Brake changes the behaviour of sound when the platter is stopped using the play/pause button. It causes the platter to slow gradually while the virtual needle is still down on the surface of the 'record', giving the impression that the song is slowing down like a tape recorder running out of battery power. Dump reverses the sound while the platter continues to rotate forward, and Reverse reverses the platter direction, playing the song backwards.
There's also a range of advanced sampling and looping functions. You'll need to consult the manual before you grapple with these, but they're powerful enough that a talented user could probably do without another deck if they were determined to get by with the single unit.
Perhaps the only major omission from the DN-S3500 is the subtle crackle and hiss of vinyl when run through a high-powered club system. Of course, you could add this to your MP3s yourself when you burn them to CD -- or you could rip your original vinyl collection, played on an analogue deck, to CD. Vinyl was never designed to crackle anyway, but traditionalists may miss this.
The DN-S3500 includes left and right phono outputs as well as an optical out, but it would have been nice to see balanced outputs in the form of generic XLR connectors. This would make it easier to rig a single deck up to a club PA system. Of course, if you're using two decks patched into a mixer, the mixer is likely to have these dedicated balanced outputs anyway.
One other small quibble is the power lead on the deck. This is permanently attached to the main unit. If the cord becomes frayed or damaged, it will be difficult to safely repair. We would have preferred it if Denon had used a standard, detachable kettle lead to supply power to the internal PSU. This is the de-facto standard for most club equipment.
While DJs at a competitive level will still lust after the performance and speed of a pair of analogue decks, two DN-S3500s could easily replace the decks of almost any other DJ. If you were dubious that digital decks would ever reach a point where they're indistinguishable from vinyl for most people, then you should definitely road-test the DN-S3500 before passing judgement.
This is an exceptionally impressive attempt to allow DJs to use music from a digital source yet accurately simulate the way traditional vinyl behaves. As with digital SLR cameras, it seems that the initial reluctance to adopt these new technologies will recede as the authenticity of the result improves. With the DN-S3500, Denon may just have signed vinyl's death warrant.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide