Genetic differences in turntable design.

What is the fondamental sound difference inherent to the suspended versus the unsuspended turntable approch.
What is the commun caracteristique that "tend" to remain within one group over the other ?
Will I be wrong to thinck that overall, the unsuspended tt, tend to generate a more compact soundstage with more focused images on it and a thighter bass line overal than its cousin tt, wich itself tend to generate a broader soundscape with broader images on it and a larger bass line overal ?
Comments please ? Thanks
I have not noticed the particular things that you have mentioned. However I think there are some things that may be thought of as "genetic". But, there is a great possibility that these "genetic" differences could be obscured by a variety of common tweaks that are used with turntables, thereby making the two types sound very similar.

In my opinion, a well made unsuspended high mass turntable will have better dynamics and impact than a suspended turntable. If the rest of the parts of the TT are equivalent to a suspended TT, generally that is the result. However, if somebody takes that high mass unsuspended TT, and puts in on rubber feet, or an airbag, or any other type of soft flabby isolation base, then you don't have an unsuspended TT anymore. You have a big heavy suspended TT. Then all the good dynamics and impact go away, and you are left with a suspended TT anyway.

Also, in my opinion, the unsuspended high mass TT will have more accurate control of the speed of the platter. This is because of the elimination of the interaction of the suspension and the motor system and the platter. There is an entire IAR article that addresses this issue.

Vibration control is important in a turntable application. There are different ways of doing it. High mass unsuspended turntables do it with mass. They are big and heavy. Suspended turntables do it with springs, or rubber, or air. They are usually lighter and easier to move. Not always. In my opinion, attempting to solve a vibration problem with a system that compromises the basic performance of the TT, is not the best way to do things. But it is easier and cheaper to ship, and for the customer to carry home or move. It's amazing how often this compromise comes up in audio. Performance or convenience? It seems to be related in some way to every audio choice made today.

PS - I know of at least 2 people who converted high dollar suspended TTs to unsuspended by defeating the suspension and using solid high mass stands. They felt it was an improvement.

Twl, interesting points raised.
I took the alternative route of having a suspended table, but supported by granite and non-resonant feet and I also have great dynamics. The plinth of the Kuzma has a resonant freq of 3.5hz and the springs are damped with oil.

I do agree that what you place your table on will affect the bass extension and dynamics of the playback. With rigid supports, the cart is able to pick up the smallest details from the grooves without the feedback from these vibrations.

IMO speed stability is more a function of power supply voltage quality. The fluctuations in the ps may cause the motor to driff.

The question I want to ask, is with all that high mass and no suspension, how do you deal with the vibrations that come from the floor? With everything so rigid, won't these low bass feedback to the cartridge?
Cmk, all I can really say about that, is that I have actually had more trouble with vibrations of all types with my previous suspended turntables, than I have with my current unsuspended turntable. I can say without reservation, that my current Teres 245 shows no problems with vibrations of any sort, either airborne or floorborne. I have absolutely no type of isolation anywhere in the system, and it is rigidly coupled directly to the floor, via a rigid stand, with NO rubber, foam, springs, felt, air, or any other soft absorbing type of material. In fact, when I tried to use some felt under the cones of the TT, it absolutely truncated the attacks off of the notes, in a fairly severe way, and dynamics were compromised. And this, from a single layer of thin felt under each cone. This TT, and most unsuspended TTs want rigid coupling to the floor, with alot of mass in the stand. They do not want any kind of soft material between them and the floor, including springs or air bags.

My LP12 was a nightmare for vibrations, both airborne and floorborne, and I had to tiptoe around when changing records. And it was set up right, because I worked at a Linn dealer, and was the TT setup guy. Factory trained by Linn. My table was perfect.

I really think that the suspensions introduce more problems than they solve.
I think that there is a further distinction here. Some suspended tables, like the Linn, actually hard mount the motor to the plinth and then have a sprung sub-chassis. The distance from the motor to the sub-platter is constantly changing and likewise, the path of the belt is constantly changing. Conceptually, it is fraught with problems, though still better than a non-suspended, low mass table such as the Rega. The other type of suspended table uses damped feet of some type, like the Oracle. This seems like a pretty good answer in a low mass design. I have a VPI suspended design, but don't use it much any more. Mostly, I use my high mass, non suspended table, after having tried a lot of different designs. My Micro Seiki MR-711 just happens to be direct drive. Here's the link
Twl: Judging all suspended tables on your experience with the Linn's is like saying that all Chevy 'Vette's suck because you used to own a Chevette. Both are "Vette's" and are even made by the same company, but there is a BIG difference in both design and performance. Compared to a VPI, Sota, Oracle, etc..., the Linn is a piece of under-designed junk. I would much rather have one of those "junky" ( according to most audiophiles ) mass-produced direct drive Technics turntables with some modifications and a good arm on it than a Linn. Sean

PS... Most "Vette's" really are pieces of junk and i'm not talking about "Chevette's" either. I know first hand as i both own one and know a lot of other people that have them. Like the Linn, it is more a matter of image and prestige than it is actual performance and reliability. Save your money and don't buy either a Linn or a Corvette. That is, unless you just like to look at them and / or are a collector. If you actually try to use them on a regular basis, both of them will be a big disappointment.
If I were looking for a new table now, I'd go for one which is :
a) high mass
b) inherently designed to take care of vibrations from the ground

Designwise, the Stabi Reference sets a very high std.
Sean, while I feel some agreement with your statements, surely you must know that I have owned and set-up and listened to many, many different suspended turntables, and unsuspended ones. While all are different, and have their own particular good and bad points, I have come to the conclusion that I did, by my own particular experiences. As I said at the end of my first post, IMHO and YMMV.

