Direct Drive turntables

I have been using belt drive tt's. I see some tt's around using direct drive and they are by far not as common as belt drive ones. Can someone enlighten me what are the pros and cons of direct drive vs belt drive on the sound? and why there are so few of direct drive tt's out there?
Because good direct drives are very expensive to manufacture and cheap one do not sound good. I sold both in the golden age of turntable production and the belts were better. I am at a loss to understand the current fad for DJ tables, when their far superior ancestors of 30 years ago were not that good. Direct drive has the motor connected directly to the platter instead of isolated from it and has other defects that are hard to overcome. I don't really feel like a long technical discussion, just think of it as Darwinism in action.
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i beleive that direct drive is far from a fad. look at the Teres and others. they are very expensive (and state of the art?) but we might see the technology come down in price over time. I am surprised to see the comment that linear tracking arms are considered passe as well. I think the rim drive is a highly viable option. if you are looking for a good option within a "reasonable" price range, a belt drive offers many options.
I've had many belt and direct drive units and the sound differences have all over the lot. Present belt is VPI Aries I, also running Denon 47F, a direct drive. While the Aries does beat the Denon, the diference is close and could be the cartridge or SDS on the Aries. I also run a Sony x800, direct drive, linear arm with a Grace Ruby. It often sounds as good as the Aries. I have listened to the VPI rim drive and found it transmits vibrations to the table and these apparently degrade the sound. Could be a defective unit or set up error. Overall, belts are the best value, at least for now.
I think many DDs, even in the early 1980s when TTs were at their volume peak and technology development costs could be spread over a large number of units, were hampered by less-than-ideal implementation of plinth/isolation features. Because BDs usually have an outboard belt, and a smaller motor which vibrates the platter bearing less (ceteris paribus), it is easier/cheaper to make a BD TT with acceptably low self-generated noise issues than it is to do the same with DD TTs. It was that way in the golden age and it is that way now. Also, a big high-torque but very quiet/smooth direct drive motor is a very expensive thing to make these days. If one can defeat motor speed stability issues on a BD through the combination of belt/pulley slippage being overcome by supremely mass-y platters, it is easier and less expensive to do a BD TT.

At the top of the heap of the best BDs and the best DDs, among all the tables and technology implementations I have heard, I find isolation and platter weight to be far more important than most people give credit for.

As it is, the best DDs from the past can easily compete with BDs of now for similar money (I would say they generally beat tables of now if one is willing to put the same amount of money into it). That said, you buy used, spare parts are limited, and there is rarely any significant manufacturer support (I have had Exclusive and Denon tables repaired by mfr-sponsored repair subsidiaries. I know Sony will. I know Kenwood won't, and lots of Pioneer, Sanyo/Otto, Technics, Sansui, Hitachi, etc owners are plain out of luck.
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The problems associated with direct-drive were well known to the guys who designed the very best direct-drive turntables of the 1970s and 1980s, which was not exactly the Dark Ages in terms of electronics and engineering. The very best direct-drive tables of those days dealt with the issues in very effective ways. In many cases, their work fell down, if it fell down at all, at the level of plinth design and implementation. Poorly designed plinths account more than anything else for the colorations that one perceives in the mid-level Denon turntables, for one example. With a little ingenuity, one can build much better plinths for these products which mitigates their sonic character. Another source of sonic coloration may be that the built-in motors radiate EMI that can possibly pollute the signal at the cartridge. We now have very effective shielding materials that can eliminate such problems. The DIY effort is well rewarded. The same is true for the best idler drive turntables, despite their dismissal by "Elizabeth". If you want great sound for less money than any comparable belt-drive table, I would encourage you to experiment with top quality direct- or idler-drive turntables of the good old days.
Not all DD are equal. My Lt-30 is magnetically driven and has been superbly upgraded. It is also a linear arm. Generally Elizabeth's opinions have merit, however, not this time.
The disco days most likely help encourage the direct drive turn tables.The DJ's could back cue.You could manually rotate the platter backwards without worrying about damaging the drive system.Doing that on a belt,or idler drive could cause damage to the drive system.That was the major benefit I know of.♫
I have been an audio enthusiast for 40 years, having owned idler drive, belt drive, and direct drive turntables. I also sold audio in the golden age (mid-'70s) when the DD tables first came out, and have some frame of reference for the strengths and weaknesses of each design. Lately I have been living with an SL1210 M5G for nearly three years now, and have applied various tweaks to address this turntable's shortcomings.

My conclusion? The direct drive mechanism is just fine, and is the best part of the Technics DD 'tables, followed by precise manufacturing and excellent structural rigidity. Its weaknesses are lack of damping and a 30-year-old--that is to say, rudimental--understanding and implementation of vibration control.

