Good Direct Drives

So I still keep thinking upgrading my current, Awia/Rega plinth/motor with debut arm and Ortofon cart turntable but after owning many years ago a few SL1200 and SL1210 MK2 and Mk5 I am hankering after a change in TT

But not sure what old model Technics or Pioneer to go for. Unless someone else can suggest another DD of this type etc

You can do what I did when I wanted to add a new current TT to my collection of vintage TT's. I bought the Pioneer PLX1000 and a Denon 103R mc cartridge. $700 + $300. This is an affordable and excellent sounding combination! I am quite happy with this setup! The build quality and performance of the PLX1000 makes it a challenger to the multi-kilobuck TT's! Highly recommended!
Why would anyone want to spend $4000 on the new Technics 1200G when the Pioneer PLX1000 is comparable in every respect?!!!
+1 on the PLX1000.   very good sounding table for a great price.
I’m not sure you understand the the level of sophistication of the 1200g, yeah it looks like same ole old 1200 tables but is a serious bit of kit. That being said $4k is a serious bit of coin. 

OP, if you want a great direct drive TT with a lot off the 1200g’s performance, look at the 1200gr. It’s only $1700 +/-.  Mine comes in tomorrow and will replace my vintage Pioneer PL-530. 
last_lemming"I’m not sure you understand the the level of sophistication of the 1200g, yeah it looks like same ole old 1200 tables but is a serious bit of kit. That being said $4k is a serious bit of coin. "
It is actually not sophisticated at all it is really a rehash of a previous design I know that some here have attempted to characterize it as new from the ground up but of course it isn’t it is a cheap Japanese direct driver turntable. For that kind of money $4,000USD you are not going to get a top notch turntable-plinth-tonearm for your Music Reproduction System and while the Technics does not qualify as a junk product it isn’t really a serious highend contender nor can it be for that price because precision comes at a cost. At this price level it is best to purchase a belt drive turntable which dollar for dollar at this price level offers you the best performance. For those who will argue with my assessment of this turntable I would politely ask that you seriously consider that such servo controlled direct drive motors are almost always off speed they are constantly hunting for the correct speed and that is the single largest source of their many sonic limitations.
A  relatively unknown DD turntable that is really excellent is the Sony PS 4300. It was marketed in Europe around 1976 and had a great following. It's rare to find it here in the states unless a GI brought one back after tour of duty. There may be a few sitting in closets somewhere. It competed with the likes of Pioneer, Sansui, Kentwood etc. It's a very reliable table with good credentials. 
I'm still using mine and have been for the last 42 years and am still thrilled by its performance.  And no its not for sale. It's in daily service. 
I did see some offered on European sites.

The Technics SL1200G is a better turntable than the Pioneer PLX1000.  This is not to say that one cannot enjoy the Pioneer or that it is "bad".  Two different price and performance categories.

Clearthink, You have swallowed hook, line, and sinker, the favored argument of those who prefer belt drive to direct drive or of those who make and sell only BD.  If it makes you happy, fine.
lewm"Clearthink, You have swallowed hook, line, and sinker, the favored argument of those who prefer belt drive to direct drive or of those who make and sell only BD."

No you are woefully misinformed and mistaken the statement I made was based on many years of actual testing regarding the performance of direct drive turntables and this testing is easily verified by others who might be so inclined as to conduct they're own testing of direct drive turntables they're problem is that they are always OFF SPEED as can be shown by the sawtooth plot of their speed accuracy. The problem is they run too fast so the servo slows them down then they run too slow so the servo speeds them up then they run too fast so the servo slows them down and it goes on and on and on they are almost never on speed! or you can just rely on anecdotal reports and be perfectly happy that is also fine.
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Clearthink,  I can only speak to what I’ve actually heard, so my data set is small but you speak about the hunting of servo controlled DD TT’s as a bad thing. I guess that would depend on the degree of the hunting . I have a VPI Prime with the roadrunner and eagle control which controls the speed to 3 decimal places, but the third decimal place is always hunting for stability as well, but I can’t hear the effect, so why should it matter if servo DD motors do the same as long as it can’t be noticeably perceived?  Is there even a such thing as a perfect speed TT - I wouldn’t think so. 

Also I grant you that the Prime isn’t the “end all” belt driven TT but it’s no slouch either and it was $4k, so would the Prime be considered a serious TT?

@clearthink As an example, several reviewers have found that the RP8 runs fast straight out of the factory. Rega does not correct the problem. Intentional?  
There are a number tests of the Technics 1200 online.  I don't know of any that agree with your statement.

Here is one:

Personally, I have listened very closely to my 1200 and don't hear anything of the sort.  YMMV...
I went from a KAB modded SL-1200MK2 to the SL1210GR.  

