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Denon DP-200USB Turntable Review

August 17, 2009 By Chris Chiarella



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Denon DP-200USB
Denon DP-200USB

Your Vinyl Answer

USB turntables are nothing new, but have previously required a computer to do their analog-to-digital thing. Converting vinyl into MP3s is a wonderfully liberating feat. But who keeps a computer next to his stereo stack or has the room for a turntable (and accompanying record collection) in the office?

Enter Denon's DP-200USB turntable, fully equipped to provide the user experience we old-timers are used to, while introducing the iPod set to the magic of LPs.

Denon DP-200USB

My wife has a stack of 45s she never plays but won't get rid of because they haven't found their way onto iTunes, or even onto CD. With vinyl allegedly making a comeback, and roping in younger music fans who appreciate the organic sound, the need for a more convenient vinyl "ripping" solution seems clear.

After a quick bit of assembly, I simply connected the permanently attached analog stereo cable to the Phono input of my receiver, switching the player's Phono EQ to Off. This switch is a very smart addition in deference to modern receivers which might lack a dedicated Phono in, favoring a more standardized "Aux" instead, with its own distinct levels.

Here's where the DP-200USB moves away from the pack: Its front-panel USB port accepts a ubiquitous flash drive, while an internal MP3 encoder sits ready to convert analog stereo signals to digital files. We just plug in, slap down an LP or 45, confirm the proper speed setting/disc size, press Start, wait for the needle to get groovy, and then hit the Record button. A blinking red light gives confirmation that music is indeed being captured.

Denon DP-200USBAt side's end we press the Record button again to close the file and the player stops automatically, or we can hit Stop to end playback at any point.

And so our newborn MP3 is ready to enjoy instantly on any device that can accept the eminently transportable USB drive and decode MP3 audio.

The fixed bitrate is an ample 192 kilobits-per-second (not specified anywhere in the specs, but I checked the properties of my new MP3 file back at the PC).

Denon promises that "approximately 30 LP analog records" can fit on a 1GB drive.

The process is "manual" in the sense that we need to physically stand by and watch to begin recording at the proper moment, and it's a bummer if we're not at-the-ready twenty-odd minutes later when the side ends, 'cause then we will have a lot of dead space at the end of the sound file. Might automatic audio sensing be in Denon's future?

Because eventually we'll want to put these tracks onto a computer, even if just to transfer them to a portable device, Denon includes multipurpose "Trans Music Manager" PC software.

One album side equals one MP3 file, which is fine for the unified flow of Abbey Road side two, but most people prefer individual tracks. The software automatically detects the two-to-three-second gap between songs and divides accordingly, and we can customize the sensitivity, the length of the silence to be detected, and more. From there, we can add song/artist/album metadata with the integrated help of Gracenote's online Compact Disc Database (CDDB). It's not an exact science so, you can also enter track info manually.

The hardware itself is surprisingly compact, with a serious die-cast aluminum platter, a protective flip-down stylus cover, and a retro smoked plastic lid on spring-loaded hinges.

Despite the pops and crackles which will likely be unfamiliar to many listeners born after 1983, I enjoyed the genuine sparkle of this vinyl/digital hybrid. There's palpable depth and a welcome warmth to these files, with a nostalgic quality to the audio as well.

Perhaps the most telling: I can see myself investing the time to copy more of my vinyl collection even now the review is done.

PRICE:
DP-200USB: $250

CONTACT: 201.762.6500, denon.com

Denon DP-200USB

Comments

I agree that not having the ability to encode at 320 kbps is a problem with this unit, especially for the price. For this reason I will look elsewhere.

Since the last few years it seems that most of the products Denon has put forward have only be half done. The ideas are great but why would it rip at 192kpbs only and not 320kps? Its a bit disappointing. Some people even prefer wave.

Why? Why put vinyl into digital format? I've never got that. Isn't the point of vinyl it's analogness? Warts and all? The pleasure of listening to great sound has been lost.

Many of my old favorites are on vinyl only, and not available online or on CD. And I would like to hear them in my car or when I travel, hence putting them in my MP3 player. So that's why I transfer some of my vinyl. Yes, if I'm home, I'd prefer to play the record. But I increasingly listen to my music elsewhere. I also like to use some of these tracks as music beds for slideshows and visual projects that I create on my computer. Another reason to transfer them.

Nice. I wonder, if I don't want to use the relatively lo-res USB, can't I just plug it into the computer's sound card and record the tracks to hi-res with Audacity?

USB itself isn't any resolution, the encoder onboard the player is the part that's at 192 kbps.

This sounds really cool, but there's no way I'd be satisfied with the "ample" 192KB MP3. I demand .wav or .flac... if I lowered my standards for MP3, it would have to be 320KB, preferably VBR instead of CBR.

Is it limited to MP3 or does it rip high-res. files as well?

Just 192 kbps MP3s.

Very cool product! Thanks for featuring this. It seems the other magazines have overlooked it.

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