Best vintage DD turntables from the 70's and 80's?

Howdy folks-

We’ll I’ve got the vinyl bug for sure. 6 months ago, I bought my first TT, a nice Technics 1200 GR along with some killer vintage MM carts like Audio-Technica, Stanton and a few Grace. I love my GR! I love that little silver bastard A LOT as a matter of fact. A couple weeks ago, my second table arrived, a minty fresh Luxman PD-444 from Japan. This is a Micro Seiki built TT and was the "tits" in the mid 70’s. I can mount 2 arms on the Luxman. I’ve got a nice Victor 7045 arm coming soon along with a Victor X-1IIe MM cart which work quite well together.

I’d like to add another Vintage TT from the 70’s or 80’s and probably phase out the GR. I like the look of the old Pioneer, Denon and Victor tables. I’d like to get a vintage table that can be serviced if needed, something I can add a sweet vintage arm too. 3 arms are better than two!

I’d like to hear suggestions and comments on some fantastic, cool as crap, vintage turntables that you think should sit next to the Luxman.

Thanks again for your help!


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@gshepardbuster  it was just suggested from a friend that I could change the arm out on the GR. I like the looks of the GR. Those vintage tables from the 70's and 80's so cool. 
You're right about the looks!  The retro tables make me want to grow a mullet.  
I’ve got a SL-1700mk2 semi-auto that I restored recently and fitted with an Audio-Technica VM540ML cartridge. It was probably the best Technics had from the ‘78/‘79 period next to the SP-10. The venerable SL-1200mk2 was based on the SL-1800mk2 manual sister model, but the 1200 lost the double isolation spring suspension in favour of a rubber base trading vibration isolation for ruggedness. A lot of people are critical of the Technics tonearm, but it serves my needs quite well with a mid-compliance relatively lightweight moving magnet cartridge for listening to classic rock.  One thing that this family of turntables is legendary for is rock-steady speed management. There are very few that can beat the accuracy and stability of the Technics Quartz Drive system. 
@gshepardbuster most SL-1200mk2 turntables have been destroyed by rap “DJ”s. Too bad because with a few isolation tweaks and the KAB fluid damper, they are pretty good. Almost as good as the SL-1800mk2 on which it was based. 
The question sounds like you are asking for a cost no object turntables ... ok ... EMT-930 and related models, Denon DP-100, Micro Seiki SX-8000 , J.C.Verdier , Victor TT-101 .. and special Miami Vice style for you is
Nakamichi TS1000

Don’t forget the Lewm’s Kenwood L-07D

There are also Garrard, Lenco, Thorens, Sony, Technics ...

I need this one for Christmas
I have a Nakamichi Dragon CT and a JVC-QL-Y5F. The Nakamichi is as original as new, and I have the JVC from new. Both sound great, but the Nak, a little bit better, especially with the self centring ability. I also have a Micro Seiki DDL-1500. Not from the 70-80s era but worth a mention.
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YAMAHA GT-2000 has just jumped onto my radar @theophile 
This sounds like a genius of a table and would sit nicely next to the Luxman 444
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I have an original Z1-EB cartridge in the JVC and a Sumiko Blue in the Nakamichi. It plays beautifully.

I might consider selling the Nak and/or the MS-DDX-1500 as I have 2 other beautiful tables. But it would be a wrench...

@amg56 the Dragon is a very coolio table! 

@chakster  I found a nice Onkyo for ya. Only 33000 euro!
YAMAHA GT-2000 has just jumped onto my radar

Have you seen both versions ? Look here for luxury 2000L version. 
It has a coreless motor, must be a great deck, SAEC made special version of their arm for Yamaha table. Not sure how easy user can change an arm if needed? 

 I found a nice Onkyo for ya. Only 33000 euro!

Deal, this is what i normally pay for one singel cartridge, so it's a bargain 


I always thought the Micro Seiki DDX-1000 was quite good.  Always worked very well with with the MA-505 and pretty much every other quality arm.  
This is a subject about which I know something.  Only two turntables or maybe one and a half turntables mentioned so far would play in the same league with the PD444, if we restrict ourselves to vintage direct drive.  These include a Micro Seiki and the Yamaha, but not the DDX1000 model and not the GT2000 model. The M-S DQX1500 (the "Q" indicates Quartz reference, which you want; whereas the DDX models do not have quartz referencing) and the GT2000X are the ones to look for.  (The L model is just a fancy plinth with a plain GT2000 chassis.) Unfortunately, Japanese people know this too, and those tables are very hard to find.  There was kind of a horsepower race among the top manufacturers, to make cost no object DD products, at the end of the 70s and up to the mid or late 80s.  The truly creme de la creme are the Pioneer Exclusive P3, the SP10 MK3 (of course), the Kenwood L07D, the Sony XS9 (really hard to find), the Denon DP100 (very very expensive), the aforementioned GT2000X, The Victor TT101 or the 801, which has vacuum hold down but is otherwise identical to the TT101.  The big Nakamichi with LP centering function is kind of in a class by itself.  I've not heard it but from what I can gather, the centering feature is genius but the rest of the turntable is not any better if as good as the top dogs. I own a Mk3 and a Kenwood L07D and a TT101.  I have a subliminated hankering for a Pioneer P3, but I think I can live without it.  I also have a Denon DP80 which in my system and in my opinion outperformed an SP10 Mk2 but does not outperform the Mk3 or the Kenwood.
Forgot to say, I am not a collector.  All of my turntables are in use except for the Denon DP80, which I would sell if the market value was not so ridiculously low.  If anyone wants to get into this game, the DP80 is the one to look for; it can generally be found for less than $1000 (but not at my house).  TT101s are relatively cheap, too, but a bit more rare and very problematic to fix if broken.
LUXMAN PD 444 the best w/ 2 tonearm use, AudioScope has a "mint" unit for sale (not cheap of course). Its little bro PD441 also very nice and is a great buy.
Kenwood L07D.

