Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

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Les_Creative_Edge
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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by Les_Creative_Edge » 15 Nov 2018 22:09

Rich,

Yes, at first I had some buyers remorse, it was really only spending the money to buy the VL12 when I had a perfectly good Rega P3 that was serving me well. I do like Rega and the ideals behind Gandy's thoughts, but I just had a hankering for a big, strong direct drive turntable again, having had a few solid big a** direct drives in my past. Yes, a new Technics SL-1200GR would have been nice but I just can't come around to spending the cash on one. The Denon DJ VL12 really caught my attention as its a layout clone to the venerable Technics of past and present but is much lower in price.

I just wanted a beefy quartz lock direct drive with a versatile tonearm/cartridge set up options. I like the industrial looking design of the VL12. I addressed my negatives on it in a previous post, but that said once I got over fact that I replaced a perfectly good Rega P3 with the VL12 it all began to fall into place and my appreciation for this VL12 to just do its job of spinning LP's at a near perfect speed and near perfect wow and flutter. Also to do so being DEAD SILENT, the arm set up with my Denon DL-110 in Baerwald set up has minimal groove noise/swish. Only lesser grade used LP's have any irritants in groove noise and I find those to be lesser with my VL12.

IMO, the tonearm is not some cheapie built unit. I find it has no bearing chatter, binding or looseness. In zero balance a lightest of blow of breath will cause it to float away. It simply does its job with my DL-110 tracing the the record groove. As noted earlier the anti-skate dial markings are off as my DL-110 is set at 1.8 grams VTF but using an anti-skate test section on a set up record I found I had to adjust anti-skate dial to the dial being between 4 and 5 grams. In essence the dial markings matter not as I know anti-skate is set within tolerances using my test record. Some people use a CD on the platter to drop the stylus on and set for anti-skate, I have not tried that but can't see why it would not work.

Again the only chinzy thing IMO is the cue control lever, it feels cheap but does the job. Again I found I had to buy off Ebay a tube of silicone and put a dab in the cue pot as the tonearm was dropping too fast from the factory, but after a few minutes to do this and the dollop of silicone the tonearm cues nice and slow even with a cheezy feeling lever.

Spinning many albums on my VL12 has really led me to enjoy its performance. I am going to live with this turntable for a good while. I can only see maybe one day having enough cash at hand to buy a Technics SL-1200GR as a worthy successor, but it's not a priority as the Denon DJ VL12 is making me a satisfied player of my vinyl LP's

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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by rwhing » 17 Nov 2018 13:26

I also found the anti-skate dial to be similarly un-calibrated, but using a proper tool like a test LP helps with correctly setting the anti-skate. I also use a digital tracking force scale to set the VTF.

As for the other issues you've had with the slight plater wobble and tonearm cue response, I have not experienced those problems. I bought my Denon DJ VL12 Prime through a local Guitar Center store who was offering a $100 off discount on a sealed box unit, so I had to jump on that deal.

I had auditioned the Technics SL-1200GR, and it is a very nice turntable. I also considered saving up my money to basically pay double what I spent on the Denon DJ, but like you, I am quite satisfied with the Denon DJ.

I put away the stock RCA phono cable and power cord, and purchased a Zu Audio Mission Phono (RCA-to-RCA with ground) and a Zu Mission power cable via Zu's eBay auctions. I saved a lot of money going that route, but I did have to replace the Wattgate IEC connector with a Schurter right-angle IEC connector. Since the Denon DJ has a switch mode power supply, I wanted a reasonably priced, shielded power cable to minimize RFI. The Mission Phono cables are shielded too and they are small in diameter and flexible.

At some point, I may open up the Denon DJ and install better tonearm wire and internal chassis wiring when I upgrade my cartridge to get the most out of the turntable. Alternatively, if and when Zu Audio offers a tonearm mounting plate, I might install a nice Rega or Jelco tonearm.

Les_Creative_Edge
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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by Les_Creative_Edge » 17 Nov 2018 20:43

Rich,

I use a pair of Phoenix Gold Interconnects, that I have owned for many years going back to my days selling hi-fi. They are a nice pair of well shielded ic's that help carry the signal to my Cambridge Audio 640p phono preamp well enough. I'm pleased with the setup.

