For vintage DD tables, Technic's and Kenwood come immediatly to mind. Both are hard to come by (in excellent condition anyway) and the Kenwood is hard to find and fairly expensive. But, then you knew that........
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As Newbee said, I loved my Kenwood KP-5022A. IMO, this was the best reasonably priced DD vintage table from the '70's. Technics were much more common. They would take the abuse inflicted upon them by DJ work; the 5022A would not. Far superior fidelity from this Kenwood, though! Good luck finding one. If you're interested, I could see if the party to whom I sold it would be interested in selling it now. It would definitely need a tune-up, though.
Some of my happiest high end memories took place when I was using a
Kenwood KD-500 direct drive turntable -- a high end cult favourite in the late 70's
Tweaky platter mat, some clay like stuff called "platter matter" stuck to the underside
a good record clamp
SME III fluid damped arm and a Grado signature cartridge
Not some thing you see every day on ebay but you could pick one up cheap when they come along
TWL, You disagree with me on vintage TT's, and I respect any
and all opposing views. (That's the purpose of this thread of course.), but can you please elaborate or share some further insight.And thanks for the list, but I believe most of the tables mentioned are vintage models.
Cwlondon, The KD-500 you mentioned sounds interesting, and I've heard good things about that model. And it's very affordable on the used market at the moment. Now were getting somewhere! Thanks Guy's, Keep it coming.
Rod, Just for clarification, I was referring to the Technic's SP 10, the Kenwood from the L series (07?) and I forgot to mention the Nakamichi Dragon, which could even compensate for off center holes in LP's. You asked for the Best with no indicated reservations of value. I forgot about the Micro Seki tables mentioned by TWL. I would include them as well in my vintage list. Now if you just want good vintage TT's thats another list.
I've had my Goldmund Studietto w/ JVC quartz-lock motor and SME V arm for almost 16 years now, and wouldn't part with it for anything. I know there are those who dismiss the Studietto, but I'll betcha they've never heard one with a great arm and without the springs. That's right -- I don't think sorbothane was available 16 years ago, but replacing the springs with sorbothane half spheres results in a mechanical system that's almost completely dead (great bass punch and clarity.) Just set it on a wall shelf, which is where all unsprung (and most sprung) TT's belong in my opinion, and you're good to go.
I recently lubricated the platter/motor spindle/bearing with van den Hul zirconium-oxide doped oil and there is absolutely no audible bearing/motor noise -- even at high volume levels playing silent grooves. And the platter speed has always been smooth and dead accurate.
For a beautifully designed website devoted to the DD TT, go to: http://de.geocities.com/bc1a69/index_eng.html
By the way, I seem to recall that the Goldmund Reference is a belt drive TT.
Rod1957, in direct drive turntables of the vintage sort, the platter is actually part of the motor, and the spindle bearing is actually also the motor bearing.
Since motors vibrate, and since the motor bearing is not nearly built to as close-tolerance as a normal TT main bearing, there is unwanted movement in the platter of most of these vintage DD designs.
Additionally, there are spinning magnets(under the platter - part of the motor) which are very close to the cartridge at the inner part of the record. Since the platters are also metal, there is not much stopping magnetic effects of these spinning magnets on the cartridge magnetic fields.
Third, most of the vintage DD designs use a quartz-lock speed controller with a very lightweight platter, which results in "speed hunting", in a fairly audible "flutter" frequency, and gives unnatural sound overall, compared to other turntables.
Fourth, most vintage DD TT's were mass-market designs and cheaply produced out of plastic, and were never really anything out-of-the-ordinary, even when they were new. Most of the arms were quite poor(or at best - adequate), and sufficed primarily for the low cost MM cartridges that were expected to be placed on them.
Let's face it, these TT's were the "Volkswagen Beetle" of the time, and never were even intended to be thought of as anything very good. They were mass-market plastic equivalents of today's "Coby" CD player for $24.95
The better ones, like Micro Seiki and the higher level Denon, and the Technics SP10(and yes, even the SL1200) were a bit more expensive, aimed at a higher performance market, and did sound better than the cheap ones. However, ultimately they faded away as the belt-drive revolution took over and killed most of them off.
