Brinkmann Bardo; Rockport.
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Maxson, I don't think Continuum manufactures a direct drive turntable.
I only know, so far, five brands producing newly designed DD turntables in the hi-end market. There might be more but I don't know.
Brinkmann: Bardo & Oasis
Grand Prix: Monaco
Kodo: The Beat
Teres: Certus 420 & 440
Wavestream Kinetics: NVS
Cocoabaroque, I would not assume that a "next generation" DD table is necessary to surpass current belt drive tables. There are many enthusiasts for refurbished Technics, Kenwood, Denon, JVC, etc. DDs who have no interest in any current BD table. Possibly the most publicized account on A'gon was Albert Porter a few years ago when he replaced his quite expensive Walker BD with a rebuilt Technics SP-10 Mk2. Albert only replaced that when he found a rarer Mk3 model.
Keep in mind two points. Back in the '70s when many top quality DD tables came on to the market, their popularity influenced some manufacturers to begin building light-weight, cheaper versions to sell at lower prices. Many of those were not as successful sonically and ended up giving DD an undeserved reputation. Also, designing and manufacturing a quality DD table is far more complex than building a BD table, thus most manufactures did/do not have the resources or expertise to do so. It was/is far easier to buy a motor off the shelf, connect it with a belt, and criticize the DD designs.
Although it dates back even earlier, a similar story can be told for rim-drive tables compared to BD. Thus the current popularity for specific Garrard, Thorens, Lenco, etc. tables.
Direct drive is bad for music, but great for reliability. Companies spend huge amounts of money on motors for belt drive turntables, but they can never be perfect, at least not in this life. The belt separates the platter from that vibration creating motor. The best belt drive Turntables take it one step further, and put the motor on a separate platform. Only the belt connects it to the entire turntable.
Let me ask you- WHY WOULD YOU WANT THEM DIRECTLY CONNECTED? If you are a DJ, you need direct drive to start up instantly. If you are a music lover, you need a stylus that is entirely separated from vibration- and that includes the motor.
Pryso--I agree with your response, I've owned many good belt drive tables, and *tried* many DD. Even the biggest and most expensive DD's of the 80s like Denon was severly limited in capability compared to a humble Thorens or even a good Philips!
The responses here helped me find info on todays best DD, but they are too expensive for most of us. There were some interesting older designs, such as the Technics SL-5, 7 and 10-- these weren't too bad when they worked, but there were reliability issues. Still, for all the faults, they played records better than some of todays entry-level BD turntables with less fuss and bother. A good, simple linear tracker, even with a "close and play" lid can be greatly improved upon with a better motor and some careful parts and layout. No exotic or expensive parts, just some common sense audiophile thinking.
I think we've exhausted the tweaking with idler drives-- a good Thorens TD124, Garrard 401 or even a pimped rek-o-kut can sound quite good, albeit with too much rumble. A good DD has low rumble but can have speed control problems. If someone could come up with an improved DD motor and mount it in a well-designed but affordable plinth, we would really have something that competes with the belt-drives.
Just seems like we've reached the practical limit on belt drives with the upper range decks (Rega, VPI, Well Tempered) and can benefit from some fresh thinking.
Hammy: "Let me ask you- WHY WOULD YOU WANT THEM DIRECTLY CONNECTED?"Since I am lazy, let me just quote an excerpt from another website:
"A huge advantage of a direct-drive record-player is the fact, that the whole mechanical system consists of just one moveable part (the combined motor-shaft/platter-bearing) which turns quite slow and has a big mass (the platter) attached to it - almost a mechanical ideal for quiet rotation. The resonance of the combined motor/bearing assembly lies in the range of 0,5 Hz due to its slow speed compared with the 50/60Hz resonance of the motor of a typical belt-driven turntable. All belt - or idler-driven record-players incorporate a lot of mechanical parts for adapting the fast speed of the motor to the comparably slow speed of the platter. Each of this parts implies an own sonic footprint by inducing resonances and suffering from bearing-tolerances in this more or less complex mechanical system......"Yes, the motor underneath the platter of a direct drive turntable turns at 33rpm, which is half hertz! Now, that's quiet.
This kind of debate is getting really boring. I much rather see people discussing "fresh thinking," as Cocoabaroque suggested, in improving the sound of dd tables to "come up with an improved DD motor and mount it in a well-designed but affordable plinth, we would really have something that competes with the belt-drives."
I hear a difference in favor of DD. There are many belt drives I've heard that I could easily enjoy but DD is not only more convenient, it also is more dynamic with more bass slam.
The problem with making modern "advances" in DD technology is the cost of doing that and the fact that you're dealing with a niche product. No large corporation is going to spend millions in R&D to sell a few hundred (or even thousand) turntables. The small manufacturers mostly just can't afford to. That's why the best vintage DDs are still the way to go for DD sound but have gone through the roof pricewise IMO. As long as my DDs are running I won't be going back to belts but I'm glad many prefer belt drive. It makes the old DDs a little more accessible.
