how to disable auto functions on DD turntable


2008-02-13 4:47 pm
Hi all. I'm new to this forum but have been lurking for some time.

I am thinking of doing a project using some old bits I have around the house. What I want to do is take an old fully automatic Denon DD turntable, strip everything out of the plinth, and mount it in a heavier plinth of my own constuction, and use a Rega arm. Obviously this will be a fully manual table...

Has anyone tried this? Is there a problem getting the thing to just work fully manual? Really I just need an on/off switch.

I know it would be easier to buy a fully manual turntable, but I'd like to recycle what I have. (plus I'm cheap!)


er which denon?

many are quite good, many were quite bad.

A lot of the auto functions use opticall sensors,(not Denons exclusively). I have no personal experience with the Denons, but if using a Rega or similar, then the output of the sensors must be over-ridden as being "on" all of the time.

I know it's pretty inept for an answer, but basically that's what needs to be done.

I'm sure others out there have done similar.

Besides being cheap, is there any other reason to stick with the Denon?



2008-02-13 4:47 pm

I want to use the Denon because:

a: I like the way the platter looks
b: it seems to be a reasonable quality DD table.
c. I have not found a cheap fully manual DD table on E-bay
d. We are getting yet another snowstorm here in Chicago
and I am getting really bored stuck indside.

I've been reading all these threads about DD,
belt drive and idler wheel turntables, and I was thinking
about doing a comparison between all three.

Currently I have a Systemdek IIX with some minor mods, which has it's merits but seems a little soft. I also have heavily modifed
AR XA (all the Merril mods) which is awaiting a new arm (Rega).

The DD is a Denon DP32F, which I believe is the same as some of the more expensive Denons in the line, but without the nice wood base. Maybe not, could be a piece of junk.

So my idea was to re-plinth the Denon and a Dual 1229 (that I can disable the auto functions on I think easily enough)
and try all of these with the same arm/cartridge. I'd get a Lenco
but it looks like that ship has sailed, price-wise.

I know many say the DD tables are bad, but I wonder to what extent that is because they are using a cheap arm and have a lousy plinth.

So what makes a DD deck "bad"?

So what makes a DD deck "bad"?

In principle nothing. It just happens some people don't like them. On the contrary, I see that 2nd hand DDs from the 80ies are so expensive as never before.

Denon made some truly excellent DDs, is yours like the DP-35F?

Concerning your project, personally I would not do it. The direct drives are a complex species, lots of internal wiring and it won't be easy to fit the frame with motor into a new plinth. Further the arm is usually integrated into the metal frame, so mounting a new one needs quite serious work. But of course it can be done.

However without service material it will be hard to get it running again if something does not go as intended.

All the best and have fun! Hannes

well I'd give it a try. The first thing would be to remove the atm, but after you spun some LPs on it and check all the wiring coming into and/or out of the tonearm (other than the signal wire for the audio).

Then you'd know what makes it "tick" in terms of signals going to and from the arm. I'd be particularly interested in what shuts the table on and off. If you can by-pass all the controls and signals from the tonearm, do that if needed. And re-plinth it. If it has no or little value to you, and youve got the time, why not?

Someplace I read an article concerning re-plinthing DD tables (not here, vinyl engine or "AA") that ended with good results.

DD's said to be bad concepts...

Belt drive snobs and misinformation givers planted that seed in recent years. Lets look at some reasons why?

What is the purpose of a turntable's drive system? It is to rotate the selected disc at the proper speed given some leeway for acceptable error. 33.33, 45, 78 rpm are standards of the past 100 years. Most drives developed were belt drives because they were the most reliable and cost effective at the time. Yes, we also saw idler wheel drives but those were less popular in general. It really was not until JAPAN INC. came up with efficient and cost effective direct drives in the 70's that we saw this drive system spread.

Though direct drive has its issues it has some major benefits that pretty well all but the most expensive and engineered belt drives can't do, speed stability, ability to handle drift and temp effects on speed and ability to respond in nanoseconds to dynamic drag of the stylus. Pretty well all belt drive systems are incapable of rotating as true to speed as direct drives can. Most cannot respond to stylus drag. Oh yes some makers have attempted to try to resolve these limits at least to below audible effects, adding FG systems to belt drive motors or more so with the cottage industry today loading up mass on the platters. These help even out speed deviation and stylus drag but none are as capable as a good direct drive design. So why do all too many turntable companies make belt drive systems today? It is cheaper and simpler to do for 9/10ths of the models available. Short of the uber-expensive designs most are done for simplicity and cost.