You can say what you want about belt-drives, but they did kill off most DD tables permanently. This was not an accident.
I am a fan of your thinking and writing, but with respect, perhaps you are being a little harsh here.
Sure, its true there were tons of mass marketed, crap DD turntables in the 70's.
Cheap lightweight plastic cases, silly strobe lights, lousy arms, jerky semi or fully automatic operation.
They were perfectly matched to similarly mass produced receivers with vinyl veneered MDF cabinets and boasting ".04% Total Harmonic Distortion"
(Even then, I dont think they were quite as sleazy as "Coby"?! although you made me laugh!)
What I remember as well, however, were many high end attempts at turntables based on the popular drive technology of the time.
Denon made a number of high end ish turntables. The Kenwood had a resin (?) base that was unusually heavy and granite like -- as I said a cult high end favorite. The Yamaha PX-2 was direct drive and also an excellent table, especially when tweaked with platter mats and record clamps.
I am no Michael Fremer, but in my experience, suspensions, platter surfaces, arms, cartridges and set up -- especially record cleaning and preparation -- have always had a much bigger impact on performance than the presence or absence of microphonic vibration through the spindle or something.
And maybe I had the wrong match for an arm and cartridge, but for me, my years with a Linn LP12 were the unhappiest analogue years of my life. I never liked that turntable, found it sensitive and finicky and never enjoyed it.
I am not loyal to direct drive or belt drive. For sheer coolness alone, I have always coveted a top of the line VPI with an SME V or something, but in the absence of spending the big bucks, would consider a vintagey DD again.
Would love to hear your retort on any of this but that's the way I see it, I mean, heard it.
Both twl and cwlondon make valid comments. But in both cases they cover only a portion of the field. Again, for a more complete and comprehensive history of the subject, as well as a detailed technical discussion, I'd like to refer you all to the DD website at:
It's thoroughly researched and nicely presented.
I only know of three which qualified as the top direct-drive turntables of all time. And they are:
(01). ReVox 780 with Swing Around Linear Tracking Tone Arm
(02). Any Higher-End Denon in the DP Series
(03). Technics SL-1200 MkII (and if I could recall correctly, Technics had a bunch of other models with the Quartz Locked Direct-Drive System back in the late 1970's/early 1980's)
(04). And I am sure that there were others as well, I just couldn't recall right off the bat.
My trusty Sony PS X800 really has no faults that I can specifically identify. Neglecting for the moment the linear tracking servo controlled arm, consider just the DD table.
There is no speed variation. This is evident using a strobe disc, and by listening to test tones (listening for waiver).
There is no pickup of noise from the motor.
Rumble is as low or lower than my old belt drive table which had a large diameter oil-soaked bearing.
It rotates the LP at a correct and uniform rate, while transmitting little vibration to the LP, or magnetic field to the pickup. Can someone tell me what it is not doing?
Now this DD turntable was not a cheap product, costing about $1000 in 1980. Perhaps, (and I think it so) Sony engineering did a good job on this product.
Cwlondon, the Linn LP12 is a "finicky" table, which requires specific knowledge to set up properly. I can understand if you had a frustrating experience with it. I, however, am a factory trained Linn setup technician, and had no trouble at all keeping my LP12 in top operation order.
For those with similar experiences to Cwlondon, perhaps a simple direct drive table might be a good choice, or even some other more easily set up belt drive tables. You'll find that an unsuspended TT is much easier to set up, regardless of drive system used.
I don't mean to sound harsh about my assessments of these tables. I just want to provide some perspective about the various levels of performance available from certain designs and implementations.
Just picked up a Nakamichi TX-1000 turntable. Installed a Fidelity Research Fr-66s tonearm and an Audio Note IO2 Cartridge on it. It sounds absolutely fabulous. This is the best analog setup I have ever owned. Beats my Oracle/SME combo any time of day and also my fully tricked up Michell Gyrodec/SME/Rega RB300 setup.
The speed and pitch stability is second to none and it runs very quiet.
