What makes for a GOOD turntable.

Why is it my Music Hall MMF5 has a project tonearm and why is it the Project 9.1's motor isnt attached to the TT platter isnt that an accident waiting to happen? And why are there some mnay different opinions about whats right and whats wrong?

Basically high audio is a hobby where you can waste alot of hard earned money when all some people want to good solid equipment.

I am determined to find the truth what really makes a GOOD TT? I dont need the latest and greatest because one the prices are insane and your not even paying for the quality of the TT your paying the engineers salary who stayed up late thinking of the next big time under pressure from the marketing team.

So with that said what makes a GOOD TT. And please no suggestions over say $2500 cause that i just dont agree with.
Here is a list of things to look for:

1) a robust drive (apparently, can be idler, belt or direct, if done right).
2) absolutely *no* bearing play (slop) or flexibility between the platter and the cantilever of the cartridge
3) in support of #2, the plinth where the platter bearing is mounted will be the same part as where the tone arm is mounted, and will be a rigid, non-resonant material. Rigidity between the platter bearing (which supports the platter) and the base of the arm is paramount.
4) the platter will be rigid and non-resonant
5) the platter pad will be energy absorptive, and ideally the same durometer of hardness as vinyl so that it does not depress as the needle passes over it, but does absorb all frequencies originating on the surface of the vinyl.
6) suspension is optional, if not suspended accommodation for that will be needed in the equipment stand. If suspended, will be damped so that oscillations die quickly.

I've stayed out of tone arm mention for the most part but obviously the arm plays a huge role and is part of the bearing system between the platter bearing and the cartridge cantilever.
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going down the good-sounding vinyl road is just plain expensive; just replacing the cartridge (a nice one) every couple years or so will set you back some serious change. if the glorious sound of a properly set-up TT isn't enough to more than justify the cost, don't do it: digital is cheaper.
Good question and some good answers. Problem is, all the technical information will not make you "feel" the music in your heart and soul.
But first, some disclosure: I build, refurbish and sell, plinthed Lencos. I have 2 for sale at the moment.
Here's my take on turntables-

I owned, among other tables, an MMF 5.1 SE. I had the same questions/feelings you express and I went as far as emailing Mr. Hall asking for advise about how to improve the table-different cart, etc. He did not have the time for my questions, so I decided to sell it and look further. 2 inquiries led me to try a Lenco. At the time, 5-6 years ago, I had never heard of it.
Because I was serious about getting the best vinyl playback source for the money (which for me is quite limited), I made inquiries to folks who had already sold their tables, realizing I might get a more honest answer since they had already sold theirs. That was my approach.
My radar was dialed in when 2 members stated that the "Lenco kicked the Well Tempered's ass" and "as soon as I auditioned the Lenco my Nottingham was for sale".
So, I scoured eBay for a Lenco and this site for more info. Found lots if inbred fighting which is both informative and amusing.
Since then, I have become a Lenco fanatic, trying to dodge the slings and arrows- folks seem to get irritated to read that their multithousand dollar belt drive is merely expensive eye candy.
Anyway, what I find that makes the Lenco such a GREAT turntable is the idler wheel design AND the way it is implemented. It is rather simple. A small, robust motor, spins a spindle at high RPMs, the idler wheel shifts over the spindle engaging it and the heavy platter above. The motor runs at a constant, steady speed.* There is no fluctuation in the speed, what causes the platter to go from 16, 45, 33, etc, is the idler wheel sliding up and down the tapered shaft of the spindle (which is spinning at a constant speed).
IM not so HO, I believe that this design is what makes the Lenco such a wonderful, great sounding turntable. Steady, solid speed means locked in rhythm which translates to deep articulate bass and drums. The stuff that makes you tap your toes and twist and shout. Or, cry when you hear a longing violin.
There's a reason why the Lenco lost favor back in the 1970s. Belt drive tables came along and it's new technology was backed up by something fierce- people with marketing degrees. It was, and still is in many instances, voodoo.
Another reason why the Lenco lost favor is because it was sold in a particle board frame. The robust motor and 8 pond platter is too much for this poorly designed "plinth". Vibration crept up into the cart, arm creating distortion and it never lived up to its promise.
There were reports of Lenco rebuilds on the web- recipes for heavy, vibration absorbing plinths, and you can have a very good record player for a few hundred bucks. With the help of various key folks, many of us are now in vinyl heaven.
* Belt drive, compared to the stable Lenco, tend to fluctuate. Belts stretch, motors are either too close or too far from the platter, folks try tape, rubber, strings as belts and still it (speed) is not stable. This takes the pace and rhythm , namely bass and drums, and smears it, the foundation of the music. The very essence of the music. This is the problem with most belt drives.
The original arm, IMO, is not worth rebuilding when a Rega 250 or 300 is a perfect synergistic match for a properly replinthed Lenco. The Denon 103 will put you in the park and then the sky is the limit.
I've had buyers report fantastic results with VPI and Graham arms. Van Dun Hull, Shelter, Dynavector carts.
This is the beauty of the Lenco design- the basic table is built like a tank. Of the dozen or so tables I've had, not once did I find it in such poor shape that it could not be rebuilt. They were built like tanks. Unfortunately, the word is out and they are not so cheap anymore.
That is my answer to your question, as misguided as it might be. I hope you have an opportunity to hear one of these. I think you will be happy you did.
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