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Hi-Fi Choice|February 2021
In late-Seventies Japan, Denon turntables had a great reputation in pro audio circles. The DP-55K shows why, explains David Price
David Price

When it came to producing turntables in the Seventies, Denon’s historic pro-audio credentials conferred an additional level of credibility. The company had been making moving coil cartridges for Japanese state broadcaster NHK since the late Fifties, and its range of hi-fi was very high end. It simply didn’t make budget designs for the mass market at the time, which is why the DP-55K is worthy of real respect. This was a premium-quality, high-end, low-volume, semi-pro product.

Denon was slightly later to the quartz-locked direct-drive party than Technics and Sony but had been supplying large and heavy direct drives for several years when the DP-55K came out in 1980. The DP-2000 series was, until then, the company’s halo product, launched just three years earlier. It was Denon’s first quartz-locked direct drive; previously its decks hadn’t had quartz speed referencing. Yet the use of a magnetic pick-up head, constantly reading the 1,000 magnetic pulses imprinted on the inside of the platter, was a Denon innovation – and a highly effective one at that. It gave a very accurate speed detection system via a phase-locked loop. This made for vanishingly low wow and flutter, before the days of the quartz-lock.

By the time the DP-55K arrived, the system had been further refined and Denon claimed 99.998 percent speed accuracy. It then compensates for load, temperate, and voltage supply fluctuations pretty much instantly. The slickness and silence of this bi-directional servo motor make any belt-drive deck look antiquated – and it feels swisher than any other Japanese direct-drive design I’ve ever tried. Denon claimed a wow and flutter figure of 0.015 percent WRMS – the same that Technics claims for its latest flagship SP-10R, 40 years later.

To make life even more interesting, the DP-55K uses two magnetic heads, allowing bi-directional speed control so it instantly slows if the speed overshoots – thanks to an electromagnetic brake.

A brief history of Denon turntables

1975

Denon launches its first direct-drive deck, the DP-3000, as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody goes to number one in the UK

1977

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