The improvement in sound quality of the GR was noticeable immediately. If you can make $1700 work, you will be completely amazed and satisfied. 
It is a great table.  Absolutely amazing value.  I cannot believe that  Technics can do this.  I heard the arm on the 1210GR and they definitely have a lot of what is going on in the 1200G arm on the GR table.  Quite incredible
Contrary to what some say, the arm on the 1200G is amazing.
1200G tonearm is very good, but it's not amazing. Far from it.

If one wants an amazing tonearm, SME should be at the top of the list from current manufacturers.

There are also some great vintage tonearms from Micro Seiki, etc.

PLX1000 is bad. Cheap Chinese knockoff. Let’s be honest here. 1200G is a high end Japanese product.

I agree, 100%.

And to everybody:

For me it’s such a strange to see a recommendation for a Pioneer turntables on audiophile’s forum. These Pioneer’s crap designed for a club use and djs, it’s a clone of the legendary SL1210mkII (cult model among the DJs). Pioneer’s target is professional market, on this market NO ONE would like to DJ on anything, but the SL1210/1200MKII ...

Instead of making their own turntable design for audiophiles, Pioneer just cloned Technics with some minor improvements. But the old SL1210mkII also can me improved by any user with better arm, better footers, better mats, better cables ...


after owning many years ago a few SL1200 and SL1210 MK2 and Mk5 I am hankering after a change in TT

How come the Pioneer crap can be better that SL1200 mkII or 1210 mkII and mkV, the weak points of those classic Technics decks can be easily upgraded manually. Pioneer DJ turntables must be avoided by anyone who would like to find something much better than their old SL1200mkII (or modified Sl1200mkII) and related. Buyin the Pioneer PLX1000 in this situation is so stupid. I've been using them for a couple of hrs in Paris, it's close to the SL1200mkII. 

What you can buy is Technics SP10mkII for $1200 max and nothing can beat it at this price, really!!!

If it’s too much then look for Technics SP-20 for half price, still great deck. Or maybe Denon DP-80 or Victor TT-81

If you need all in one then look for Luxman PD-441 (motor made by Micro Seiki). 

With all these option you will get an amazing direct drive turntable, completely different design compared to your old technics and that new 1200g which looks almost the same.

And most importnat is that you can make good looking plinth and you can use whatever tonearm you want! Vintage tonearms like Victor UA-7045 are so cheap and so nice!

You can have Drive, Plinth, Tonearm for much lower price than new SL1200g !

For the price of SL1200g i prefer Luxman PD-444 designed for two tonearms. The most ellegant turntable in the world.
Sp 10 is best dd 
better than 1200g
Well I took my system to my local dealer today, turns out I needed a new table as the arm on my current hybrid is all wrong and so instead of slowly upgrading I went feet first and have purchased a Rega Planar 3 with the Elys cart, sounded great on my system.

I could of gone down the 2nd hand and vintage route, but I was there could hear everything and so was able to try, also got a deal as it was there ex demo as they couldn't find the black in stock and so have a red one with over £150 off.

Plugged it all back together when I got home and I am a happy bunny, old turntable is now forsale and saving me from doing all those upgrades that the Planar already has! Wanted a new cart hence why I went in there to start with.
It's always funny how the dealers brainwashing people to buy belt-drive turntables like rega, pro-ject etc.

To listen to some vintage gear you need a time machine back to the 1986 where you could audition those amazing and inexpensive direct drives like the SP-10MKII, Luxman PD-441, Denon DP-80, Victor TT-81 with some amazing vintage MM cartridges. These stuff competes with something that cost x10 today. 

But you ended up with an entry level mainstream from your dealer, sad story. 

If you're serious about analog gear i'm sure you will replace this turntable in a few years. Now you've got what you paid for. 

Congratulations on the new table.  I always hear great things about Rega.  I was going to go for the RP8, before I settled on the 1210GR.

@bur70n  The Planer 3 is a fine TT. I would ask your dealer for an upgrade to an Exact 2. 

@chakster I understand what you are saying but this way I have not taken on the risk. Unlike with my previous TT, I went in there to try out different carts with my system, which turned out the arm is all wrong. I love the look of the old TT but there is always a little niggle encase something needed doing with no local support. The net is great to show and help but it's still comes down to getting it done. This way I have heard the unit and I know it works well with my system, I have stuck to budget and there was no push to sell, I could hear the difference on the same LP that we played 4 different times on mine and 3 other TT.

I am happy with my purchase, being able to hear it first was the best thing I could of done locally, not having to travel 30miles plus to go elsewhere. They do the full range so sky is the limit to spending, this way I have saved money on what I was going to do....
invictus005 1200G tonearm is very good, but it's not amazing. Far from it.

