NAMM 2017: Denon DJ VL12 Prime turntable

Denon DJ VL12 Prime turntable (5)

I’m getting a massive feeling of Déjà vu. I’m absolutely certain I’ve been here before… maybe even twice. Yes I have. We saw the first incarnation of this at last year’s NAMM, and fell in love with it. AND THEN IT TURNED UP AT DJ Expo, but had lost some of its cool black stealth. Denon DJ decided to buck the Hanpin trend and build their own turntable. And here we are, one year later with an updated VL12 Prime (scroll to the bottom of the page).

HEre’s what Denon DJ has to say about this refreshed VL12:

Denon DJ VL12 Prime turntable (1)


Newest offering combines ‘must-­have’ DJ features like highest-­in-­industry torque, adjustable  pitch, isolation feet, dramatic RGB lighting with professional-­grade metal construction

Cumberland RI, USA (January 9, 2017)—Denon DJ (, a leading manufacturer of  premium DJ products and solutions, today announced the introduction of its new VL12 Prime direct-­ drive professional DJ turntable. Recognizing the unfulfilled need in the DJ marketplace for a no-­ compromise, all original-­tooled turntable that combines the superb isolation, audio performance and  rugged construction that are so important to the demanding professional DJ, the Denon DJ VL12  Prime carves out an absolutely unique niche for itself in this dynamic and vital market segment. It’s the  ultimate DJ turntable that professionals have hoped for, but it’s actually obtainable.

The VL12 Prime was designed and built from the ground up by Denon DJ to be the ideal professional  DJ turntable. With heavy-­duty all-­metal construction and adjustable torque to fit any DJ style, the VL12  Prime cuts, scratches, and blends any music to perfection. Under the turntable are four special  isolation feet, enabling the VL12 to resist vibration from almost any environmental source, even in very  loud settings.  Pitch is adjustable over a very wide range, from ±8% to ±50%, so the DJ can achieve  the perfect tonal effect. Switchable Low and High torque settings ensure the ideal start-­up with any  record, and the precise S-­shaped tone arm tracks any record perfectly, extracting every last bit of  musical impact and detail. For a perfect finishing touch, the platter is ringed with RGB lighting, with  custom control of brightness and color. This is a one-­of-­a-­kind turntable with striking looks to match its  extraordinary performance and build quality.

Key Features  

  • Isolation feet eliminate unwanted vibration and feedback
  • Highest-­in-­industry 5kgf/cm torque on “High” setting
  • Innovative ‘easy grip/brake’ chamfered platter redefines tactile DJ touch
  • Isolated motor design, for optimal signal-­to-­noise ratio
  • S-­shaped tone arm for accurate tracking
  • Reinterpreted tone arm support with dual-­function ‘lock or rest’ feature
  • Rugged all-­metal tone arm base and high-­quality brushed metal controls
  • 2-­speed operation 33 1/3rd and 45 RPM (45 RPM adapter included)
  • Adjustable pitch range: ±8%, 16%, 50%
  • Built-­in RGB lighting illuminates platter’s edge
  • Color selection and brightness controls

“The new VL12 Prime is a huge win for DJs seeking the best in audio performance, platter torque and  unique looks,” said Ross Goodwin, Product Manager for Denon DJ. He added, “The modern design,  and customizable light ring leaves no doubt that this is an original;; not an OEM copy turntablists are used to seeing. Most importantly the isolation design and ability to still sound great in loud bass-­heavy  environments are exactly what DJs have needed in this decade.”

U.S. retail pricing for the VL12 Prime is $899.00

Availability is Q1 2017.

Denon DJ VL12 Prime turntable (2)

So what’s new… again?

As mentioned above, we’ve been here before. But I can see why it was held back and made part of Denon DJ’s bigger Prime strategy. But I’m reasonably sure it’s more or less the same turntable, just with an updated look.

I’d bullet point the key features, but it’s all detailed above, leaving me with not a great deal to talk about. I suppose ti should pick out  the things that makes this stand out above the crowded market dominated by Hanpin derivatives:

  • Variable torque: It’s hard for some to deal with a platter that pulls you along with the record, and at 5kg, this is the highest (albeit by a small amount) torque on the market.
  • A different platter: I love the platters on my TTX1s, and equally love that Denon dared to be different.
  • RGB lighting: It may seem gimmicky, but that platter outer ring light is very cool indeed. We only saw it under bright trade show lights at NAMM and it was still good. And the fact that you can adjust it to your DJ brand is valuable in a brand-led age.

I have to say that I’m disappointed at the aesthetic changes. The original we saw was pure DJ porn, but now it’s like so many other turntables. Sorry guys — you played it a bit too safe here. Perhaps it’s the renders — maybe I’ll feel differently when I see them in the flesh. It’s not just me — this is a DJWORX team opinion.

Me? I couldn’t happier with my 13 year old TTX1s. Now if Denon DJ had “Primed” those instead, and essentially reskinned a TTXUSB with its interchangeable arms, dual start/stops buttons, brake/startup adjusts, swappable controls, huge display, reverse, and USB… now that I would pay top money for. I may just have to get another pair before they disappear completely.

For the more numbers driven people out there — sorry, but I can’t find any specs for the VL12 Prime. I’m sure they’ll be published in due course.

And so to price. £649/$899 is very expensive in today’s market. It’s half the price of the new Technics SL-1200GR, but that’s not aimed at DJs. The comparison you’re looking for is the Pioneer DJ PLX-1000, which is £529/$699. This price is the top end of current DJ turntablry, and that was derided when it came out at £599.

I don’t know how popular the PLX has been, but I do know that it’s generally not especially well thought of, largely down to this teardown video from Bright Pixel. His advice was to stick with Technics, so it’ll be interesting to see what he makes of the VL12 Prime. I don’t have to state that this is quite a premium to pay for what on the surface is little more than aesthetics. But this is an all new turntable with expensive tooling to pay for. So Denon DJ really needs to keep its fingers and toes crossed that people will fall in love with it and pay the premium. Denon fans are very loyal that way though.


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