Honest question about cartridge vs. turntable performance.


I’ve been a vinyl lover for a few years now and I have an ortofon black cartridge setup with an mmf 5.1 turntable with acrylic platter and speed controller. My question to all the vinyl audiophiles out there is this. How much difference does a turntable really make compared to the cartridge? Will I hear a significant difference if I upgraded my turntable and kept the same cartridge? Isn’t the cartridge 90%+ of the sound from a vinyl setup? Thank you guys in advance for an honest discussion on this topic. 
tubelvr1
How much difference does a turntable really make compared to the cartridge?

A lot.
Will I hear a significant difference if I upgraded my turntable and kept the same cartridge?

Yes.
Isn’t the cartridge 90%+ of the sound from a vinyl setup?

Yes. It is. The turntable is only 90%. Oh, and the phono stage. A good phono stage is 90%. At least. Tone arm, 90%. 

By my count that's 360%- which coincidentally is exactly how much better analog is than digital. 
If you want to use your cartridge on some other turntable:

The most important is cartridge + tonearm combination.

In my opinion you have to get rid of that entry level mmf 5.1 turntable but you can keep using your good Ortofon cartridge.

Look for $1700 brand new Technics SL1200GR turntable, find a shop to try it and you will understand why there is a huge difference between turntables, especially between cheap belt drive and coreless direct drive motors.

Technics tonearm is fine for your cartridge.


Well you have what $1000 tt $700 cart box $300...2000 .Which is pretty dam good set up.Go with  a MC cart.if you want a different sound .Try a different brand of cart.But.if you go by what you heard about spending division you have done it....
+1
chakster
The most important is cartridge + tonearm combination.

IMO The second most important is Phono preamp
I'd rather spend 80% on the turntable and 20% on the cartridge, than flipping those numbers around, but they both matter.  The 5.1 is a decent turntable, but you'll get more out of your cartridge if you invest in a better platform.  On the other hand, if you buy an expensive cartridge and put it on that table, you'll never experience what the cartridge is capable of.
IMO you have to divide operational criteria into two categories one for things that are absolutely necessary for proper performance and the second is for sound preference.

#1, speed stability, vibration control, and motor insulation/location (so it doesn't induce hum from the cartridge - not absolutely critical but it can certainly limit your cartridge selection.  Get the best TT you can afford. A good one should last a lifetime with minimal fuss.

Tone arm selection is equally important and cartridge matching even more so but easier to obtain. 

#2, Cartridge selection, phono preamp selection, phono cable selection all affect mostly the sound. BUT their set up is critical so keep your system as simple as possible. One thing that, for me anyway, is critical, is the incorporation of capacitance selection in the pre-amp otherwise you have effectively limited cartridge selection to MM types.

So I agree with big_greg. To keep the cost moderate, and selection simple, I would start out with a high quality integrated TT/Arm in the first place where experts have already taken care of the matching issues, and focus on the cartridge/preamp, cables etc, which are easily changed as your tastes change over the years.

FWIW setting up a good vinyl system ain't rocket science but it ain't a walk in the park either. Do a LOT of research first. 






The turntable is the thing.  Fine turntable and modest cartridge easily outperform the reverse.
A turntable can make a HUGE difference. A tone arm can make a HUGE difference

about 5 years ago I heard a pricey VPI table fitted with a $300 cartridge. That set up was spectacular. Another time I heard a table with a cartridge that was way more expensive that the table. Disappointing- I knew that cartridge was capable of better 
Just get a Rega where everything is chosen for you to optimize performance. They take all the guess work out and eliminate making costly mistakes by limiting the constant mix and match, and allowing you to focus on the rest of your system.
Curious to still see this question 40 years later.
1) the most critical quality to a turntable is its ability to turn a record without imparting or passing through vibration to the record and tonearm.A poorer turntable will collapse dynamics and raise the perceived noise level of a record surface because of vibration transmitted and superimposed on the record groove signal. Another name for this attribute is resolution
2)  a tonearm must track rigidly and accurately while encountering variations in the X and Y axis's due to record imperfections in hole centering and record height. Bearing friction should allow slow movement across the record but damp oscillation at higher speeds... if you see the head of your tonearm quivering  during routine record playback thats a problem
3) cartridges are analogous to speakers, the patent determines their "house" sound, the stylus quality determines the limit of  resolution in
that family