This lack of vibration control creates resonances most notably in the upper midrange, that cause glare, compression, and loss of detail wrongly attributed to the DD mechanism.

These vibration shortcomings are easily addressed and inexpensive as well. To wit:
1: The platter rings like a bell. Put a better mat on it. This can be something heavy like sorbothane (I use an Oracle Groove Isolator) or with great damping properties such as the Herbies Way Excellent.
2: The tonearm also rings like a little bell. This is easily fixed for almost nothing: wrap some teflon plumbers tape around the tonearm including the joint where the headshell attaches. NOTE: This fixes that upper midrange glare, and may explain in part why people gush over the improvement of a tonearm swap. The original tonearm ain't too bad--with damping and a better headshell.
3: Get better low level resolution and inner detail with a better damping, more rigid headshell. The ones in the $40-50 range from Sumiko and LPGear (actually sourced from Jelco) make a significant difference.
4. Noise *can* come up the spindle from the drive motor, but: a) Oil the spindle; it almost certainly lost it during shipping and b) Use a record grip, clamp, or weight to dampen any motor noise (there's not much anyway) and control resonances within the LP's vinyl itself.
5: Drain and dissipate the vibration from the chassis. Put on better feet (such as SuperSpikes) and platform them to a cutting board. Isolate the cutting board with silicon gel pads, Vibrapods, or whatever soft absorbent things you want to use.

That pretty much takes care of it. Kludgy? Yeah, a bit, but they're dirt cheap and demonstrate that the direct drive was never at fault, but took the blame for the sound.

Meanwhile, the DD mechanism in a current production Technics turntable provides a level of quiet, speed accuracy, torque, and speed consistency that is not equaled in the belt drive "audiophile-approved" environment until you get into several thousand dollars.

It's a pity that the audiophile industry took this turn. I suspect some may have felt a need to discredit the Japanese direct drive mechanism because it was perceived as a threat to the (primarily) British belt-drive turntable cottage industry. I wish they'd embraced the DD motor, bought 'em by the boatload, and used their engineering to control noise and vibration. I think we'd all be listening to better turntables for less money if the industry had gone that way.
12-30-09: Elizabeth
Direct drive was a fad. Just like linear tracking arms. The 'cool' factor wore off
after a decade, and everyone went back to the belts and pivoting arms.
Another oddity was 'idler wheel' drive.
This is simply not true. The best-selling single audio component in history is the Technics SL1210 turntable with over 3 million sold over a 30-year period. That’s 100,000 units per year for three decades; I'd hardly call that a fad. Direct drives disappeared after a decade—not because they were a fad—but because the CD replaced the LP as the primary source of music. The 1st generation SL1200 came out in 1975. CD sales surpassed LP sales in 1987. That’s about a decade. Belt drive survived the CD onslaught because belt drive turntables can be made cost-effectively in small quantities; DD ‘tables need economy of scale. Belt drive turntables are the cheapest ones to make; they require the lowest start up costs provide the highest availability of stock parts such as motors and belts.

Furthermore, idler drive was far from a curious aberration; it was the industry
standard for the first 30 years of LP playback. Nearly every turntable from
that period from market-leading manufacturers Garrard, BSR, and Dual was
an idler drive turntable. It was also the drive of choice for professional
turntables from Rek-o-kut, Garrard 301/401, QRK, Russco, and Loricraft for
their reliable operation, high torque for rhythmic drive, and fast spin-up for
cueing. Even the still-highly-regarded Thorens TD-124 had a belt-to-idler
rim drive mechanism.

Belt drive didn't replace idler drive; direct drive did. I know; I was there when
it happened, managing a couple of audio stores in SoCal in 1975-6. Then in
the mid-to-late '80s most direct drive and remaining idler drive TTs died
with the takeover of the CD, leaving the belt drive cottage industry to survive
in small numbers. The Technics DDs also thrived in the dance clubs as they
were the only turntables still available that were rugged enough and spun up
fast enough for DJ work.
My biased opinion is- get a properly plinthed Lenco and you'll fall in love with your record collection all over again.
"Direct drive was a fad."


