They were and can be. Depends on model, condition and modifications. The arms are another story............
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Robbyg...That's funny. Mine was quite immune to vibration. I credited the balanced arm (downforce by a spring) mounted on a softly suspended subchassis with the platter so that they moved together. Mine was located in a solidly constructed alcove, with a heavy wood lid that closed over the audio equipment. (No wimpy plastic dust cover!)
I am told that the phono pickup can make a difference also.
I have had a 598 for 20+ years. After installing inserts for 1/4 x 20 threads in the bottom of the base and mounting Black Diamond Racing cones, the table rests on a solid maple platform. The performance went to another level after this. A Goldring 1042 has been a great match for the arm. On well recorded lps, it gives my Cambridge Audio player/transport - Asemblage 2.7 platinum dac playback system a solid run. It's a very quiet table. However, the interconnect cable is a potentially weak point. The connector to the tonearm is a weird impossible to find plug. Make sure to get a cable in good shape. Drive belts are also hard to find.
Have a 598, highly modded, with a rare 498 on the way I just grabbed on eBay for $102.50! It seems these tables are oft overlooked, unappreciated after a decade or two of marketing-driven Linn LP12 domination followed by newer iterations of hi-po tables like the Teres. No claims here that they're "better than" other tables, but surely Empires can be tweaked to sound very nice, and look more like what most people would think of as a classic beautiful table than almost anything else. BTW, the 498 preceded the 598 and has a solid, heavier platter within similar 3-point suspension, belt-driven system. Each has an excellent Pabst motor. I plan to figure out a way to put a good-to-excellent arm on the 498 w/ Denon or Shelter MC cart. My current 598 has, briefly: stiffened plinth raised on 3 brass feet, DIY vibe-damper for the motor, and stock arm modded with: DIY counterweight modeled on Expressimo Heavyweight, VTF and AS springs removed with static VTF and HI-FI tweak offset for AS effect, plus one-piece Discovery Cable rewire with Denon DL-103D cart.
Another aspect of this I ought to have mentioned, which I think your query made reference to, regards the nonsuspended Empire 208 table (with "massive platter"), also known as the 298 or sometimes the 398 when equipped with the "98" tonearm (they were sold sans arm). I'm excited about getting a 498 primarily because of its large one piece 208-style platter. Perhaps the ultimate development of a 208 table is the "Atma-Sphere" version which was shown, if memory serves, at the 2003 CES and garnered some very appreciative accolades. See the Atma-Sphere site for a photo and full info. Also, I have one e-mail audio buddy who has long experience and a fabulous system, who reported surprise over the nice sound of a 298 he picked up for playing 78s. As well, you might look up "grinagog" on the Vinyl Asylum, who has photos posted somewhere on the web of his two modded 298 tables, and if contacted would likely be glad to provide insight/help.