Audiophiles Once Loved Direct Drive, Now They Seem To Hate It

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by VinylMan07, Jul 25, 2021.

  1. VinylMan07

    VinylMan07 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    This is NOT a Belt Vs. Direct Driven Turntables. All of them have their benefits, what we're discussing here is why people hate DD so much these days.

    I've noticed a lot of hate and disdain for DD turntables recently, most of them coming from audiophiles. But... Here is the question: Take a look of what was considered "Audiophile" in the late 70's and early 80's, take your time and take a look at any catalog of this period: Without any exception, ALL the top models were direct driven decks. But now, "Direct Drive" had become almost a swear word in the audiophile community.
    I know, "motors vibrate", but most of good direct drive decks are dead silent, and their rumble is so low that is actually quieter than the record's noise floor anyway, Wich means the rumble from the motor shouldn't be picked up by the stylus.
    Also, another thing that debunks this theory is the fact that most record cutters are direct driven. This means that, if ALL DD decks are really that noisy, as they say, most of all records are being cut with that rumble. That being said, paying hundreds of dollars for a single belt and/or isolating motors meters apart from the rest of the turntable is more or less useless, since the rumble is always there.
    Well, I guess that most of that hate comes from people who had bad/really cheap DD players, wich do have a lot of rumble, and are, in fact annoying to listen to. This had lead them to believe that all of direct driven record players are noisy and annoying. But I might be wrong too... What do you think about that?
  2. Archimago

    Archimago Forum Resident

    I agree with you. I thought the dislike of DD was abating in the last few years?

    IMO, it's still the most accurate technology for maintaining TT speed and I still love my old Technics SL1200 - built like a tank and probably will outlive me. Stuff like the "cogging" Michael Fremer talked about back in the day was nonsense.
  3. ultron9

    ultron9 Senior Member

    I'm still an adherent to Good DD designs...I've yet to hear a belt driven system where I couldn't hear pitch variations...even higher end VPIs, Sotas, etc. The newer Technics 1200GR and G series offer a lot for the money...I can't afford one yet but my circa 1995 Model 1200Mk2 continues to serve me well.
  4. Andy Saunders

    Andy Saunders Forum Resident

    l thought there was an element of snobbery from Direct Drive owners towards their Belt Drive counterparts- as always there is good/bad in both designs.....d
    Funky54, Randoms and MGW like this.
  5. LostArk

    LostArk Forum Resident

    New York
    It's a mistake to discount any table out of hand just because of the drive mechanism, regardless of your preference or even what is ostensibly superior on paper.
    Odradek, Grant, Aftermath and 6 others like this.
  6. Morbius

    Morbius Forum Resident

    Brookline, MA
    This is just double speak, the only people I've seen come under attack lately are proponents of belt drive. You're more aware of it when you're on the receiving end!
    caracallac, BluTorch, trd and 4 others like this.
  7. clercqie

    clercqie Forum Resident

    Since Technics came out with their newer models, everyone's been raving about them. Dunno where you are picking up "hate"
  8. Curiosity

    Curiosity Just A Boy

    United Kingdom
    I happily run a direct drive these days.

    In so far as the UK goes it was was the British or nothing push in magazines like Popular Hifi , Hifi Choice where anything Japanese (or Taiwanese made) was deemed rubbish and they pushed the Cult of Linn and Naim to crazy extremes (Not saying they made bad products but they have their pluses and minus's like others) that launched the attack on direct drive

    God help ya if owned owt else then in this country.

    Some as the analogue revival caught hold seem to view anything novel like servo controls as less analogue than belts which can have poorer wow and flutter or impure unlike idler driven models that many in the 70's castigated no doubt with more of an eye to the cheaper offerings of BSR and Garrard rather than the joys of well cared for 401.

    Good engineering is key to getting a great turntable and that can be done by any means of transmission from motor to platter provided care is taken at the design stage.
    patrickd, Aftermath and ultron9 like this.
  9. Oliver Meyer

    Oliver Meyer In Audio Heaven Up Here

    Virginia Beach
    I thought more companies were using DD these days. I love my Technics 1200 G especially for the quick start and stop
    ls35a likes this.
  10. seikosha

    seikosha Forum Resident

    I read both TAS and Stereophile back in the 70’s 80’s and early 90’s and there was always a disdain for direct drive turntables. Linn, Sota, VPI, Pink Triangle were all the darlings of the audiophile world and Direct Drive was a bad word. All those big Denon DD models were essentially considered upper mid-if. Audiophiles at that time thought of a Technics SP10 as a “disc jockey” turntable. The Goldmund Studio was (someone correct me if I’m wrong) the only direct drive turntable that I can think of that got respect.

    In fact, I got completely out of high end from the mid 90’s all the way until around 2012. One of the things that shocked me when I jumped back in was how much acceptance DD and non suspended designs had now received.
    caracallac, Dan C, Lowrider75 and 4 others like this.
  11. DaleClark

    DaleClark Forum Resident

    Columbus, Ohio
    I really do not think there is a disdain for DD. It's just there's more of a selection of high end BD tt's. Before Technics returned to the market, most new DD tables were of the cheap DJ variety "AT, Pioneer, Stanton" etc. Along with technics, you now have the VPI Anniversary table, Thorens and so forth.
    trd likes this.
  12. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    I've nothing against Direct Drive. But engineering is engineering. You design using scientifically known concepts. Things like quartz lock are one of them. But using a Direct Drive motor just wouldn't work with designs like Rega employs. Their entire plinth design is make the plinth as minimal as possible. The plinth's only purpose within the Rega design is to hold axis for the platter relative to the tonearm. To maintain speed a combination of light low torque motors are used along with precise current with heavier platters to simply maintain inertia once the platter is up to speed on the higher end models.