Its is far better to focus your investment on the turntable,get a reasonably competent tonearm and use something like aninexpensive Grado  cartridge. 
As long as your turntable has the following figures:

rumble < 75 - 78 db,
wow & flutter as low as possible,
speed stability better than about 1%

and as long as your tonearm effective mass is a good match for your cartridge,
here are the approximate importance of the components:

turntable: 10%
tonearm: 10%
cartridge: 40%
phono amp: 40%

The turntable can make a large difference. I just upgraded from my old Rega Planar 2 to a Technics SL1210GR. I've kept the same cartridge and everything else is the same also. So much less surface noise and overall cleaner sound. 
There really is no difference in terms of pure performance. For every $2500 or whatever on a cart you can find $2500 in a turntable that will be a virtual tie in delivering sound quality. Where the difference comes in is over the long term. Your $2500 (or whatever, numbers aren't the point) cartridge will in 5 years (or whatever, numbers aren't the point) be worth zero. Your $2500 turntable on the other hand will be worth, well who knows? But not zero! Could even be worth more. You never know. Point is, one is a consumable, and one is not.  

So in my book if you are gonna go big it pays to go big on the table. Because then in five or ten when you replace the starter cartridge the better one you buy will be going on a better table. Where if you spent the money on the cart the next cart will be going on the lesser table. 

So these questions are like games where only Kirk (as played by millercarbon) knows enough to reprogram the game to win the no-win scenario.
I run a 43 year old DD table. Paid $45 for it 10 years ago. Cleaned and completely restored it. It’s competent in every way for speed, rumble, arm, suspension, etc.

Ive used a Decca Gold, Dynavector, various Ortofons, ATs, Shure, ADCs, Empires, Excels, Stanton’s,  Pickerings, Koetsu, and others. All the carts have a unique sound, and performed flawlessly.  The table and arm are not the limiting factors to great sound, as long as the table/arm are competent.
Competence in bearings and isolation is easy compared to changing one kind of energy into another....don’t shortchange the cartridge, and buy a rebuildable cartridge and it will be worth more than zero... Captain Kirk flunked math....
Rega is a good choice but there are others see Brinkmann, Kuzma, AMG, etc for integrated packages, including tailored HRS isolation bases.
Funny when ole James Kirk can’t remember his own advice - look into Soundsmith.....
Hi,
the better table will always give a more enjoyable sound, a beter cartridge will have a more refined sound of table's limitations.
The turntable can make a large difference. I just upgraded from my old Rega Planar 2 to a Technics SL1210GR. I’ve kept the same cartridge and everything else is the same also. So much less surface noise and overall cleaner sound.

Right, because Rega is an awful overpriced belt-drive turntable.

Your GR has a coreless Direct Drive motor, heavy cabinet, excellent and fully adjustable tonearm with detachable headshell and all this just for $1700.

How you can upgrade your cartridge on Technics and the difference will be huge compared to the difference you have noticed between belt drive TT and proper DD.

