I think it all depends on the tt's being compared. No blanket statement like vintage beats modern, or modern beats vintage is true.
While it may be true that some of the vintage idler arm tables beat some of the modern tables, I doubt they beat them all. A direct comparison of the tt's in the same system is the only means to a worthwhile judgement.
Having said that, my VPI Scoutmaster (Valhalla tonearm wiring, Dynavector 20xl, SDS) sounds much better than my Harman Kardon T60 or totally modded Thorens TD160 (every mod I've seen on the web, plus 3" solid cherry plinth, stock arm and modded Rega RB20-Incognito wiring, Pete Riggle arm stub and counterweight, all new internal wiring with IEC).
I would love to do a direct comparison to a Garrard 301. If anyone living in the Ann Arbor, Mi area is up to one, throw me an email