Here are a few good DD choices IMO
1. Nakamichi TX-1000
2. Technics SL-1000 (SP-10 with obsidian base)
3, Denon DP-100
4. Micro Seiki DDX 1000/1500
Maybe i can be of help here. I have had virtually all the rare direct drive decks from japan.
The very best, which is strange, is the broadcast Denon DN-308 with the DP-100 motor unit. Its a big beast and ultra rare but worth the hassle.
The technics sp-10 mk3 is a stunning table.
Denon DP-100 also up there with the best.
1. Denon DN-308
2. Denon DP100 and Technics SP-10mk3
3. Pioneer Exlcusive P3
4. Nak T-1000 (when its working properly)
5. Sony PSX9
6. Yamaha GT-2000X
7. Micro Seiki DDX1500 and Pioneer P10
I've had more but you asked for direct drive.
In the latest Audio Advisor catalogue, I noticed they are going out of their way to bash direct drive turntables, while hawking Regas and other belt drive turntables.
Are that many people selling direct drive turntables again that they need to defend a different niche?
Or the assumption is that the average person reading their catalogue already has a direct drive turntable?
To me it didn't make any sense, but then again, neither does their choice of "models".
I'm a little surprised not to see Albert Porter's efforts with the Technics SP 10 Mks II and III mentioned in this thread. If you are a purist, and want only to discuss unmodified vintage DD TTs, then read on only at your peril.
Mr Porter has, in the Forum, described his modification and updating first a Lenco, then a Technics Sp10 Mk II and now a Mk III TT, developing each toward its performance envelope with trial and error. During that time he also owned a top of the line JA Michell table.
While I haven't pursued the thread about the Lenco, Albert describes clearly his development of the SP 10 TTs. An anecdote he mentions in conversation, though not in print, is a showdown between his Michell Proscenium and Technics SP 10 Mk III tables.
JA Michell was in the room, performing every tweak he knew for the turntable of his own design. The Technics table, in Albert's proprietary plinth (Panzerholtz sandwiching Bass wood with aluminum interleaf, lead weight, brass tonearm mounting flanges, etc) with an SME 312S (12") tonearm was, *by mutual concensus* dusting the Michell's performance into the weeds. Cartridges were matching Air Tight PC-1s.
This is not a testament to Albert Porter. It *is* intended to acknowledge what initial quality of design, full development and execution, and meticulous setup can achieve using a vintage DD TT.
The price point of the Mitchell TT is not relevant; what may be of note is that Mr Porter sold the Mitchell and has kept the Technics table. The very latest technology is not paramount: it's how it's applied that matters.
If a 1970's-made DD table can be brought to a reference level of performance, going head to head with one of the very best of today's TTs (using, one would think, the finest of currently available materials and technology) it tells me a lot about the Technics' initial quality of conception --in the engineering sense-- and about the learning amassed in the interim that, when applied with diligence, can give lifelike renderings of The Music. I believe that's what a few of us are seeking in pursuit of the high end. It would seem that it can be done, and done very well.
A couple of things:
First, I went to check out AA's alleged 'DD bashing' and couldn't find it -- could someone direct me? It's been years since I perused their offerings, so all I could determine was that they had no DD TT's for sale.
Second, it's axiomatic that in mechanical systems, the fewer moving parts the better (the differences between German and British automobiles are a perfect example ;-) "Better" BTW applies to lo-maintenance as well as hi-performance.
That said, the cost and process of implementation become key factors. When it comes to turntable design (and without going into the "characteristic sonics" BD v. DD v. ID), it turns out that the elegantly simple direct drive design can be more expensive to build compared to a belt drive TT of equal performance -- up to a point! (my personal opinion is that Micro Seiki reached that 'point' with their belt drive TT's some time ago) Beyond that point however, throwing more money at a BD design will not IMO result in any measurable performance increase. Why? Count the parts! (Same goes for ID TT's)
So, for speed accuracy and freedom from mechanical artifacts (rumble, vibration, mechanical resonances) and maintenance bordering on 'zero', the DD TT is the ultimate mechanical solution. But you can't "cheap out"! Well, actually, you CAN, but a cheap DD is worse than a cheap BD, and that's where the bad rap came from. In the beginning ;-) you see, it was so inexpensive to produce a reasonably good performing BD TT (Rek-o-Kut, AR, and beyond) compared to a reasonably performing DD, that nobody bothered with DD's after that, except the utterly shameless Japanese, who turned out some amazing machines! Of course they cost more than Western BD's, so for us Westerners, BD's ruled for years. Even the new $300K Goldmund Ref. II uses a belt!
