Based on my own listening over four decades, I broadly agree with your assessment. I have always thought that direct drive turntables sound more clinical than belt drive ones, more digital-like. Belt drives tend more to the "romantic" and have softer (though often fuller) bass. Many would argue that direct drive gives a more accurate presentation, but I don't agree with this personally. I don't see it as right or wrong but a matter of personal taste. My personal choice is to use neither, as I feel a well set up idler drive beats them both as to me the presentation sounds more like music.
ochremoon- It sounds like you have heard quite a bit, so my assessment is also broad, to say the least.
onhwy61- None of the variables you referred to were obvious here.... Same rack.... feet and platter were similar or the same.
We all hear differently, so I'm not suggesting belt (or Idler) drive have anything over DD.... All I'm saying is I preferred the belt drive that day.
This is meaningful only in the sense that you have compared two turntables and found that you like the sound of one better than that of the other. Period.
I can tell you about two direct-drive turntables, one of which has an inherently more "romantic" sound than the other. I could do the same with two belt-drives.
I had a very highly regarded belt drive TT for the last 4 years and loved it. I now have a new DD TT with coreless motor and it just blows away my old belt drive TT. There are also too many variables here to make a good direct comparison between the two TT's but I'm just saying I really like the DD sound.
You say the arm was the same but the room was different. So can we conclude the arm was the only common component?
Were the speakers and cartridges also different?
It was nice if you feel this answered your own question but I fail to see how it has meaning for anyone else. We know individuals have different tastes and some do prefer BD while others are more satisfied by DD.
lancelock- Congrats on the new Technics TT. I too would be interested in further thoughts; especially if you are using the same cartridge.
I have a 28yr old LP12 and a new Kuzma Stabi S and am happy with both. But, have a second system and room that needs a TT. Have been trying to gather as many opinions on the Technics as possible. Especially cartridges.
Thanks and Congrats again!
Sorry if I was too rough on you. You told me privately which two turntables you compared. I was interested to learn that they are both from the same company, one a DD and one a BD. That right there is a topic worth discussing: why did the one company market two technically different turntables, and how is it that they sound so different? I'll leave it to you to reveal the name of the company, if you wish to do so.
There's also that Reed turntable, the Muse, I think, which can be configured either as a belt drive or as a rim or direct-drive, can't recall which. Some early adapters seemed to prefer it as one or the other, with a very clear preference.
My position would be that the single most important job of the turntable is to get the speed right and keep it right during play. Once that job is accomplished, there are still many other factors that govern how the turntable "sounds" overall, probably related to resonance or lack thereof. I've come to believe that a really good DD does the prime job better than a BD at the same level, but when BDs get REALLY good, they can do it too.
Some years ago 2010 ?, I ran three turntables, in the same room, side by side with the same tonearm and cartridge, hooked up to the same pre/phono. It was a lot of fun. One was a custom direct drive, a custom belt drive modded with thread, and a 100 lb Lenco idler.
They were tested two at a time so two tonearms/carts. All I needed to do was switch wires going into the preamp, to change tables. They were run against each other and also against 15 IPS master tape copies. Against tape all I needed to do was start the tape, then the record, and toggle between the two,
Very big differences between the tables as one might expect. The results I got helped me in purchasing my final table.
If interested, my findings and results are found easily here at AudioGon by typing "Goldilocks and the three turntables", in the top forum search field.
See also pic 19 of 42 on my virtual system page.
I went from a Scout 1.1 with Zepher cart to a SL1200GAE with an AT ART9 cart. The Art 9 is a special cartridge but I did keep the Zepher MI cart before selling the VPI. I will be getting another head shell and putting the Zepher back in and then I will report back with a better idea of the differences between the two TT's.
I don't mean to change up the discussion but I want to point out that Teres turntables were originally belt drive and later Chris came out with a Rim Drive. It's my understanding that different materials used to make the belt, made some type of difference with the music just as the Rim Drive sounded different from the belt drive. All of these changes could be performed on the exact same turntable.
