Direct Drive vs. Belt Drive vs. Idler Drive

I am using three DDs: Victor 101, Denon DP-100M, Brinkmann Oasis 10th Anniversary. My running belt driven tables are: Continuum Criterion, Micro Seiki SX 8000 double platter and Caeles II. The idler table is an EMT R-80 (Prototyp of 927).

all units are in a state of art condition wearing excellent tonearms and carts (see reports on this blog).

you may now ask me what is the best sounding table? Of course all have a specific sound and character. I am playing them all but my favorite at the moment are two vintage designs: the Denon DP-100M and the EMT R-80.

So it looks to me that we had no real progress in turntable development, which is not fair and does not reflect the many recent intelligent designs. Nevertheless we may have seen the golden period of analogue turntable design in the 60 to 70 ies of the last century.

Ralph mentioned in his comment that you cannot compare different units with parameters like tonearm cable, cartridges, phono pres, the tonearm itself etc. He is completely right on that. I am not a magazine writer who sometimes knows after years or months how a unit sounded or should sound in connection with other parts etc.

I use my system, tables and devices in different settings. Norman is right on the specific character a table has regardless the other units around it. Nevertheless you should keep a standard on the same level if possible.

My two preamplifiers, EMT 66 JP and the Accoustic Research 40, feed the WAVAC amps. I can switch both lines. Usually I use Chrystal Cable Dreamline or Ortofon Silver. The tables are running into these two pres, Micro Seiki and EMT, and on the other side the two DDs and Caeles II.

I have seen so many tables in my Audiophile life that I would need to build two more houses if I still keep them. Restless as I am I will not stick to a certain table and stop, instead my wife would like to convince me of this option.

I think I have quite a good assessment on the sound I hear and also on the tables. Nevertheless I always learn and I am surprised about new/old technologies like the Pioneer Super Tweeters.

when it comes to a statement on comparing units or tables you need to know about my system and my ability to do this. On this background, Ralph, my assessment was made.

9 thoughts on “Direct Drive vs. Belt Drive vs. Idler Drive

  1. Eckart,

    I would also imagine that the Denon and the EMT are trouble free with regard to maintenance. I previously owned an EMT 927, and loved it. I also briefly had the Brinkmann Oasis, and while it was nice, to me it did not have the sonic character of the 927. There is a tremendous difference.
    Currently I am still using two old modest idler drive tables. A heavily modded Dual 1229 with a Grace 727 arm, and a Garrard 301 and a SME 3009. Both are trouble free and very nice, but absolutely no match for the EMT 927. I tell everyone, if you have the space for the EMT, it is THE turntable to own.



  2. Hallo, wie soll da bitte ein vergleich stattfinden?
    Zwei völlig unterschiedliche Tonabnehmer, zwei komplett andere Tonarminnenverkabelung von dort geht es weiter auf wahrscheinlich verschiedene Anschlusskabel. Ah ja die Tonarme der Hersteller x und y. Hoffen wir nur das wenigstens der Vorvorverstärker ein und der selbe ist. Gerade Sie der die Möglichkeit hätte….. schade, schade.
    Immer mit einem Augenzwinkern
    Her(T)zliche Grüsse


  3. Ich nehme an, nachdem man viele Jahre einen Plattenspieler besessen und viele verschiedene Arme und Patronen mit demselben Plattenspieler ausprobiert hat, wird man erkennen, dass der Plattenspieler trotz dieser Unterschiede immer noch seinen eigenen Klangcharakter zeigt. Das Tempo, die Geschwindigkeit und der Antrieb sind unabhängig von den verwendeten Zusatzgeräten unverkennbar.

    I suppose that after owning a turntable for many years and trying many different arms and cartridges with the same turntable one will recognize that even with these differences the turntable still reveals its own sonic character. The pace, ptich and drive are unmistakable regardless of the ancillary devices used.


  4. Norman,
    yes, both tables are trouble free regarding maintenance. You need to watch the oil and the rubber of the idler. The Brinkmann is the updated Anniversary version with a different tonearm, not the standard Brinkmann arm but the Acoustical Systems Aquilar coming with an AT ART 1000 cartridge. Agree on the EMT !!!

    Best E.


  5. It’s interesting to notice that both model were not build for audiophiles but are rugged professional turntables, built for 24/7 use.


    • not many are understanding and using these somehow difficult to improve and put into proper usage with other parts of the audiophile system. I do know the people on this planet exercising a good implementation.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.