I have one of Oregon's Lencos and it embarrassed my former expensive belt drive table.
While I am certainly not an universal admirer of direct drive in TT-design, I nevertheless would like to give due credit to a highly underrated design of the late 1970ies and early 1980ies.
Mitchell A. Cotters implementation of Technics dd (not that great...) and the bigger Denon dd (much better here) into his B-1 suspended plinth resulted in a work of genius (while pretty ugly looking..).
I am right now restoring a B-1 for a friend and have set-up one at a friends place early last year.
This smart and superbly damped and VERY effectively suspended (with very low resonance frequency !!) TT shows what a dd TT is capable off, if the brain behind is not guided by religion or "visions", but by a clear and logic mind a blue book written by an engineer understanding the physical demands of record playback.
Sonically, the Cotter B-1 w/Denon dd (with its stock Fidelity Research FR-64s or FR-66s..... M.A. Cotter did officially recommend using these 2 tonearms only with his B-1, as they did represent the best in his eyes and ears) is the very equal of ANY TT around today above 80 hz.
At any price.
Fast, very dynamic and with superb transient and low level detail. Its mid and lower bass - while still transparent - is however too low in weight and punch compared to TT's with high platter mass.
But this is the only sonic drawback and it is well shared by the vast majority of all other turntables of our day.
Anyone really interested in TT design and with a mild interest to find out what dd in turntable design can sound like should really try to give this big monster of years long gone by a serious listen. Make sure you listen to it set-up the way it was intended to be used - with FR-64/66s and FR-7 cartridge.
And with a 5-6 mm thick PVC/Metacrylate mat firmly attached to it platter and a good clamp (Sota Reflex or similar).
One of the smarter TT designs of audio history.
And I absolutely agree with Lewm, T_bone and Johnnyb53 - dd tt's are and very important part of audio history and were THE record playback in disco, home audio and broadcast since the mid 70ies (and still are in 2 of the 3 places..).
Plinth, suspension and smart and consequent applications of physics were and are rare - then and now.
And yes - the platter mass and its fundamental benefits for the "sound" of a turntable.
The one big, inherent drawback of dd turntables.
Hi, has DD a "theoretical" advantage over belt drive that will translate into better sounds? I am confused by opinions out there. Some say DD has a characteristic livelier/dynamic sound. Some say the type of drive mechanism really doesnt matter so long as the platter spins and vibrations are taken care of.
Happy NY.

"Hi, has DD a "theoretical" advantage over belt drive that will translate into better sounds? I am confused by opinions out there. Some say DD has a characteristic livelier/dynamic sound. Some say the type of drive mechanism really doesnt matter so long as the platter spins and vibrations are taken care of.
Happy NY."

So all technology aside here is what I "hear." I have two reference points, my personal journey, going from a SME 20/2 with SME IV.Vi arm to a Grand Prix Monaco with Tri Planar arm. Cartridge and tonearm cable remeained constant (Lyra skala and Purst Audio Designes Proteus Provectus). The Monaco hits the notes with the often referred to PRaT. Piano for the first time sounds like a hammer hitting a string. Impact, dynamic then lingers until the string finishes vibrating. The SME, which is a very good belt drive really missed the impact/dynamic it was blurry in comparison. I hear this trait over and over in my listening. It seems to marry what is good about digital, but keeping all the stuff I love about vinyl. Many vinyl purist won't like this description, but I think it's appropriate. I did feel like the SME table and arm had a little more "weight" on certain notes, but at the expense of detail, transparency and impact. This maybe arm signature between the SME IV.Vi arm and TriPlanar. I never tried the SME arm on the Grand Prix table, the combo with the Tri was just so much better, I never looked back.

The second is via a friend. Going from a Walker belt drive to a Technics SP10 mk 3 in a custom plinth. Similar result to my experience above. He used a SME 312s arm on the technics.

So 2 great belt drives, 2 direct drives, one brand new techonology one the best of vintage. Both owners are very happy DD converts...
Dertonearm, Have you seen the photos of the new "direct idler-drive" turntables to be marketed by TT Weights? There are two models, one megabuck and one for under $10K. But both sport VERY heavy platters in the 30-lb range and higher. I thought that would make you happy. (Unless your minimum criterion for Nirvana was >30kg, not >30lb.) Still, those are fascinating products.
Dear Alec:+++++ " Hi, has DD a "theoretical" advantage over belt drive that will translate into better sounds? " +++++

IMHO the opinion on DD advocates can tell you " several " advantages " and in the other side the BD advocates can tell you too the " advantages " on this design and maybe and only from the theoretical point of view both ( some way or the other ) can/could be right about each single advantage.

Now, a TT audio item is not a set of " single/aisle " advantages/disadvantages but a whole finished audio item with intrinsic trade-offs ( there is no perfect TT. ).

Where reside ( mainly ) those trade-offs? ( certainly not on the TT drive design. ) and this is a hard question with many answers, example: type of bearing, TT plinth, kind of motor choice, platter build material, arm board build material, TT " system " vibration/isolation ( external/internal ) mechanism, whole TT quality/build execution,.

These and many other factors are the ones that makes the " differences " and IMHO you can get/have the quality performance you are looking for with either TT drive mechanism.

Some people here and there try to put " things " in a very simple manner/way but the TT ( stand alone ) quality performance can't be judged in aisle way because this audio link is only a part ( important one ) of the whole analog chain where our ears and music/sound priorities are part ( too ) of that analog chain.