In the golden age of vinyl playback the 1970's to the mid 80s' JAPAN INC. had the resources to design and engineer superb direct drive systems and mate them all too often to solid and well thought out platforms and tone arms. Industry today generally does not have these resources especially capital. Industry today chooses to make in many cases great sounding belt drivers, sometimes not so great either by doing other less costly things and attaching motors that are relatively cheap and easy to use. They market it in ways to try to create belt drive snobs, it is the only tool they have.

Belt drive systems can sound great if well thought out and engineered. They can be made to create a sound that most vinyl lovers will enjoy and they have abilities to work well and to mask the lesser qualities of speed control and deviation. But so too can direct drives and at magnitudes better in speed control and deviation. So where did the wheels fall off the direct drive cart all too many years ago?

Cue " Perfect Sound Forever" The CD and JAPAN INC. all jumping on board in the mid 80s' killed the sell through of turntables for many years especially the better direct drive units. When the industrial might of many at the time leading JAPAN INC. corps bailed on vinyl the direct drive table STALLED OUT! Today as I said earlier, cottage industries do not have the money to bring back the direct drive systems at least not the ability that JAPAN INC. had in the 70's an early 80's So again they pushed belts as a cost effective way to keep vinyl alive. FINE, GREAT! Vinyl lovers wanted to separate their love for and for many reintroduction back to vinyl by being different. They did not all just want to reward JAPAN INC. who bailed on vinyl in the 80's by just buying used TT's though these serve a purpose too. No, if they wanted to go new they had to buy 99.999% of the time a new belt drive unit. They took in the snobbery which grew from the late 90's into the 00's.

I was one of these when I came back to vinyl in 2003. I read up a lot before re-buying back into the game. I found it odd that almost everyone at the time BASHED direct drives because I recall as a young teen in the early 80's at how direct drive was seen as king and JAPAN INC. had killer tables at the time. But who was I to question the current wisdom all over the Internet saying only belt drives are good and all vintage direct drives were crap!

Again, yes good belt drives are great and high end ones can kick ****. But also many belt drivers and many brands we may all cheer over are not as great as sold to us all. Oh they can sound good and we do not notice speed errors and rumble because we do not have a good reference to test too. But for me this all recently changed. There is a small but growing group of vinyl lovers who stand up for direct drives, spearheaded by Technics SL-12xx owners but also well built higher end vintage JAPAN INC. direct drive owners. Actually my re-taste back to direct drive came last summer when I restored an old Hitachi PS-38 unit in my dad's system. After restoring it and tweaking it including putting on a mirror finish gloss coat over its wood veneer I fired it up and even with an old and loud Empire 2000e cartridge I noticed it sounded pretty damn good. It had nice pace and tempo and inaudible speed error.

" Oh but, but, but direct drives hunt and have rumble because the motor is attached to the spindle." some cry. BOGUS! They do not hunt in any way that a human can hear, hence the low wow & flutter figures and lower speed drift. For example on my Music Hall mmf 2.1 (which was a perfectly pleasant turntable when I owned it ) had a w&f of .15%. Most consumer belt drives even the more expensive one have w&f of .06% or higher. Every direct drive table made in the 70's and 80's especially the quartz locked models had w&f lower than .03% some down to like .008%. Speed drift, my old mmf 2.1 was rated at .9% or less. Most direct drives are as low as .0002% So the hunting speed crapolla is just more snobbery.

Rumble, most belt drivers especially lower cost ones today have din.B rumble figures of -60db to at best -70db. High end models into the mega-thousands of $$$ may reach -75db. Now this is not all bad because the s/n ratio of most LP's is between -65db to at best -75db so record noise masks rumble anyways. BUT! the naysayers on direct drive cry that direct drives have lots of rumble or motor noise UM NO! pretty well all direct drives made in the 70's to mid 80's had at worse rumble figures of -70db and as high as -80db din B values. So another snobbery balloon POPPED!

So some may be thinking direct drives are perfect? NO! Like anything they have pros and cons too. The ideas of direct drive are valuable and good but implementation of them will vary. JAPAN INC. made poor direct drives as it made poor belt drives. It made good direct drives as it too made good belt drives and many belt drivers today are great but some are poor. IMO a well engineered and built direct drive will be superior to a similar belt drive in any way measured. How it sounds and who may appreciate it or a belt drive is all personal. Many cry direct drives as sound dry and analytical . Yes, some do but conversely many belts lack substance and tempo, sound sluggish and dull. PICK YOUR POISON!

