direct drive tt's?

It is very hard for someone who grew up in the cd era to know much about turntables, and what to look for and what to avoid. No area dealers have analog set-ups I can listen to, and I am the only person I know who even listens to records. So I thought I'd post here to gain a little knowledge hopefully.

I found a early 70's Miida direct drive turntable in the trash a few months ago. Model number 3115 I believe. The thing was in fine condition, very clean, and ran much quieter than the Thorens 140 belt-drive tt that I was using, so out went the Thorens and in went the Miida. But what I want to know is, what are the shortcomings of dd turntables? What kind of tweaks might be worth experimenting with to get the maximum out of the tt, or are such turntables not worth even fiddling with? What cartidges would be worth thinking about for such a tt, and for the quality of records I play (my collection is mostly from thrift stores and yard sales, but I do have a nitty gritty to clean my finds, and I also have some valuable records I certainly do NOT want to do harm to)? Is it possible or worthwhile to upgrade the tonearm on such a table?

Any advice and information would be welcomed. As I say, its hard to know much about vinyl playback and its subtleties when all you have ever seen are cd's and digital gear.

btw, I run the ol' retro-looking miida into BAT electronics and Snell loudspeakers.

thanks :)

In general, belt drives out-perform DD at any given price bracket for the basic reason that any DD motor noise is directly routed to the cartridge via the splindle, platter and record. Even with some of the platter mats available, alot of vibration is passed from the spindle to the record. When you consider how incredibly small even the largest undulation in the record groove is, you can appreciate how easy it is for the slightest outside vibration to start canceling out the material in the grooves or having the cartridge pick up the outside vibration or noise.

Also, DD tables do not maintain accurate speed. They are constantly speeding up or slowing down in tiny increments up to several times in one revolution to maintain an average speed of 33 1/3. While this phenomena is almost imperceptable, it detracts from the overall sense of lively-ness.

Belt drive tables have the advantage of having the belt to reduce much of the noise and vibration introduced to splindle/platter/cartridge. Further improvements (and additional costs) come in the way of improving the spindle bearing surfaces, less motor/electrical vibration, further isolation of the motor, isolation of the plinth and arm, etc, etc, etc. I can't think of ANY medium to higher-end tables currently produced that are NOT belt drive, which is a testament to this approach. (No, Technics 1200's aren't mid-fi!) As my audio-challenged brother-in-law said when he was shocked that he had been listening to an LP and not a CD, "Wow, it's so....CLEAR!!

As to your question on improving your table with a different arm or other tweaks, that the money could be saved for another table when it's time. While you could improve the sonics somewhat on this unit, you would fundamentally end up with the same thing or maybe worse. One of the basic tweaks common to all tables, though, is to set it on a solid, secure, vibration-free surface, but that's a whole 'nother subject.

It sounds like you are at least somewhat satified with your table, so you might just hang on to it until you get the "bug" and the information to make a reasoned purchase decision.

Stay tuned to this Audiogon Discussion Forum!

All I can add is:

1) Read my TT posts, man.
2) Call the guys at Needledoctor. They love DDs (like me).
3) If your DD is quieter, it´s because it is.
3) Your DD could be modified VERY cheaply.
I agree with everything Jimbo3 has posted, it is exactly the same advise I would give.

Other than that, I recommend you look for a used Well Tempered turntable and arm when you upgrade.
Ah, I see I have touched on one of the classic friendly debates here too ;)

Well, yes, I am satisfied with the set-up right now. I am running a Sumiko Black Pearl cartridge right now, and the sound is, hmm, let me see... I will say it is punchy, rich, clean (if the record is clean) and spacious but alas not always "holographic" (depends on recording, I am sure).

Strangely, I am finding repeatedly that my rock lp's almost always sound richer and sweeter than my classical lp's. I almost NEVER listen to classical on vinyl, since in almost every case, the digital version sounds better in my sysem as it stands. Only a bare few exceptions to this rule, one of which I listend to a few days ago: Sviatislow Richter in Lizst' s piano concerto 1 on vinyl sounds slightly better and more open in the vinyl version. On my rock stuff, all I will say is this: I love listening to that area of music on either digital or analog, and bth sound sometimes wonderful on my system (Theta Miles cd, balanced output direct into BAT vk-500).

I wnder why my classical lp's never work for me? Is it the limits of my analog playback gear as it stands, or is ther problems with classical lp's that the studio-produced rock one's just don't have?

I want to say much thanks for the information and advice. I just learned some stuff! Sadly, as far as large scale upgrading goes, I also need a better phono pre, even before I would consider purchasing a new TT. Heh, maybe I should help the economy by running up MORE credit card debt?

Hear, hear to Well-Tempered tables. I happen to have the Classic model and appreciate the rather funky arm. (Hey, it make sense to me!) There are a number of very good new tables in the $500 range and alot of GREAT used tables under $1000.

