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Denon DRM-800

Stereo Cassette Tape Deck (1989-91)

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Denon DRM-800


The Denon DRM-800 is a top line stereo cassette tape deck, capable of outstanding performance in combination with high grade hifi systems.

Denon proudly presents this advanced tape deck to audiophiles and music lovers as further proof of our non-compromising pursuit of the ultimate in sound quality.

The high quality performance and easy operation are certain to provide you with many hours of outstanding listening pleasure.


Type: 3-head, single compact cassette deck

Track System: 4-track, 2-channel stereo

Tape Speed: 4.8 cm/s

Heads: 1 x combination record/playback, 1 x erase

Motor: 1 x capstan, 1 x reel, 1 x actuator

Tape Type: type I, CrO2, Metal

Noise Reduction: B, C, HX Pro

Frequency Response: 20Hz to 21kHz  (Metal tape)

Signal to Noise Ratio: 75dB  (dolby C)

Wow and Flutter: 0.038%

Input: 80mV (line)

Output: 0.62V (line)

Dimensions: 434 x 135 x 303mm

Weight: 4.6kg


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Reviewed Oct 02nd, 2019 by

Here is my brief comments regarding this deck, which I bought used 12 years ago.

Pros :

* Record quality is quite good, it's possible to achieve reasonable high frequency tones without using the obtrusive dolby.
* Bias adjustment works great in conjunction with the monitor button
* The overall construction is solid
* Automatic music search is quite sensitive and compatible with the 2s pre-gap of regular CDs, my other deck do require a longer silence.
* The head seems to cope quite well in the long run (despite the use of music search which is reported to increase wear)
* Azimuth still correct after 18years!

Cons :

* The fine bias adjustment is a bit limited when adjusting aged high bias chrome tapes, turning the pot the maximum does not balance the
last bit of high frequency noise.
* The plastic covering of the door is a bit disappointing considering the overall build quality.
* Some of the advance functions are not user friendly (Rec return for instance)
* Output level adjusts both the headphone and amplifier output at the same time, two separate knob would be more useful.
* No possibility to override the tape type.

Reviewed Oct 22nd, 2018 by

My first cassette deck was a budget priced Pioneer CT-f2121 in 1974. I cut my (taping) teeth on that machine. I've owned several decks over the years and eventually got an Akai GX-f31 (a very good machine). This 800A deck was purchased (refurbished) for $125. The CT-f2121 cost me $120 in 1974. I know that the 800 and 800A are almost identical. I got my money's worth as the dual capstan drive, three motor/head design is super reliable. You can read about all the goodies in the text above. I particularly like the 16 segment two color peak hold meters. Decks with less than 10 segment meters are useless for taping. The real time tape counter is a handy bonus feature. This deck sounds great and is a bargain at $125. It's a keeper.

Reviewed Dec 31st, 2017 by

A purchased a used Denon DRM-800 just a couple of days ago at a local Goodwill charity store for just $15 and it operates as if it was new. Cosmetically, the unit is excellent with only one small nick on the top panel.

In any case, I would say that this model successfully served its intended market back in '89 - '90. The DRM-800 was apparently targeting quality-conscious, working-class users who were willing to spend a reasonable price on a premium product but did not want to be bogged down by complexity.

This meant that the deck needed to have the essentials for good sound quality: 3-heads, dual-capstans, a bias fine tuning control, a peak-level display with sufficient resolution in the critical overload region. To keep the price reasonable (well under $1000), much of the internal frame and front panel were constructed of plastic but the fit and finish results in a rigid and well-damped unit with very well-shielded internal components and an organized layout. Also, level/sensitivity adjustments and built-in test tone generators found on state-of-the-art decks are omitted and this restricts the DRM-800's ability somewhat from accommodating a wider variety of tape formulations but this is evidently a cost-cutting measure. Stick with basic formulations instead of premium dual-layer formulations or the uncommon metal-particle high-bias tapes. The former has uneven frequency response that the DRM-800's bias control can't tame and the latter has unusually high-sensitivity, which could cause the Dolby circuits to mistrack.

