why is belt drive better than direct drive?

i'm cruising the used market for a 2nd TT. i like the looks of some of the Micro Seikis but come across hints that the drives may be undesireable. i haven't found a source for basic TT info. opinions?
Tough one. A friend and I years ago owned high end Denon tables with separate arms and high end cartridges. We thought we had it figured out until taking home a lowly NAD $250 belt drive. We laughed about its flimsy construction and cheap plastic. Then 15 seconds into the first cut of vinyl we looked at each other and exclaimed oh s.....!

The blackness of the table was immediate and everything came alive. Although, I have even heard old Dual rim drive tables sound great. So it's in the engineering and designm and NOT always the type. We sold the Denons and purchased AR belt drives.

In general, belt drives do tend to sound better. Good luck.
Belt drive are generally quieter. As Celtic said, results may vary. I have a vintage Dual United Audio direct drive from the early 70s and it outperforms my Dual 505-2 belt drive.
Belt drives typically offer better isolation of motor vibration. Whereas a direct drive unit has the motor "directly coupled" to the platter / record / arm / cartridge interface, the only thing linking the motor to those things is the belt. Depending on how the motor is mounted and the shape / size / material used in the belt, most of that noise can be minimized or at least drastically reduced. While there may be some technical advantages to direct drive, most of them are overcome by using "fresh" belts on a belt drive. While old belts tend to stretch and increase speed irregularities via slippage, ANY motor variations or vibration in a direct drive unit is instantly transmitted to the platter with NO damping whatsoever in a direct drive unit. Like anything else, there are pro's and con's to each method. As a case in point, ask a "DJ" or "scratch mixer" which type of table they prefer. It will most certainly be the opposite of what is considered to be the audiphile "norm". Sean
The direct drive turntables do not have a belt wearing and pick up faster.
Sonically there are disadvantages only.
Sean has said it all. I have nothing to add to that, except that getting new belts can sometimes be quite a bit of a drag. Incidentally, beltdriven CD players, if TAS is right, seem to have the same sonic advantages over direct coupled ones, as turntables for vinyl.
As Sean said above, any variation of a DD motor is tranmitted to the platter. That's the big rub: speed changes. Most DD motors are constantly increasing and slowing their speed to adhere to the desired speed setting. These speed changes may be minor as a percantage increase or decrease of overall speed, however, even a miniscule change will affect pitch.

And perfect pitch is what it's all about, eh?
You are assuming belt drive is better when you posted your question. Not a good start...

I sell industrial inkjet coding equipment. Are 'drop on demand' inkjet printers better than 'continuous' inkjet printers? It all depends. It has to be dealt with on a case by case basis. So with direct drive and belt drive TT systems.

You need to ask yourself what do you the turntable to do. Yes, play music, of course, but there's more to it than that. All my TTs have been direct drive. I find it very hard to part with their strengths and am willing to work with their weaknesess (like isolation). Direct drives are for people who PLAY records.

Do you want to PLAY records?
The direct drive principle should have been the best, just as CD should have smoked LP. There has never been a Direct Drive TT, that I have heard, in the last 30 or so yrs, except the Goldmund Studio that has ever touched, even mediocre belt drive, or very old Idler drive systems sonically. The entire issue of Idler driven Garrard 301 and 401 as well as old Dual 1000 series tables , do present a substantial challenge to the best of today's belt drive systems. There is a life within those older models that eludes modern designs. Y. Sugano of Koetsu used the old Garrard 301/401 systems as a reference for his MC carts. I thought him insane untill I assembled one for myself and nearly passed out at the results. For people"who want to play records", there are plenty of great units available in todays market, belt driven to perfection. You can start with Well Tempered and you really wont have to go much further.........Frank
I think there are two questions here: are you more concerned with convenience and lack of maintenance, or the best sound possible?

Direct drive systems certainly tend to: get up to speed more quickly, have more automated features and don't need new belts, but.........there is a definite advantage to the speed consistency of a belt drive system. As was mentioned earlier, direct drive systems tend to constantly speed up and slow down. While a belt drive will typically measure worse than a direct drive, they typically have a more stable beat. I remember listening to a Linn table for the first time about 17 years ago and being amazed at how much it sounded like real music. It really sounded more like real musicians playing than a direct drive table or a cd player. So while a big deal has been made about motor vibration, I think that is secondary to pitch stability. Certainly, the better isolated a table is, the more detail can be retrieved from the record. IMHO, if you want the sound to be the most real, go with a belt drive and get a wall shelf to place it on. So is the next debate MC vs MM cartridges!!!!!


No one can PLAY records on a belt drive. DJs epitomize this concept...still, some people like fast starting, high torque, speed accuracy (frequency generated quartz lock)and electric braking. Those are the features that allow us to PLAY records. That's why DJs embraced the Technics 1200. It was never designed as a DJ turntable. DJs discovered it, though...

My 1200 is undergoing the modification process-$lowly...these modifications will convert it to a true high end Direct Drive TT system. It will harbor a low output MC yet it will still PLAY records.

Three links:

Psychicanimal, please explain what you mean by "no one can PLAY records on a belt drive" ??? I'm sure that i'm not the only one that got lost on that one.

I think that Fisher came out with a table that should've been the BEST in theory, but like most of their products back in the 70's and 80's, was WAY under-designed. It used magnetic propulsion instead of any form of direct contact to the platter ( belts, idlers, direct drive, etc... all make contact with the platter one way or the other). Since there was NO contact between the drive source and the platter, it would offer the greatest isolation from motor induced vibration. That is, IF it was properly implemented.

As was typical of most "budget" brands back then, they took what could have been a PHENOMENAL idea and implimented it as if it was going to be sold at K-Mart. Low grade parts, no isolation in the chassis, junky tone-arm, etc... Like most other "junk" made back then, it went the way of the wind and a great idea never received the attention that it should have. Sean
Sean, regarding the magnetic propulsion there is a German TT (Gabriel) that works in a similar way, with no contact between the (very heavy) platter & subplatter. The sound is phenomenal -- as is the price, contrary to the Fisher. As expected, the engineering looks top-notch.
Yeah Psychicanimal, I would love to have kept my Denon DP-80 direct drive motor installed in my Mitchell Cotter B-1 Isolation base; the speed accuracy and looks alone were spectacular. The mass of the setup enabled me to drop the stylus in the groove without the record spinning and turn the gain up to 3 oclock with NO howling. I really loved all that precision,stability and immunity to feedback. Then in 1980, I brought home an Oracle and heard my records for the first time.............Frank
Play means play, Sean...go borrow a high torque DD with electric brake like my 1200 and you'll find out. That's why I chose it over a Sota Comet (after finding out it could be modified for high end performance). I realized I still wanted to PLAY records. Maybe I haven't grown up and am still a HiFi bum. Oh, well...

"Yo le digo caballero que los niƱos quieren jugar--ellos tienen que jugar." Carlos Santana
To summarize-

If you are going to play with your records, do as the DJs do and go for a direct drive TT. It's easy to "cue-up" a cut and a high torque motor will get a record spinning very quickly. That, and you can "scratch" to you heart's content without fear of the belt slipping off the pulley.

If you are going to listen to music, get a good belt drive TT. Speed is more constant, less noise, "blacker" background, more musical and involving. (Remember all the receivers that had rumble filters when DD tables were popular in the 70's? Ever wonder why?) Don't skimp on a cartridge!
I've used Technics tables before. Since i'm not "drag racing" turntable motors, "clocking" the start up time or "scratch mixing", i'm not real worried about those aspects.

I am more worried about the subtle details, better resolution, improved isolation and lower background noise that a good table ( of ANY design or brand ) delivers. I never got that out of ANY of the Technics tables that i tried. While they were more than "Technic'ally" competent, they just weren't "musical" or "revealing". However, I did get pretty good results with another brand of DD table, but it is far from a "normal" design. I will say that it is not as quiet as my belt drives and lacks the isolation from external vibration, but it was a BIG step up from some of the other DD's that i used to own. Sean
As I wrote earlier, gentlemen, this matter is dependent on a case by case basis. In my case ($1000 budget), I did not see any belt drive outperforming (on several parameters, not just sound) a modified 1200. As conscious, skilled and 'lucky' of a buyer as I am, my system will get close to $4000-4500. That's it. Period. (Well, maybe a sub...)

I listen to all types types of music, except racist (both black and neonazi). If a system is way too perfect, it will be ruthlessly revealling, and I won't be able to enjoy listening my music. Fact of life learned while selling audio in college (those B&W 801s were very nasty--could only play two rock groups on them: Alan Parsons and Pink Floyd). If you pursue absolute perfection and like more than just classical music and "Blue Note" quality jazz your listening room will become.....The Voodoo Lounge.
Perhaps it would be enlightening for Psychicanimal to tell what the parameters he uses are (other than sound) and state why they are important to him. Jwblaschke just might have those same parameters and need the insight. While most on this site focus on the end result (sound) we need to recognize that not everyone has the same needs.

Maybe even jwblaschke could weigh in on his requirements, budget, new or used, cartridge considerations, etc?
My criteria are posted in this thread:

many of the others stated what i alluded to before. there just isnt sound thats too perfect. i listen to the music, warts and all. the too perfect tt brings out more musical detail and will satisfy more than distract.
a 1200 is more of a toy than an instrument to reproduce music on.
its ok to make this choice, but dont pretend that its 'hi end', it isnt. i enjoyed the SL120 i had but when i went to the hi end, my eyes opened. i now wish i had my grace 707 on a really decent tt so i could have heard its true essence. they used to sell them on linn LP12s before linn made their own arms.
its kind of like having a receiver with lots of features and JBLs vs tubed separates and smooth, refined B+Ws.
one day, when the full quality of the music means more to you, things will change.
meanwhile, have fun with the vinyl, its a kick.
Yeah, when I have enough money to spare on a VPI with flywheel and a Graham...In the meantime, modified 1200. Nothing in between for me.
used is the WAY TO GO! (as you know-III,smeIV/damping/sumiko dirt tal dti vd/mit wire/wbt ccconnectors. i paid 1/4 the price of the entire setup.
sota is another xlnt tt for the dough used, saaaaaaaaaay with an mmt arm. many were sold this way and i was attracted to it at absolute audio in woodland hills, ca (owned by neil sinclair at the time). the bass authority was immediately recognizable. one fo the benefits of the arm is the universal headshell that allows rapid change of carts.
my friend has ortofons jubilee, rohmann, and mc30IIsuper. as well as several others (oc9, atML150/170, 440ML (a real surprise), and others. a guy can have a olot of fun!