Sonics are another matter, can vary widely, and depend on many factors in addition to the drive design. Sonic accuracy, neutrality, and control are hallmarks of the best DD turntables, but they can be found (occasionally ;-) in other designs as well.
It is a mystery to me how a belt drive table "sounds" compared to DD?
Shouldn't all tables sound, well like nothing?
I have a belt drive table. With a good quality pressing, all I hear is the record as delviered by the cartridge in the tonearm. I hear nothing extraneous from the tt itself that I can identify.
I used to sell various belt and direct drive turntables years ago and also do not recall hearing any inherent differences between the two drive mechanisms. I don't even recall other knowledgeable salespersons making such a claim. The turntable was either quiet or not and the sound was a result of the cart, tonearm and record playing.
From page 80 of a recent Audio Advisor catalogue:
"It's no wonder so many people embraced CDs when they were first introduced. Their turntables sounded terrible! If you've still listening to an older, direct drive turntable, you've never really heard the music on your records."
For me, this was a new low for AA, in a descent which began circa 2004, perhaps when they hired the business genius who also writes copy like HUGE SALE! UP TO 10% OFF ALL RACKS.
"Quiet or not" is an excellent point which perhaps sums up the whole debate very nicely.
My memory however is that starting with the cult like promotion for the Linn LP 12, a generation of listeners was somehow led to believe that direct drives were only suitable for basement party disc jockeys and the shame of any golden eared audiophiles. Plenty of salespeople and audiophiles made this claim.
I have always found this fascinating because I loved my Kenwood KD 500, I enjoyed my Yamaha PX2, and I hated my Linn LP 12 - the worst turntable I ever had.
FWIW, the best times I spent with a TT was when (in the late 70's) I had a Technic's 1350 TT Quartz DD with a Grace 9E. Looked great and played records just fine. Lots of great analog nites. Then I read about high end belt driven TT's and MC cartridges and moved 'up' to an Oracle Delphi and Accuphase cartridge and it was never the same again. Spent far more time fussing with set up, etc and less time actually listening to music. I've been tempted, but someone said that 'you can never go home' so I haven't, but I do wonder. :-)
In my opinion??? It is ReVox, Denon and then Technics EXACTLY in that order.
I put together my first system back in 1983, and that unfortunately was completed with the addition of a NAD 5255 Compact Disc Player back in 1985. Had I went the vinyl route and decided to go with a turntable back then, if it had to be a Direct-Drive, then I would've looked for a vintage Denon with a wooden plinth, the controls at the front edge of the platter, and an "S" shaped tone arm, and would've mounted a Sonus or a Grado M/M Cartridge onto it.
Now.... I have a Thorens TD-165 and a VPI Scoutmaster with a JMW Memorial 9 Arm and a Grado Prestige Gold on the Thorens and a Sonata Reference on the VPI/JMW (both which are Belt-Drives). After spending time with these tables, I don't think I can go back to a Direct-Drive.
Cwlondon et al:
RE: April 2 '09 post in this thread, mentioning JA Michell TTs: Wrong name! I meant WALKER TT, NOT Michell. I apologize.
To explain --not to excuse-- I was tired, writing late into the night. I thought to have fact-checked, but not enough.
A lot is at stake for audio designers, hence my retraction: particularly when quoting someone else, I want to be accurate. I recounted an anecdote comparing Technics SP 10 TTs, and the Walker Proscenium TT, NOT any of the JA Michell products.