Not to disagree entirely with Lak's point, but let's not equate rim drive with direct-drive. They are or can be as different from one another as BD from DD. Likewise, I think the Reed Muse turntable that I mentioned above offers the option of a form of rim drive vs belt-drive. In my thinking, rim drive is closest to idler-drive. On that subject, I've got my much modified Lenco sounding pretty near exactly like my tweaked Victor TT101. That was not intentional; it just came out that way.
I appreciate the input. I opened up the thread with the hope that discussion would not only talk about DD, Belt Drive..., but also discuss various turntables and tonearms. I plan on getting out to hear more turntables this year. Next on the list is a TW Raven GT. The other tables that have caught my interest are Oracle Delphi, and also the Well Tempered Royale 400. I have a Well Tempered GTA at the moment. These tables are at the very top of my price range. The Royale 12K with arm, the GT 10K sans arm, and the Delphi $8.5K sans arm. I'm not considering vintage at the moment. Hopefully, that won't come back to haunt me. lewm- I enjoyed trading the PM’s with you. I appreciate the input very much. Cheers -Don
The old Lenco I use has a rim drive and I do prefer it to the belt drive, it is more accurate and less noise. Not sure about other tables. That being said, the phono stage I use is what makes the sound special. The other things, table, footers, etc. help out but not close to how the phono improves the sound. Happy Listening.
Wow I'm jealous! I wish I had $10k to drop on a table. I've got about half that in my analog setup right now, and am very pleased with it. But, being an audiophile, nothing is ever, "good enough", so I'm always listening for that next upgrade.
I have to agree with Lewm, just because you liked that one table over the other doesn't mean all BD's will please you more than all DD's. But I will say that I too hold a similar belief about Belt Drive sounding better, on average.
There are inherent differences in design around each principle. Belt drives tend to have heavier platters, the motors are located farther from the cartridge, and in high end, the motor is often not even connected to the plinth. And the motor runs at higher RPM's than a Direct Drive. The Direct Drive has a pancake motor, that runs at 33.33. It supports the platter, the bearing is weighing on the motor quite often. And it places the motor windings in close proximity to the cartridge. The voltage fed to the motor is often electronically regulated, phase lock looped, to maintain perfect speed. Anyway, my point is, these differences in architecture have an effect on how the record is played.
I think the simplicity of a Belt Drive is why it sounds better, conveys more of the music, gets in the way less (at a given price point). A simple bearing supports a heavy platter and the motor is isolated from the playback both in distance and isolation of the belt's elasticity. Higher RPM's smooth out motor pulses. So many things are right about Belt Drive. It solves many of the problems involved, except for one. Accuracy of speed. And that's where Direct Drive excels! But in doing so, it undoes so many of the things Belt Drive does right. Then suddenly platter weight, proximity of the motor, main bearing, and all those things must be dealt with differently. And what you wind up with are two very different sounding solutions to analog playback. Then there is rim Drive and idle wheel drive, they lie somewhere in the middle. Always a trade off, nothing is perfect.
"The motors are located farther from the cartridge". But in a DD turntable, the platter IS the rotor. There is no separated motor assembly to "make noise"; the platter is motivated to rotate only by virtue of its being a part of the rotor, being influenced by the magnetic field of the stator. Nothing touches the platter, in other words. The only mechanical noise can come from the bearing assembly, as with any other type of turntable.
Whereas, in a BD turntable, the motor pulley bearing is under constant tension biasing it to one side as it pulls against the platter, which is likewise biased in the direction of the pulley, which cannot help but generate noise. That mechanical noise can be transmitted directly into the platter via the belt; the less compliant the belt, the more efficient it will be at transmitting noise from the motor and pulley. If you ameliorate that issue by using a compliant belt, then you have more belt creep, leading to speed inconstancy. The best virtue of a belt-drive: cheap to build.
You can like whatever you like, but keep the facts straight. IMO, the rim drive is the worst of both worlds, not the best of both. Mechanical vibrational energy from the motor is transmitted right into the platter with no belt to isolate one from the other. At the same time, the typical rubbery contact point between the drive wheel and the platter is constantly trying to rotate the motor in the opposite direction (per Newton's 3rd Law of Motion), and flaws in the O-ring result in mechanical noise and speed issues.
