Honestly speaking, there are no glaring issues with Pro-Ject Debut Carbon that I’ve heard of or experienced myself personally, so if you do feel that you have a lot of money in the bank I suggest Pro-Ject DC. Its not that Denon DP 300F bad per-se, its just that in the brilliance of Pro-ject DC’s released equipment, Denon is almost always fighting an uphill battle.
To be fair, I’ll quote the prices from Amazon, which places the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon somewhere around 400 dollars and the Denon DP-300F at 200 dollars. I assume that you are like most of us and are interested in maximising your money which is why the real question is not about the strength of the abovementioned brands but instead, it is whether paying twice the price of the DP-300F is worth the supposed excellence that Pro-Ject DC promises.
Do you want an Automatic or Manual experience?
This is one of the biggest considerations. Are you someone who wants to sacrifice sound quality for convenience? Are you someone who is new to vinyl records and as a result is afraid of handling the tonearms for fear of scratching the records?
The Denon DP-300F is a fully automated turntable which means that all you have to do really, is select a speed, place the record on and push a button to enjoy your music. It automatically moves the tonearm to the record and places it on when you want it to. At the end of every record the tonearm is automatically lifted from the record which gets rid of the annoying popping sound you hear on manual turntables if you’ve heard it before.
On the other hand, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is a semi automatic tonearm which means that before playing you will have to manually make contact with the record using the stylus and if done improperly, may damage the record. But being semi automatic, it automatically lifts the tonearm and there is no popping noise as described above.
Manual turntables are preferred because they deliver better sound quality. By automating the tonearm movement, additional parts and complications have to be installed for this feature to work consistently and these complications change the sound that your turntable delivers. Since both of these machines are either in part or fully automatic, the sound is going to be affected anyway so save yourself the trouble and just get the DP-300F in my opinion. However, it is important to consider that the Debut Carbon is almost manual, meaning the sound you get is as close to a high-end manual turntable as possible.
Same Speed, Different Styles.
Both turntables have the standard 33 ⅓ and 45 rpm. However while the Denon DP-300F is fully automated, the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon is not. To change the speeds on the DP-300F requires but the push of a button. The Debut Carbon however does not have this function instead necessitating the removal of the platter and shifting the belt from 33 ⅓ to 45 rpm.
Again, i’ll put this simply. You only really need to change speeds when you play different records. I have not encountered a record which requires me to change speeds for different tracks which is why i don’t find this an issue. However for beginners you might want to keep your fiddling to a minimum, and getting the DP-300F would be my recommendation to you. Otherwise, if this is your only consideration, choose the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon if the price doesn’t matter. Overall it is still a better turntable.
What About Future Upgrades?
If you’re all for upgrades, here’s some points for consideration. While Denon lists the DP-300F’s tonearm as capable of bearing a cartridge of about 5-10 grammes, Pro-Ject lists its Debut Carbon as having a tonearm which is made of carbon fibre. Pretty rare for a turntable of this price range but it carries its problems with it. When you upgrade your cartridges, all you have to take note of with the Denon DP-300F is to keep within the 5-10 gramme cartridge weight recommendation. Not too hard for most of us.
Same for the Project Debut Carbon tonearm with one exception. Changing to a lighter cartridge typically leaves the stylus higher than it should be resulting in skips and since it has no adjustable VTA capability this leaves us with very dissapointed users and money poorly spent. What can I say? Should have read the manuals. Get the Denon if you’re intending to significantly change your cartridge and stick with the Pro-Ject if you’re not intending to do so.
Making Sound Decisions
Soundwise I would select the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon. My preference for a more neutral well-rounded and well-balanced sound makes the Debut Carbon the better of the two choices overall. If you are more keen on the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, one of our earlier posts may be helpful to you.
With the Denon DP-300F you get good sound for the money you pay but that’s just it. The sound is good at best. I personally find that the DP-300F sounds slightly warmer than I would like it to be which is why I would recommend that if you’re basing your decisions on sound quality, it would be better to go for the Debut Carbon.
With all things considered the only real plus point is the better sound that the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon provides. The Semi-Automation reduces the number of complications and parts and delivers a sound as close to manual turntables as possible. Otherwise all other arrows point to the Denon DP-300F. But hey, if not for the sound, why get a turntable anyway? I myself would get the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon instead of the Denon DP-300F just because it sounds better and i know that i can handle anything it throws at me. If you are keen on the Denon DP 300F, one of our earlier posts may be of interest to you.