Direct Drive vs. Idler Drive vs. Belt drive

I'd like to know your thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each drive system. I can see that direct drive is more in vogue over the last few years but is it superior to the other drive systems? I've had first-hand experiences with two out of the three drive systems but looking to learn more.
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Showing 5 responses by uberwaltz

Love the sound of your 301 fsonic, would love to really hear it.
My much more modest 401 in 45lb birch and curly maple plinth with micro seiki ma505ls arm has outperformed anything else I have ever owned to my ears.
But I think I just love the idler sound, the dynamic presentation and life that no dd or belt has yet shown me.
Of course I have not ventured into the rarified air of 5 figure plus tables so I don’t know what I don’t know.
Unless I win the lottery I don’t see my 401 going anywhere soon.
Mijo always trots out the good old high rumble fluff whenever idler drive is brought up.
Mijo, I invite you to come over and listen to my 401 playing through Spatial Audio M3 TM and a pair of ML subs.
Pretty sure between all of the large cones there one would be able to see/hear them “flapping” very easily.
Hey but what do I know,maybe I am blind as well as deaf, that must be it.....
Just to clarify that I am not a hater of any drive format but just I know what I hear and what i am liking in said hearing.

Prior to the 401 I had numerous belt drives including a Nottingham Analog Spacedeck, not their best but a good table.
With exactly the same lomc cartridge running on the 401 there simply was no comparison, the 401 has dynamics, life, soul whatever you want to term it in spades over the Notts.
Now I have also owned two Victor DD, the TT-81 and the TT-71 both with respective Victor plinths and tonearms ( ua7082 and ua7045).
Again both just sounded flat and lifeless next to the 401.
Just the way it was in my system, I never wanted this result, it just is what it is.
All are gone now apart from the 401.

A wise friend said to me while were discussing this...." you cannot unhear what you hear" 
Not sure if that is the exact cause but I would agree that while my digital replay is good especially on Qobuz 192/24 files it just NEVER gets my toe tapping or pulse racing like my 401 can and does.

Its hard to describe as I would say my digital replay is certainly good although not top flight but it just lacks the dynamics and swing that I get from analog playback and at times with the right tape that I even get with cassette from my Nak ZX7.
I have owned many TT over the years and will likely own plenty more... but I think my Garrard 401 is a keeper no matter what else I may buy.
There is just something about the drive and dynamics of a great idler and no Mijo it is not rumble!!!!!