I just scored a cheap ADC DD unit-- I'll tweak it and see what I can do, post results if anyone is interested.
Onkyo also made adequate DD decks, resembled their belt-drive units of the same era. At this price point, BD/DD performs about the same. Cheaper than dirt, so not much to loose in trying. My hunch is the small, lighter motors may have an advantage over the massive over-engineered ones. Its probably the nasty plastic plinths and auto-return mechanisms that mess things up the most.
You can't really compare the current direct drive high end models to the old Denons, etc. It's a whole different league and they have to be evaluated separately. I've only heard the Grand Prix Monoco extensively and I wouldn't say there's a belt drive turntable in it's price range that sounds better just because it's belt drive. I think at that level the difference is blurred.
I took on the TTWeights line of tables for this very reason. You can switch back between ultra quiet rim drive or tri belt drive. It offers something for everyone, no matter what your design preference. I only have the belt drive up right now, but in a week or two I'll be able to switch over to the rim drive, and I can post back my impressions. I think having 3 belts is paying dividends in terms of PRAT. Before hearing this table I thought high res digital offered the best sonics on a consistent basis. Now it's the table that makes more recordings sound realistic.
I wouldn't say belt drive designs are bad, I've owned and enjoyed several during my decades in this hobby.
But I do find good DD and rim drive designs to be more accurate and musically satisfying. The most obvious example came from a friend recently when he installed a Teres rim drive to replace the belt system on his VPI Scout. Some would consider this an unusual modification since the Teres cost as much as the Scout table and arm package. However, just a couple of minutes listening to a solo piano recording revealed the significantly improved accuracy and musicality which far better resembled a live piano. Other instruments and voices benefitted as well but the piano provided an easy and immediate comparison.
Specifically to the OP's question, I agree with everything that Sonofjim said about DDs as it was a better summary of points I was suggesting in my previous post.
I could not agree more on DD table, please do not look down on vintage DD table. They can be extremely good if set up properly. I have own many tt. One of the worse tt I have ever own is a semi suspended BD TT which I do not wish to name. The BD tt I own sounded bass light, lack of music foundation, artificial PRAT and the performance is really far away from my other DD table.
The higher end vintage DD tables rule OK from the 70's, early 80's. This was from an era, especially the Japanese manufacturers made statement tables and sold at a loss, just to show what they could do.
Many of the high end Japanese tables they kept for themselves and did not sell outside of Japan.
Some of the classik DD tables that can and do compete with any table out today are
Pioneer Exclusive P-3 - just superb
Downunder, i have own most of the list you suggested :)
I have a P3a not P3, the biggest different between the two is the tonearm. The P3 tonearm use rubber decouple for the counterweight shaft, overtime time it may sag a bit, just like my P10. It also lack the active resonator absorber on the arm tube. The P3a arm on the other hand use rigid couple on the conterweight shaft. The armtube is different and equip with the active resonator absorber. With P3a arm you get a very low distortion and direct lively sound. You should hunt for the arm to realize the full potential of this TT. They are truly superb....
You are abvioulsy a smart music lover and probably paid half the price for 6 tables connpared to the inflated price of the one new expensive DD table. P3a arm is hard to come by by its self.
Yes, I am aware of the differnces as my friend has the p3a arm. My P3 arm is perfectly straight as well as my p10, well maybe 99.95%. P3 looks a little bit better.
As you well know, the damping fluid has more infulyence on the sound than anything else.
Hammy, Your quote about motor noise in a dd turntable shows that you do not understand the mechanism. You should read Hiho's post above, as well as a few others that came after yours. A motor consists of a rotor and a stator. In a dd turntable, the platter and the rotor are one and the same thing, so there can be no vibration of the kind you describe. Also, it would not hurt to listen to a properly restored and re-plinthed vintage dd before you make up your mind. If you listen to an old piece of junk that has leaky aged electrolytic caps inside, that's OK with me, but don't judge the whole genre on that basis. At this point in my audio life, and after 35 years of listening mostly to bd turntables, I have fallen irrevocably in love with a few great idler and dd turntables that I restored/replinthed to a high level, and I ain't goin' back.
I second Lewm, the DD motor design and running at low speed will not create noise. especially true with the massive overengineered one. The only time noise creep in is either cause by worn bearing or lack of lubrication.
