The Denon DP-62L direct-drive turntable is an absolute gem, often overlooked and less well-known than some contemporaries. In my endeavours to bring you interesting equipment you may not be aware of, let’s take a closer look.
I often work on turntables where I find myself thinking “If I didn’t have other decks, this would do really nicely” and that’s what I thought back in 2017 when I worked on this Denon DP-62L. Hailing from almost the end of the golden era of vinyl in 1982, CD was almost here, cassette tapes were soon to be a thing of the past and the DP-62L was one of the last hurrahs from a great manufacturer known for studio and radio station vinyl playback machines.
The Denon DP-62L is an automatic arm lift deck. This means you have to manually move the arm to start the playback process and manually return the arm when the record has finished. The DP-62L will lift it for you at the end of a side though, saving you some stylus wear on those 7 or 8 beer/wine evenings… It’s a really solid machine, on a par with a favourite that I’ve yet to review, the classic Denon DP-1200.
You’ll find a great contemporary review of the Denon DP-62L over at Tone Audio and lots of other good stuff if you search for it.
Specifications, Courtesy Vinyl Engine
Drive system: bi-directional servo control direct drive
Motor: hi-torque AC servo motor
Speeds: 33.33 and 45rpm
Speed deviation: 0.002%
Wow and flutter: 0.008% WRMS
Platter: 300mm die-cast aluminium
Tonearm: straight and s-shaped interchangeable
Effective length: 244mm
Dimensions: 485 x 185 x 410mm
Design & Features
One thing I like about the Denon DP-62L is the integrated styling and design. It has a somewhat space-age look, very popular at the time and it still looks great to me. The tonearm is bespoke and you could choose from either the straight or ‘S’ shaped arm tubes. Denon included what they became known for in turntables of this era – electronic damping and anti-skate. These parameters can be dialled in with the two verniers you see in the image below. A good idea? Probably not, but it works well and is technically pretty cool.
In the image below you’ll note the multi-voltage capabilities of this model, handy indeed. You’ll also see the ‘tape’ head speed control sensor Denon always used in their machines. It reads a magnetic strip printed on the inside of the platter. Too bad if that ever gets damaged, but it rarely does. I do find I have to correctly space the sensor though on Denon machines.
This control methodology uses the potentially high precision and finer granularity obtained by referencing speed from near the edge of the platter and micro-controlling the platter speed against a quartz reference. One could argue that less granular control with a reference closer to the centre of rotation and longer integration time might create less cogging or chugging, or a lower frequency version of it, but really, all we want is for it to hit 33.3 or 45 rpm and stay there! There is an argument that belts provide this integration really well when combined with a heavy platter and I agree, but they create other problems and we won’t get into that here.
As usual, there’s a degree of disassembly, assessment and cleaning to begin with. You’ll see a very typical Denon internal layout here and note the block of wood on the bottom of the motor for mechanical stability and damping. Anyway, I’ll spare you the boring technical details and just let you know that I’ve cleaned, lubricated and adjusted things to factory spec.
Results & Sonics
So, as with most turntables that visit us here at Liquid Audio, we got great results with this Denon DP-62L. In fact, I have a standing commitment that there isn’t a turntable out there that won’t benefit from a visit to my workshop in terms of improved performance and appearance after a service. It ran more smoothly, more quietly and with less distortion, thanks to the precision setup of the Denon DL-103 cartridge and DP-62L tonearm.
I can tell you that the DP-62L is a joy to use, smooth, responsive, fast and reliable. Sonically, the deck is weighty and yet light on its feet, smooth yet also detailed. It’s really a very nice machine in all the right ways – good arm, great control system, high-precision in terms of speed regulation and very quiet thanks to a great motor. The DL-103 fitted to this machine adds a touch of class. Whilst not the smoothest or most resolving cartridge and what could one expect of a moving coil cartridge at just $429, the DL-103 is smooth, clean and ever so slightly lean sounding to me, certainly a great match with more affordable systems.
As a serious mid-tier direct-drive turntable, the DP-62L competes with all the usual suspects and does very well indeed.
So what can we compare the Denon DP-62L with? The usual suspects from the time and still kicking around now would be machines like the Kenwood KD-550 and KD-650, the Sony PS-8750, the Technics SL-1200, Technics SL-M3, the lovely Denon DP-1200 and lesser Denon SL-7D, the Marantz Model 6300, Yamaha GT-2000 and many others. I always feel guilty for missing many other eligible candidates in comparisons like these, but there’s only so much space, time and so on.
For me, based on technical considerations and on listening to hundreds of turntables on the very same test set-up, I’d say the DP-62L is on a par with the Kenwood KD-550, Denon DP-1200, Marantz 6300, Technics M3 and SL-1200. It’s definitely not as good as the KD-650 or even better machines like the Sony PS-8750, Yamaha GT-2000 or Technics SP-10/SL-1000. It lacks that extra weight the better decks have and also lacks a little resolution and scale. Having said that, much comes down to correct cartridge matching and setup, choice of headshell and so on. Those higher-end machines are fully manual too, as one would expect.
That brings us nicely to what a deck like this is worth, versus what you’ll pay for one. If we say that the modern Technics SL-1200GR is comparable, not quite as good in my opinion, and those sell for $2799, you’ll get an idea of the real value of a deck like the DP-62L now. The more expensive Technics SL-1200G Grand Class machine is nicer perhaps, but that’s $6999!
The Bottom Line
Simple, the Denon DP-62L is a humdinger as we say, a really great machine with classic Denon styling, useful features and a still sensible sell price if you can find one. You get all the usual golden age of analog goodness, Japanese build quality and reliability and it’s a step up from machines you can buy for $2000 new and it crushes stuff below that, makes and models I won’t mention here, but you know what they are if you are reading this.
Need a gorgeous, well-made, stylish and great sounding vintage turntable? Seriously consider a Denon DP-62L.