Direct Drive

I am firmly in the digital camp, but I’ve dabbled in vinyl.  Back in the day I was fascinated by Technics Direct Drive tt, but couldn’t afford them.  I was stuck with my entry level Gerrard.  I have been sans turntable for about 5 years now but the new gear bug is biting.  I am interested in the Technics 1500 which comes with an Ortofon Red and included pre amp.  I have owned Rega P5 which I hated for its speed instability and a Clearaudio Concept which was boring as hell.

  Direct Drive was an anathema to audiophiles in the nineties but every time I heard  one it knocked my socks off.  What do the analogers here think of Direct Drive?  I listen to Classical Music exclusively 


There are some incredible direct drives, but their notoriety was largely due to motor noise and vibration. If you are open to user gear, you might want to do a search for an older Technics SP10 with a custom plinth. Other marketplaces have some good options for around $1K that then you can fit a better tonearm with, and it will get you much farther than a Technics 1500. Given your passion for classical, you’ll want as good a tonearm as you can let yourself allow so you have the best clarity and separation in imaging. This will also force you to invest in a decent phono stage, as the one built into the Technics will not perform as well as say even a $300-500 phono stage would. If you can stretch your budget a bit more, you might be much happier. 

Another vintage suggestion could be the Kenwood KD-500 direct drive with a Shure 3009 tonearm. You might be able to find this combo for $800 or less if you are really lucky, but even at $1000-1200 I think they would be a steal for the combo. The Kenwood has a great motor and the plinth is made of stone composite.

I still have a couple of phono stages in my bag of tricks but just thought I might make it easy.  What do you make of the Ortofon Red Cartridge?

Do yourself a favor and look at the Denon DL-103 carts, your gonna need a step up transformer like a used Denon AU-320 to use it with a MM phono stage. Like speakers, carts are transducers. Those DL-103 just make music!

Lots of good vintage DD units out there. Denon DP-75 or DP-80 are very good from what I understand. I’m partial to the Victor (JVC) line of motor drives, anything from the TT71 up to the TT101 will give you excellent results.

At this age any of those old DD motor drives need a good maintenance done to them. When done right there is another generation or two of keeping perfect speed before it needs attention again.

Bottom line is there will never be motor units built like these again. Technics has done it, but see the price? What do you think any of these old DD motor units would cost if built today? To get an idea, look at the price of the Technics, the top of the line model.

Look at the turntable in  my profile, yea, I need better pics. Anyway, this is a Victor 2 armboard plinth, model CL-2P. It's a heavy wood structure made with alternating layers of different material. I made my own armboards with quick change inserts so I can play with different arms. Currently sporting a Audio Technica ATP-12T in the rear with a stock DL-103 and the right side arm is a Victor UA-7045, perfect for my DL-103S.

All in I spent just a little more than the price of a Technics 1500



What about the idler drive tables like the Lenco, Thorens or Garrard? The motors have to be modified to run silent but they are legendary and the arm boards are easy to change out.

If you want to buy a direct drive turntable you might as well buy a digital front end - its the same sound.