Downunder, i am aware of the damping fluid but i never use it. i never be able to get a natural reproduction when damping set in. Each cartridge have their own overtone, the damping will kill the overtone. Of course depending on cartridge sylus you use, some stylus produce unbearable distortion and hightone. The damping would be able to tame it down but at the same time it will also kill the natural reproduction tone on the music. You can try to set the damping to zero and see if you like the result.
i've been a big direct drive and idler fan for quite a few years. i've owned 3 upgraded direct drive (and idler) vintage tt's; the Dobbins Technics SP-10 Mk2 and Mk3, and the Dobbins Garrard 301. i've had the GPA Monaco (6 year old design) in my room for a year, and the Rockport Sirius III (16 year old design) for 9 years. recently i've had a couple of the most recently designed direct drives, the Beat, and now the NVS.
every one of these direct drive tables are quiet, really very quiet. even the Garrard 301, when fitted with the Dobbins copper top platter, is quiet. the NVS is likely the quietest tt i have yet (not) heard.
so there is no reason that a direct drive turntable cannot be quiet. it does take more effort and technology to create a competent direct drive system than a belt drive system.
further; there are many excellent belt driven tuirntables.....all of which would sound better with direct drive. i'm not one of those people who thinks it's all 'execution'; the best approach has the highest potential. past a certain point that better approach passes well executed inferior approaches.
Many people have this misguide concept of the direct drive mechanism including some insightful writers in the audio press community. In a review of a belt drive turntable, the usually perceptive Art Dudley couldn't help to give the DD genre a shove in a footnote below:
"Of course, I'm setting aside the even less convenient subject of direct-drive turntables, partly because I haven't the time or space to go into them, and partly out of politeness: Putting the record in direct contact with the phonograph's No.1 source of unwanted vibration, whether of high or low frequency, has never impressed me as a terribly bright thing to do." -Art DudleyWith writing like that, how can the general public be encouraged to even want to give DD a try? A very smart and scientifically minded friend of mine who also happens to be an audiophile and never had any experience with direct drive and was surprised to find out the DD motor spins at 33rpm. For whatever reason, his idea of the DD mechanism is that somehow a fast spinning motor like in a belt drive table--his only exposure--is below the platter in a dd turntable. After I told him the platter/motor spins at such low speed he soon realized the combined resonance is only half hertz to be noisy. It was a "Duh!" moment for him. We need more moments like that; it's only healthy.
I was not aware of the Wave Kinetics NVS until recently. It does look like an intriguing design and perhaps the best answer to the OP's question. Unfortunately, the cost is prohibitive for all but a few. Still, for a table of this magnitude it really is a good price. It does underscore the cost of making a good modern DD. I see on the website that they have a new TT expected by late this year. Does anyone know anything about this one yet? Will it be an attempt to hit a lower price point or take things even further?
the new turntable concept on the Wave Kinetics site will be somewhat lower in price, as a understand it at this point. it will have a separate motor/platter and arm tower as it's currently concieved. it will have a small form factor and fit better on standard shelves. the NVS does need a fairly wide and deep shelf.
I too read that paragraph from Art Dudley, and it soured me on his opinions. For a guy who favors vintage or vintage-sounding equipment in general, and who otherwise writes so well, I thought it was inexcusable. For Pete's sake, he uses a TD124 which with all due respect to its owners relies upon BOTH a belt and an idler to drive the platter, and here he is preaching about noise from a direct-drive! I really think the quote shows that he too does not or did not understand how a dd turntable works. Perhaps he has since been enlightened.
A DP-100M just went for $10k on Yahoo Auction tonight. Someone got lucky. It is not the cleanest one out there but it came with a few extra armwands - very tough to find.
I agree Art Dudley's position is bewildering given what he uses.
What a nice thread. I would like to know in which library all those guys that are so critc of DD technology pick up their technical foundations.
IMO they fail to know that our civilization to accomplish its most demanding projects in infinite rotational applications uses DD systems = ALWAYS.
Nanotech., silicon wafer manufacturing, high precision optics, laser systems they all use direct driven technology
with either air or hydrostatic bearings.
Cabbiendi-- overcoming motor cogging in DD is an issue as massive platters don't seem to be enough for most turntable designs. I believe belt drive motors with faster RPM set up their own rapid vibrations, which are either less detectable by human ears compared to a slowly-rotating motor, or possibly add pleasant distortion that makes music more satisfying. The belt also absorbs some of the vibrations.
It should not be too difficult to design an experiment measuring perceptual, audible differences between the two designs on the same chassis/plinth.
Re: Art Dudley,
As far as I'm concerned the sunset long ago with these publications , they are like the business of copywriters .
A copywriters job is divert attention away from matters of quality and value and then we have advertising.
Dudley is a mild case, however don't over look there is someone else that sign's his pay cheque.
Any news about Kodo The Beat ?
not exactly sure what you are asking.
i owned the Beat for 9 months and loved it. below the price of the NVS it would be my first choice. direct drive, 2 arm boards, beautifully built, low noise, speed correct and speed stable. great pace and energy.
one of the very very best turntables out there.
you can spend alot more and get less.
i hope i answered your question in some way.