Pcanis, you don't need to go whole-hog on a cartridge/phono pre-amp at this point. Look to get a nice Grado Silver MM or perhaps even a used high-output Blue Point Special or Glider for under $300 and stick with the phono pre you have now. Put the money you DON'T spend on that stuff toward the best table you can afford/justify. This way, the table will be able to extract more from the cartridge and it'll be quieter, clearer and more dynamic. It will be easy to upgrade the cartridge and/or phono pre at a later date. A bad table won't extract much from a cartridge no matter HOW good the cartridge is!

Classical recordings typically have very wide dynamic range while most rock is fairly limited. A possible reason for your apparent dicrepancy in the quality of play-back between the two genres is that classical is typically more demanding and revealing of the table and cartridge than most rock. You are hearing the problems of a DD table when you play classical.

A note on the Thorens- Thoroughly clean the spindle & bearing (bottom AND sides of both) and re-lube. Get a new belt. Adjust the suspension so it is level, low and loose. Shim the cartridge so that the top of the body is level with the record while it is playing. Get an alignment protractor and get the cartridge lined up. Put the table on a solid piece of granite, thick acrylic or a similar dense material. You will be rewarded.

Most, if not all, of the proponents of DD are DJs who have a whole different set of criteria for tables. High torque, quick-starting motors and the ability to spin freely to "scratch" are far more valuable than sound quality.

Click on the blue-colored names of the entries (i.e. the blue "Jimbo3" next to the posting date) to read that person's other posts to get familiar with their ideas, priorities, tastes, etc. Then find a few who seem to share your tastes and/or make sense and communicate with them. You'll be up to speed in no time!

A couple of after-thoughts on my previous post-

1) The comment in the last sentence of the second paragraph about a "bad table" was intended to be a broad statement and not specifically about your Miida. I am not familiar with the Miida and it could well be a very nice deck. If it was an expensive piece at the time, one would assume that is would sound better than an inexpensive belt-drive of that era! (But you know what they say about the word 'assume'!)

2) If it's in good shape, your Sumiko is probably worth putting on a pretty good table, so you might want to keep it and try a used Rega P3 (around $400), get an Origin Live-modified Rega RB-250 arm (around $350 new, $225 used) and sell the RB-300 arm that came with the P3 (for around $200). Heck of a set-up for five or six bills! Go with the Benz Glider later on.

Of course, that's just one of the million ways to get a good analog rig.....



The modified 1200 is undisputably THE turntable to have in the under $1000 category. If you want significally better performance, get a VPI with flywheel and a Graham tonearm with some fancy MC. Really.
I like classical on record more than CD. Very different experience. I have both DD and BD TT, they all give better result to classical on records. Listening to violin is a quick evidence. Dynamic range is a big difference for orchestra. I doubt your speaker may not have the capability to show off symphony or your TT may be the cause. For rock music, less dynamic, you are probably hearing the smooth sound from your TT and amps. But whole system(including room) is not showing dynamic range enough. I have some record and CD on the same recording, LP always win in sweet high, dynamic range, and soundstage except bass and that "Bili Bili Fufu" noise from record.
(used oracle vs Sony ES + P3 DAC (hey! not bad sound for digital)) I would complain about bass of TT but not in your case!? set up is different.

I do like Sumiko blue point special (sweet high/bass shy) and grado (nice med).

I don't buy new pop records, my digital is well good enough.
For classical, I can stand that "bili bili" to get my dynamic range and sweet sound from classical music.
I am buying more and more classical records than CD's.
Actually, after my TT, I start to realize that Angel, Decca and DG have world class recording team back to ~1960. And they have a gold years up to ~80 before CD start to take over the market. Reasonable CD sound can be achieved at lower price, that's when lots of small studio came out. But hey!, I respect those engineers in those big company at that time, recordings are great even in today's technology!
A few random thoughts: I have owned a Goldmund Studio table which utilized a Pabst direct drive motor and was very happy with the sound and would recommend it to someone seeking an excellent table at a bargain price. A friend recently purchased a Studio with a Dave Shreve modified Rabco arm for $1000. I owned a Linn LP-12 prior to the Goldmund and chose to sell it inorder to purchase the Goldmund. Either drive method can produce superb results, each has its own set of problems which must be solved. My current table is a belt drive Rockport, the newest Rockports are direct drive. With respect to my TT, I find that the sound is sensitive to A/C filtration and to the material from which the drive belt is made and the tensioning of the belt. Having said this I admit that most direct drive TT's, particularly those low cost models from Japan, have problems in the implementation of the drive exactly along those lines stated by Jimbo3.
I am frankly stunned at how cheep used P3's with what by all accounts is a superb arm (rb300) go for. I am leaning toward keeping an eye pealed for one of those.

