Denon DJ VL12 Prime Turntable Review
The final piece of the PRIME series puzzle finally arrived in South Africa in April of this year in the form of the Denon DJ VL12 turntable.
Turntables have, ahem, ‘turned the tables’ on the digital world with vinyl making a huge comeback, maybe not as much in the DJ world as in the serious music collectors and audiophile’s world.
The Denon DJ VL12 Prime turntable is certainly a classy deck to have, even if it’s just for listening to records and not DJing and beats the overpriced tacky turntables on offer at Musica etc.
But how does it fair for DJs? Let’s take a look.
Unpacking and First Impressions
Heavy… very heavy.
The Denon DJ VL12 Prime is built like a tank. It’s not the time of gear you’ll be lugging around much if you can avoid it. This is a good thing because anybody and knows and understand turntables, especially for DJing, knows that you need a really solid base for rigorous DJing whether it’s as a scratch DJ or straight up 4-to-the-floor mixing.
If you buy the VL12 you will ned to assemble it yourself. If you become so used to the digital world this may seem a little disconcerting, but again, any true turntable enthusiast will appreciate the fuzzy feeling of placing the platter on the deck, adding the tonearm weight, the platter light etc.
As one can see from the images, there’s nothing extraordinary about the VL12 – much like the Pioneer PLX-1000 it resembles the trust old SL1210 in many ways.
Again, along with the back-breaking weight, this will be comforting to any turntable enthusiast.
In many ways the Denon DJ VL12 Prime is a ‘no-frills,’ straight up pro piece of gear. On first glance there’s not a lot of dazzling features you wouldn’t find on other turntables in a similar price range.
There are, however, some unique little tricks they’ve included which shows some careful consideration and understanding of what turntables DJs consider important.
The power on/off is not a button, but an embedded rotary which means you can’t bump if off by mistake. In fact, if you do turn it off it event takes a few seconds to respond which give one another time to turn it on again before the platter comes to halt. Turntablists and performance will appreciate this, no doubt.
The VL12 sports myriad of colours for the platter. So, you set then to a colour you like from crimson green, to pretty purple, red or more. It’s a nice touch and certainly adds to the uniqueness. One can also control the intensity of the colour scheme.
You have a choice of low or high torque for the platter.
Digital pitch control
The digital pitch slider comes with a nifty reset button which resets the turntable instantly. Interestingly the fader also has a pretty large ‘ZERO-spot’ either side of 0, so although there is no ‘click’ when the slider is returned to the start, you can be assured that it is indeed back to zero.
The VL12 comes with two additional deck lights, one black, one silver. One is more intense than the other.
Extra tonearm weight
They also included an extra weight for non-standard, I assume heavy duty cartridges, for the craziest of turntable tricks (I assume).
It seems to be standard that turntables do not include a cartridge (stylus) and the VL12 is no different.
The Denon DJ VL12 Prime, as expected, delivers like any direct-drive, built like a tank, professional turntable should. The digital pitch seemed to make locking in a beat that little bit tighter, or maybe it’s just my ninja DJing skills? 😊
Jokes aside, I will admit that the VL12 took a bit of getting used to. The last time I tested a turntable it genuinely felt like riding a bicycle. This time I fiddled with the platter torque, settling on the tighter option and I found the S-Tonearm a bit finicky at first as it took me time to get the weighting right.
But once I’d got the tactile feel down, the decks grew on me and it wasn’t long before I’d gone through half my vinyl collection, mixing up a storm.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the price because this is the ONLY negative aspect of an otherwise stellar piece of gear. At R 13 911-00 it has stiff competition.
But if you’re an owner of PRIME series gear, then the VL12 is a no-brainer to add to the setup.
However, for DJs looking for home decks, the Numark NTX1000 is a great deck that pretty much can do the same job, even if it doesn’t look quite as slick. If you are an audiophile looking for USB features or a line-in option, then this may also prove a barrier.
But if you are keen on a suitable Technics SL-type turntable, the Denon DJ VL12 Prime ticks all the boxes and is well worth considering.