Denon DP-3000NE Turntable

hfnoutstandingHaving launched its first direct-drive deck over a half century ago, and its last over a decade ago to celebrate 100 years, Denon is back with another, sleeker turntable

If I was to give a vinyl enthusiast a choice of high-quality turntables made by Technics, Yamaha, Denon or the team behind Micro Seiki, and then stated that two of the options were direct-drive, I'll wager they would think I was about to take them on a vintage shopping spree. However, it's 2024 and, remarkably, the above selection comprises a range of models that can be bought new today.

The Technics SL-1200 series [HFN Nov '17] is back with a vengeance, Yamaha's GT-5000 [HFN Oct '20] was a welcome surprise a couple of years ago, and you can buy turntables with Micro Seiki DNA thanks to TechDAS. Now, Denon has thrown its hat back into the ring with the £2299 direct-drive DP-3000NE on test here. This is a modern design albeit with a legacy that stretches back to its 1970s forebear, the DP-3000 motor unit.

Torque Of The Town
Unlike its '70s namesake, however, the DP-3000NE is an integrated unit. It is supplied as a complete motor, arm and plinth assembly, with its solid MDF chassis finished in an ebony veneer. This is machined out on its underside to take the motor, wiring and associated circuitry while the plinth sits on four 'vibration-absorbing' feet that are adjustable for levelling.

The heart of the direct-drive system is a torquey 16-pole, 12-coil motor built to Denon's specification by a Chinese OEM manufacturer. The motor is quartz-locked and has the familiar two-part construction similar to the older Mk2 Technics SL-1200 and the current Thorens TD 124 DD [HFN Jul '21], where the magnet ring/rotor is fixed to the underside of the platter.


Top-down view shows the start/stop button [left] and 33.3/45rpm speed selector [right] – both buttons pressed together select 78rpm. Alloy platter sits within a stylish frame, driven via a 16-pole/12-coil brushless motor

For the DP-3000NE, the motor drive circuitry uses SVPWM (Space Vector Pulse Width Modulation). This is a development of the standard sinusoidal PWM drive conventionally used to power brushless DC motors, and utilised where fine control is required, such as in CNC machines and cars. Claimed benefits are more torque, better control, and less noise and rotational distortion at the low speeds at which a direct-drive turntable motor operates.

The DP-3000NE's platter, topped by a rubber mat, is made from die-cast aluminium and weighs 2.8kg with its magnet ring. The stainless-steel motor shaft spins on a miniature steel ball bearing; the deck only appears to offer 33/45rpm speeds, but if you hold down the speed button and press Start/Stop at the same time, both speed LEDs illuminate and the result is – voilà – 78rpm.

Familiarity with past Denon glories continues when you look at the tonearm, as it is another highly rated model brought up to date. Designer Ryo Okazeri confirms that the DP-3000NE's arm is intended to be a faithful re-creation of the DA-309, but with the fitment of an armtube damper more akin to that used on the DA-304.

In contrast to the rigid, single-piece armtube designs made famous by manufacturers including Rega and SME, Denon has typically employed a 'lossy' coupling between the back of the tube and the bearing housing. For the DP-3000NE turntable, the armtube is decoupled by a sprung plate and a rubber damper, while a similar arrangement is used for the horizontal bearing. As a result, everything has a certain amount of movement or 'give' that, on first acquaintance, can seem a little unusual. Otherwise, VTA adjustment is offered through an adjustable locking collar, which is a delight to use, and a screw-in auxiliary counterweight means the arm can cope with cartridges up to 26g in bodyweight.

Getting The Hang Of It
For the lightweight aluminium headshell, which also has a damping layer on its underside, Denon provides a natty overhang gauge for easy alignment of your chosen cartridge. However, be aware that this headshell is quite short and has a 'lip' at the front that prevents cartridges from being positioned forward of its end. With some pick-ups, this may hinder alignment so Denon provides plastic shims in its accessory box (along with a good selection of cartridge screws and a screwdriver) to allow long cartridges to sit proud of the headshell and also to further tweak VTA.

Masimo Consumer
Irvine, CA, USA
Supplied by: Masimo Consumer Europe, The Netherlands
02890 279830