Dgarretson and lewm will enlighten you, I believe.

Audioscope’s prices are crazy, the OP has bought a minty PD-444 from japanese seller on ebay just for $2k with two spare armboards and that was a bargain! Normally they are over $3k and each og armbase is about $150-200 minimum.

BTW The great alternative to the original arm bases are these from Italy.
Don't know if anyone added the Garrard ,  lenco, Thorns and technics are the ones that seem to be going up sky rocketing to the moon in price so may be the best for resale value right now. not to mention all have a huge upgrade or rebuilding path available.  
Chakster, yes that´s reasonably priced but its 110V so fits only in US and Japan. AudioScope´s is 230V for European audiophiles + has a warranty. How many vintage hyper decks have a full warranty ? Not so many.
Seems there are many PD444s on eBay, time to grab bargains.

The Italian arm bases are beautiful, great site thanks for info : )
@totem395 I believe Micro Seiki made the motor for the Luxman 444.

@chakster would know

Luxman PD444 PD441  

The original Luxman big turntable.

This belongs to Luxman's big push in all directions after the foundation of Luxman America and its 50th anniversary in 1975.
Lineups started to be multiplied, the actual making of the components got spread over more suppliers and contractors and advertising took on more regular and lavish modes.
In other words: this is Luxman's true "golden age", products-wise and sales-wise.

The PD444 and PD441 are based on the same direct-drive engineering, the 441 being the single tonearm version and bestseller of the two.

Center of the spinning is the Load-Free Spindle structure: by opposing two magnets inside the motor structure, the actual load applied to the bearing is lifted to a fifth of its normal value. The motor's name is MDS152C (or MDS-102C [mkI or mkII]).

Magnets aren't added but the motor itself is structured so as to do the above - no leaks or perturbations of the necessary magnetic flux. The platter is however maintained at large and heavy specifications to deal with 5Hz...10Hz faster load variations.

Taken from
@lewn I would like to correct you that the M-S DDX-1500 is quartz locked. The moniker DD# is no indicator that it is not Quartz Locked. Check it out...

Chakster, yes that´s reasonably priced but its 110V so fits only in US and Japan. AudioScope´s is 230V for European audiophiles + has a warranty. How many vintage hyper decks have a full warranty ? Not so many.
It’s actually 100v for Japan market, 110v for USA is another one.
And 220-240v is the rarest, but i use my 100v Luxmans with step-down transformer from 220v to 100v, i’m using local step down transformers and they are retalively cheap, i have one 1000w for two Luxmans (this is an old photo, you can see my TT-101 in the corner, i don’t use those tube amps anymore :).

Japanese Toyozumi Dengenkiki step-down transformers are quieter, more expensive and probably much better, but i’ve never tried them.

People are crazy about step-down transformers when it comes to the Japanese amps, but i don’t think it’s so critical for a turntable, it’s all about correct voltage just to rotate the platter, there is no audio signal.

However, Nelson Pass told me it’s fine to use step-down trans for my 110v US version of First Watt F2J power amp, so i bought another 1000w step down trans (240 to 110v for US electronics). Maybe i will just ask his to ship me a trand for 220v to replace mine in the amp one day.

If someone is thinking that using a trep-down transformer for a turntable is bad idea please explain why ?

Dear @knollbrent : No, the motor did not comes from MS.

All MS belt drive motors came from /PanasonicTechnics ( Matushita group. ) and all the MS direct drive motors came from JVC. So that Luxman motor came from JVC. Micro Seike just did not manufacturer TT motors.

Technics, Denon, JVC were the main motor supliers in those times.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
As good as these turntables are, equally as important were the arms. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers were able to match their bases with good arms. Probably the best arm to come out back them was the MS MAX-237 followed up with the venerable MS-505 in its various variants. Then to round out the experience you needed to match a good cartridge of the era.
Luxman sold PD-441, PD-444, PD-555 were naturally engineered by Micro Seiki : the PD-441 and PD-555 bear MITO T-Tags (MIcro Tokyo) on top of the "official" LUX T-Tag while the PD444 has an MTC T-Tag - which is also Micro. Check the source here @knollbrent

So the turntable engineered by Micro Seiki, but if the motor comes from JVC for Micro Seiki then i love it even more! It would be nice to have some proof of it, however. 