The Technics SL-12xx supporters as read on the net speak highly of its clarity, authority and ability to get out of the way and play vinyl. It's detractors usually those who never have owned any say it sounds overdamped, too bassy and almost CD like. It's like anything a personal feeling.

From all my recent readings I pulled the trigger and have purchased a KAB modified SL-1200mkII with the CARDAS arm rewire. It is on order and I will have it soon. I believe it will blow me away. Why? Because in the mean time I came into having an older Technics (1982) SL-D20. Which is a lower cost and lower end Technics direct drive but even with its inexpensive P-Mount cartridge I hooked it up and immediately noticed great PRaT (Pace Rythem and Tempo). I thought my recent higher mass DIY thread drive had good PRaT but it fell on its face in this area as compared to my SL-D20. My DIY sounded better overall because it has a better cartridge and its better width and depth of sound. But lets look at it this way the Technics SL-D20 was sub $200 US TT in 1982. It's cartridge is inexpensive and I have no idea how many hour is on it. But it still had a level of PRaT which blew me away compared to my DIY with an albeit lower end DC servo motor driving it with a thread. I can only assume my Denon cartridge on my soon to be had SL-1200mkII will be a magnitude better.

So in ending this long post. Direct drives can be superior tables. Teres Centaurus and another table by Grand Prix Audio called the Monaco are new high end direct drives. I for one as a person who a while back was becoming a belt drive snob have shed that crap now and will judge turntables on merit not just choice of drive.

DIYing a direct drive especially if it has many automatic parts may be fussy and difficult but can probably be rewarding if done right I say!

Thanks for all of your time who stuck with me to the end here.:cool:
kirk57 said:

So what makes a DD deck "bad"?


The best DDs easily knock any of their belt drive contemporary suspended TTs into a cocked hat! Two things got DDs a bad name in my view:

1) the brilliant marketing strategy of Linn Sondek ..... from which flowed the concept that suspended belt drives were superior to any other TT concept.

2) the 'mass market' DDs from Japan were NOT as good as most belt drives. In fact most were pretty awful! (I don't know where your Denon comes in the scheme of things, but if it is in the top few models then it will be good. However, that you are not happy with the factory base makes me suspect that it is not in the top flight.

That it has 'functions' makes me suspect that it is really not going to prove very useful to modify it. On that basis I would sell it and buy a Lenco heavy platter TT and spend the money and time on that. Search Google and you will get all you need to know. Given the treatment - which is NOT expensive - you will end up with a TT which is really up there knocking on the doors of the best that can be bought!! I have heard them with Wheaton and SME V arms fitted with Allert and ZYX Airey cartridges. They were b-e-y-o-n-d b-e-l-i-e-f B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T!!

Good Luck!




2008-02-13 4:47 pm

I currently have a Systemdek, which is quite similar to the Linn, and is quite a good table. My idea is to try a direct drive (Denon)and idler (Dual 1229) in solid plinths with a good arm, and see what the differences are.

I have the Lenco info on the web; in fact that what started me wondering about the Dual. Here in the US there are not a lot of Lencos, the ones that do come up on E-bay do not go cheap any more...

In any event I got the service manual for the Denon. Looks like there is an chip that needs to see a certain voltage on one pin, and the platter will spin, so it might not be that hard. I did
some of this in engineering college so hope I can sort it out.


talk about tables....

If you have the Dual idler drive...give that a fair listen over some time. I think you'd be surprised. I too would love a Lenco, but as you have noted the prices on these things is getting out of hand.

A Systemdek llX is a fine table, kirk. I've had a Heybrook TT2 and loved it. I wish I had never sold it.

I think most of the folks who bash direct drive (or rather discount the concept completely) have had bad experiences with them. Currently I have 2 direct drives, a Yamaha p751, and a Kentech (Kenwood) similar to the 5070 (? I think). I haven't listened to the Yamaha since I got it 2 years ago, but think it would be fine. It was the top of the "consumer grade" Yamaha DD turntables of the time.

I have an Oracle Alex Mkll/Sme 309 mag/Grado sig 8 MCZ system as my "reference". The Kentech does at least some things as good or better than the Oracle.

If the Denon is the '35 it has a "suspect" level of performance, but that could easily be attributed to the plinth. However I have no personal experience with that table.

There are two currently available "standouts" in the DD turntable market: Technics SL1200Mkll (and lll) and the Denon 1000 (?).
Someplace I saw the beginning of a project Technics SL1200 by Michael Fremer (I think). It might make an interesting read, and a possible upgrade path for the Denon project.