tubelvr1, the characteristic that is most noticeable in turntables is noise either self generated or from the environment. Most modern turntables have reasonable speed stability. The way the cartridge performs is determined by the tonearm. The tonearm has to be the right mass for the cartridge and it must give the cartridge only two degrees of freedom, up and down, side to side. Any other freedom particularly torsional is bad. There are other fine points of tonearm design that are also important. The way the anti skate is set up. It should decrease as the tonearm moves towards the center of the record. A neutral balance arm is always best. Most arms are Static balance which is worse. You can tell right away what an arm is. Defeat the anti skate and put the stylus guard on. Balance the arm so it stays perfectly horizontal then lift the head shell up an inch and let go. A neutral balance arm will stay there and inch up. A static balance arm will bounce up and down eventually finding the balance point. 
Will you hear a difference? Depends on your system and how critical you are. There is definitely a point of diminishing returns. Get a SOTA Sapphire. Put an Origin Live Enterprise arm on it and you are 95% of the way to the best turntable made. Whatever that is:)
Mijo, I don’t disagree with your general principles, except as regards the prime importance of speed constancy, which I emphasize more than you, apparently.  But then you come down to recommending the Star Sapphire, a spring suspended belt drive. I owned one for 10 years as my only turntable. At the time, I considered it an entry into the high end of Audio. I ran a triplanar tonearm on it, for most of that time. I only later realized that vinyl reproduction does not have to include unstable piano and violin notes and muddy bass, which is all I ever got from the Sapphire. I went from the Sapphire to a Nottingham analog hyperspace turntable, also belt drive. It was far superior in all ways, especially after I added a Walker motor control, using the very same triplanar tonearm. I just think the sapphire is not a good choice for a paradigm. I do not mean by this to demean all of the Sota turntables. As I understand it, they have made some major improvements since the sapphire was their flag ship product.
the other thing not mentioned here is the phono preamp... you can't go cheap on that... plan on spending at least $500. If you are using anintegrated unit with an inexpensive phono pre, start there or you could nothear much of a difference in upgrading a TT.
Lewm, that would go against every review ever done on the Sapphire and my own personal experience. Getting a Triplanar on there must have been a lot of fun. I would have to assume something was wrong with your table. I have never been next to the Nottingham. It reminds me of the Brinkman Balance. At any rate I prefer suspended tables. You can make a decent improvement on your Nottingham's performance if you put it on a MinusK platform.    https://www.minusk.com/products/ct2-ultra-thin-low-height-vibration-isolation-platform.html?hm
To my way of thinking, the turntable is the analog system’s clock: it creates the time in which the source signal comes to life and exists. If the event at the nexus of the stylus and the moving groove does not occur at 33 1/3rpm, no downstream function can make the signal right.

The amplitude portion of the musical waveform comes from the cartridge, but the frequency portion, the time element of that waveform, comes from the turntable.

The primary functions of the turntable are consistently turning the platter at 33-1/3 rpm (stable accuracy) and doing so with little noise. It is the most critical component in the analog chain.

The primary functions of the turntable are consistently turning the platter at 33-1/3 rpm (stable accuracy) and doing so with little noise. It is the most critical component in the analog chain.

Right. All high-end Direct Drive turntables are the most stable in speed accuracy on the planet. This problem does not exist for DD owners. There is no issue with speed at all. Motor on Neumann cutting lathe is also Direct Drive and this is the first step in vinyl manufacturing process.

Turntable that can’t guarantee speed accuracy are junk.

Problems with speed accuracy associated only with Belt Drive turntables, but people loves them, don’t you see?



Chakster, as always there are conflicting attributes. Yes DD tables are some of the most stable. Most think that added stability is meaningless.
The Dohmann Helix turntables are belt drive and even more accurate.
It uses twin belts of different durometers and a drive system that will maintain the programmed speed regardless of friction, etc.
Having an oscillating electromagnetic device under a very sensitive electromagnetic device is a bad idea especially when the platter is paper thin. XactAudio's Beat turntable might get away with it as the platter has got to be 4" thick. Remember magnetic field strength drops with the square of the distance. Price is about the same as the Dohmann. I would take the Dohmann in a heartbeat. Dohmann is far more open about its design whereas the Beat is cloaked in mystery most likely because there is nothing patentable about its design. The Dohmann's MinusK suspension is patent protected. I also prefer suspended turntables. The Beat is supposed to be isolated but it is not suspended. I do not believe in magic.
The one saving grace of the direct drive turntable is you do not have to worry about belt wear. I figure if I can change the accessory belt on a 911, I can change a belt on anything:)
So Chakster, then why is it that the vast majority of the most high-end turntables are belt drive?  I welcome your explanation.  There could be something to learn from it.

And, per your comment, then my new Rega Planar 10 turntable is junk? I beg to differ as it sounds better than any other turntable I have owned, direct drive and belt drive units.  I am very open minded so, please, explain away...
why is it that the vast majority of the most high-end turntables are belt drive?
Its low-tech and easy to get good results?
I finished my country house turntable project - goal was to find small  good turntable.

So my choice at the very end is Era turntable + Ortofon 9 inch RS-212 tonearm + Aidas cartridge.
Very small and not serious looking. Sounds better than any Rega for me:)

But if to look into Era it's rather cheap belt drive engineered by Verdier. With very small motor and very loose belt. And very strange design I have to say. Although in my opinion Era don't make any sound it just keeps the speed with very low wow and flutter 

Then you don't see turntable sound is superb :) Although now I want for my home big Verdier turntable as it is more serious and it will look nice near Garrard.