I wonder whether those talking about the GT 2000 have ever had one in their system. Not seen one. Not heard one in a showroom in Japan. Heard one in their system?

This gentleman has a PS-X9 (actually he owns about 20 turntables), he now owns a GT 2000, I'll let his words speak for themselves:


We have our @ateal with GT2000 and Fidelity-Reseach cartridges (R.I.P. Ikeda-San).
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How about Micro Seiki DD-100???

Pioneer PL-70L II  is a damn pretty table too!

How about best vintage DD TT's under $5000???
SL-1700mk2. After 15+ different TT, settled on this one that is fully functional. The VTA lets me test different carts fairly easily.
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Dear chakster,

"I need this one for Christmas."

Your letter should be postmarked by December 23, 2018.

I will know if you were good.



"Why not a 1200 mk2? If friends come by you can say that you DJ on the side:)"
Be the coolest kid on the block. Tell them you use it as it was initially meant to be, for listening to music alone, and have been doing it since before it became cool to be a DJ. Except that you may need to go for the original 1200 without all these Mk-somethings.
I’ll tell ya if you can find an original Mission 774sm and 775sm in good condition, grab it. It is one of the very best turntables I have ever heard at any price. I have never been able to snag one and I had been looking for a long time.
amg, You may be correct, that the DDX1500 is quartz-referenced.  I was extrapolating from what I have read, probably on Vintage Knob, about the DDX1000 and DQX1000, namely that the "Q" indicates quartz-referencing.  Also, I googled "DQX1500" before posting and it came up as a listing; what would be the diff between a DDX1500 and a DQX1500, and did they or do they really exist as separate entities?  I confess that I only recently became aware of these 1500 series DD turntables from M-S.  Always willing to learn.  I do hold the opinion that the DDX1000 and DQX1000, while probably very good, are not competition for the top line turntables from others. However, my opinion is not worth the bytes taken up to write it, since I have heard neither.
Raul has challenged not only Chakster, who states that M-S made the motor for the PD444, but also Vintage Knob, which is where Chakster gets his info.  However VK is written by humans and is subject to error, and Chakster is human, too.  (I'm sure of it.) So, Raul, can you say where you get your information regarding the M-S DD turntables?  My question would be whether the M-S motor described by Vintage Knob and Chakster is coreless; it is said to be a "brushless DC motor", but that doesn't mean coreless.
Honestly guys, the old original Technics SL1200 and all its revisions that came after, are just not in the league with either the new SL1200G, GAE, GR, etc, or any of the vintage top line DD turntables.  No shame in owning and using them, however.
Not sure there is any best Japanese DD out there but the two following are certainly in the top few. 

But I do love my Pioneer Exclusive P3 table aka 1979 which has given me almost 10 years of fault free performance. Only available at the time in Japan.

More recently the Technics SL1000mk3 aka SP10mk3 with Thales tonearm is also excellent.

There are the two tables on the left of the rack in the link below

Chakster, congtats on your big LUXMAN decks, just beautiful :) Now I know why you are able to make quick evaluations on many cartridges, side by side actually. Very impressive method, like Dave´s.
I´ve been wondering how misunderstood and underrated these big vintage decks have been over the years among "audiophiles". Not only because of their two tonearm use but their very special design. They are something else in their unique inception and implementation. And they have a sound of their own really.
However, nothing is perfect, not even in vintage quality Japanese audio. I soon discovered that those elastomer feet did not do justice for this superb deck, in my system.

I replaced the stock springy feet with cheap maglev feet. They do the trick for me. And Stlllpoints are just fine (like Dave´s). Also heavy brass feet will do. This tweak will raise PD444/441 to a higher performance level, today´s level.
Not many lucky enough to actually see a TX1000 in action. I had mine for approx 13years. It’s one of the best tables around. Stacks up to many Uber high end tables. Finally replaced it last year. Debating if I should sell it or keep it. 
Nakamichi TX-1000 CT Self-Centering Turntable
Interesting as it has that fancy record centering system. Many if not most records are off-centered and that is one of the main issues of record play really. Can I ask what replaced TX-1000 and why ?
Yes it’s the top of the line. Yes self cantering. I am the original owner. Long story...bought it new old stock. A TechDas replaced it and it really made me realize how good the Nak was. I replaced it under the impression that it would be a big upgrade and something that can take more than 2 arms. But in reality all I found was that the “big” upgrade wasn’t so big after all. 
Nakamichi TX-1000 is limited edition, not so many units were made as far as i know. My audiophile fellow in Moscow has it, it’s extremely expensive turntable! My question: is it possible to use 1.8kg Micro Seiki mat on it or its self-centering system do the magic only with stock mat? @genesis168