Do top Idler drive tables fall short to top belt drives in any particular area.

In the current Reed table thread, a user makes mention that he compared running it in Idler mode, and then using a belt. He goes on to write, the belt was superior with decay, and I believe more organic sounding as well. Please don't fault me if I used the wrong word, but that's what I got out of reading it. Certainly it's tough to generalize, since there are always more variables than the turntable itself. I auditioned the Brinkmann Bardo and Spyder tables last year. I understand I'm talking DD vs Belt in this case, but please stay with me. I easily preferred the Belt driven Spyder, to it's DD counterpart. I found decay to be one of the areas where the Spyder won out. It was more organic, and I heard subtle spatial cues that were not as discernable with the Bardo. Now that I'm considering a Garrard 301 in a well implemented wood plinth, this all has me curious to say the least.  

You've posed SUCH a complex question.  One wouldn't know where to begin.  I remember when I first read a review of the Reed tt, it did occur to me that, because of its design, it might well sound best in belt-drive mode. Following on that, I too read a post or THE post where an owner says he likes the belt-drive mode best.  Above all, I wondered why on earth Reed would build a turntable with an ambiguous identity.  

When you were comparing the two Brinkmanns, did you use the very same tonearm and cartridge with each?  If not, all bets are off. If so, then I think you found out which of the two turntables you personally like best.  But this is not enough data to conclude that all DD turntables are relatively deficient in capturing the decay of musical notes.  However, I can think of one reason why that might be true of some:  If the servo mechanism is "overactive", its cutting in and out might obscure details after a transient.  This is one thing that may be benefited by the Krebs mod to my SP10 Mk3.  After the Krebs mod, the Mk3 is much more open, airy, and free sounding, and in the bargain I think I do hear the trailing edge of notes better.  Could be my imagination. (The goal of the Krebs mod is to stabilize the stator so that any twisting movement as a result of servo action and according to Newton's Third Law of motion [for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, etc] is reduced, because such movement can trigger yet another servo correction, as the servo tries always to keep speed constant. The net effect of the Krebs mod is ideally to reduce the number and frequency of servo corrections.)

Lewm- Yes it was literally the SAME arm and cartridge (-:
I've had a Thorens 124 for 2 months now. I rebuilt and restored what I could, took it to an expert and dropped some money on a motor rebuild and an SME 3012/2 refresh and rewire. I put it in what I think is an original Thorens rigid Baltic birch plinth and it sits on a wall shelf. 

I've been back in the turntable game since 1998 pretty hard. I've owned LP-12s, Orbes, Amazon tables, etc. but I have to say the 124 is by far the most satisfying vinyl experience I've ever had. With regard to the sound, maybe just maybe, I'm giving up a little air vs some of the belt tables I've used. In exchange I've gotten way better pace and bass and soundstage. Just as important, the experience of using the 124 is just way more enjoyable than any other I've owned. I like the clutch... not having to turn off or snatch changing records. I love that it switches speed easily and gets up to speed in a revolution or two. It's beautiful too!

I wouldn't hesitate if I were you to go idler.
I must point out the Reed drive system is a different genre from the traditional idler drive turntable like Garrard 301 or EMT 930. The idler wheel is part of the pulley and motor on Reed, whereas in a Garrard the motor shaft drives the idler wheel to drive the platter. The Garrard rubber idler wheel is the interface in between and keeps the metal to metal relationship, which is the system I prefer. The Reed or TTW or  Teres Versa "direct couple" approach I suspect is prone to speed issue if the wheel is not perfectly round or smooth. The Garrard style is more forgiving. Sound wise, let your ears decide. 

Listen to a well restored Lenco L75 or GL78 some time.  Also "different" from all the rest in how the idler works.
Hiho, I don't see how the Garrard geometry alleviates the issue of out-of-round wheels.  If its interfacing rubber wheel goes out of round, you would have speed instability just the same.
Arthur Salvatore doesn't think so. Have a read of this:

Thanks for all so far.  Interesting where Mr. Salvatore has the "Unavoidable Caveat" section where he says Idlers have the highest performance potential, BUT require the most attention in order to maintain that level. Can anyone elaborate on that one. (-:
Ochre and fjn, My reference to the Lenco L75 was by way of complimenting it and recommending it to anyone seeking an idler-drive turntable as best bang for the buck and (in my opinion) better than the usual suspects, depending of course upon the extravagance of the restoration and modifications to a Lenco vs to a TD124 or 301.  Mr. Salvatore happened to fall in love with one particular version of a refurbished Lenco.  I don't disagree with him that the Nantais Lenco is excellent (but not the absolute best iteration, IMO). 

I don't know what AS is talking about as regards the need to pay attention to an idler.  All turntables require some level of maintenance.  For an idler, it's the motor and the idler wheel, but the Lenco and Garrard motors are truly built like tanks, have lasted already several decades, and can easily be rebuilt to as new.  Idler wheels wear out and can then be replaced or restored.  These things take several years to happen.  For a belt-drive, many users are constantly fretting about the belt, replacing the belt, upgrading the belt, changing from one type of belt to another, etc.  Then too, the motors on average are less robust than those of the vintage idlers, bearings get noisy, etc.  I am not saying one is worse than another, just that audiophilia nervosa is a risk in both cases.

Any good turntable requires some TLC, as it should be. It's a hobby. I wouldn't want something that didn't need intervention occasionally.

 I don't think there's any right answer to the idler wars. I think any idler can be made to sound great. I would chose by looks and the sensory process of playing a record, if I were you. We all hear differently so what I think sounds good may just not reach your ears the same way and if you want brighter or a different soundstage, there are so many variable elements so you can get what you want on the table you love as a piece of art.
Lewm: "Hiho, I don't see how the Garrard geometry alleviates the issue of out-of-round wheels. If its interfacing rubber wheel goes out of round, you would have speed instability just the same."

You are right that out of round wheel would present speed issue just the same but it's much more forgiving provided the wheel is compliant enough. The diameter size of the rubber wheel is less of a speed issue in Garrard/EMT/Lenco style idler-drive table than in the "direct-couple" rim drive genre, which does have the advantage of removing and extra moving part. I still prefer maintaining the relationship of (rigid/metal/pulley) to (compliant/rubber/idler) to (rigid/metal/platter) arrangement. I hope I am explaining this correctly. 

I had a belt drive VPI Superscoutmaster which I modded to their rim drive.  I certainly heard a difference for the better after the mod....same turntable, same cartridge, same arm.