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 




I have no vinyl at present. There are about a dozen Lps that I am eyeing because they are not available digitally. Are you viewing the 1500 as entry level? And given that analog will always be a secondary source, I don’t really wants to spend into the stratosphere

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My turntable is built around a New Way thrust bearing, an air bearing in all three dimensions. This right away puts you in rarified (6 figure) company.

Next is inspiration from the late Tom Fletcher, who reasoned that a tiny motor couldn’t do much to influence a large rotating mass. I use a Premotec 1.8W precision synchronous motor, which does not catch up using feedback, but instead produces a constant rotational speed. Of course, with this setup, you have to bring the platter up to speed by hand, which is a bit quirky, but not at all inconvenient.

Motor resides on its own massive board made of Panzerholz, a wonderfully dead and dense and strong plywood from Germany, which is isolated from the main chassis and the platter.

Motor controller can be as simple as a capacitor or two, or you can build one with (electric) quadrature, which is better. Maybe better left as a project to get around to someday.

Platter is cast iron base covered with a 1" graphite top, both located precisely on an air bearing spindle. (Inspiration Tom Fletcher again) While each rings a little when separated, the assembly is dead as a tomb. If I were doing it again, I would bite the bullet and get New Way to machine the spindle.

Suspension is something which I did not need, so I did not build, because my listening room has a concrete floor built on bedrock, and miles from a highway.

Air supply depends on your situation. If you use an oil-free compressor you don’t need to do much in the way of filtration, but if you need to use oil (quieter, cheaper) you need to go with heroical air filtration to protect that $1K thrust bearing.

There you have the basics. Let us know how you get along! Good luck!

PS: There is a thread on DIY Audio about this. Very long, very detailed.


How does it sound? Well, I can HEAR the noise from the plastic sleeve bearings on that 1/500 HP motor! Only faintly audible as a slight grainy brightness, but audible nevertheless.

Paired with my DIY air bearing tonearm and higher end Koetsu (diamond), it’s a pretty stunning combination. Makes my Nottingham Analogue Mentor upgraded to Dais standard (Fletcher again!) sound highly coloured and even a bit nasty by comparison. And the stock Mentor was a DD killer, IMO.

Oh - and use a short belt.