I certainly am aware that there are good sounding and performing suspended turntables. Some of the very best ones are suspended, and they do a good job with them.

I am speaking of my preferences for a particular design that, if well executed, I believe can be the preferred type of design, as far as total performance is concerned. Of course, listening environments can vary, and certain compromises may be required to accomodate these things. It is my current view that when the listening environment, including floor construction is correct and optimized, that a high mass unsuspended TT of excellent design can yield the best result.

My statements are not intended to be a "knock" on anyone's turntable, and are purely a statement of my opinions on design parameters.
Tom: I hear you and respect both you and your opinions. I'm also glad that you were honest enough to discuss the shortcomings of a reputable product "point blank". At the same time, i'm somewhat disappointed that you felt the need to be "PC" in terms of offending those that own such a product. Tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. That is, unless you're planning on running for a political office : )

My thoughts are based on the experiences that i've had with Linn's and have been influenced by others that have been Linn owners in the past. I know that my thoughts and experiences of others that i know are not "out of the ordinary" either. I've read reviews where Linn's had tonearms hop, skipping and jumping across the record whereas other "mass produced" tables worked fine in the same environment. Not only are they "tweaky" to set up, they don't seem to retain "calibration" all that well. On top of this, they tend to be very susceptible to ANY type of external vibration, which even you mentioned. As far as i know, reduced susceptability to both floor based and air-borne vibrations would be the very reason why one would want to go to a suspended table.

As such, i consider the Linn an abomination to this type of architecture. It is a product that does not live up to the hype, is poorly designed yet has the reputation of a God. If i can save someone else the trouble of finding out the hard way what an expensive let-down this table is, count me in. I will only add that those that listen to chamber music, mount the table in a separate room, have speakers with no bass output, listen at low volumes or do not move about at all when a record is playing might be happy with an LP-12. That is, if they can get it set up right and keep it that way.

The fact that you are a factory trained "LP-12 tech", knew all of the in's and out's of making them work yet plainly stated that the table was a NIGHTMARE should let others know just what to expect out of this product. Even if one does know and fully understand the "fine art" of getting these tables set-up properly like Twl did, you can still expect the problems mentioned above to some extent.

I'll leave the Linn alone from now on. I think i've said everything that i can say about that table from my point of view. Sean
The creature on steroids will smoke a Linn--even using the stock tonearm...and the fluid damper.
Sean, thanks, I gather that you're not going out to buy a Linn tomorrow? :^)

Actually, I did like the sound of the Linn for a number of years. But it did have some floor vibration issues that were disconcerting.

I used to be less "PC" than I seem to be now, because I have had alot of discussions with folks here, and they truly like their equipment, and I really don't want to make people feel like I'm totally trashing their stuff. After all, I don't have to listen to it, they do. And if they like it, that's fine with me. I'll state my opinions and preferences, but I try not to come down like a ton of bricks on them, like I used to when I first started posting on these pages a couple of years ago.

What I've found over the years, here on Audiogon, is that I've made some friends and acquaintances, and I am trying to be more careful not to hurt their feelings of pride in their system. I don't lie to them about anything, but I am more judicious in the ways that I say things. I try to "prod" them into moving in a better direction, instead of kicking sand in their faces like I used to do. I don't know if this is better or not, but it can get the same point across in a gentler way. However, if I see someone making a really bad, expensive move, then I definitely step in and say no, because I feel a kind of responsibility in that regard. If they disregard my warnings, then it is on their own heads. But, if I don't warn them, and they come to me later and say, "Hey Tom, how come you didn't warn me about that?" Then it's not a good thing.

It's a fine line to walk. I want to be firm about my views, but there is more than one way to listen to analog, and I found that I have to allow some leeway for personal preference. Some people just ask me to spec them out a package, and I know that they will get a good result. Others want to try certain other things, and if it is not a drastic mistake, I'll let them do some learning through experience. One thing I've learned is that not everybody wants the same thing that I want.

So, I'm trying to walk that fine line, of holding true to my convictions, but being less "in your face" about it. Sometimes, the "old me" comes back out and I do a little "slamming", but I try to keep a hold on myself as much as possible. I think if I do it right, I can get the same things accomplished without "going to war".
Lak and I want to go to Appalachia...
Psychicanimal: Dare i ask what your last comment means ? I'm almost afraid of the answer.... : ) Sean
We want to visit TWL.