Denon DRM-710 Cassette Deck
The DRM-700A's replacement is also a three-head deck, of course, which provides the user with the security that comes from being able to confirm the integrity of recordings as they are being made. The other benefit of the three-head package-deal is specialised record and playback heads, rather than composite heads which are compromised in performance.
The transport, however, has been upgraded in the new model to a full dual capstan type, which should reduce modulation noise, a key cause of lost musical dynamics and detail. Dual capstan drives also offer improved consistency even if wow and flutter levels are not reduced.
The Dolby switch now remembers its setting, but this is yet another Denon which cannot be used to make unattended recordings (it has no timer standby) which for some will be a crucial omission. Another idiosyncrasy of the old models has also been perpetuated in the DRM-710: an output level control that varies the main output and the headphone socket feed simultaneously, to the inevitable detriment of sound quality.
As anticipated, pitch stability was first-rate (checked out in the first instance with piano and woodwind). The Denon was also capable of sustaining a large-scale image - in the Brahms, for example - without drift or loss of focus of individual instruments or voices. The ability to focus on small scale events and yet still show the larger, overall picture at the same time is a real strength, and gives the deck a homogeneity denied to many other cassette decks at this price.
However, the Denon DRM-710 is not as transparent in the midband as, say, the Aiwa AD-F810, which meant a loss of clarity, especially notable with complex material. The Schonherz and Scott song Wishing Well from the Kenwood/Windham Hill sampler is an excellent example of a track that sounded a little flat and opaque via the Denon, even when using the deck's preferred metal tape.
Treble was clear and lifelike (confirmed with the Teresa Berganza album) while bass tended to sound slightly loose and excessive in level.
Denon is right, though, to claim improved performance for the Dolby C circuit. Both gave excellent results.