Which is better, belt driven or direct drive? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

You turntable users, which is better, belt drive for direct drive? My only serious turntable was/is a Yamaha P-320 belt drive, and I never had any complaints about it. In terms of specifications and bang for the buck, which do you prefer?
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post #2 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 11:38 AM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

Belted models the speed can be finely adjusted which is nice for people with large collections of varying ages as they can experiment for the best sound. The belt is also the drawback as it will slip with age and will need to be replaced.

Direct Drive is the opposite. i.e. less fine adjustment, no belt to replace.

Once you get into TTs you start looking at Stylus, Arms, Arm weight (the amount of pressure the arm applies to the LP), vibration...so many things. Some find it fun some find it a pain.
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post #3 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 02:35 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

I like belt drive if done properly.
My turntable, which I purchased and assembled in the 80's, is a Rega Planar belt drive with the half inch thick glass platter along with an SME series III arm and Shure V15 type 4 cartridge.
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post #4 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 04:05 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

I have an old linear tracking denon. Its more of a show piece now... Like my 5 bay Pioneer cassette deck. I used to have a Teac reel to reel, but my wife thought it looks "gouche" on top of my equipment rack in the theatre. And my Laserdisc stopped lasering a while back.
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post #5 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 04:10 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

I think that in the lower end turntables direct drive was substantially better however as you go up in price that difference become less the big factor.

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post #6 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 04:14 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

Depends on the table. There are positive and negative attributes of both. I'd say today in the new turntable market belt drives are generally better than direct drives at each price point. Used turntables are often a different story with some direct drive specimens, particularly when modified, outperforming many belt drives at similar price points.

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post #7 of 18 Old 03-14-13, 10:08 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

It depends. If you're asking for my preference, my continuing use of a VPI HW-19 purchased new in the late 80's places me squarely in the belt drive camp. My lusting after an Oracle Delphi MK-IV reinforces that.

With that said; there are very good TT's old and new that are direct drive. Just as there are very good old and new belt driven ones.

Specs and bang for the buck are two things I rarely concern myself with. I'm a retired EE and understand specs so my dismissal of them is not caused by ignorance.

My budget restrictions revolve around questions such as "How long will I have to save for "X"?". Having a fully functional system makes that possible. Were I putting together a system "bang for the buck" would be important.

IMO/E specs tell you just about nothing about how something sounds. SET amplifiers are a good example. Everyone who uses an SET amplifier has to pretty much ignore specs. Most of them have truly horrendous specs but with the right speakers can sound like "magic".

When you're refining and tweaking a system you're more concerned with synergy than "bang for the buck". At least I am.

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post #8 of 18 Old 03-17-13, 01:56 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

Quote:
JoeESP9 wrote: View Post
IMO/E specs tell you just about nothing about how something sounds. SET amplifiers are a good example. Everyone who uses an SET amplifier has to pretty much ignore specs. Most of them have truly horrendous specs but with the right speakers can sound like "magic".

When you're refining and tweaking a system you're more concerned with synergy than "bang for the buck". At least I am.
Would another way of saying this be: "Specs are not everything. It is possible for a system or component - be it a SET amplifier or a turntable or headphones or whatever - to sound great even if certain specs are less than ideal?" I did not always think this way, but the more headphones I listen to, I am becoming convinced it is true. Instead of a perfect set of headphones, I have several favorites, one for flat accuracy, one for laid-back longer listening sessions, one tailored for more intimate instrumental & vocal music, and one with a smidge of bass & treble boost for rock. And one that I wouldn't use for critical listening but is great for travel because the seal is good and the boosted bass and crisp high end cut right through airplane noise.

I can see where a SET amp or a turntable might have certain specs that don't look so great on paper, but with the right synergy could sound terrific. The purist in me never thought I would say such a thing, but I am beginning to understand it.
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post #9 of 18 Old 03-18-13, 01:37 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

That's pretty much what I was saying. Please understand, I'm not discounting specs. I've learned over the years that "good" gear almost always has good specs. That I've stayed away from receivers in general and HT receivers in particular has a lot to do with my attitude regarding specs. Separates always have good specs, sometimes too good.

I've noticed that some place a lot of weight on having a low THD spec. IME low IM (inter-modulation) distortion and a high SN (signal to noise ratio) are far more important. When low distortion specs are achieved with lots of global feedback the results are usually not pleasing to the ear. A perfect example is the Crown IC-150 preamp which has exceptionally low THD specs. However, it sounds truly awful with a harsh irritating treble that causes early ear fatigue. One spec that IMO is quite important is the 4 Ohm or lower rating of power amplifiers. The closer an amp comes to doubling down from it's 8 Ohm rating the better the amp has turned out to sound IME. To achieve this a power amplifier needs a good power supply with plenty of current reserves. Those reserves are what power hungry speakers need. The greater the current reserves the less prone to clipping. That in and of itself is IMO a very good thing.

With a TT the wow and flutter spec is IMO the most important, especially if you listen to a lot of acoustic piano. Any variation in speed exacerbates the mis-tuning that's part and parcel of proper piano tuning. With that in mind, the SDS speed control and heavier platter (greater flywheel effect) I use with my VPI have made a tremendous difference in piano sound.

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Last edited by JoeESP9; 03-18-13 at 01:49 PM.
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-18-13, 06:12 PM
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Re: Which is better, belt driven or direct drive?

Quote:
tonyvdb wrote: View Post
I think that in the lower end turntables direct drive was substantially better however as you go up in price that difference become less the big factor.
I agree 100%... I used to have low end direct drive turntables and they were fine but when I moved to a Mitchell Gyrodec it was another world! In my last house we didn't have a dedicated listening room, but had a dedicated rack for whole house audio and HD. That signaled the end of my turntable listening days so I sold it. I do miss my Gyrodec! :-(

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