You are here

Log in or register to post comments
ChopperCharles
ChopperCharles's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 3 2008 - 7:19pm
Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

I'm considering the purchase of a relatively inexpensive turntable... Numark brand... should I spend extra on the direct drive version?

Charles.

jackfish
jackfish's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

I think you would be better in the long run if you spent enough to get a decent turntable like the Pro-Ject Debut III in black for $299. The extra $130 will be worth it.

Elk
Elk's picture
Offline
Last seen: 4 months 1 week ago
Joined: Dec 26 2006 - 6:32am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

+1

Definitely go with a bit more money. The difference will be pronounced.

ChopperCharles
ChopperCharles's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jan 3 2008 - 7:19pm
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

The Project doesn't look too bad... but my original question wasn't answered... which is better, direct drive or belt drive? (and while I'm at it, straight or s-shaped tone arm?)

Thanks!

Charles.

Buddha
Buddha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 10:24am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?


Quote:
The Project doesn't look too bad... but my original question wasn't answered... which is better, direct drive or belt drive? (and while I'm at it, straight or s-shaped tone arm?)

Thanks!

Charles.

Tough question to give a blanket answer.

If one arm or drive format were regarded as universally better, we wouldn't see competing formats.

There are acceptable versions of both.

There is also often a 'budget creep' that occurs when trying to answer questions, as is going on now in this thread.

If you were to pick an absolute budget, it may be easier to help with info about products in that range.

Jeff Wong
Jeff Wong's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Sep 6 2005 - 3:28am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

Yes, I agree with Buddha. The answers are not cut and dry. At the very high end, direct drive can be impressive. At the lower price points of high-endish tables ($300-700), it seems to me that belt drives outclass most, if not all stock Technics-type models. Cheaper Technics direct drive models can provide satisfying results according to some devotees, especially if you replace the stock arm.

I've heard arguments that the lower mass of straight arms is better, but, you'd have to listen side by side. I would tend to think that since most arms from Rega, VPI, and Graham are straight, there's something to that, but, it's all in the implementation.

jackfish
jackfish's picture
Offline
Last seen: 10 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

Direct vs. Belt
S vs. Straight

If a turntable is much under $300 I don't think it matters a whole lot. There are going to be many compromises at that price point that don't contribute very well to good sonic quality.

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

Belt drive all the way. Period. Direct drives send motor noise right into the platter. The better 'tables isolate the motor in every possible way including separate stands outside of the plinth. But they ALL start by using a belt which absorbs/diffuses motor noise.

Straight arm are generally accepted as a better design today.

ChrisNC
ChrisNC's picture
Offline
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Jun 14 2007 - 8:50am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

I think Jan corrected me before when I said belt drive was better across the board. I was wrong, a good direct drive can outpreform belts (cant say Ive heard one). As always I think it is about implementation of either.

Also, are S arms used to prevent resonances in the arm? It seems to me that is why some arms are made from carbon fiber, etc. now.

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

OK- let's put it this way: in theory perhaps a DD turntable might have benefits over a belt drive, but in practice it's almost never implemented. Mostly it's near impossible to get even the quietest motor's vibrations out of the loop if it's direct-coupled to the platter.

Take a look at the spread of 'tables at any high-end site and you'll see practically no DD 'tables used. http://www.musicdirect.com/category/21 In fact I can't remember ever hearing one at all in 20 years of turntable auditioning. The only DD 'tables I've ever seen are DJ turntables. The ONLY one the Music Direct has is one by Denon, which although a decent brand is rarely considered high-end in the analogue world. All the rest, VPI, Linn, Thorens, Well-Tempered, Rega, Clearaudio, Pro-Ject, Music Hall, Avid, etc. are belt drives. If the $16k, seriously overbuilt Avid Acutus uses a belt I have to believe it's for some very good reasons.

Jeff Wong
Jeff Wong's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: Sep 6 2005 - 3:28am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

This is the one serious (har, har) direct drive that comes to mind:

http://www.stereophile.com/turntables/258/

dbowker
dbowker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 4 weeks ago
Joined: May 8 2007 - 6:37am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

Yeah, I knew there were a few ones like that one around. But that just reinforces the point, doesn't it? You have to go to extraordinary lengths to make a direct drive do the same thing a well-built belt drive does. Doesn't seem worth it when you can have pretty much state of the art for far less... Plus, do they have to take up so much floor space and have a mammoth integrated stand? Most be made for the rich and unmarried.

rvance
rvance's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 1 week ago
Joined: Sep 8 2007 - 9:58am
Re: Direct drive or belt drive turntable?

What about those idler wheel Thorens? Is there any way to get decent sound from these? They sure have their fans bidding them up on eBay. I figured it was just a nostalgia thing (like with my Philips 212).

B1DaDDy
B1DaDDy's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Sep 29 2012 - 12:16pm
When direct is better than belt

The general rule is that a belt drive can be more stable and isolated than direct drive. When I 24 I sweated bullets over which turntable to buy. (In 1981). At that point $400 was a lot of money to me. I had just talked my wife into $650 worth speakers a few months before. We were just finishing college and still enjoying "orange crate nouveau to me" furniture. I was in France between 1976 and 1978 and my sister diminished my LP collection from 1000+ to less than 500, but still, as I looked at the system I realized that my biggest investment wasn't in hardware, it was in software (vinyl) many of them audiophile pressings, half speed masters and such. You don't think that way with digital because there is no wear in reproduction, but your vinyl will become your biggest treasure. I purchased a Technics SL-10 turntable. To this day you will not find a scratch in my LP collection (except for those my sister lent and actually got back). The detail is still there. When I have demonstrated the difference between vinyl and digital even an amateur can hear the difference.

The point is that Technics used quartz clocking to regulate the turntable speed. The platter was actually part of the motor system, thus the mass was the power, rather than being pushed by it. There is a strobe system that shines through the disc to a receiver in the lid (it's a close and play) which constantly regulates speed. It uses electromagetic force to hold the tone arm against the disc so you never have weight differentiation through tracking. You can actually hold it upside down over your head and it will track just fine. It has tangential tracking so the tone arm is always at the perfect angle (vinyl is cut by a device that travels across the plane in a straight line from outside in - the SL-10 mimics these mechanics). The p-mount cartridge means 0 adjustment and 0 error and it can be switched between MC and MM (you want MC). You can still find these from time to time, and I've seen them sell at the original price $399. I've listed the specs below, but the real proof is that my 18 yo daughter brings her friends over to listen to their music in vinyl and they are shocked.

 

Model SL-10

Year(s) 80-84

Speeds A=33, B=33 & 45, C=33, 45 & 78 B

Wow & Flutter, %, 33 rpm, DIN 45-507 0.025

Rumble, -dB, DIN 45-530B 78

Control System QUARTZ

Speed Inaccuracy, +% 0.002

Speed Adjustment +%

Controls Outside Dustcover YES

Multi-Play? Number of Disks NO

Pivot-Stylus Distance, Inches 4.125

Manual=M Semi-Auto=S Full Auto=A Programmable Play=P A

Anti-Skating? YES

Cartridge Mount Type , F=Fixed, R=Removable, P=PMount P
 

commsysman
commsysman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 14 hours 17 min ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
TURNTABLE

Belt drive is superior in most cases, due to better isolation from the motor. It also tends to filter out flutter by being elastic.

There are lots of significant issues with tone-arm design; straight or s-shaped is not significant, especially in units under $2000.

 

 

ChopperCharles wrote:

The Project doesn't look too bad... but my original question wasn't answered... which is better, direct drive or belt drive? (and while I'm at it, straight or s-shaped tone arm?)

Thanks!

Charles.

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading