..so who's arguing?
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Most " high end " turntables are likely to have outboard power supply/ motor controller. A lot of these work on various types of speed feedback to control speed with a high degree of accuracy.
Some aftermarket ones like my Walker unit require you to use a disc and strobe to set accurately just the once.
So most high end TT probably do not require or need any further pitch controls.
Of course most vintage high end DD units had pitch control as standard.
Some say the worst thing you can say is some say. Some say its weaselly and manipulative. Some say its better to be direct. Some say if you know who said it then just say so. Some say otherwise you never know.
You don't have to be a clear speech and language extremist to think some say is a cop out. Or so, at any rate, some say.
I swapped out my modified Project Debut III for a vintage automatic Technics DD turntable. I realized that my audiophile zeal for manual TT's has subsided as I got old and lazy and didn't want to have to leap out of my chair at the end of an album side. The Project did sound a bit better on bass extension, but the Technics is dead silent and built like a tank. I generally stream music and listen to my albums less and less.
I don't think I've heard any reasonable person make blanket statements about either pitch control or direct drive tables. However, I have heard about specific tables and specific implementation of both; as is always the case, people can make any issue quite complicated.
There are a lot of people that did not like the sound of certain specific, iconic direct drive tables, like the Technics 1200, and even the SP10. They claim that a lot of those tables have a hard or brittle sound. I've heard that quality with some direct drive tables, but, I have no way to attribute that specifically to the drive, given that there are so many other design factors involved in any table, nor did I hear this with ALL the direct drive setups I heard. I've heard speculation that this quality is the product of the servo system constantly making small speed corrections, but, again, I have no way to determine if that is the case.
I don't think anyone objects to having pitch control, the issue is how such is implemented and whether the implementation hurts the sound. For example, with AC motors (synchronous), if you have a two-phase motor where the phase is split by a capacitor, changing the frequency of the AC to adjust speed would not be theoretically ideal because the phase splitting capacitor was chosen specifically for one frequency (60hz or 50 hz). Whether the slightly asymmetrical sinewave that results from just changing frequency really matters, is the subject of debate. Some manufacturers, like Basis, provide a controller with two channels of AC supplied to the separate phases of the motor to prevent any such problems, others do not go this approach because of the obviously higher expense and trouble (the motor has to be re-wired to work this way).
I don't have any particular issue with people adjusting speed to better match the ideal. But, I do think there are a lot of people who make absolute speed accuracy a fetish, even if the minor speed inaccuracy is well within the range of inaudibility to someone with the gift of absolute pitch. If is far more important that the table delivers stable speed that does not have small, rapid, speed variations (flutter) or the slightly slower variation (wow); if the average speed is perfect, but there is a lot of wow and flutter, the table will sound like crap.
I think the OP maybe needs to define and understand the question he just asked. Are we talking about speed adjustment with a external knob. Electronic automatic adjustment somewhat continuous. Are we looking for the right 33.333333333 or that 33.33333333 not to vary or be stable.
The debate is normally over stability and mass vs electronic correction. This gets into a endless debate which can be resolved by listening. OK that would require that someone could hear pitch with some sort of accuracy.
Seeing a stereo/ mono switch has nothing to do with pitch or speed, it might give us a insight into the OP intent or knowledge on the subject.
Enjoy the ride
Michael Fremer has written, and I agree:
"Regulating a direct-drive motor's speed with a phase-locked loop produces tight speed control and measurably low levels of wow and flutter, but the motor's constant, ultra-high-speed hunting and pecking as it over- and undercompensates in the attempt to produce a consistent speed can create a jitter effect in the mid-treble to which the human ear is particularly sensitive, adding a hard, brittle texture to music. That describes the sound of Technics' now-discontinued SL1200 series of direct-drive turntables, and explains why, despite their high build quality and relatively low price, few are used in serious audio systems, though some listeners claim that these 'tables can be modified to improve their sonic performance."
That doesn't mean that DD cannot be built that doesn't have this issue. It has been done for generations, but they have usually been quite expensive. As the prices of high performing belt drive TTs has gone up and that of high performing DD TTs has come down (as for ex. VPI) the market is changing.