Engineering is the key. Good turntable can be very simple. Does it means that it's the most important - I don't think so. But in the late evenings then turntable spins and shines it's the most important part in the system. That is for sure.
@mammothguy64

So Chakster, then why is it that the vast majority of the most high-end turntables are belt drive? I welcome your explanation. There could be something to learn from it.

In a wider perspective most of high-end turntables are Direct Drive, especially if you know the history. I don’t care much about High-End Industry today, this is where the ugliest and most expensive turntables coming from. It’s been said before, but i can repeat it again - marketing is the reason, if they can sell those ugly beats then why not make a profit? If someone can sell BD turntables like Rega then why not sell them, a belt drive motor is easy to make. The lack of knowledge is on the customers side in this situation, some of them don’t even know there are other turntables on the market today.

Let’s get back to the basics, this is my favorite argument:

I’m pretty sure most of your records made with this Neumann cutting lathe, and this is a first step in record manufacturing, this is how a lacquer disk actually cut. There must be the most stable motor to do so, because there is a cutter stylus right on lacquer, it’s obvious that any pitch errors must be eliminated in this process if you want to cut a perfect record (master cut). This is where nothing but a Direct Drive can do the job. And Neumann cutting lathe has Technics SP-02 Direct Drive Motor. I can’t find a better image for you since our member jpjones... removed the catalog from his new site (temporary, i hope) .

But let me tell you this:
If our records made with direct drive motor rotating the platter then why not reproduce them with similar direct drive motor ? This is it. Not only Technics made amazing direct drive turntables, there are many from Victor, Denon, Luxman, Kenwood, Pioneer Exclussive .... from the golden age of analog.

Today you can find superb direct drive motor only from Technics in SP10R series.

Why a belt drive manufacturers still selling their overpriced belt drive turntables ? You tell me. Obviously those BD turntables are NOT from Japan where Direct Drive was and still is a king.






Faulty logic Chakster. Cutting a record and playing one back are not the same. Cutting requires more torque and consequently is more difficult to control. The cutting head is powered and is easily able to overcome any magnetic fields near by. 
Playing a record back is a relatively low torque situation with much less strain on the drive system. Now you have a very sensitive magnetic device trying to make sense of squiggly grooves. Any magnetic field near by is going  interrupt the process. The torque of a direct drive motor is now superfluous. A quiet environment is far more critical. You have to isolate the platter, tonearm and cartridge from everything. IMHO this is far more difficult than cutting a lacquer.
Vibration and noise is everywhere. You think your turntable is isolated because your rack is on concrete? Guess again. Keeping the motor as far away from the cartridge as possible is a good start. Suspending the sub chassis (what the platter and tonearm sit on) is another important issue. A suspension tuned as low as possible will isolate the sub chassis from any noise transmitted above the resonant frequency of the suspension. Vibration transmitted through the air is another problem. Putting your turntable in another room works. When I see turntables on a rack between the speakers up near the front wall where the bass is exaggerated I die laughing. That is the absolute worse place to put a turntable. Using a dust cover that is isolated from the sub chassis is another way of putting the turntable in another room.
In short for playback properly designed belt drives are the way to go. They may not be simpler depending on the method used to control speed. Some of the motors are very high tech. Just as high tech as any direct drive.  I think the Grand Prix Monaco and the XactAudio Beat represent the apex of direct drive turntables. They are interesting designs and I can not say how well they function but if I'm going to spend that amount of money on a turntable without a thought I would go for the Dohmann Helix. Total no brainer. It pushes all the right buttons. 
Direct drive turntables are great for DJ's and that is about it, not to mention the tonearms they come with are pretty poor.    
Atmasphere, in some cases it might be because they work better:)
I have to totally agree with chakster on his last post. The "noise" from a good DD turntable is vanishing low. Speed accuracy is superb.
What belt drive TT manufactures actually design and build their own motors? They just use an off the shelf product and in many cases it's a cheap product. They rely on the belt to smooth things out. Some state that they "modify" the motors, what's that mean, maybe shorten the shaft? And don't get me started on power supply upgrades. Some of the highly touted belt drives won't hold proper speed with out one. Isn't that the most basic job of a TT, to hold the correct speed?
BillWojo
Linn, the turntable manufacture argued that in a record player's hierarchy the turntable was the most important component followed by the tone arm and lastly the cartridge.
I think if you talk with a Linn dealer today, that same philosophy still exists.
The idea really makes sense, because you can not add additional information to a source, you can only reduce the information your trying to retrieve.(Or you can add additional distortion)
My advise is to find a dealer that will let you listen to different tt using lp's that are yours.
I think the Mobile Fidelity UltraDeck tt, is a great all-in-one set up.
You have to visualize the turntable as a system in which all of its parts working together in unisone gives you musical satisfaction . In your question if getting a given cartridge onto a better turntable will make the cartridge sound better is yes . Yes because if the turntable is better it will be.more inmune to vibrations making the task of the cartridge easier to track low level information. Being a system it is more complex then what I have explained but being all parts equal a better turntable should make a given cartridge sound better. 
As long as your turntable has the following figures:

