That Was Then... Denon D-M3 review

When we tested Denon’s D-M3 back in our September 1998 issue we had little idea how important that product would become. The micro system came with speakers, and waltzed off with the full five stars and a Group Test win.

What we couldn’t know at the time was that this beautifully conceived unit would start a dynasty that would dominate entry-level hi-fi for the best part of two decades.

The D-M3 set the template for generations of Award-winning Denon micro systems, including the D-M37DAB, D-M38DAB and D-M39DAB.

A compact half-width unit with a radio tuner alongside a built-in CD player, it was a neat solution that suited many who simply didn’t have the space, budget or inclination to go down the separates route.

Best of all, it sounded good. At the time, we called the D-M3, "a great all-rounder, and as comfortable playing hardcore rap as it is a string quartet." You could even add a matching cassette deck and MiniDisc player too.

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It’s this aptitude for fine sonics that kept generations of Denon micros ahead of the competition. Today’s excellent D-M40DAB is clearly related to that original design – and is equally determined in its focus.

While the company has honed the design, the appeal remains unchanged. Just like the original, it offers great sound quality, superb build and a decent spread of features all for a sensible price. No wonder it walked away with a Product of the Year gong at the 2015 Awards.

MORE: Denon D-M40DAB review

Just one more thing to note. Back in 1998 the D-M3 cost £300 with speakers. The new version adds just £50 to that price while delivering even better performance. Now that’s value.

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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.