That’s weird! The exact same thing just about happens for CD players - the incessant hunt and peck action of the laser servo system trying to keep the nanoscale laser beam on track produces audible distortion. The continual servo action is due to the wow and flutter of the vibrating CD. Coincidence?
There are 4 types of vintage DD turntables:
1. DJ DD turntables ( like - Technics 1200). Most have pitch control.
2. Broadcast and studio DD TTs (like - Technics SP10mk2,mk3 or EMT950, EMT948). Don't have pitch control by default. It was available like the extra feature. In general these TT have much better SQ compared to DJ TT. SQ is very good by any standard.
3. Audiophile DD TTs (Kenwood KD07, Micro Seiki DD TTs, Yamaha gt 2000, Thorense 701). This group mostly don't have pitch control. SQ is very good by any standard, similar to Broadcast and studio TTs.
4. Cheap consumers DD TTs.
Alex, SP 10 mk3 definitely does have a pitch control; it’s built into the outboard power supply.
Fremer’s “hunting” hypothesis is the favorite criticism of DD by those who prefer belt drive, but it is very unfair to apply what is or may be a problem with the SL1200, a low end example of the breed, to all DDs. Otherwise we could bring up the inherent speed irregularities of BD due to belt creep and stylus drag.
Different servo control designs had different correction rates. Apparently the one built into the SL1200 makes very frequent corrections that might be audible to some. Moreover it had a cheap iron core motor.
It’s just my opinion but I would not necessarily agree with your sorting of DDs into 4 categories. And you left out many superb products, but I’m sure you know that. No biggie.
Hi @lewm ,
I didn’t list all good DD turntables.
But you can’t compare, for example, SL1200 to EMT950. They have a very different “hunting” design.
All this Hi-End reviewers-sellers like Fremer try to sell belt drive "golden toilets" with cheap toy car motors that ruin rhythm and pace of music interpretation. Belt drive transforms Classical piano music or other music with very fine sense of rhythm like Modern Jazz Quartet to unconnected set of sounds.
I got rid off Nottingham Analog Specedeck for Lenco 78 and then for EMT948.
My friend, classical musician, sold all his belt-drive TTs (including Sota) and bought EMT950.
Other friend rid off Linn LP12 for EMT948.
In my system ORACLE DELPHI MKII produces more music than LUXMAN PD444. I sold that gorgeous vintage DD because it simply sounds digital, with or without the original mat, with or without the original elastomer feet or replacing them with maglev feet (the best option). Learnt a lesson, and quite a costly one.
Have lived happily since nevertheless : )
And LP12 is a toy btw.
Here is an interesting site about DD turntables:
Here are their comments about Luxman PD-444:
"Top-of-the-line Lux form the end of the 70s. Now this is a deck where you can mount your Fidelity Research FR66 or SME 3012 quite easily. Typical for all Lux decks: The plinth made out of brushed aluminium with rosewood sides. The PD-444 is a fine deck maybe a little overpriced at around 1000,- Dollars on the 2nd hand market. "
This site from: 2000, so, prices for this gear in number of times less then today :-(
Alex, Funnily enough, I went from SOTA Star Sapphire III to Nottingham Analog Hyperspace (a big improvement) to modified Lenco (a big improvement over the Notts) to my current stable that still includes the Lenco plus four vintage DD turntables: DP80, L07D, SP10 Mk3, and Victor TT101.
Harold, I don't know what was wrong with your PD444, but it ought not to have sounded "digital". Did you have it serviced and calibrated at any point? Proper calibration is absolutely key to getting the best out of any DD turntable, old or new. But if you're living happily, that's all that counts. As for me, I could not go back to (as affordable) BD at this point, even though I have listened to a few really good ones that cost more than $25K, too rich for my blood.
Lew, its speed stability was ROCK STEADY it spinned flawlessly. The speed itself was precise 33 1/3 RPM all the twenty minutes time takes a side of an LP record. Actually I quite often found myself just watching the strobo disc that appeared dead, minutes after minutes till the stylus reached the run-outs. Very fascinating, from technical point of view so to speak. Changing speed happened in two seconds and all the same accuracy both in speed and speed´s stability with 45 RPM, and back and worth, endlessly. Technical perfection. Everything worked flawlessly. And as for the music, all sounded hyper accurate, dynamic and thus "perfect". Like digital should, "flawless" as some people point out. Yes I had managed to achieve flawless TT combo but I hated the sound.
I´m talking about how the music flows, that PD444 completely failed.
So why on earth should I have calibrated a technically flawlessly working true high tech vintage Japanese machine ? Send it where, to Japan ? Costs a minor fortune. Ridiculous. Why waste my precious time and money and why even bother when your first impression is disliking the sound ? Couldn´t care less. Well, actually I removed the flimsy elastomer feet and it was huge improvement. I did try and I really would have liked that beautiful stylish machine. Well, it has been hyped so much during the decades so they managed to fool me. I sold it for a good price, got fast rid off it so a happy ending.
What does digital mean to different people is another question, I mean all in digital with its pros and cons. I like its advantages but I just personally have always hated digital sound.
And my ORACLE DELPHI remains my last BD deck, I just love its sound. But doesn´t spin flawlessly but that´s the least of my worries : )
Keep spinning the discs
I have two Luxman PD-444 and it does not sound "digital" at all, my first Luxman with vintage japanese tonearms replaced by Technics SP-10 mkII with modern Reed 3p. I remember i’ve been using them together (technics and luxman) in the same system. I decided to keep Luxman and even bought another Luxman PD-444 a bit later. Sold my SP-10 mkII then. Put my Reed 3p "12 in the box on the shelf. Enjoying my pair of Luxman PD-444 with toneamrs like Lustre GST-801, Fidelity-Research 64fx with N-60, Victor UA-7082 and UA-7045, Luxman TA-1, Sony PUA-7 ... and this week my Technics EPA-100 has been mounted on PD-444 for the first time and blew me away with two different top of the line Grace LEVEL II cartridges. I haven’t used Technics tonearm for 5 years or so. It was my first serious vintage high-end arm back then. After nonstop experience with many different arms i have anothe EPA-100 in my system and i have to say this is amazing tonearm, it’s too bad that i can’t mount my EPA-100 mkII on PD-444 (it’s impossible).
I will compare PD-444 to my new Denon DP-80 in DK-300 plinth once the tonearm will be mounted. But i don’t believe the turntable itself have a big impact on the sound when we’re dealing with the best of the best Direct Drive turntables. I think the arms and cartridges are far more important.
And yes, i like pitch control option, not every DD turntable have this option, but it is nice to have it to correct pressing errors. Nice option anyway, i don’t care what the majority of "audiophiles" think about it. My Victor TT-101 and Denon DP-80 are both have pitch control option and everybody know that these DDs are top class in terms of speed stability.
P.S. I hate belt drive turntables!
Chakster, If you see Harold's follow up post, it seems that he really found no substantive fault with his PD444, except that you could say it was too perfect, and he prefers his belt-drive. Personal taste has a lot to do with this.
Harold, From what you say, perhaps your PD444 needed no servicing, but it's impossible to know for sure except to say it wasn't grossly malfunctioning. As to servicing, the schematics for most of these vintage DD's are available on-line, and for a knowledgeable tech with the proper equipment, which is pretty basic stuff for a pro, calibrating a DD is no big deal. For sure, you would not have had to send it back to Japan. For example, I have the schematics for the L07D, the SP10 Mk3, the DP80, and the TT101, available from Vinyl Engine or Soundfountain (the SP10 website) or other on-line sources.
With respect to the general question posed by this thread, I would point out that the modern trend in the most advanced belt-drive designs is to have an outboard motor controller. A subset of those devices incorporate a feedback mechanism that transmits platter speed errors back to the controller which then sends a message to the motor to correct the error. In addition, we have the recent outboard devices, like the Phoenix Engineering pieces, that set up a feedback mechanism for platter speed control and can be added to even older belt-driven or idler-drive turntables to improve speed stability. So, it hardly seems logical to disparage direct-drive turntables for incorporating a quartz-locked feedback mechanism that makes speed corrections. (Does Fremer realize this?) If servo systems are so bad, why is the trend toward adopting similar mechanisms? True, it can be done well or done badly in any case. If done badly, I imagine it could introduce an audible kind of distortion, but I also think the problem is over-rated by those who prefer other drive systems.
On the DP80, if you select the option to adjust speed, you give up the quartz-locked loop circuit, and the speed constancy could be less good. I don't know how speed adjustments are achieved on the TT101 or on the SP10 Mk3. The TT101 may have a series of discrete quartz-locked circuits, selected on the front panel, one for each selectable pitch.
BTW one of my Luxman PD-444 was serviced by a japanese pro before i bought it. Another one has never been serviced, both are identical to my ears. What i want to upgrade is side panels, they must be veneered properly. I have no problem with stock feet as i only use my PD-444 on specially designed 30-50kg metal racks on spikes.
Is it interesting. Does any of these top Japanese DD turntables use similar EMT 950 system?
DC motor with a very light platter and controller that use tachometer sensor and feed DC motor with PWM signal.
As I know most of Japanese DD turntables use multi-pole AC motors with heavy platter system.
EMT948 has similar to EMT950 control system:
Alex, Sorry to contradict you, but most vintage Japanese DD turntables used light-ish platters. The most notable exception is the SP10 Mk3, which has a 21-lb platter. The Pioneer Exclusive P3 also had a fairly heavy platter, but not as heavy as that of the Mk3. On the Yamaha GT2000, there was the "GT2000X" version, which could have a gunmetal platter, probably pretty heavy, probably made by Micro-Seiki. That version also came with a heavy duty spindle and upgraded motor. The GT2000X goes for about twice the cost of a GT2000 these days, if you can find one. I guess the L07D platter is also in the category of "heavy", at about 15 lbs, with an optional peripheral ring that adds mass and inertia. I don't know where the PD444 fits in; I've never seen one in the flesh. Perhaps Chakster can comment. Other than these 4 and possibly the PD444, you would find that the platters tend to be less than 10 lbs.
The iron core motors used by many could be DC or AC synchronous types. The DP80 which has a very light platter has an iron core motor that is 3-phase AC synchronous, which affords a lot of speed stability without much servo action. But my favorite tables have coreless motors. For example, the TT101 has a lightweight platter and a coreless motor. The L07D uses a coreless motor to drive its heavier platter. I could be imagining things, but it seems to me that the tables with coreless motors are most "musical" sounding, possibly due to less or no cogging effect. I can't prove that, and I would not argue too much about it one way or the other. So I would summarize by stating that many but not all of the vintage Japanese decks are indeed like the EMT 950.
No snoozing on duty!
Now you ARE showing your age!
But I digress.
I can attest to the current crop of higher end belt drive TT using speed sensing devices to feedback to the speed controller so operating in a similar fashion to top end DD tables.
A friend has exactly that set up on his table.
I can attest to the current crop of higher end belt drive TT using speed sensing devices to feedback to the speed controller so operating in a similar fashion to top end DD tables.How slow this system will react to speed changes to adjust itself!
IMHO it is a very bad engineering.
" I would point out that the modern trend in the most advanced belt-drive designs is to have an outboard motor controller. A subset of those devices incorporate a feedback mechanism that transmits platter speed errors back to the controller which then sends a message to the motor to correct the error. In addition, we have the recent outboard devices, like the Phoenix Engineering pieces, that set up a feedback mechanism for platter speed control and can be added to even older belt-driven or idler-drive turntables to improve speed stability. So, it hardly seems logical to disparage direct-drive turntables for incorporating a quartz-locked feedback mechanism that makes speed corrections. (Does Fremer realize this?)"
I’m afraid you don’t really know what your’e writing about. The Eagle-Roadrunner combo, which I use, takes a measure of speed, and therefore corrections to a 20 pound platter, about once every three revolutions. It takes several more revolutions for the correction(s) to have full effect. A very smooth process. This is very different than the continuous and instantaneous micro corrections made to a relatively light DD platter. As I wrote above, it is possible to design even a direct drive with corrections to avoid the the discernible micro corrections and sound good; it has been done for generations. And yes, Fremer realizes this!
And it is also very possible that some people cannot hear the differences. It happens all the time in audio.
Fremer is a salesmen, he is not an engineer.
For most of audiophiles "DD sound" associated with Technics 1200.
One friend of mine who had tens of vintage DD, ID and BD turntables in his home called Technics 1200 the worst DD turntable ever made.