A few other great DD tables which have not gotten a mention here would be the following:
Denon DP-80 (re-plinthed)
Sony TTS-8000 (re-plinthed)
Lo-D TU-1000 (might benefit from being re-plinthed)
Cdk84, with zero tweaking vs their original form, I think the top three would have to be the Exclusive P3a/P3, the Denon DP-100M, and perhaps the Sony XS-9. With new plinths and tweaking, the above-mentioned Technics SP-10Mk2/3 should be real winners, as should the ones above. The Denon and Sony have less torque than the Technics, but they have very good speed controllers onboard. I have also heard very good things about the Nak TX-1000. From people who have owned more than 2 of the tables listed, including the Kenwood L-07D and/or the Marantz TT-1000, the constant refrain I have heard is that they look cool but they just don't cut it vs the bigger boys on the list. With tweaking, any number of these would be top drawer - I think the real problem is going to be how easy it might be to get it there - and the SP10Mk2/3 is probably among the easiest to get there.
I often wonder how good the Yamaha PX-1 and Diatone LT-1 could be if re-plinthed, but it would be a real shame to chop them up to see. Same with the PL-1L but they are tough to find in working condition these days and Pioneer doesn't seem to want to work on them...
Chaskelljr2001, the P3 is a phenomenal table. The Denon DP-80 is also very good if properly plinthed and isolated.
Can sitting on a solid foundation be a reasonable substitute for having to re-plinth any of these tables?
If sitting on a solid foundation otherwise, does the plinth matter as much?
That might be a more digestible option for those not inclined to perform major surgery on their playback equipment.
Also, how hard is it for a layman to re-plinth a table? I must say it is something that I have never even considered attempting.
Mapman, as to whether sitting on a solid foundation is enough... Build a giant steel-reinforced concrete cube platform - call it 100ft a side. Put an electron microscope on top of it - however the electron microscope is sitting on a piece of plywood which is suspended on top of a giant bowl of jello. Which will matter more to the electron microscope, if a man is tapping on the side of the concrete platform? or if someone is trying to break the bowl of jello with a jackhammer.
Re-plinthing a table is not difficult for those which are meant to be re-plinthed (Technics SP-10Mk2, Technics SP-10Mk3, the Denon DPs, the Sony TTS 6000 and 8000, the JVC TT-81 and 101, the Exclusive P10 (and probably the P3), the Pioneer PL70L (and lower models with the Stable Hanging Rotor system), and probably some of the Kenwoods, and probably the top Diatone). Some of the above area easier than others. In the worst case, you design the plinth and get someone to cut the wood for you. If you want to veneer it, watch a youtube video. Doing it really well on the other hand... I am not a furniture maker either, but some of the really nice plinths don't cost that much to have someone else build.
Please bear with me in that I am very interested in understanding the practical benefits of a more solid plinth and the effect it has on the sound.
What if I just don't tap and keep the jack hammer in the closet? Can I assume that airborne vibrations due to the music playing only is the cause of concern?
Also, the rigidity of the stock plinths on most of these tables has to be significantly better than a bowl of jello, so I understand the analogy but am not sure the magnitude of issues due to rigidity is comparable.
Also what if the speakers are in a different room than the system compared to in the same room so there is no sonic vibrations either? I have both cases with my system. I also have similar speakers in each room so I suppose I could do some testing to see if I hear a difference in the equipment room versus the other.
What work is involved to integrate table and plinth in the case where table is designed to be re-plinthed versus not? Do I have to take apart the old table somehow to put it in the new plinth? What is involved to put it into the new plinth properly?
Mapman, if you click on my system, and look at the pics for the Denon DP-80, I can tell you that screwdriver in hand, it would take me 2mins flat to remove the TT from the plinth (assuming it has no record on it - call it another 10 seconds plus the time to put the record in the jacket if as is). The Sony TTS-8000 pic is nude (i.e. wearing no plinth) so you can see what the structure of one of these is. It comes with mounting screws which are similar to the Denon mounting screws (one removes the platter, and mounts the structure to the plinth). I have not yet plinthed that one but a simple method would be to follow the CLD-style plinth recipes as outlined in the 'Home Despot' thread (or elsewhere on the net), with a cutout designed for this particular pattern of body.
