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Denon DP-30L Turntable Service & Review

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

The Denon DP-30L is an excellent turntable with a good feature-set, 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 exhibits commendably low wow and flutter, in part due to Denon’s 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.

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


Drive system: AC servo motor, direct drive
Wow & 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

The motor isn’t quite as hefty as the motors of older Denon decks like the SL-7D, but it’s still a decent design and should last for many years.


The DP-30L is easy to work on, typical of most older Denon equipment. Everything is well laid out and the circuit board and parts are of good quality.

Typically Denon – neat and easy to work on
All control circuitry is on one large board. the heatsink is for the motor driver transistors.
It’s always worth opening and re-lubricating a direct drive motor of this age
Off comes the rotor, leaving the stator and ball-bearing behind
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.

The Bottom Line

The Denon DP-30L is a popular and easy to find deck if you are looking to buy one. The DP-30L would make a perfect deck for someone upgrading from a belt-drive deck, perhaps buying their first proper direct-drive. It would certainly make an excellent alternative to the plastic junk you can find new for similar prices.

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.

Get a DP-30L serviced and set up properly with a decent cartridge and you’ll have an excellent vinyl spinner that will provide many more years of listening pleasure.

Denon DP-30L

$350 - $700AUD

Build / Finish




Sound Quality







  • Low wow & flutter
  • Solid tonearm
  • Excellent motor
  • Very serviceable
  • Good sound


  • Plastic chassis

Liquid Mike

As a kid, I cherished my Tandy 200-in-1 electronics project lab and Dick Smith Funway electronics kits. I had my own little hi-fi at 16. Later, I started Liquid Audio, a specialist hi-fi equipment repair business. Keeping classic hi-fi gear alive and well is what we do. Our mission: to deliver TLC for classic Japanese, American and European hi-fi stereo equipment. In my spare time, I cook, ride, listen to music and research interesting topics.

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. John

    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

  2. Cesar


    How did you remove the platter from the DP30L? How much oil?



  3. Gary

    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. Mike

      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.

  4. Chris Nicholson

    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. Mike

      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.

  5. John Manning

    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. Mike

      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!

  6. Al

    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

  7. leemck

    I have a Denon turntable with a damaged magnetic coating. The turntable has an slight thunk in the playback audio. The turntable bounced against the magnetic reading head during a cross country truck move 20 years ago. The magnetic coating is a light brown color with a dark vertical line presumably where the reading head touched.

    Can you tell me a source of a magnetic particle recoating fluid?

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. Firstly the head spacing has to be set precisely. The magnetic strip is encoded with a signal, so it’s not as simple as recoating the strip. Doing so will likely destroy the ability of the deck to control the speed of the platter. I’ve had lots of success fixing Denon decks like this with speed issues relating to the head, platter and circuitry. If you live locally I’d suggest bringing her in. If not, try to source an undamaged platter, they are fairly common.

  8. kwok cheng

    Hi, Mike:
    I have a Denon DP*55K installed with a SEAC 308N arm. I bought it new in 1981. After enjoying it ever since. Now, it has an issue: it spins for about one minute,then slows down and then spins correctly again and then slows down and finally comes to a stop. I switched it off and powered it on again but it does not spin at all. If I try again, maybe, a couple of days later, it repeats the same problem as I described earlier. Can you fix this problem and what is wrong with it? How much would be the cost to fix this problem? I live in San Francisco, USA. I have friends in the USA sometimes travelling to Australia. What is your address?
    Kwok Cheng

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Kwok, sorry to hear you are having problems with your turntable. To briefly answer your questions, it’s not possible to say exactly what’s wrong until properly inspecting the unit and tracing the fault. Likewise in terms of repair costs, there’s no way to know until we know exactly what has failed and how long the repair will take. Most of these sorts of faults are fixable, but each scenario is slightly different, so we must always inspect, test and go from there. Travelling a long way with a turntable is generally not advisable, but if we get to that point we can have a chat on the phone before booking her in. Alternatively, you might be able to find a competent local repairer who can resolve this issue for you.

      1. kwok cheng

        Hi Mike,

        Thanks for your reply. I have not had luck with audio repair service in San Francisco. I call Denon in the USA and it did not accept my table for service. I took it to a repair shop claimed to have 40-year experience but it didn’t fix it–fortunately the technician didn’t even open the bottom cover to try to repair it. Before this turntable, I had an Accuphase E303, which also was not fixed. I saw from your Facebook, you serviced quite some high end audio equipment–I saw a E202. Keep up the good work.

        1. Liquid Mike

          Hi Kwok, thanks and yes I work on a ton of Accuphase, Krell and good old Pioneer, Sony, Technics, Kenwood etc! I’m sure this and the 303 are fixable, the key is to find the right repairer, it makes the difference between the experiences you’ve described and smooth running, reliable hi-fi gear.

  9. Rick Seneris

    Have you tried cleaning the motor spindle and lube it with real light synthetic oil?

    1. Liquid Mike

      Hi Rick, yes I’m a specialist turntable repairer and have a range of synthetic lubricants for various types of bearings. A roughly 30 weight oil works well here and should be added after thoroughly cleaning the bearing well and spindle with a high flash-point solvent.

  10. Rick Seneris

    Adjust the pickup head at least .015″ with feeler gauge.

    1. Liquid Mike

      Thanks Rick, this is covered in the service manual, the pick-up head clearance adjustment is critically important.

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