Cranking up my old Denon Turntable.... [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-23-2007, 06:49 PM
Hi all!

I spent the past twenty years essentially in a cave, and just got a new place and finally have time and room for music. So I've broken out my old stereo!

My speakers (AR-TSW-610s) needed re-edging, as the rubber gaskets had disintegrated. Done! My amp/receiver (Denon DRA-550) needed electrical work, as several inputs were dead. Done!

Next: the turntable, a Denon DP-35F with a Grado MF1 cartridge. I don't want to "test it out" on any of my records, because the only ones I still have are ones I really like and can't find on CD! So I need to be a bit cautious before I crank up the turntable. So....questions:

1. I'm figuring that after 20 years in harsh NYC pollution that the rubber belt is shot to hell. Is that a reasonable assumption? If so, any suggestions on finding/installing a new one (of good quality)?

2. I'm also wondering if the cartridge (which was kept in good shape, is clean and unbent, and still has lots of miles left on it) also may have inherently degraded. Advice?

3. I have a vintage Discwasher brush. I'm wondering if the fluid might be stable enough to use after 20 years. I could buy new, but Discwasher's been bought by RCA, and I understand nothing's the same. Thoughts?

Many thanks!


jim goulding
10-23-2007, 08:42 PM
Take your belt off and see if the platter will spin freely and quietly. Is the bearing housing sealed? If not, add oil. Google to find a new belt. There used to be a place online. If your belt is obsolete, inquire about replacement with another belt. Replace all that other stuff. Spent a few quid on your cartridge as there is a renaissance going on for vinyl and many recordings are being re-leased and there is some new stuff, too. If JohnMichael or HiFi Tommy don't chime in here pretty soon, send them a private message and ask them to join.

Once you get your stuff done, come back here for information on how to get the best from what you've got. That's as important as anything you can add. Ok, Jimbob747?

10-24-2007, 12:54 AM

The Denon DP-35F is a quartz-locked direct-drive table. No belt to worry about.

The quartz-lock system and electronically controlled / damped tonearm on that model are quite complex (lots of electronic parts) and may require a going over to insure the table will perform to spec. Might be hard to find someone willing to work on it. I'm sure many of the mechanical and proprietary parts can't be replaced. Might work just fine the way it is for years...

Not sure if the bearing on your table is easy to get to and requires lubrication or not... If you can see where the shaft enters the bearing when you lift the platter... Put a few drops of sewing machine oil in there. A couple more drops every couple of years. Some direct-drives have a permanently lubricated bearing.

Cartridges generally last a long, long, long time. But the rubber suspension on the stylus assembly usually hardens after being exposed to air for an extended period of time. This will cause mistracking and record damage. A replacement stylus would usually be all that's necessary to correct this. But, the Grado MF1 also used some sticky black goo where the stylus fits into the cartridge to prevent resonance in the stylus assembly. This stuff also tends to dry out after a few years, so in the case of your Grado, replacing your cartridge is probably a good idea.

I wouldn't trust anything that's been in a bottle for 20 years (except Scotch). I just use distilled water in my old Discwasher to pick up dust and drain static. I don't think the fluid was effective for much more than that anyway. I would probably trust the new stuff more than the 20 year old stuff.

Good luck!!! Pretty cool how you're rediscovering some vintage gear you liked in the past.

10-24-2007, 06:04 AM
Awesome advice, guys, thanks so much, I'm very grateful! One follow-up and one surprise:

Follow-up: If the bearings are badly in need of lube, it'd probably be a LOT worse to turn the turntable on than not to (i.e. the whole thing could seize up and turn useless), no? So if I can't find 'em and oil 'em myself, I'm guessing I should bring it in somewhere rather than test the turntable to see if it's running fine in the first place? I'm trying to be cautious, as I nearly ruined my speakers by playing them before realizing about the deteriorated gaskets!

Oh, and this was a great line, btw: "I wouldn't trust anything that's been in a bottle for 20 years (except Scotch)."

Here's the surprise. After posting last night, I read through a bunch of other info here and elsewhere, and the advice is consistent on ancient cartridges (and grados in particular): replace 'em! So I emailed Grado (which has more interest in seeing cartridges replaced than in seeing them not replaced!), and they promptly wrote back as follows:

>>>Dear Grado
>>>I have a MF-1 cartridge in my denon DP-35F turntable, unused for 20 years or so. >>>The stylus is in fine shape, but I've been told that parts of the cartridge have surely >>>degraded, requiring a new one. Do you agree? If so, what's the correct cartridge to >>>replace it?

We do not agree. Cartridge should still be fine, unless YOU hear something

Thank you.


Grado Labs

10-24-2007, 06:32 AM
I don't know how they expect you to hear if it sounds different after 20 years... but I'm not going to argue with the manufacturer.

You should be able to tell if the rubber cantilever suspension seems overly stiff. If not, you're probably good to go.

Yeah... It wouldn't be great to run it if it's badly in need of a lube. Could cause excessive wear and the bearing would get loose and wobbly over time. I peeked at the manual online and it doesn't mention anything about lubrication. Many turntable manuals do. Might be permanently lubricated, but you never know...

10-24-2007, 07:31 AM
Sounds like you have good advice already. I am with Royphil345 that a 20 year cartridge would be suspect. Lots of good cartridges out on the market. You might enjoy a high output moving coil or if your receiver has moving coil inputs a lower output version. Denon makes some nice moving coils and their high outputs are reasonably priced.

10-26-2007, 04:11 PM
Here is a link for a free manual of TT.

I can't offer you any help on how you can clean the unit, but I wish you many years of musical enjoyment.

I hope you'll enjoy what analog offers, instead of what it can't deliver.

Best Regards,


10-28-2007, 03:27 PM
Thanks, JRA! Much appreciated!