As for vibrations... there are vibrations all around us. Putting a 200lb TT onto a table, which is mounted on a concrete slab, is OK. Putting a passive system like a vibraplane or similar underneath is a whole new ballgame. I cannot tell you why most of us cannot feel the whole world shaking beneath our feet, but in a a lot of places it does...
Thanks for the info. I'll check it out further.
That Denon looks and sounds like a winner! What does it give up to your other good tables?
In my case the Linn Axis sits on a very heavy and sturdy solid oak table. That and my other main listening room with my biggest/best speaks (the OHM f-5s) are both located in the basement and sit on the concrete foundation above a thin but dense carpet and pad.
I do not think I have vibration issues that are audible, but cannot say for certain.
I can go as loud as Hades in the 12X12 equipment room and get no noticeable noise or feedback off the table. I know though that sonic vibrations can have more subtle effects on sound quality so that would be the area of less certainty for me.
I may do the test where I listen in the room with the table and in the other room where the F-5s are without it and see what I might hear.
I will still put this information regarding DD turntables and plinths in my hat for future reference at a minimum because my Linn Axis will surely not last forever, despite its going strong now since about 1987.
What does the Denon DP-80 give up to other tables? Not a huge amount after it has been re-plinthed, put on a magnetic flotation isolation platform, and set up with a good arm. It has better sound than the PL-7L, but it should. The PL-7L is "newer" but at its peak it cost the same as the Denon motor by itself. The Denon is currently in a slightly better than original (if not terribly pretty) plinth, with a decent SAEC arm (the 407/23 - which I rate pretty highly). I think the Pioneer PL-7L can be better than I have gotten it so far because it has a decent arm and arm bearing, and insulator feet which keep the thing smoother than it has a right to be at its price (all the cost in this table was spent on motor and arm, which are decent - the plinth is well-designed but cheaply made. The isolation footers are very "non-audiophile-approved" (big plastic things with a spring system inside), but they work very well. I have not put a high enough compliance cart on it to make it perform its best. I have one on order so hope to have it on next week to test it out.
The Denon DP-80 is better than the Yamaha PX-2, and perhaps also better than the Diatone LT-1, because while they are very nice tables as-is, they are integrated linear trackers and would therefore be difficult to replinth (not impossible for the LT-1, but not easy like the DP-80). The Yamaha PX-1 is very nice. With an isolation platform underneath, it is very, very good. It could be tweaked to be even better (e.g. better tonearm cable, and dampening the diecast plinth might yield improvement (though might not)). I have not yet decided which I like better.
Comparisons fall down against the P3 and the MS. The MS is a great belt-drive TT - huge inertia and stability, especially on an isolation platform. There is zero edginess anywhere. Sometimes I have had to check the motor to see if was running slow (never has) just because it sounds so smooth. Using the older "Japanese heyday" arms (the SAEC, the MS Max 237, the FR-64s), it benefits from tracking a given cart a bit higher/heavier than I do on other tables (by a couple tenths). The Denon 'sounds like' the P3, but so far the P3 is better (in almost all respects). Part of this is that the P3 is naturally set up quite well. The arm, motor, and isolation-damping plinth were all designed to work together, and were all designed to a very high standard - flagships are called that for a reason and so have to be able to defend the colors against all comers. The P3 is smoother, but has unbelievable torque. It is tough to beat that. My next challenge is to see if the P3 will go on the magnetic flotation platform and see whether that makes it even better (the P3 is so heavy I am not sure the isolation platform can handle it).
In any case, all this talk of multiple TTs is showing me that I need to get rid of some!
I can also vouch for the sound quality of the Yamaha PX-2.
My current turntable is the Yamaha GT 2000.
This is quite simply a superb turntable.As T bone said,I can also vouch for the effectiveness of the Mag-Lev solution.I have my GT 2000 sitting upon 8 Clearaudio Magix.In order for the Magix to be optimally effective,the individual pylons need to be compressed by the same amount.This directly relates to the resonant frequency at which the isolation begins to take effect.If the pylons are compressed by grossly different amounts,they are all isolating at different frequencies which wastes the application of the pylons.
Careful optimisation of this parameter of their performance elevates the GT 2000 to a stunningly good turntable.
just found this thread looking for something else, and just have to throw my 2 cents in.