rumble < 75 - 78 db,
wow & flutter as low as possible,
speed stability better than about 1%

and as long as your tonearm effective mass is a good match for your cartridge,
here are the approximate importance of the components:

turntable: 10%
tonearm: 10%
cartridge: 40%
phono amp: 40%

This ∆∆∆

It is easier to choose and to know what you have if you have numbers on the performance.
Otherwise it is just bla bla bla Words that confuse..

One thing that you can look at is if all types of adjustments parameters are available on the tonearm incorporated on the TT.

When cartridge is ~40% and you can't adjust for example SRA then you leave some performance on the table.. .. especially when you have advanced stylus shapes. (even better is if the TT has SRA on the fly adjustment). Now you can easily argument that a TT should sound better than one that cannot adjust it all.
@mijostyn

Everything you posted has nothing to do with reality and I am tired to reply to all these nonsense coming from the belt drive owners who never tried a proper direct drive system.

There are high torque direct drive and low torque direct drive, the torque is adjustable on some models. They are all very well isolated and there is NO magnetic field because there is a platter and additional mat on top of it. I use Micro Seiki CU-500, CU-180, SAEC SS-300 and Sakura Systems The Mat on my different direct drive turntables. With tons on MM, MI and LOMC cartridges I can’t remember any single issue with any of my direct drive turntables.

Stable rotation = Direct Drive, and this is all you need from a turntable, the rest is plinth, tonearm and cartridge. Stable rotation is the most important part of the cutting, this is why there is a Direct Drive motor on the most popular cutting lathe (Neumann). What else you can add? 

There must be some good Direct Drive like big and heavy Micro Seiki, but not those overpriced plastic toys manufacturers selling today and fooling people around.

Direct Drive is the best investment and this type of motor will work for over 40 years without service with stable rotation. 

If you like floating pitch use belt drive, the belt degrades in time. 






 The torque of a direct drive motor is now superfluous. A quiet environment is far more critical. You have to isolate the platter, tonearm and cartridge from everything. IMHO this is far more difficult than cutting a lacquer.
Since I've had to set up a mastering operation from scratch I cannot disagree with this more. A lathe has to be isolated too. My setup is pretty old- a Scully- and yet it has a table equipped with adjustable points for feet, plus an isolation base, both made at the same time as the lathe, which was the early 1950s (so if anyone tries to tell you that points beneath your equipment is snake oil, you now have proof that the industry thinks it is not). All the stuff you have to do standing on your head to make it work and not freak out if you look at it cross-eyed is ridiculous. Cutting pressure, track ball height, stylus temperature, tangential-ness, bearing noise (the bearings need frequent greasing and should be warmed up for 20 minutes before making a cut), controlling cutter resonance... I can go on; not to belittle your comment but really its pretty amazing that the technology (record and playback) is as good as it is!

