Both the Denon DP300F and the Rega RP1 are good turntables. But if both are good, how should you decide? In this post, we will make some comparisons to help you in your decision making process. We will address some of the concerns you might already have such as suitability and also maintenance issues.
A short glimpse into the origins
Denon was founded in the early 20th century with an emphasis on gramophone players. Since then, it has come a long history in its making and excellence in audio-related products. This is especially in the mid 1970s, where Denon launched its full line of high end audio products, renowned for their enormous bases and elegantly sloping platters.
The Rega was founded much later, in the 1970s. Started off by a bunch of audio enthusiasts who feel that what was offered in the market was insufficient, the pursuance for quality led them to develop the Rega line, which has a terms of always championed in reputation in terms of simplicity and quality.
Both brands have come from humble beginnings and definitely both has their strengths to offer to its user. We do not feel that there is a definite judgment of whether the Rega is better than the Denon or vice versa. But in the following segment we do try to offer some of our insights and compare both products, and hopefully help you, as a consumer, to make a more informed decision when it comes to purchasing a turntable.
Do they target a different audience?
Yes. both brands are trustworthy. However, it does convey itself to very different groups of target audience. Fancy a good ol’ turntable without breaking a brank? You will most likely prefer the Denon. The Regas convey a more refined and upper-class feel in the realm of turntables, which of course is also translated into its higher price-tag. This is part of the subtle considerations when it comes to choosing between brands. It is also a tell-tale that two products are priced significantly different. Of course it’s not all about the branding, they do offer different features as well which do present pros and cons. Let’s delve into it right now.
Deciding between auto and manual?
The DP-300F runs on Auto, but the RP1 runs on manual. More specifically, the DP-300F is a fully automatic turntable. With a full-auto turntable, you can stack several albums on top of each other and let it play automatically, as the tone arm goes back to rest and shuts off after playing. With that regard, the DP-300F only possess the auto-start and auto-stop feature, which means you must manually place the tone arm at the beginning of the record. thus unable to warrant itself as a full auto. However, it is more superior than the RP1 on this aspect, due to the convenience and added ease of use it brings about.
How do each of the features fare?
Boiling down to its various specifications, they do seem to have quite a few things in common. Both Denon DP-300F and the Rega RP1 are able to play at 33 rpm and 45 rpm speeds, the more common ranges on the market. Unless you need to play at 78 rpm, both are more than sufficient to meet your audio needs I believe. They don’t come with USB functions, and both of them are running on belt rather than a direct drive. So, it seems they are pretty similar so far.
For the RP1, the RB101 tonearm uses a three point mounting platform. As always, it is designed to keep resonance at a minimal using a one-piece construction, with Hi-Tec design applied to reduce its weight for higher cartridge maturity. Whereas the DP 300F uses a straight tonearm with fine adjustments for anti-skating and zero balance, this will help in tracing capabilities. The Denon DP 300F has a notably low Wow and flutter at 0.10%, as compared to the RP1 which did not publish its specific details. But there are reviews that Rega RP1 does exhibit certain pitch instabilities on piano notes, thus it likely has a higher wow/flutter result.
What about when it comes to long-term maintenance or upgrading?
Other than minute adjustments and a new cartridge, the DP 300F offers little options for upgrading. Not to mention that its inferior replacement cartridge is more expensive as compared to RP1’s better unpack-and-play cartridge which is the Ortofon OM5e. The Ortofon OM5e stylus can be replaced inexpensively in the case of such as need, as compared to Denon DP 300F’s stylus which is irreplaceable on its own, essentially rendering the necessity of replacing the entire cartridge. Pricey? Yes.
The Rega RP1 also offers more prospects to upgrading. If you’re looking for a more flexible turntable with possibilities to further enhance your experience without breaking the bank to buy another one, perhaps the RP1 is more superior on this aspect. Upon upgrading the cartridge and the platter, it does stand a fair fight against the more expensive turntables, which gives it a great value for money.
What is the difference in sound performance?
Overall, in terms of sound performance, which is the crux of our comparison, the DP 300F sounds great using the built-in pream, which can be directly connected to a component without a phono preamp. It is also switchable. However, when signal strength to the preamp drops, the preamp mutes its output, which mean very quiet passages do get lost. Of course, you can try using an external preamp for a slightly better effect.
Other than that, the Denon DP 300F delivers satisfactory sounds quality. Its heavy weight also means that additional stability is delivered to reduce the noise produced. In contrast, the Rega RP1 has strong dynamics. It delivers a decent dose of rhythmic drive, which is a signature in the Rega product line. It also sounds sure-footed and confident.
So what’s the verdict?
If you are seeking the automatic feature, then you should strongly consider the Denon DP 300F. It will bring you a whole lot of convenience. If budget matters to you, check out the price and make a comparison. Should you need more information, one of our previous posts on Denon DP 300F also may be helpful to you.
In the UK, Regas received very good reviews and obviously has established its stronghold in terms of reputation and credibility. Although it is not that the RP1 is without its faults, but it does provide a refreshing simplicity to the appreciation of music. If you are more keen in the Rega RP1, you may also be interested in our review of the performance pack.
Count me in as one of them who is bought over by its superb quality. It is not simply a matter of specifications, but rather I’m blown away by the sophisticated engineering that goes on behind the making of this machine. Put all of that together, and you get what you pay for, which is a quality product in its absolute simplicity and does everything to impress its user, both in terms of ergonomics and absolute quality. If you are not satisfied with the two turntables in comparison here, open up your options to the other affordable turntables that my friends have curated here.