I'm almost sure that if you/we take a top BD ( like the one you own or a Walker. ) and a top DD ( say Mónaco ) with a matched tonearm/cartridge and care to set up ( the same for both TTs. ), same arm board build material, same suspension/isolation mechanism, same mat and an un-biased attitude you /we can't hear any detectable difference other that what we " want " to hear.
Now if both TT are designed the same ( mainly on build materials ) my " almost " sure can convert on a simple " sure " no detectable differences only because the TT drive system.

The Jfrech comparison help to tell us that the differences ( IMHO ) comes mainly for the TT design differences more than for the TT drive mechanism and in the case of his friend due that the tonearm in the TT's were different!!!!

The analog imperfections like an audio chain makes extremely complex to have a " simple " answer to your question: the whole subject is very complex and till today I don't read/know ( anywhere ) a precise answers that can be corroborated in a scientist/theoretical/mathematics model. Till this happen the best way to go is to have first hand experiences and decide ( take action ) in consecuence.

Btw, a good alternative is to own/run BD and DD in the same audio system and forgeret about useless " controversies " on that subject.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Lew, TTW do look interesting and are located to the south of where I live ,sometime into the New Year I plan on a visit for a look & listen.

Dertonarm your point about platter mass on this Denon Cotter table, could a re-fit platter with a much heavier design work without damage or modify the existing platter in some other way?
Also when do you plan on releasing your turntable onto the market?

One final question, anyone here Albert Porters Panzerholz plinth design?
Stiltskin, I believe that a high mass (whatever high mass may mean in the individual case...) platter can be fitted only to a direct drive if the heart of the drive - motor and axis - is designed with the respective resulting inertia and pure vertical mass in mind. As the direct control is in most cases an essential design parameter of a direct drive.
I for one wouldn't dare putting a 30 lbs (but I would favor 30 kgs anyway Lewm....) platter on a Denon drive coming originally with a 6 lbs platter. At least not for very long.
A direct drive working with a high mass (and resulting very high inertia) platter has to feature other design parameters in some key components than the average dd from the 1970/80ies.
Aside from that - not the material of the plinth is the core issue, but the internal damping (not bad with Panzerholz, but even better in composite materials) and most important the resonance frequency of the suspension.
I can not stress that point hard enough. Please remember that it was AR with its very first suspended TT which single-handed put in motion record playback high-end (a decade and more later adapted by Linn with their LP-12).

A happy new years eve and a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2010 to all analog A'goners!
Dertonearm knows I do not necessarily concur with his gross generalization regarding platter mass, as it may apply to anything other than a belt drive turntable. But we have beaten the subject to death on another thread. However he is quite right; it would be folly to add a high mass platter to any direct-drive system that was designed for a relatively low mass platter, based on my reading of posts by other more knowledgeable persons (specifically "Steerpike" and Mark Kelly, over on DIYAudio, who were discussing the design of a modern controller for an SP10 MK2 or Mk3).

The Kenwood L07D is interesting in this regard. It has a "relatively" high mass platter, much of which mass is concentrated at the periphery of the platter, and the servo system is designed to cut in and out once the platter is up to speed, so in part it depends upon platter inertia to maintain stable speed, like a weak belt drive with a massive platter. In addition, the magnet assembly that forms part of the motor is actually affixed to the underside of the platter, as in the SP10 Mk3. Thus the platter is in effect part of the motor and in theory the only "noise" injected into the playback could be that from the bearing itself, much like any belt-drive. I hope to have my L07D up and running by the end of January.
As many have pointed out, there are many variables to contend with (vibration control, tonearms, cartridges, etc) when trying to compare a BD to DD. Unless everything is equal, it is diffcult to say which is better.

From a theoretical standpoint, it may be easier to say which has better speed stability. If one then picks the better spped stable device and then focuses on correcting the shortcomings of that particular design then one is onto something. I think Johnnyb3 and detonarm were onto something in their threads.

It would appear that a good DD has better speed stability than BD but the particular features of tt's which use this DD drive system may detract from its speed stability (e.g., vibration control, etc). While a BD may not have as good of speed stability, TT's using BD could be better at other aspects, making the overall sound better.

Key would be to marry the speed stability of DD's without all of the shortcomings of tables whcih use this system.