Atmasphere, in some cases it might be because they work better:)
We've made a belt-drive machine for over 20 years. I'd put it up beside any belt-drive made and no worries expecting it to keep up; you can walk up to this machine and thwock the platter while its playing and not hear anything significant through the speakers; the platter is damped, the plinth is rigid and dead, it has a powerful drive and the motor itself is a significant flywheel. Its very neutral. But I think Technics makes a better turntable (and for less money, but I'm not a fan of their arm) so we're not making our 'table anymore...unless someone begs us :)
Linn has just updated the most important part of their turntable, and it is not the motor, the type of drive, the speed control, the tonearm or the suspension system. It is the bearing!!! Precision engineering in the bearing is actually where I believe the biggest gains are to be had, others may disagree, but listening to what the bearing can bring is crucial. Direct drive tables are fine, so long as the motor doesn't cog ( which unfortunately a lot of them do) or contribute any noise into the platter. 
@daveyf, what exactly is the difference between the old and brand new Linn bearing?  
@testpilot There have been two prior bearings for the Linn. The original and then the Cirkus. The new one called the Karousel attaches to the subchassis with a three point system. It is also more precisely machined to a mirror finish at the base. The added rigidity and the precision go a long way in improving the signal to noise ratio. If one looks at the typical bearing that most turntables utilize then one can see the obvious differences. This aspect is not something that we see discussed that much, most naysayers of the Linn platform have no idea as to what the bearing in their favorite turntable consists of, or even how accurately machined it is ( never mind the current condition of said bearing!)...yet IME this is a huge factor in the ultimate SQ.
Mijostyn, I have long ago moved on from the Nottingham, after having also moved on from the Sapphire. Each of my five turntables in current use is either direct drive or (one) idler drive, a very highly modified Lenco, which really only uses the platter, the motor, and the idler wheel from a Lenco L 78. With all due respect to Sota  turntables, for you to talk about a Dohmann turntable with a built-in minus K platform or to talk about any spring suspension in the same breath with a minus K platform is a bit off the deep end, don’t you think.? The minus K is light years more advanced than any common spring suspension found on a turntable. And the Dohmann is indeed a world-class turntable if you have $40,000. I don’t categorically choose direct drive over belt drive, I only claim that for the same amount of cash investment, you get much more bang for the buck out of a direct drive turntable. And even if you have and are willing to spend the bucks, the dohmann and only a very few others actually give you value for money. Most of the rest of them are just bling exhibits. Your ad hoc arguments against direct drive just don’t hold water.
Atma-Sphere, I have this nagging itch that tells me it is the "less money"
part that is most significant here. Now, I have not had a recent direct drive in my system for comparison's sake and to be real It would have to have the same tonearm and cartridge to be meaningful. It is a hard comparison to make. We did do this at Sound Components back in the late 70's, early 80's and the results were uniformly disappointing as far as direct drives were concerned. Theories abounded but nothing was ever proven. 
I have zero interest in the SP10 however I would love to be able to listen to the Grand Prix Audio Monaco and the Xact Audio Beat under similar circumstances. Both are even more accurate and both go to length to mitigate magnetic interference with the cartridge. However at this time if I were to purchase a turntable it would be the Dohmann Helix, just another belt drive. 
Chakster, take it easy. It is already obvious that you and I occupy alternative realities. I said your logic was faulty in that you can not compare cutting a record to playing one back as the parameter are substantially different. 
Yes, there are low torque and high torque direct drive tables. I would bet my wife that all the motors used in Lathes are high torque.
Now I have never used your Microseiki turntables but I find it interesting that their chief designer now makes only belt drive turntables. (Techdas)
A thin platter and a rubber mat are not much for shielding. The best shield from magnetism is distance. 
Neither of us is going to change the other's mind. We present our arguments in a gentlemanly fashion and let others decide for themselves.     
There never was anything special about M-S DD turntables in the first place.  By and large, they are cheaply constructed. They made their bones by building enormous metal belt drives. Hence the fact they are now making Techdas, some of which have the same design flaws as did the original and still highly sought after and still very expensive M-S belt drives.  One model even looks the same as one of their earlier belt drive efforts. 
Yes lewm, no matter how hard I try I can not warm up to Techdas tables. There is just too much filigree. They are beautifully made but more complicated than they have to be and complexity buys unreliability. For that kind of money I expect a turntable to out live me. As an example look at the SOTA Cosmos for less than 1/10th the cost of an Air Force One you get all of the same features, vacuum hold down, a suspended platter (magnets instead of air), an isolating suspension and electronic motor control. Is the Tecdas 10 times better? I would bet with the same tonearm and cartridge most of us would not reliably be able to tell the difference. Is the Techdas more reliable. I doubt it. On the other hand SOTA is right close by and has a great reputation. 
If I were going to spend crazy money on a turntable right now the Dohmann Helix is the one. It accomplishes everything I expect in a turntable in the most elegant manner at the highest levels.
Chakster, in order for any turntable to be first class it has to be able to maintain speed in spite of any reasonable interference, it has to have an adequate record clamping system either reflex or vacuum, it has to be able to mount any tonearm you desire and it has to have a suspension that isolates it from anything over 2 hertz both vertically and horizontally. 
No direct drive turntable I know of meets all of these requirements.  

