Test Drive: The Denon DN-970FA CD Cart Player

by Jerry Vigil

Denon-DN-970FAIn May of '89, we reviewed the Denon DN-950F CD Cart Player. This earlier model is designed for use in the on-air studio. We said that "a good production version of this machine would include pitch shifting and indexing." Well, "a good production" version is here in the DN-970FA, and pitch shifting and indexing are just a couple of the attractive features.

For those unfamiliar with CD cart players, their main difference from conventional CD players is the plastic "cartridge" that holds the CD. For a few dollars per cartridge, your CD's remain in these sturdy holders and protect the CD from scratches, fingerprints, dust, and other hazards that can present problems. The cartridges can be closed permanently by screwing the cover shut, thus making it difficult for anyone to remove the CD without at least a screwdriver or hammer. Once encased in the cartridge, the CD can be handled in the same rugged way we've all learned to handle carts, and CD cart players are the only CD players that will let you "slam" a CD into it. Once in the player, about a half-inch of the cartridge protrudes from the opening allowing ample space for labeling that can be easily viewed.

Two features we already mentioned are the pitch control and index search. The pitch is variable to 10% in either direction by using the VARI SPEED PUSH ON/OFF control at the top right of the front panel. Push the knob to turn the vari-speed on or off and turn it to set the pitch in .2% increments. The setting is shown in the small LED display above the knob.

The index search mode is one of three search modes on the unit selected by the SEARCH MODE button below the large LED display. Pressing the SEARCH MODE button rotates the search or select mode between TRACK, INDEX, and MANUAL. In the TRACK mode, turning the large SEARCH knob on the front panel in either direction will change the track number as shown on the LED display. If a CD is in the unit, the pickup will begin searching as soon as you begin turning the knob to the desired track number. If you haven't placed the CD in the player yet, you can set the desired track number then insert the CD. The machine will search out the track selected.