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 



Their early arms were poor - modified Regas.

I haven't seen their latest top arms but they use a different principle with the main bearings. As I understand the OL bearings are "loose" and rely on stylus drag to lock in. Roksan used a similar principle with their Artemiz.

The top Rega arms use traditional gimbal bearings are handbuilt and take many man hours - each part is "blueprinted" and triple checked before during and after assembly.

This is not unique - most of the great arms Breuer, Sumiko MDC800 for example were great, not because of unique design, but because they were hand assembled by a superior artisan. both arms I mentioned were only ever made by 1 person.

I agree with @dover - when I had my P5, I first upgraded the arm from the RB700 to the one on the P8 - the RB880 (it wasn't available by itself, but my dealer took one off the new P8 for me and sold that table to someone else who wanted the new P8 - the P10 wasn't out yet, and he wanted the best Rega arm at that point, which was the RB1000). Since then, the P10 came out with the flagship arm (other than the cost no object Naiad), the RB3000 (not sure why they skipped the 2000-ask the Marketing guys). I was thinking of upgrading to that arm, but was told if my table was properly isolated, it wasn't worth the premium.

The arm upgrade from the RB700 to the RB880 was a shocking improvement. A while later, I decided to urge the table itself to the P8 (I try to not spend big bucks all at once) and to be honest, the improvement in the table was not nearly as much as the arm. Mainly it was better wiring and dust cover and sound to some degree. 

So yeah, the Rega arms are a great value (never had one below the RB700), but I know the early ones were legendary and IMHO anyone with a Rega table who upgrades to a non-Rega arm is nuts.

And yeah, I am sure SME and Graham arms and some high end Origin Lives are better, but at a much higher cost. 

The Rega has been OEM for many decks and has formed the basis of: Townshend; Origin Live; Audio Note; Funk Firm; Audiomods and I’m sure others too. It’s for good reason - a fundamentally excellent design where the economies of scale bring about high manufacturing quality - like current IKEA kitchens - not the last word by any means but fundamentally very consistent build due to the fact when you manufacture in large numbers you simply can’t get away with mistakes and flaws. I am told they don’t go with Linns for some reason though.

@dover The OL's use gimbal bearings. OL incorporates a floating bearing design  but I don't believe they're loose. My thought is that one would have to do a side by side comparison to determine which arms sounds better. I'd expect to see  comparisons of Rega and OL reviewed online but oddly I cannot find any. The Rega price tag is enticing.

Out of curiosity, are there certain stereo and/or mono cartridge that match up especially well with the Rega arms?