"Digital" sound of some DD turntables came from "cogging effect" of multi-pole core electrical engines but not from speed adjustment. Coreless motor DD with descent speed controller and light platter sounds very "analog".
Belt drive lover have to knew that vinyl lacquer cutting for vinyl is done on DD turntable.
So guys, in any case you listen hated DD.
Melm, so, where is it that I don’t know what I’m talking about? I own an eagle and road runner. Together they run my Lenco very well and accurately. The servo device in the Kenwood L07D also has a loose operating point in that it only makes corrections when speed has slipped a certain amount and that’s part of the reason for the large heavy platter, So that rotational inertia as well as the servo feedback serve to maintain a constant speed.. My point was that since modern turntables of all types are more and more adopting speed correction devices, it hardly behooves one to criticize vintage direct drive turntables for employing a servo feedback mechanism. I said more than once in my previous posts that some of them work better than others. So what do you want from me? Maybe it’s best not to preface one’s remarks with an insult.
Also, I am not certain of this, but I might take issue with your description of the function of the eagle and Road Runner. The manual says that there is a blinking light in the road runner read out that indicates when a correction is being made. During run up one sees that light blinking with at least every revolution. Once approximate correct speed has been attained, the light blinks much less frequently but still irregularly.This indicates that there is more going on with the eagle and roadRunner than simply making a correction every three rotations of the platter.
13blm, just to continue this conversation, I would point out that the bearing of a belt drive turntable is under a unique stress that does not pertain to direct drive and most idler drive turntables, in that there is a sideways force pulling on the spindle shaft. In theory this could cause uneven wear, and eventually result in a minute amount of wobble. Not to mention that this force in the horizontal plane can also add noise. I am bringing this up for fun debate purposes only, not to get your goat.
My goat is hard to get, but shows up occasionally.
The forces in well designed oil and air bearings essentially prevent what you described above. There is no contact, or wear or "tilting", generally. my bigger point is bearing design accounts for much of the sound of a turntable especially in dynamics. Low friction bearings make low torque motors look huge, extra torque just adds noise and cogging
( Btw, I have my company idled right now so have nothing to sell)
In belt drive, fast spinning motor has vibration, rubber belt has compliance, and plus to it friction of a needle on vinyl in not a constant.
You can get an ideal belt drive only in laboratory conditions.
I like idler and good DD, but I hate belt drive like many other modern Hi-End delusions like:
low sensitive box speakers, bright tweeters, 1KW transistor amplifiers, $10K cables ...
My experience shows opposite.
I have used Nottingham Analog Spacedeck with Spacearm for 8 year,
when I compared it to my friend's Lenco L75 (with a simple RB250 arm).
We played classical piano music, and I was shocked how much Lenco was more precise in rhythm reproduction.
Piano playing had a sense and message with Lenco and it was like a set of unconnected sounds with Nottingham.
After that I bought raw Lenco L78. I added a heavy plywood plinth and vintage SME 3009 tonearm.
I got much better PRAT, bass details, tone (especially on piano and organ), separation of instruments on complex music and musicality.
In term of dynamic Lenco and Nottingham where similar.
Nottingham wasn't a bad turntable but I clearly preferred Lenco.
I owned a Nakamichi TT for years, direct drive made as good as the Japanese could make them back then. Tried several arms, including a Forsell linear air bearing arm, it never sounded really good. I gave up on analog for many years and embraced the new digital formats, but something was always missing. The best i heard back then was Townshend Reference and Maplenoll Ariadne, so when it came time
to find a TT that’s what i decided to buy. A Maplenoll Ariadne Signature came for sale on eBay and i jumped on it.
Air bearing, 60 lb lead platter, belt drive,and linear air bearing arm.
Very nice sounding TT with excellent bass and dynamics, especially
with a PS audio regenerater supplying stable power.
Of course i could not leave well enough alone, a Phoenix Eagle, and
Road Runner where soon added for speed control and additional
50 lb of steel platter was added to the mix. The now 110 lb plater
runs very stable, a variation of 0,001 rpm up and down is normal
after warmup. I prefer the sound without the Road Runner correcting
the speed, the micro adjustments are subtle and not heard as
pitch variations, but more like a slight glazing in the treble.