As for the miida, yes, I am happy with it, and felt somewhat reassured when I had notieced it had, for example, no auto-lift at the end of the record. I am guessing here, but wouldn't it only be intended "audiophile" players that would have been missing this "feature" back in the early 70's? Plus, it weighs around 30 pounds or, which too is reassuring. The attached output cables are also very thick, suggesting at least an intention for this to be a "serious" deck for that time.

My focus now is going to be on isolation, then on a new table. From the posts here, and reading up on some "upgrade" oriented posts in the archives, I've seen that really, objective number one should always be to get the table itself all straightened out. So, no fiddling with new carts or pre-amps YET ;)

How can the P3 be so good a player for so cheap? Is it because of that arm, which I have heard is just simply one of those "pure gems" of the hi-fi world?

One feature I do sometimes think about as a goal would be easily chageable headshells or tonearms. The reason for this is I have heard recently (the wonderful MF in stereophile, a tweaker with taste imo) that mono records benefit from a mono cartridge, and I would like to be able to switch out carts for when I pull out one of my many 40's or 50's era lp's. I am guessing headshells would be the easiest route for that kind of strategy.

Well, during this horrible time of tragedy it is a welcome relief to turn to things of beauty to recharge the spirit, and thats what music does for me. Listen on all!


To answer your question on the price of Rega tables and arms, Rega had figured out a design and manufacturing process that lent itself to relatively inexpensive production. They gave it a reasonable price and making good money being the highest-volume maker of quality arms. If you take a close look at their tables, they are quite simple, yet very effective as they generally compromised in favor of sound quality. (e.g.- The platter is a little slow to get to speed, but the motor is quiet and well-isolated for a table in this price range.)

Detachable headshells are fraught with problems- another set of contacts, extra weight, inconsistant alignment, lack of stiffness, etc- and are not tpically found on better tables. It's probably splitting hairs to have both a mono and stereo cartridge at this price point. Cartridges are one of the worst hi-fi investments from a purely financial standpoint- why double up on $$$ in that area?. If one were to go to that extent, one could almost justify getting a second table optimized for mono and a THIRD table (a Technics 1200) just for 'scratching'. (Heh, heh, heh.)

Sounds like your Miida was indeed intended to be a better piece. If it does not have a suspension system, try setting the table on brass cones and set the cones on a thick piece of acrylic. In my experience, unsuspended tables generally don't like to sit directly on squishy surfaces. Does anybody else share that experience?

A note of caution- a high-end dealer told me that Grado's tendency to hum is pronounced on Rega tables, although I don't know that first-hand. If the spirit moves you, you can get to Origin's site through .

All AC motors have poles. The better table motors have 24 poles, some more. As you turn the motor and each pole comes into play and adds torque you get a speed up and as the poles move away from the stator the magnetic push goes down so you get a slight variation in torque 24 times per rotation with a 24 pole motor on a dd. You remove this WOW in two ways. Mass - make your platter very heavy so momentum damps out the hills and valleys of the torque change. Elasticity - use a rubber band to dampen out the WOW. When a dd motor turns one rotation you get the 24 dips and valleys. When a rubber band drive motor turns one full turn the platter only turns a small fraction (ie small pully on the motor vs a large diameter of the platter so the full rotation of the platter might be equivalent to a 240 pole motor. Lastly you can't isolate bearing rumble from the motor with a direct connection mechanically to the platter, record, phono cartridge.
Another possible consideration is maintenance. Once the motor in your direct drive goes, you are basically SOL. You will probably be better off replacing the entire table for the expense of replacing the motor. My first tt was a Denon. The motor went bad after about 2 1/2 years. After that, the only thing I could do is try to find someone who wanted to buy a solid wood Denon tt base. My next tt was a VPI which I purchased about 15 years ago. It also had a bad motor that died after about 2 years. However, they sent me a replacement in the mail, I popped it in, and in literally 10 minutes I was up and running again. That was 13 years ago, and I've been running without a hitch since then.
I've been doing some comparison listening between the budget Thorens TD-180 belt drive turntable I was using, and the DD drive TT mentioned in this thread, and I've come to the conclusion that, using the same cartridge, the DD drive just simply has more body and substance to its sound.

Of course the Thorens was their absolute bargain table, so the only claim I can make here is that a mid-line well-built, old DD still might be better than the newer, super-budget belt drive tables.

I suspect the difference is due to the sheer stability of the Miida table. It is pretty substantial, and maybe there is no substitute for that???

What is used to cut the masters-DD or belt?

End of story.
The Goldmund direct drive tables have replaceable or in the case of the Pabst motor in the original studio, rebuildable motors. In any case the real issue is whether the manufacturer will continue to support the product and , if not, whether the motor is commercially available elsewhere. Although the Linn is not my personal favorite, I have to give the company credit for the way in which it has supported the LP 12.