How much difference does a turntable really make compared to the cartridge? Will I hear a significant difference if I upgraded my turntable and kept the same cartridge? Isn’t the cartridge 90%+ of the sound from a vinyl setup?

think of this question as a ratcheting kind of thing. where the cost of precision of each area of the vinyl ’system’ comes into dominance. as you rise through levels of turntable quality until you get to about $10k-$15k range for turntable-arm-cartridge combo’s there will be different aspects of the whole picture that will be dominant.

based on current price real production products (not DIY or Vintage).......under $1000 total mostly the speed of the platter and motor noise will be the dominant limitation. the arm, cartridge can’t overcome those limitations.

in the $1000-$2500 the motors and plinth/platter get much better, then it’s the arms that are where the compromises are and what is mattering most. any decent cartridge is limited by the arm.

above $2500 now the cartridge becomes a significant difference and set-up quality now becomes huge as the gross distortions are now gone and higher performance levels are realistic to expect.

at about $5000 now the motors and platters take another jump up in quality, and then above $7000 now some really fine tonearms can jump up. tonearms will limit or enable cartridge performance.......but there are exceptions. certain cartridges are giant killers that can be considered in this system price range.

above $10k it’s a crap shoot......too many variables to single out the dominant limitation. and everyone has a different opinion. it’s all degrees of good.

you can make a strong case that above $10k mostly you are hearing the motor and the refinement of the drive system. not so much which type as execution of concept. but opinions about exactly what is right on this subject is a very polarized subject. you have to listen and decide for yourself. lots of great choices at this level or above.

on the top of the food chain.........get to $40k and now it’s the motor and platter/plinth that separate and above that all bets are off. it gets really crazy.
I will make an exaggeration to make the point. 
Which one do you think would sound better:

- a terrible turntable with a terrific cartridge
- a terrific turntable with a terrible cartridge

i think the answer is obvious ....
The answer is it depends on how terrific the cartridge- and how terrible the turntable.

The obvious answer is the question itself is terrible.
Now I have never used your Microseiki turntables but I find it interesting that their chief designer now makes only belt drive turntables. (Techdas)
A thin platter and a rubber mat are not much for shielding. The best shield from magnetism is distance.

@mijostin
I have mentioned only Micro Seiki BELT DRIVE, not any Direct Drive from them. The Belt Drive from Micro Seiki is something like this. Do you know the price? Not sure how many reference direct drive turntable anyone could buy instead of one Micro Seiki reference belt drive, the price is insane!



Chakster, in order for any turntable to be first class it has to be able to maintain speed in spite of any reasonable interference, it has to have an adequate record clamping system either reflex or vacuum, it has to be able to mount any tonearm you desire and it has to have a suspension that isolates it from anything over 2 hertz both vertically and horizontally.

No direct drive turntable I know of meets all of these requirements.

I am able to mount almost any tonearm on my $4000 Luxman PD-444 direct drive. Not a fan of vacuum clamping, but disc stabilizers or record camp like Micro Seiki ST-20 / CU-180 mat is what I use. Long time ago we came to conclusion here on audiogon that Luxman motor was made by Victor (not Micro Seiki). This turntable is suspended. Mode images here. The armboard system on the rails is the best I have ever used, ideal for tonearm collector like myself.

More reference direct drive turntable that you may never tried:
Victor TT-101, Denon DP-80, Technics Sp-10 mkIII or latest SP-10R.

All those are the best bang for the bucks as Lewm pointed out.
If a $2000 drive can give you more than $20 000 drive then why even look for the most expensive? You’re talking about turntables what will never be withing a price range that I (and many others) can spend on a turntable, in my opinion it’s a waste of money.