This hobby can lead one to buy and try all sorts of stuff, I know I've been there and done that, but for some reason I'm finally, in a zen place with my VL12. I guess I'm tired of it all right now and the VL12 has performed better than I expected. I love the quiet backgrounds from my set up and the authority of control the drive has over the playback of my LP's. I love my DL-110. I've bought DL-110's a few times over the years, I go out and try other quality cartridges which all performed well, but I keep coming back to the DL-110. It works for me, my ears and my system.

I will say without hearing one I bet the SL-1200GR is a step up in some areas over the VL12 and yes, given the money I would buy a SL-1200GR, but in reality my gut tells me it's splitting hairs. The VL12 just does its job without fault. It's built to stand up to room loudness and is isolated from such well enough in my experience. Its styling is love it or not, it's not elegant like my previous Rega P3 was but it's industrial looking and manly handsome to my eyes. Some may not like it but I do for its tough looks and looks to be able to give many years of reliable playback. I may have it for a very long time and that is ok, as it will probably never let me down.

As for beauty and quality sound I will always have a soft spot for Rega's but one must be financially responsible and for the indefinite future the VL12 is my vinyl LP playback baby.

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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by PseudoShooter » 08 Jan 2019 20:29

lorr0210 wrote:
08 Aug 2017 15:30
I've had the VL 12 for a month now. It replaced a DP-47 and I'm very happy with the sound at this point - running a Ortofon 2m Bronze PNP, so had to add the addition screw-in counter weight. I also have the 2m Red, which for the price is pretty close to the Bronze - but my ears only.
I just purchased a VL 12 today and plan on running a Ortofon 2M Blue on it. Coincidentally, I'm replacing a DP-47F too lol.
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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by PseudoShooter » 14 Jan 2019 04:45

So my new VL12 Prime arrived and I have it set up. It sounds amazing!

My only concern is the twist I had to put on the cart to make it align on my protractor.

All of my recent TT have had straight tonearms. The one on this TT is kinda radical. I'm going to revisit it just to make sure. The twist is unsettling. It does sound good though so maybe I'll just ignore it lol.
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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by PseudoShooter » 14 Jan 2019 13:54

I'm thinking that my cart is too far back in the head shell so I'm going to push it forward and realign. I really don't like that twist.

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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by Les_Creative_Edge » 16 Jan 2019 17:57

It is more important that the stylus and its cantilever are aligned to your alignment guide protractor than any visual twist inside the head shell. The Denon VL12 has a longer tonearm and more overhang (25mm) than some other choices. My DL-110 is mounted very similar to your cartridge and head shell based on comparing to your picture. Mine was aligned to the printed out protractor one gets off vinyl engine. The one that lets you choose Baerwald, Loftgrin or Stevenson alignments. I set my VL12 up to the Baerwald alignment. The cantilever is 100% in true alignment to the protractor guide and yes a slight visual twist inside the head shell exists but sonically my DL-110 and VL12 sound fabulous, no noticeable inner groove distortion and very quiet groove noise on my set up.

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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by PseudoShooter » 16 Jan 2019 18:21

I re-aligned it last night (using Baerwald) and I was able to get the cart straight and aligned by moving it all the way to the rear of the slots in the head shell.

I also mounted a Grado Prestige in the supplied head shell and it also aligned with the Grado pushed all the way to the rear of the slots.

Funny, though, the Grado is almost flush with the front and the 2M sits so far back, the big difference I guess is the mounting points on each cart. In any case, I think I'm good now.

The picture I've attached is what my 2M looks like now in the SH-4 head shell. I think the bend in the tonearm on the VL12 is close to resembling the Jelco in the picture.
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Re: Denon VL12 Prime Unboxing, Set-Up & Initial Impressions

Post by PseudoShooter » 20 Jan 2019 14:21

I realigned my cart and played a bunch of records last night. Man! What a sweet-sounding TT. I was hearing little nuances in familiar songs that I had never heard before. Very nice.

I purchased a deck saver cover and it fits like a glove.

My only complaint is a little motor whine has begun. While I don't mind now because it's very low, I hope that it doesn't foreshadow a breakdown of the TT down the road.
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