Ok, let me clarify... That Technics can put the 1200G and that arm together for 4000.00 is amazing.  

The Luxman is beautiful no doubt
I have never heard an SP10.  If an earlier sp10 is as good or better than the 1200g, Thats pretty good
Looking into it and knowing that I would want one of them, having had 31 different turntables from Pioneer, Technics and others in my eBay watch list all varying in price, I had to think that I could not afford some with other things coming up this year. They might be better than what I have purchased but I have purchased what I can afford and have no unknowns in terms of sound with my system.
congrats on your new table.  Rega makes a great arm.  you will be happy
You’re better off getting that new Rega than some 30+ year old clunker from Ebay. Enjoy your new table!
Any one who thinks the Pioneer PLX-1000 is not a very good TT is just plain wrong ,at best .
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invictus005, of course! you nailed it! Any overoverlypriced high-end wire and fuse is ASKING for fake to be sold at descent profit -- why not? Now talking about primitive particle board Rega which is fake by all means LOL!

I have never heard an SP10. If an earlier sp10 is as good or better than the 1200g, Thats pretty good

No, the first SP-10 from the late 60s is nothing special, no quartz lock.
I think he meants SP-10mkII which is one the the best DD for very reasonable price today (under $1200).


Any one who thinks the Pioneer PLX-1000 is not a very good TT is just plain wrong ,at best .

If you like the clone of Technics design and the quality that is not so far from the old SL1200mkII then Pioneer is OK. However, this Pioneer turntable designed for DJs/CLUBs mainly and that’s why the price is not high for their target audience on professional market. This Pioneer turntable advertising as a DJ turntable, nothing bad about it, but ideal DJ turntable is Technics SL1200/1210 mkII. Having a Pioneer DJ turntable in audiophile’s set-up is a bad taste (imo). Many manufacturers tried to made a clone of SL1200mkII (Audio-Technica, Gemini and many more unknown companies). Even the toneam on that Pioneer is not related to the best Pioneer toneams from the golden age.

I believe if the Pioneer would like to make turntable for audiophiles it must be their own design, not a clone of legendary Technics! It could be the Pioneer Exclussive P3 or related models with original Pioneer tonearms ? But the Pioneer is no longer a High-End manufacturer like it was in the 70s. Let’s face it! Or you’re waiting for Pioneer TAD re-issue? I think they do what they do - cheap producsts for professional market, this stuff sells well (mixers, cdj players, turntables).   

But the OP asked for something better than SL1200mkII and even MK5. He ended up with belt drive which is completely different. But in my opinion something better than SL1200mkII and SL1200G is Technics SP-10 MKII which is a truly High-End DD turntable, super heavy with powerfull motor, immadiate start/stop like NO other turntable.
I looked at quite a few different decks before hand but being able to try it was the main reasoning behind my purchase.

I was just wanting to know which model could be viable and what was out there, wasn't after anything better than the 1200 or 1210 but these were what I had used years ago. Looking at the options it would appear that some of the others were more money and a risk in my book over something that I could see and touch.

It did come down to money moreover and availability which where I am was another factor and when looking into it all and weighing it up decided to go with what I have done, I am very happy with what I have and with the state of my system.
@chakster people who have heard the 1200G and the sp10 mk2 claim that 1200G is better. So I am not sure how you come to the opposite conclusion. 
Clear think, what data can you provide to back up your statements? I'd like to see it. Until then, I'll cite fremer's testing of the technics sp10R. Based on those data he declared it to be the most speed accurate turntable he's ever tested. This includes his own $150000 Caliburn. Consider also the latest fad among belt drive aficionados, which is to control the motor with an outboard system that works by feedback of platter speed to maintain speed constancy (e.g., Phoenix Engineering and their imitators). That's really a servo in other words. True, hunting is an issue with DD just as belt creep and stylus drag (and hunting if you use a feedback system to maintain speed) are issues with BD. The best units deal with these.

@lewm SP10R may have the best speed stability of any modern turntable, but it doesn't mean that it sounds the best. 

SP10R is just the drive, in my opinion the only way to go is to get the solid high mass metal plinth full blown SL-1000R. But it will retail for $16,000-$20,000. So it should be compared to TechDas Air Force II, SME Model 20, etc. 