On the other hand, there are a few surprising features that are included in the unit as compensation. While the transport won't set any records for low wow & flutter for the most stable tape movement, it is adequate for even critical listening. I couldn't detect any flutter even when listening to sustained piano sounds. The bigger surprise at the price is the use of 3 motors to drive the capstans and hubs. On top of that, the movement of the heads and pinch rollers are made possible by the use of a CAM motor, which is usually found on the most expensive decks to avoid the loud clunking and jarring of solenoids. CAM motors and the use of multiple motors potentially increase reliability. In the case of the DRM-800, the reliability is proven. As far as I can tell, the original belts are in the unit and they show no signs of wear. They appear to be thick, flat belts that still work perfectly.

Since the intended target market for this model is not the hardcore cassette audiophile it would be inappropriate to compare it to state-of-the-art models from Nakamichi, Revox, Tandberg, Pioneer, Sony, or Teac.

That said, used with basic normal bias, high-bias/chrome, or metal tape formulations, the Denon DRM-800 doesn't get in the way of making excellent recordings. The recording/playback quality can give you a glimpse of high-end sound (recordings sound quite close to the sources even on a TDK SA high bias cassette). Dynamics are well-preserved with percussion sounding nearly as quick and tight as the source, flutter is inaudibly low, noise is low, and stereo images are reasonably well-preserved. Playback of pre-recorded cassettes are also very crisp and clean thanks to the Denon's quality control on azimuth adjustment. The azimuth is a match to my BASF azimuth alignment tape (and apparently the ABEX tape the company used).

The playback equalization (and the resulting required recording equalization) is also a match for the vast majority of cassette decks from other models and brands so recordings will sound great on most other decks, provided that their azimuth is at least similar.

Given the target market, this makes perfect sense because listeners in this market are more likely to value playback compatibility rather than the head-gap loss compensation designed into the playback equalization of most Nakamichi, Revox, and Tandberg decks.

All in all, the DRM-800 is a fine machine that should satisfy all but the most serious users and listeners.

Reviewed Mar 28th, 2017 by

I really love my DRM-800a tape deck. It has never failed me and I will keep it for many years to come. Could any of you please tell me the ACA-## number of the side panels as I would love to buy them for it. Thank you very much.

Reviewed Aug 30th, 2016 by

Quiet mechanics, good sound

Reviewed Jun 01st, 2016 by

Denon's TOTL in their 1990 lineup. Has many, but not all features you could ask for for a high-end deck, including AMR 3 head, close loop mech, CD direct in and gold plated connectors. Lacks some fancy design featured in flagships of other makers, like DD capstan, switchable display or seperate channel level/bias control.
The 'precision component' tagline was adequate. Parts used in the machine are very reliable, however not necessarily with best spec. For example, opamps used are mostly ROHM BA15218s, which are neither known as the most powerful nor the most sweet sounding. Elcos are LL series, low failure rate indeed, but not acoustically impressive. Belts used in the mech are tough, very few have failed despite most units were manufactured between 89-90.
All in all, a very valuable deck of mid-high range!

Reviewed Mar 12th, 2016 by

I picked up one of these from one of my local thrifts....a top of the line machine in it's day that I would not otherwise have afforded. It plays beautifully, with great sound stage and presence, and has re-awakened my interest in my large cassette collection. Like LPs, there is just a certain characteristic to tape that defies explanation. Highly recommended.....

Reviewed Aug 01st, 2015 by

Denon DRM-800A. Decent Deck. Looks nice and works very well. Really a working horse. Had this unit for three years. Quiet smooth mechanism and good quality amorphous heads, never had a problem with any tapes. A bit weaker on the amplifier/electronics part but you get what you give. For the money it costs these days it's almost perfect middle-end deck.



re: DRM-800

This was my workhorse for fifteen years. I have made possibly 800+ tapes for myself, friends and family. It has worked flawlessly for it's entire service life. The only better sounding deck I've had is a Nakamichi, but that unit was very unreliable, eventually needing the entire transport replaced at significant cost.

re: DRM-800

very helpfull


Very useful, Many Thanks for this one.
Best Regards

Successor DRM-800A saved tape

Successor DRM-800A saved tape length and counter position when device is switched off

Denon DRM-800

Very useful, Many Thanks for this one.
Best Regards

This website is not affiliated with or sponsored by Denon. To purchase DRM-800/DRM-800A spares or accessories, please contact the company via their website or visit an authorised retailer.