Back in 2000, I purchased an Aries MK1,JMW10,SDS Motor Controller, and a Grado Statement cartridge, and lived with and loved this set-up until two years ago, when one of my friends gave me his Mitchell Cotter. Its based upon the Denon DP600, and carries a Fidelity Research FR66s w silver internal wiring. He also threw in two cartridges, a Mission 773( high output version ), and a Koetsu Rosewood made by the old man. I didn't have time until about six months ago, but I have now played with every combination of cartridge on both tables to do a comparison. I of course began with the preconceived notion that the Cotter didn't stand a chance because it was direct drive and it was going up against a very good belt drive table in the Aries combo.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The Cotter bests the Aries in every aspect of performance to my ears with all three cartridges. Now the Grado and Mission are not up to their best in the FR66s arm because of the compliance/arm mass interaction ( those cartridges are theoretically a better match for the JMW10 ), however they all strut their stuff better in the Cotter. The most striking difference to my ears is the complete lack of any background noise with the Cotter. I never knew there was any there with the Aries until I got the Cotter set up properly.
That table base is just completely acoustically inert.
The top end DD tables that have already been mentioned are all top class contenders, but all DD tables ( and I've been doing a lot of study lately) are better served with a new plinth. There's a lot of info on the Web, and if you're the least bit handy you can make an already great rig significantly better.
Well, that's enough for now.
Cheers, and enjoy the music.
Gentlemen, I must politely insist that the Series 20 (Pioneer) PLC-590 with PA-1000 carbon fiber tonearm definitely deserves to make this top 10 list. I bought mine as demonstrator back in 1980 and it is still going stong. It is a heavy piece of equipment with a heavy platter, and runs smooth and quiet, with no discernable distractions or colorations. The only upgrades I have made to it are a FURUTECH tonearm cable, Herbies mat, and AT record stabilizer weight. (Well, and an AT safety Raiser, but that is a convenience item.)
This was THE turntable in the high end Series 20 line that Pioneer branched into in the late Seventies, and it is built like the proverbial tank.The high end dealer that turned me on to it also did repairs and used to joke that he made half his money on selling high end (Bedini, etc) stereo equipment and the other half repairing Pioneer and Kenwood stereo equipment. He had to eat a little crow when the Series 20 line was introduced.
Goocher, the QLY 5F was a mid-series TT, but you can pick them up for a couple of hundred dollars (or less), and as long as it works well, it should be a decent TT (but won't knock the best listed above off their perch). The things I notice go bad on the Victors/JVCs (of all levels) more than anything else is the strobe light.
Victor (=JVC) made a lot of very good tables from the late 1970s through the early 1980s, with the motor technology VERY much like the Denon DP-6000/DP-80/DP-75 motors. The higher-end Victors were the QL-A70/75/95, with the A95 being a very expensive table at the time. The motor on the QLY-5F was most likely a TT-61 or TT-71. The higher range tables had the TT-81, the TT-101, and the TT-801 (which is basically a TT-101 with vacuum hold-down) motors, better plinths, and more money spent on arms.
I don't agree with TWL. They are some great DD tables to get.
Also some high end manufacturers are still making DD tables.
I own Teac TN-400 and I built 45lbs plinth around it and using it with Alphason tonearm. It sounds great.
I went through many turntables like LP12, Rega tables, Avid tables etc and I found my DIY project to be as good and better than others.
It is hard nowdays to make inexpensive DD since ther is lot of technology involved in it.
Look at the techinics SP10, it is hard to get because there are some people who like them a lot.
They are older tables and some work needs to get done on PSUs and table itself to get great results. If you compare bearing on my Teac with LP12 is like laughing someone in the face. Teac bearing is so massive and precise that I don't see any other bearing beeing better than that, oops may be some tables costong 30000 USD are having better bearing, I don't know because I would not spend 30000 on any table unless I win lottery.
Getting back to DD tables. They are great tables not all of them, those plastic made tables are worth nothing but they are some mechanical and electrical marvels there made by Sony, Kenwood, and others.