I seriously doubt the Technics could sound better than those. 
If all the tables you mention have SME arms and 2M black cartridges they should sound the same .  
I havent heard the SL1000r but to my ears the SP-10mk2 sounds better than SME Model 30. So, it really depends.
Obviously everyone likes what they like. But preferring the sound of SP-10MKII over SME Model 30... I just can't relate to that.  
SME 30 sounds slow and dark to my ears. It is no secret. Many have commented it sound that way. It does all the good things of a suspended belt drive: fluid, holographic soundstage, low noise and high resolution but when it comes to preserving the life, transients and tempo of real instruments playing, it is no where near the SP10 mk2. Thankfully the SP-10 is also very quiet and high resolution so it is not a one trick pony.
Invictus,  Where did I write that the SP10R is the BEST sounding turntable?  I am disputing Clearthink's propaganda about DD turntables in general, without any regard for what drive system sounds best or what particular brand or model sounds best.  Do you have something to contribute to that issue?  Fremer published his SP10R data if not in Stereophile (which I don't read) then for sure in his "Analog Corner" blog.  The numbers and graphs are quite impressive, especially with reference to many belt drives he's tested that retail in the $100K+ category.  Although you may "doubt" that the SP10R or 1000R could challenge the (more) expensive BDs that you name, Fremer had something to say about that too, based on actually listening and on his huge backlog of experience with the most expensive turntables in the world.  No offense, but I take his opinion over your guess, for that reason.

By the way, I agree that the SP10 Mk2 has a faint gray-ish coloration that may (or may not) be a product of its servo action.  The Mk3 did not exhibit this coloration at all, during my early auditions of my unit, but even it was made more liquid sounding by application of the Krebs mod; I was skeptical that I would hear any difference.  Thus, I believe the Krebs mod can cure the Mk2 of this mild malady, although I no longer own a Mk2.  The Kenwood L07D and the Victor TT101, and probably most DD's that use a coreless motor are relatively free of this symptom.  The DP80 is also very clean.  And also, let's not ignore the importance of the plinth to the sound of both types of turntable. The TT101 plinth as supplied by Victor needs a lot of help to get the best out of the motor unit.  In my opinion, there is where Victor skimped on cost.

I am also leery of the testimony of others, up or down, because JP Jones has made me aware of the critical importance of calibrating these 30-40 year old turntables before evaluating their sonics.  I don't think this factor is taken seriously enough, even by those who adore DD (as I do). 

@chakster people who have heard the 1200G and the sp10 mk2 claim that 1200G is better. So I am not sure how you come to the opposite conclusion.

Am i said it’s better ? The porice for SP-10mkII is $1200 maximum, sometimes under $1000, not everyone willing to spend even $5000 on a turntable, just look at the OP’s budget.

What is the price for SL1200G ?

You said people comparing Sl1200G to SP-10mkII, but which tonearm? The limitation of the SL1200G is obvious with a choice of tonearm, while the SP-10MKII’s limitation is to avoid short "9inch arms to use 10.5 tonearms or "12 toneams instead.

However, i don’t care about $5000 turntables, especially if they looks like my 22 years old SL1200mkII.

The Luxman PD-444 direct drive can be purchased for $2500 max, designed for two tonearms in a proper superheavy plinth. This is my choise of turntable and i can use 99% toneamrs on it. I prefer Luxman PD-444 to Technics SP-10mkII. 
Where can I find a working Technics SP 10 MK II with arm and plinth for under $1200 in the US?
I agree that if you would want to try a different arm on the 1200G that would be a bummer. But why would you want to do that? Its a terrific arm. I have heard my share of arms and although I am not an expert, I think it performs pretty well on a 4k table, no doubt about it. Is it a perfect table, no but what table is? The SME’s are great tables, very well made. Just because they did not do "it" for me and some others does not mean they will not for somebody else. there are plenty of satified SME owners. I really liked the new Luxman belt drive table but I just could not justify the cost of it and many others after hearing the 1200G with the sh**ty arm they put on that thing. I mean really....., what were they thinking anyway?
@lewm Fremer does his testing with an iPhone. It's for entertainment purposes. 
@andysf You can find the motor for $1200. You’ll have to make your own plinth. And fit a suitable tonearm. It’s a tremendous waste of time. When all is said and done, better turntables can be had for an overall similar price. I would take the ready high density solid metal 1200G over trying to DIY some crappy plinth for an SP10MKII. 
My SP10 MK2 project toped out at about 4k yes it adds up . I cannot say that it sounds better then a table costing more money as I don't have one to compare in my system . All I can say I am happy with the way it turned out and enjoyed building it . My table is unique to me anyone could go out and by a finished product . . A waste of time for me not . I had fun doing it .
Got it @chakster

Btw, I don’t believe that one needs a super duper tonearm to evaluate a turntable’s greatness. A rewired jelco or Rega 1000 with a quality cartridge and phonostage will clearly show if turntable is average, good or great. Whether the Technics tonearm is as good as the jelco and Rega stuff, we need to see.

If the 1200G is really high end turntable then adding a super arm will definitely make sense.