.5/10

Tonearm

8.0/10

Bulid / Finish

7.5/10

Upgradability

6.0/10

Sound Quality

8.0/10

Pros

  • Super-low wow & flutter
  • Solid tonearm
  • Excellent motor

Cons

  • Plastic chassis
  • Non-removable tonearm

10 thoughts on “Denon DP-30L Turntable Service & Review”

  1. I used auto polish on mine, its still not perfect but it did come up very nice with minor scuffing removed & clarity restored.
    it wont fix the cracks but will clean up very nicely & may hide the cracks some,
    cheaper than a replacement in the first instance

  2. Hi Mike, I have a Denon 30 L II which i’ve owned for many years and which has given great service (now with a Shure M97xE cartridge). Not that it is a real problem, but the dust cover now has a few cracks and is no longer crystal clear. Do you know where I could buy a replacement cover; either new or second-hand? Regards,

    1. Hi John, thanks for getting in touch. Given that these are long since out of production, your best bet would be to scour eBay for a spares unit or spare lid. You could also possibly get one made, several places in Aus are doing this now, including Plasfab. Hope this helps!

  3. Great revue Mike, thanks. I have a Denon DP 30L that I’m about to fire up again after a 25 year hiatus. Any advice and also any thoughts on cartridge/stylus upgrade. I’ve been told by the local store they cant source a replacement shure stylus.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for that and yes, there are lots of options. If you like the Shure, you can go for a modern equivalent in the M97xE, an excellent entry level proper moving magnet cart. Otherwise there are always the usual Ortofon 2M Red and Blue. Much depends on your budget, and you want to make sure the compliance match between the arm and cart is good.

  4. Gidday mate I have a denon DP 30L as I took it in for a hifi place to check it out and the guy broke the tonearm on it now I’m just wondering if you can still get a tonearm for it thank you

    1. Hi Gary, make sure they pay you in full for the damaged deck as it is a write off. Nothing like this is available now and parts have not been available for many years.

  5. Just bought the DP-30L and it’s a great table…really like the auto lift feature. ..Solid sound and looks good on the stand…fyi my tone arm started to float one day and discovered the internal mechanism had passed it’s mechanical stop…a gentle push down on the lift arm positioned it….no issues now…thanks for the notes

Thanks for reading, leave a comment and let me know what you think!