Happy new year.
Hi all, thanks for your threads.
I recently cleaned my TT,and inadvertently had the belt twisted w/o knowing it. Something immediately didnt sound right so i checked VTF and platter speed. They were the same as before cleaning. Then i realized the belt was twisted, and correcting that at once normalized the sound. The belt on my TW acustic TT goes round three motor pulleys. Even with a twisted belt, the speed was dead on with a strobe disc. Didnt even waver. I assume a twisted belt is bad for speed stability and in this case caused the problem at hand. So perhaps the strobe disc is not sensitive enough to pick up the speed "jitter" or it was something else caused by the twisted belt that degraded the sound.
Happy New Year.
One of the posts above mentioned a wobble in the VPI rim drive. That is a common problem of poor setup. My rim drive is absolutely stable and sounds fabulous.
I have had an opportunity to listen to DD, Rim drive and belt drive on essentially the same turntable and there advantages and disadvantages to each.

Belt drive is by far the easiest and least expensive to get good results. The isolation afforded by the belt hides motor flaws and cogging. But it does so at a price.

Direct drive is brutally revealing of even the most subtle problems with the motor. A typical single phase AC motor would be unlistenable on a DD turntable. But a good DD implementation provides some goodness that in my experience you just can't get with belt drive. The goodness includes the much talked about rhythm and pace but also a bunch of other positive attributes like clarity, low level detail, air, etc. It is really difficult and expensive to do DD right. So with a small to modest budget I would choose a belt or rim drive.

I see rim or idler drive as between belt and DD. Rim drive offers some isolation but far less than belt drive. Rim drive offers the same positives of DD but a smaller dose. Rim drive is somewhat forgiving of motor flaws (cogging) but less than with belt drive. Rim drive is a little more complicated than belt and done right will often be more expensive because of the higher demands on motor quality. I think that rim drive is where the best value hits. Rim drive is relatively easy to get right and in my opinion offers significantly better performance.

This is how I believe that the drive topologies stack up. But it actually says little about how turntables using these topologies will compare. With any turntable you are hearing the whole package and the drive topology is just one of many pieces. The well respected SL-1200 gives people a taste of the goodness of DD but at the same time you get the sound of a lightweight resonant base a flimsy platter and an inadequate power supply. Not that I don't like the SL-1200. At it's price point it is very good, but it is not representative of what a really good DD table is capable of.
Had them all from Linn to Lenco, to Technics and Teres rim drive and my own observation comes down to balancing acoustic isolation of the whole deck and arm , with speed constancy and reducing bearing / plinth noise transmitted back through the vinyl. Probably not enough work has been done on cause and efect of different mats.

For me (emphasis on the "for me") has been on the obvious superior performance of air bearing decks as a major step up in performance over anything else, DD. Rim or belt in overall balance.

Rim drives give slam, belts give body and weight, DD give air and transients - but air bearings ........ the truth!

lots of sound logic (pun intended) in these posts. the last 2, from Teres and Radical Steve, ring true with me.

i'm a direct drive 'preferrer'....and also enjoy what a good idler can do for musical enjoyment with it's added 'spice'. i've heard many belt-driven tt's that play music wonderfully (but could be improved with well executed dd). so really it all can be good according to execution.

Teres' point about ranking sonic performance (belt -> rim/idler -> dd) and difficulty of execution as the motor gets closer to the 'music' sounds right, as does Radicalsteve's point about 'air bearings' and 'heroic' over-the-top solutions to minimizing the noise and resonance that also echo my personal experience.

i have the Dobbins Garrard 301 as well as the Dobbins Technics SP-10 Mk3. compared to belt drives in my experience there is a certain continuousness and sure-footedness on peaks that even very good belt drives cannot match. the high performance belt drives are good in these areas, but just not as good. these characterisitics live in the timing of the music and are not to be denied. when a piano or stringed instrument is properly recorded idlers and dd have valuable advantages.

then there is noise and resonance control. my direct drive Rockport has the eddy current true cogless motor with an air bearing. it has the 55 pound platter. then there is the active air suspension, the linear tracking air bearing arm, and the vaccuum hold down. you take the direct drive advantages executed to the extreme, and eliminate the noise. now you are at the edge of what is possible.

maybe belt-drives that have some of these other advantages have their own form of magic, but if i had to choose my priorities as one moves up the food drive or idler (maybe rim) would come first before belts with air bearings. the timing of music seems most critical to the enjoyment level (my personal perspective--YMMV).
Well I have to put in my 2 cents for my DD table. A Kenwood KD-600, with an SME III tonearm and a VDH MM1 cartridge. Still going strong after some 20 years. I did replace the cartridge (had an Adcom MM) but nothing else. Sounds great with my older and newer LP's.
Agree with Mike Lavigne and Teres, I've owned a lot of tables since my Thorens TD124 back in 1965 and my return to rim drive and discovery of "excellence" in direct drive has moved me completely away from belts.

Many belt drives like the air bearing Walker Proscenium Black Diamond with air bearing linear track arm can certainly provide state of the art performance. I lived with mine for about a decade, evolving from Basis Debut Gold MK5 with Air Tangent 10B and before that the Versa Dynamics. Each one provided tremendous performance, I have fond memories of having owned these.