The big issue with DD turntables is simply electronic noise (EMI, especially) that could in theory be picked up by the phono cartridge due to the proximity between the two. Most of the time, the platter itself is an efficient shield. The other problem is motor cogging. But BD and rim drive motors are not at all free of that problem, either, and the best DD turntables have motors of far higher quality than what you will find in most BDs. Why I like coreless motor DD.
Dear @fjn04 : As @lewm pointed out the first and main TT target/task that's that the LP runs steady exactly at the required rpm's with no speed fluctuations and as he said that can happens with any well designed TT does not matters its kind of drive. No, idler drive are no better thyan DD/BD on this critical regards.
Now, to make any single audio item comparisons first premise that we have to have is to have a real REFERENCE and for me the only valid true-REFERENCE is: " near field live MUSIC ". No, other audio systems are not valid for a reference.
The other premise we have to take in count is each one live MUSIC experiences that most be at least one time each 1-2 weeks.
Third premise is ( I know lewm could be angry about. ) that the audio signal been not touched by a single tube that can't " honor " what's in the recording.
After that and if our TTs all achieve that " perfect " speed the main critical stages are: tonearm/cartridge combo matching, tonearm/cartridge/TT overall set-up and phonolinepreamp. But all system links are important as are our ears and preferences . Main system target must be " truer to the recording " and for that the system has to have very high resolution with a wide frequency range.
So could be a little futile making comparisons with out several main premises and a true REFERENCE to make those comparisons.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC and not DISTORTIONS,
Well, in general, a direct drive does have greater speed accuracy so you should expect the sound to be tighter and more accurate. Most of my LPs are classical, I hate the pitch instability of belt drives and what it does to piano recordings. It happened even with a speed control box due to belt stretch..yuk.
I am sure there are plenty of very nicely designed belt drives that outperform plenty of DDs, I just don't think you can reach a general conclusion with a sample of 2!
I make both - Belt Drives and Direct Drives and most definitely prefer Direct Drive - it reproduce music with an energy and pace that no belt drive have ever done in my system. A simple test to do for all of you whom have belt drives that can accept more than one belt - VPI with the separate drive stations for an example - add 2 - 3 - 4 belts and the speed consistency increase along with the focus and energy / pace of the music. DD have a vastly advantage over BD in speed consistency - any timeline test will confirm this and IMO speed stability is the number one job of a TT - yes everything else matters Platters / Mats / Clamps / Tonearm / Cartridge - the last three being variables on any table. Listen to a well plinthed refurbished DD turntable be it a Technics or a Denon Vintage drive system and all this becomes clear 🎶 and yes I do make this variant along with the Belted ones
Speed stability is the number one job of a TT. For years I thought that too. But it proved to be wrong in my system(s). It´s just another theory, it´s an illusion. How the music flows is essential, and the starting point is the turntable itself. Extremely hard job to do, I have noticed over the years.
But I have made great progress.
This is why I included the phrase, "at a given price point". My old Direct Drive Denon was $750. Of course, that was back in the '80's! And my Scout is now selling for $2K, no surprise it's a better 'table. It should be. But it's the main bearing and the 12 pound platter that really keep the noise down. On that old Denon the silence between songs sounded like a bowling ball rolling down an ally! Of course, at the time I thought it was great! And the platter was not physically part of the motor, the pancake motor was down in the plinth, I could lift the platter off and watch it spin. A platter that didn't weigh 2lbs. So while my external motor is being pulled sideways with its small bearing keeping it straight, it is of good quality and does it very well, and much less of its vibration winds up in the record atop that 12lb platter. But again, two different price points. If I find a $4k direct drive, I'm sure it will out perform my Scout. Or I would expect it to anyway. "Cheap to make", may be an accurate statement, the $2k Scout may actually out perform a $2k Direct Drive. Any architecture can shine if you throw enough money at it. My first 'Table was an idler wheel drive, it was a BIC that cost me $120. It did a fine job for a 14 year old in 1976! But, not world class performance I suspect.
For the belt drive guys ... do yourself a favor and buy one of Origin Live's custom TT belt. Its an amazing upgrade and solid improvement for not a lot of money. It worked wonders for my classic Well Tempered Table.
Speed stability is the number one job of a TT. For years I thought that too. But it proved to be wrong in my system(s). It´s just another theory, it´s an illusion. How the music flows is essential, and the starting point is the turntable itself.
There is the actual speed you set your turntable at and speed stability - two different things
My first stereo when I was small 10? was a Hitachi am fm cassette player with microphone. I didn’t like the commercials on the radio so I made a cassette tape of favourite songs and played it for two weeks. Only that tape. Then one day I turned to the radio again. The songs I had recorded did not sound as good as my tape. They sounded slower and lethargic. Boring. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized that the cassette tape motor was running a little fast. But its speed was stable. I learned the difference between the two at a young age.
If your turntable has variable, adjustable, speed control....some like to set the tempo of their records to suit their moods. Can your Digital system do that ? The important part is that the speed you set it at stays there. It is stable.
Put four musicians in a room and ask them to play on four different consecutive days. They will play a different tempo on each day. Fill them with cappuccino’s before the fourth day playing and see what happens. Humans are not robots.
Dear @pbnaudio / @rotarius : I own and owned very good and not so good samples of DD and BD TT where with the good design the steady and speed stability never was or is a problem when in the not so good design it's.
I think that's not only a matters of TT price ranges but the quality of the TT design and critical and very important the manufacturer execution quality on that TT design. No less important is the customer overall TT set-up.
In the other side ( @harold-not-the-barrel ) you are rigth: how the music/sound flows but this main whole audio system target is not a matters of this or that audio link in the system chain but a precise overall audio system set-up with " perfect " ( price define almost nothing. What define all is each one of us knowledge levels and each one " tools " about. ) choosed links in that very complex audio system set-up.
I think that we can't be really sure of audio items comparisons of every kind if our system is not " there " when it's not TRUER TO THE RECORDING that's most be the main target for any music lover/audiophile as us.
We want really enjoy the MUSIC not to all those DISTORTIONS that are imposible to avoid ( but only try to mantain it at minimum. ) and that always surrounded all audio systems.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC not DISTORTIONS,
System building takes time and effort . The problem we have is a good reference yes live music is the best . I find great rewards in listening to other systems and trying to understand why they have certain strengths and weakness. I enjoy this quest as there are so many variables . The main goal is self satisfaction . Enjoy the music.
Put four musicians in a room and ask them to play on four different consecutive days. They will play a different tempo on each day. Fill them with cappuccino’s before the fourth day playing and see what happens. Humans are not robots.Yes, musicians can play at a different tempo but the notes will still be the same unlike a turntable which speed will affect the pitch. In other words, not a very good analogy.
Dear @enginedr1960: Yes, always near field live MUSIC is the perfect REFERENCE for audiophiles and yes listening to other audio systems ( as many we can. ) always helps and is a main part of the audio learning curve.
Yes, there are not only " so many variables " but I think that are to many and we have to live with more trade-offs that what we like it. The audio and especially the analog experience is way imperfect and through those imperfections is where the trade-offs are generated and the critical issue here is each one whole abilities to choose exactly the ones that overall does less harm to the MUSIC enjoyment.
All those is a continuous quest to be " there ", it's a continuous day by day learning till we are really/true satisfied with.
Always a challenge for any of us and that's why many of us are buying new audio items ( cartridges, tonearms, cables, TTs, electronics, speakers and the like. ), we mantain this kind of behavior always looking for the " new kid on the block " and we can't stop to do it ( and always we found out some fun in that looking of " self satisfaction ". ) and we can't stop because our system is far away from that elusive " THERE ".
Take a look on some today threads where even people with what we can think " dreaming audio systems " the owners ( wealthy ones. ) are buying all the new cartridges ( always. ) and everything on the topic.
All those gentlemans have a problem: they don't even imagine that their audio systems are really aways to be not " perfect " but not even near that perfection. Many times their systems are even several steps down yours or other humble systems.
