I've owned the AR ES-1. It sounds very nice but is certainly bouncy with its suspension setup. I've also owned a very good Denon at one time. The belt drive is certainly much better.
Years ago a friend and I both owned Big Dog Denons thinking we were on top of the world. A shop sent us home with a cheesy NAD belt drive turntable to play with. We laughed, set it up in his Conrad Johnson system with Rogers speakers and were stunned. We stopped laughing and sold our Denon shortly after.
AR MHANDS DOWN. Denon is a poor table, direct drive. I remember how my AR did gymnastic stunts. You can defeat the environment, but you can never make Denon sound good.
The easy answer is a wall mounted shelf for the AR. Failing that, you can have one to four stages of isolation. I use Black Diamond Racing cones below their shelf. You might even better explore a shelf filled with compressed air. But please do not go to direct drive; they made cd's look good even in '83.
A well implemented direct drive table sounds fine. Some of the best tables ever sold utilized direct drive. The Cotter used a Denon direct drive motor as its drive unit. The Goldmund Studio (and Studiette) were direct drive units and considered great tables to this day. Denon DP5000/6000 units were excellent tables but very rare. A Technics SP 10 Mk II/III in a correct plinth with a good tonearm is a wonderful turntable.
Whether it is belt drive, direct drive, or idler wheel what is important is the execution of the design. A belt drive design is much easier for a company with limited machining and R&D capabilities to build. They just acquire the motor and electronics from others, or contract the producion, and then assemble a table of their own design.
Idler wheel turntables also have proven their worth but, again, only if executed correctly. This is why old Garrard 301 and 401 models (and Thorens 124) have been run up in price.
I own an ES,
As long as you a isolate the rig(as stated above), its an awesome table at it's used price point.
I upgrade the arm to a RB-300,arm board,Incognito wiring,Heavy weight,Aurum Beta-S,Black cube p/phono.
All said,a beautiful sound/look
Another vote for the AR. I still miss mine, even though I adore its replacement, a Gyro SE. The AR with a Linn tonearm and Clearaudio cart gave me my first glimpse of what a "good" turntable sounded like :)
As others have said, it's quite a bouncy suspension so do make provisions for proper isolation. In terms of servicing, it's a pretty simple design so not difficult to service and you can still get belts for it.
If you're thinking of getting one, and you're getting it from anything less than a reputable dealer/owner, and if you're not so handy with TT setups, do take it to a trusted tech for a once over--make sure the moving parts are clean and working smoothly, suspension is sound, bearing properly lubed, tonearm and cart set up precisely, etc.
I still own my AR ES-1, and I did own a direct drive Denon for a number of years in the '80's. I love the AR and prefer it, but I was surprised how great the Denon sounded also, it definitely held its own, at least in my system.
What I remember is that the quality of manufacture of the Denon direct drives seemed to go downhill at one point in time, like they were cutting corners by making components thinner and lighter, and unfortunately I don't remember the model number of my fine unit or any of the others. I think my Denon unit was from the days of "S" shaped arms (was there an advantage to that?), circa 1980.
Nonsense..Clearly the Denon, I own excellent examples of both...Belt drive never holds it's speed..Or should i say sometimes holds it speed ..and don't get me started on Rega's joke of a motor and bearings..No offense intended..I know to late..)
I own a vintage Denon DD table and have it mated to a Denon DL-301MKII cart and it is a wonderful performing/sounding rig in my system. It's been re-capped with quality gear and I expect another 20 years from it.
I know many audiophiles that swear by vintage Denon tables and have had them in their systems for years. A buddy in Australia just recently purchased the table you are considering - the DP - 60L - and he adores it.
I'm not quite certain why the negative press here on the Denon's but if you prefer suspended belt-driven decks then go for it. There are plenty of AR fans out there too!
These are tables with different attributes, philosophies and sounds.
Good luck with the decision!
I own an AR ES1 and also a MMF 9.1 and have used a VPI 19 Mk 3 for sometime and have owned direct drive tables. Here are a few observations:
The "nonsense comment" above regarding belt drive table stability is perhaps misleading. Generally, belt drives cost effectively isolate the motor and platter and dramatically reduce the transfer of motor and bearing noise to the stylus compared to direct and idler wheel designs. Direct and idler designs will transfer any problems straight into the platter that will impact sound quality.
A review of wow and flutter test done in the 60s - 80s shows that stability is a function of excellent execution of the design vs the use of belts or direct drive approaches to turn the platter.
Direct drive can work and sound great but require great attention to detail and quality control which can be difficult to build at a reasonable price point. Belt designs are generally more forgiving and yield excellent stability at a lower price point.
Finally, note that many belt drive tables can have a stability problem if the belt is 40 years old/never replaced. Slack in a belt, failure to apply talcum powder to the belt and dried lubricant in the main thrust bearing of any turntable drive design can and will cause stability problems.
I went directly from an AR ES-1 to a VPI HW-19 Mk.1, with my Rega RB300 on both. I was immediately sold on the higher-mass platform of the VPI design. HW-19's are available for no more than what ES-1's go for. The Mk.1 had a 1" thick aluminum platter (with a layer of lead imbedded into it's bottom, covered with cork), the Mk.2 and Mk.3 a black Delrin one (also with the lead and cork). A great deal in a used table.