When I ventured into my Lenco project in 2004, although the inexpensive arm and moving magnet cartridge were no match for my Walker Proscenium, there was absolute magic in the drive, timing and pace of music from the Lenco, so much so that we laughed out loud in surprise almost every time we played it.

Of course the Walker beat the Lenco in so many other ways I eventually sold it and moved on.

After that, each time I heard a Garrard 301 or Lenco I knew something was missing and eventually decided to give the Technics SP10 MK2 a run. What followed was a procession of experiments that led me to the Technics MK3 which I believe is one of the most speed accurate turntables ever made and all that remained was deal with noise, isolation and power supply.

Odd that in the end I wound up spending more money on the Technics than I sold my Walker for, but I'm completely happy.
Radicalsteve, if you include oil-pressure bearing in the same group as air-bearing I would agree with your conclusion (while I would direct slam, air and physical weight to other circumstances than the mere drive principle.
Dear Mikelavigne: I don't argue of what you heard through your first hand TT drive experiences but what does not make sense to me is that you made statements/conclusions ( same as Albert. ) of the superior DD performance when ( even between your DD experiences ) all those different TT drive designs are not only different because of its drive designs but because are different overall " input to output "!!!!, in these circumstances/enviroment what are you comparing with?, IMHO not its drive system design but the TT as a whole and with each one tonearm mounted ( that were different too. ).

Years ago when I was " new " in this forum I posted several times of the " superior " DD TT technology over the BD one, several people laughed ( including people that today " die for DD ". ) for say the least.
I was an advocate to DD systems ( and still I'm. ) but over the time I learn on the whole subject and today I know that that single factor ( drive design. ) can't tell us the true about TT differences/performance.

I posted here/in this thread:

+++++ " Now, a TT audio item is not a set of " single/aisle " advantages/disadvantages but a whole finished audio item with intrinsic trade-offs ( there is no perfect TT. ).

Where reside ( mainly ) those trade-offs? ( certainly not on the TT drive design. ) and this is a hard question with many answers, example: type of bearing, TT plinth, kind of motor choice, platter build material, arm board build material, TT " system " vibration/isolation ( external/internal ) mechanism, whole TT quality/build execution,.

These and many other factors are the ones that makes the " differences " and IMHO you can get/have the quality performance you are looking for with either TT drive mechanism. " +++++

Mike IMHO you can't prove ( any one can't. ) that DD systems makes " per se " the difference!

+++++ " The analog imperfections like an audio chain makes extremely complex to have a " simple " answer to your question: the whole subject is very complex and till today I don't read/know ( anywhere ) a precise answers that can be corroborated in a scientist/theoretical/mathematics model. " +++++

Even Dertonarm agree that the drive principle can't tell the whole " history " and I say even because I know the Dertonarm " bias " about and Teres confirm:

+++++ " This is how I believe that the drive topologies stack up. But it actually says little about how turntables using these topologies will compare. With any turntable you are hearing the whole package and the drive topology is just one of many pieces. " +++++

Regards and enjoy the music,

absolutely oil pressure bearing and maybe magnetic all serve the function it seems to me - which is to remove the impact of noise transmission from the drive system. If you think about it, typical bearing systems are rather crude whatever material, stainless, ruby, ceramic etc. By reducing the coefficient of friction one has to also reduce the impact of physically induced vibration, noise and mechanical artifacts from the platter. I have not really thought about this too hard, but heavy metal platters would probably amplify noise that will be transmitted through the sensitive cartridge. Could be something that Teres and Redpoint and Galibier figured as they have experimented with varying platter materials?

Steve, agreed. My postulate for heavy mass in platters does include that these platters are composite materials which do dampen each individuals inherent resonance behavior. Metal (gun metal, aluminum, lead, stainless steel, copper - all do have their individual virtues in TT-platter application ) isn't "bad" by nature in platter design, but needs "work" - as all other materials - to produce what is possible.

Hi Raul,

So I have heard Albert's journey to DD extensively as well as my own (post above). And while I do agree with you the only 100% proof on DD vs belt is only to change one varible.

However, many of us have heard so many arm, cartridge, table combinations we begin to associate traights or signatures that seem to remain constant as we go from one to the next.

In my case, no belt drive gave me the realness of a piano, the impact, decay, power, that I comment on above. Others posted this as a "timing" improvement, and that's a better way to describe it. And it's not just in the piano, listening to Phil Woods right now and this trumpet has bight, power, delicacy that I just didn't have before on my SME 20/2.

So when I heard similar "timing" things at Albert's house, between his Walker and his Technics (belt vs DD) the conclusion to me is inescapable. This doesn't mean the Walker is now bad, it's still a incredible table.