When I came for the first time at Agon ( many years ago. ) I started to post several " new " topics/audio subjects that ( like even today ) gone against what almost all audiophiles learned through their audio lifes. They treat me as if I was some one with out experience and no understanding of what surrounded the audio experience.
They ask several time that I disclose my audio system and I did not because I thought it can't help too much but finally I did it and many gentlemans said: wow ! . They thought that I was an audio items collector with out understand the why's of that and today ( almost same. ) system.
The real subject was that even on those " old " times I was near that " there " and needs not any more to look for the new " kid on the block ". I already passed for it and after that
I " only " was an am fine tunning very fine tunning the same system and today I'm almost " THERE " and the level of MUSIC enjoyment is something really dificult for me explain it.
Today I'm not even for curiosity to listen this or that new item " designs " because in reality exist no true " new designs ": " new " tonearms are more of the same, " new " cartridges are more of the same, cables too and TTs/everything. Exist nothing really NEW. No single audio item shows something real better but only different ! ? ! ? ! ? !
Have fun been truer to the recording.
Regards and enjoy the MUSIC not DISTORTIONS,
I own quite a few turntables and although I prefer Direct Drive, they can all sound great if set up correctly. It is much easier to build a belt drive table and that’s one reason there’s so many around. A direct drive table is much rarer and harder to make. Perhaps one of the main reasons I prefer them. Another is with belt drive, the belt is always pulling the spindle against one side of the bearing well. Maybe not a big deal but it certainly doesn't inspire confidence.
Dear Raulirugas I get your point . I feel that the technology for vinyl playback was at its pinnacle in the past just before the format took a down turn to the rise of CD sales . I have a very good computer based audio system and feel that's where the advancement in SQ has escalated . I use this system to compare with my analog rig .the most accurate phono cartridges sound more like good digital . This makes me think some people do like pleasant distortion . Remember ignorance is bliss until you have heard the difference .
I'm a VPI fan from way back. And these days, from what I read, the affordable "sweet spot" of the line is the Prime.
My first turntables were cheap direct drives (2-3 of those w/bottom of the barrel cartridges). Had no clue about sound being good, bad, or indifferent back then (though music lit up my life then, as now).
Later I started to hear real qualitative differences, LP to LP; TT to TT; even in electronics. Upgraded entire system, and 1st "serious" TT was a then very stylish & attractive Denon direct drive w/mahogany base (can't remember the model #, but it's iconic--used ones still circulate). Had a Shure v15 cartridge then & was finally figuring how to set things up correctly. I like that sound: it seems relatively flat, uncolored, straightforward.
Several years later I upgraded to a VPI (whatever the current model was in '84...I'm forgetting the name). Also put a $500 Grado MM cartridge on it. Well set up, cabling optimized, running into a tube preamp w/a quite good phone section (VTL Ultimate). Well, this was a different experience of TT altogether. Too many things had changed for me to ascribe the changes in sound solely to DD vs belt drive, but it must have played a part.
The sound seems slightly softer, less edgy, but with far greater nuance and detail. Bass was amazingly good; treble rang like a bell, but had zero edginess or tension; midrange went on and on.
I had vastly upgraded speakers & amps by then, so could hear even tiny changes more easily. My guess about the DD vs belt drive change concerned to PLL (phase locked loop) servo feature used to control the motor rpm. Like any servo system, it constantly "searched" for the target rpm, and may have very slightly surged or sagged to achieve it. The result would probably be slight graininess and possibly truncated upper harmonics in treble. Just guesses.
Sadly, my turntable days are far behind me. But I'm certain that a competently engineered DD table circa 2017 would have to be very carefully compared to belt drive versions to detect any tiny differences that still exist. Things have come a very long way in turntable design since my audio heydey.
My personal experience is short and sweet. I had a Marantz Turntable. It was Belt Driven and basically a rebadged Clearaudio Emotion. Very simple design, and a fabulous bearing. I sold that and bought a Direct Drive Technics SL1210 Mk5. Simply a better turntable. Hard to put exactly in words but I felt there was more solidity to the sound.
Like many have here have had numerous tables as well, I have had in my system over 40 tables through the past 5 decades of every drive made. I think ALL , when
executed properly and faults are massaged out and lessened then properly set up
with cart and arm aligned they ALL have strengths in portraying the music.
They all have some drawbacks and weaknesses of their own by design or lack
of attention to it depending on ones ownership bias and finances to produce or own.
I always found it learned, that at a time when everyone was dumping belt
to manufacture DD because the electronic end was at a rabid pace of growth and
precision and yet , Micro Seiki went back to making high end belt/string drives. Not a flag of my bias at all, but a good reason to not pigeon hole ones choices with blind/expectation bias.
" we cannot ignore the fact that in the world of rotating mechanisms the absolute requirements imposed by mechanical strength , precision and mass cannot be replaced on equivalent terms simply by electronics......we must now stand behind belief that there is no need to stick to *audio common sense* which dictated that it is possible to discriminate all the way between part of the mechanisms of the turntable " .......
Difference in opinion in ones choice of drive is not an absolute in best sound, just a best sound for the owner, period. I've heard all done with disappointment and all done to the point biased or not, an honest man would just smile and tap toes in acknowledgement without a single, yeah but my ................
I absolutely love my new SL1200GAE. I got another head shell and installed my old Zepher cart that I was using with my Scout 1.1 so I could make a better comparison. The SL1200 sounds superior in every way I can think of, superior PRAT and the DD motor is dead silent. Increased jump factor and dynamics. This TT is the real deal. This is not to say the Scout is a light weight. I enjoyed the VPI Scout for the last four years but I am firmly in the DD camp now.
Your post may be the most intelligent thing I have read on this forum. Your mass vs electronics statement alone, should be a must read for anyone who actually stops and thinks.
The latest is idler drive comeback. I wonder where the Rumble police are???
I would be interested on your own impressions of the various types of tables. And if you where forced to build the best (By your standards) which of the main 3 drive systems would you choose.
Has2be, I don’t disagree with the substance of what you wrote, but I am a bit puzzled by the following phrase: "at a time when everyone was dumping belt to manufacture DD because the electronic end was at a rabid pace of growth and precision and yet , Micro Seiki went back to making high end belt/string drives." Just what period of audio history are you thinking about when you write this? The way I experienced it, in the 50s (before I really was a "player" in this game, but not before I was exposed to music in our home), idler drive was if anything the predominant mode (think "Garrard"; Garrard changers were common in even the most sophisticated systems). AR changed the game in the late 60s, when I was finally able to buy my first audio system, with the X model, which of course was the most basic belt drive imaginable. But in the 70s, when the Japanese got into the market in a big way, direct-drive was very fashionable but kind of mid-range-y in quality. True, there were some high end DD turntables made in Japan during a brief golden era, but in parallel the very most expensive turntables were BD (Thorens, Goldmund Reference, etc). By the late 70s/early 80s, DD kind of got dumped in favor of belt drive, largely due to the efforts of Harry Pearson and the Absolute Sound credo. I’m sure Gordon Holt had something to say on this subject, but I don’t recall what it was. Anyway, by the mid-80s, as vinyl dipped in popularity, BD was thought of as the only way to go among aficionados. My point is, I don’t recall any time when belt drive was eclipsed by DD, even temporarily. As for Micro Seiki, they were always basically a high quality BD company; their DD turntables were never competitive with the best of the breed, and I don’t think they ever intended them to be. It's interesting how differently we view the history.
So you guys just went off on on a history lesson you did not even research. Take a little time, as I just did, and pull up a Micro Seiko site. To say they never where a high end company??? Also if you notice they built both high end dd and bd's at the same time.
The sad part is not you got your history off but you went off topic on the guy who brought reality to the thread.
So if you read between the lines maybe you would ask yourself. Can you make electronics stabilize a motor on lighter platter (speed/noise/etc) as well or better than a massive belt driven platter.
I realize this is not a DIY forum so I should shut up and let you guys have fun writing. I was just hoping that Has2be would share his real life experiences with the better tables he has own.
Also if you are to lazy to google information I will give you a couple of clues DDX-1000 , BL-91 should get you rolling.
Enjoy the ride