Image: Hugh Threlfall
June 05 2011
When I hear about 100th anniversaries, the images in my mind are of Queen Victoria, horse carriages and mad-looking 19th-century inventors glowering into the camera. So I was taken aback when Denon announced a range of 100th-anniversary products. They’re Japanese; Japan hadn’t even been invented then, had it?
But yes, as the remarkably uninteresting book that comes with this stupendous “new” record turntable (the pride of Denon’s Centenary collection) explains, the company was founded in 1910 by Frederick Whitney Horn, who believed there would be a growing market for audio equipment – and that Japan, of all places, would be the place to make it.
Since then, Denon has made some beautiful hi-fi, much of which I have featured. Let’s park for a moment the question of whether vinyl records have any place in a modern music system. The important thing is that they have a characteristic sound, and a lot of us still have a lot of LPs and enjoy playing them, whether as a nostalgic exercise or because we genuinely love the audio experience.
This, the Denon DP-A100 turntable, looks like a work of art with its S-shaped arm and lovely black, lacquered plinth. It’s not beautiful in the wacky way of some of today’s record decks, but in a sheer, serious cool sense. Its 15kg of serious intent will turn heads – yours included – even when it’s not turning records. And the device, whose £500 cartridge is a reworked version of Denon’s 1961-onwards DL-103 (a classic, they say), spins discs superbly.
OK, to me, it just seems to spin them in a round-and-round kind of a way, but the aficionados say that its (not uncontroversial) direct drive provides a 0.002 per cent or less speed deviation and 0.1 per cent or less wow and flutter, and spins up to speed in 0.3 seconds. Whatever, this lovely reminder of the days when playing music was a mechanical engineering question, not a stream of electronic blips, will grace any proper hi-fi – and doubtless become a collector’s piece.