I evaluate analog as a system "table, arm, cart, arm cable" And in this context these DD "systems" keep coming up superior to some of us in this timing area.

In Albert's case, his dd system was going up against a killer belt drive system. I'll also comment the workmanship he and his partner have put into his plinth is extraordinary and it's a major contributor to his "system" I'm seeing a few copies, but his is very unique with the type of wood, the construction, and the finish. It's one of the very best turntables I've ever heard. Plus the power supply improvements in his SP10 mkIII help also.

I am very happy with my analog "system" around my Grand Prix Monaco. Very happy DD convert here.
Dear Jfrech: +++++ " And while I do agree with you the only 100% proof on DD vs belt is only to change one varible. " +++++

that's all I'm talking about not questioning what you or other people heard.

Regards and enjoy the music,
Absolutes are difficult to support in any case.
As you realize, doing a controlled-environment test where everything else (platter and materials, bearing, isolation/suspension, plinth, arm, cart) are the same is quite difficult. I can imagine a technical construct where one could do so, but I have been ridiculed on these pages before for asking about it :^) so even a well-implemented solution would obviously have its detractors. So we are left with the opinions of people who spend a great deal of time and effort trying to "get it right" and each one provides their own opinion based on their own experiences - there are few people who have spent any serious time listening to cutting-edge implementations who would disagree that it comes down to the whole of the implementation rather than a single piece of it. While arms/carts can be moved around from table to table relatively easily so as to provide a 'constant' reference, set-up is yet another issue to deal with. So it obviously comes down to a "in my opinion, in my system" kind of opinion, and it seems that is the spirit in which the posts have been made to answer the OP's questions.
Actually, I was quite struck by the similarity between what someone else just up the thread a bit wrote about the M20FL Super, as compared to my own impressions. That other guy was likely using completely different ancillary equipment, yet his words could be substituted for my own in describing that cartridge. (It might have been Axel, who uses all solid state gear, whereas my electronics are all tubes except for my MM-dedicated phono stage.) I think this is because each of us becomes acutely sensitive to the "sound" of our own complete systems. As a result, there is remarkable consensus (by and large) on the "sound" of the transducers at either end of the chain. Our uncontrolled perceptions may not align so well if the item being evaluated is not converting mechanical energy to electrical or vice-versa. (I use the term "control" in the scientific sense, which is what Raul is really talking about.)
Oops! The above post was meant for the thread on MM cartridges. Sorry. But the point is relevant to this discussion too. However I do apologize for bringing the mention of mm cartridges into this thread.

Lp performance has many interconnected variables, we all agree on that. how an Lp is rotated on a platter is just one of those varibles. am i hung up a bit on this issue exclusively? yes and no.

notice i use the term 'preferrer' when descibing my perspective. i am trying not to make statements, only preferences. where i stray from that intention, forgive me.

Jfrech's post also describes my basic feelings quite well. over 15+ years of listening to lots of different tt's and related gear, there is a common attribute with dd and related methods of drive where a belt is not used. and i have found that pretty much without exception i would choose the attributes of a dd/idler over a belt driven tt of a few levels higher overall performance.

there is a point where the best designed belt driven tt's do surpass less refined dd and idlers in overall musical satisfaction. the best belt driven designs don't leave me 'wanting' for dd. OTOH when i hear a dd or idler with similar refinement i enjoy the dd more. no matter how you slice it; music is better (i prefer it more) when the speed is better.....every time.

--my digital player eliminates jitter (timing errors) from any digital input.
--my tt's....
--my Ampex and Studer RTR decks are considered the best transports.

am i hung up on timing? it appears so.

the best sounding musical reproduction gear always goes to elaborate lengths to get the speed right. it's always the 'hard part'. one can have an opinion on different electronic circuits that sound the best. but timing of music is not debatable as most critical. even tonality gets screwed up when the timing is off. and when the timing is approaching perfection then the musical magic really happens.
Dear Mike: As you agree too the LP performance is surrounded by many factros that have an intimate relationship and that makes almost impossible to aisle one of that factors/variables to have some kind of measure/opinion nof its relative " weight " in the full LP quality performance equation.

Yes, timing/ryhtmun is essencial and makes a difference in quality performance.

+++++ " when the speed is better.....every time. " +++++

but the timing has influence on the other factors/variables, the TT speed ( accuracy ) is one of the factors in the timing it self and if the speed accuracy ( better speed?? ) could define that timing then why three different TT: SP-10, Monaco and Walker ( I can't find the spec on the Rockport. ) with the same spec on speed: 0.001%, sounds so different?

What I'm trying to say is that that timing ( critical ) in what we hear is not only speed accuracy/stability. Of course that we prefer 0.001% on speed accuracy than 0.003% or at least our mind will be " calm " with the better spec, could we hear differences with these two speed specs everything the same?, hard to say and interesting to find out.

Anyway, no doubt of the critical importance that the " timing " has in our music perception and that we know when the timing is right on target.
I always support the DD systems and still do it but I'm convinced that we can have or we can achieve stellar/top quality performance with either TT drive system if that TT has the right design and the right execution design.
It is clear that for you the Rockport system has a better design an better execution design that almost any other TT out there and this is a challenge for other TT designers.

I hope that in the future we can have " affordable " TT's ( either drive system. ) that even and surpass the Rockport one: we need grow-up about.

Regards and enjoy the music,
....could define that timing then why three different TT: SP-10, Monaco and Walker ( I can't find the spec on the Rockport. ) with the same spec on speed: 0.001%, sounds so different?

add two zeros (accurate to within 10 parts per million) next to the decimal point for the Rockport. but more than speed it is truely steady and continuous because of the isolation and inertia combined with the speed and a perfectly flat record. it's the execution of design along with the design approach.

the Rockport technology is now 14-15 years old. it could be bettered and maybe already has been. bring lots of dollars though.
Dear Mike: 0.00001%? WOW!!! this is nearest to " perfection " on speed accuracy and that the design had 14-15 years speaks a lot of Rockport designer.

Congratulations to be a happy owner.

Regards and enjoy the music,
We have been here before. It is hard to say exactly why the best DD and the best idler-drive turntables seem to have more drive/pace/rhythm, because any differences in "speed accuracy" among all good turntables, including good belt-drive tables, are miniscule at most. One can invoke the factor of "stylus drag" and the ability of DD and idler-drives to maintain absolute stability in the face of this force. Yet one has to be skeptical that stylus drag could be of such magnitude as to play into this equation, especially as regards the massive platters of some BD tables that would seem to be able to overcome stylus drag by virtue of inertia. In any case, the measurements of speed accuracy that we read about are likely to have been derived by averaging the speed over a relatively long-ish time interval (even seconds constitute a long time in terms of musical transients). What I think we are hearing in DD and idler-drive tables that may distinguish them is speed stability over micro- or millisecond time intervals. Yet intuitively one wonders whether the servo mechanisms of dd tables can operate effectively in such a small time window. So, I don't know what's going on, but I like it.
Dear Lewm: +++++ " So, I don't know what's going on, but I like it. " +++++

this is all about.

I like to have very precise answers on the why's of what I'm hearing in some kind of quality performance but many times I can't have those precise answers ( IMHO no one have it. ) and what I have to do is just enjoying it.

Regards and enjoy the music,
I too have fallen for the "sound" of DD turntables.

I have for the past 10 years had VPI and now TW Raven AC-3 and before that the LP12 since 1985.

My recently bought vintage Exclusive P10 & P3 DD tables have a vitality and control in the bass and lower mids that I can't seem to get out of my Raven AC-3 as effectively. the Raven is spot on as far as speed goes, so it is not just speed control.
It seems more the ability to start and stop musical notes like a F1 car and at the same time be sound continous.

My route to DD heaven is a little different to some of the others as I was looking for am integrated table and the Exclusive tables fit the criteria perfectly. Both have very nice wood plinths, have effective suspension (P3 has better plinth isolation), have tonearms that offfer a great degree of resonance tuning, have fixed headshell & removable hdeadshell tonearms and sound fantastic as well.

early days for me, however the P3 is monopolizing the playing time at the moment :-)
The term speed accuracy is often misused and misunderstood. It usually is meant as average speed. The speed accuracy numbers quoted are always average speed and are mostly meaningless. Our ears are quite insensitive to average speed and most of us do not have sufficient pitch sensitivity to detect a 1% error and nobody is capable of hearing 0.1% errors.

Speed stability on the other hand is very important and our ears are remarkably sensitive to extraordinarily small deviations. Tiny, short term (less than 1ms) deviations cause a host of problems like smearing, loss of detail and loss of pace. Every turntable has some amount of variation and in my opinion no turntable in existence has been able to reduce speed variations totally below the threshold of audibility.

As Mike mentioned the same principle is in play with digital jitter. It has been well established that jitter in digital audio is clearly audible even though the amount is infinitesimally small (billionths of a second). Great strides have been made to reduce jitter but like analog I doubt that anyone has been able to completely push it below audibility.

I think that there are a number of sound, theoretical reason for the superiority of DD. For example DD in theory is much better able to deal with the effects of stylus drag. This is a controversial subject because it would appear that stylus drag is too small to be audible. That may be the case but there is good evidence that techniques that attempt to reduce stylus drag effect result in better sound.