    VPI and many other brands employee the use of even heavier platters. Some with motors detached from the plinth. Engineering is matter of dealing with constraints to solve a problem. In handling constraints, there are trades you have to make. You trade the torque that gives you quicker spin ups if you want to lower rumble. In the case of Technics, it's been suggested that they employ a strategy to limit to rumble frequencies below what could be transmitted by the cartridge. But there is still rumble. So still a trade.

    The facts are that Technics (Panasonic, Matsushita or whoever they were at the time) were the purveyors of Direct Drive and they abandoned the turntable marketplace. This left Pioneer alone as the Direct Drive manufacturer. While Audio-Technica and other brands employed the use of Chinese Direct Drive designs, these lower cost brands aren't considered audiophile. For that matter, Pioneer didn't really make anything audiophile. Their designs were clearly marketed at DJs and didn't pursue refining their own designs for anything better. Instead they put their design money into replacing the turntable with digital alternative for DJs. If there is any distain, it's likely because of this abandonment. Sure there were stalwarts of the DD design. They held onto their old SL-1200 turntables, claimed they were build so solid they'd never wear out in their lifetime. So it didn't matter. But when Technics reentered the turntable business, I tend think there was a sigh of relief by these people. In the absence of Technics during that time, the designs of belt drive decks improved. New manufacturers like Pro-Ject brought in new belt drive models that were very affordable. Rega has moved further into even lighter plinths.

    So, I don't really see distain. What I do see is a lot of marketing happening. A lot of people new to turntables bought turntables. A lot of them were Direct Drive sold by AT as the LP120. But these weren't audiophile turntables. They were sold to undercut Pioneer who were still selling more expensive DJ decks. AT being a transducer company needed to fill the void Technics opened if they were to continue selling cartridges. Pro-Ject was selling turntable based on designs from the Cold War era. Pro-Ject wasn't foolish. They had a belt drive design, so they marketed the advantage of belt drive. At this point, AT was their competition because it turns out the LP120 wasn't much of cheap DJ deck as it was better suited to those entering the world to vinyl after Record Store Day brought a new wave of customers. So, maybe the OP is hearing the words of newer turntable owners. Human beings have the nature to profess their decisions are correct. And I'll admit that I bought a turntable built in the Pro-Ject factory after my Technics Direct Drive failed to operate. What choice did I have in the '90s? I learned that you could buy a very nice sounding turntable for $300 and it was belt driven. The silly thing is that well over 20 years later, you can still buy a $300 belt driven turntable that sound pretty good. I've moved onto Rega decks. But I learned that Wow & Futter isn't the only criteria you should consider when buying a turntable that sounds good. The tonearm is just as important if you want good sound. And this leave me where I am today. I own 2 Rega belt driven decks. I don't hate Direct Drive. I just know that absolute solid platter speed isn't the only criteria for good sound. A tonearm with tight tolerances drive down the noise floor enabling the listen to hear more out the groove. I don't one bit think that motor speed is unimportant. But getting back to engineering (and I am an engineer), I understand trades have to be made to meet the specification that being sold to your customers. And the specification being sold to today's turntable buyers isn't just Wow & Flutter like it was in the '70s. So, Direct Drive while still a valid design, the drive mechanism has lost it's place as the most important specification when considering a turntable. I don't think DD deserves any distain myself, but those that purport DD may be missing out on what a lot people have figured out. And this is that the drive mechanism isn't as important as it was once thought to be.
  13. Tim Irvine

    Tim Irvine Forum Resident

    Austin, Texas
    People just seem to like what they have and to feel a need to act as if what others have was somehow not as good a choice. Tubes and solid state, planars versus horns versus cones, and direct drive versus belt versus idler are just the three most obvious groupings. I would add MM versus MC versus MI, but as long as you have enough money there does not seem to be much debate.
  14. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    I will not contradict you, but personally, I haven't seen any dislike for DD on this forum, and this is basically the only forum I choose to be a member of - I'm here every day.

    I consider myself an audiophile and have six TT's at home. Suffice it to say that three of them are are belt, and three are DD.
    SandAndGlass, trd, wgriel and 5 others like this.
  15. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Essex UK
    It was always mainly belt drive in the UK
    Tim 2 likes this.
  16. MrRom92

    MrRom92 Forum Supermodel

    Long Island, NY
    Small boutique companies don’t have the money to R&D direct drive turntables nor the practical ability to manufacture them, like they can with belt driven turntables and mostly off-the-shelf components. And the stuff from the large name brands wasn’t sold with 5000% markup either, which is perhaps the most un-audiophile thing about them. The audiophile dealers will be much happier to push something they have a massive margin on. It’s the same reason that esoteric Moving Coil cartridges are seen as “audiophile” whereas well-designed Moving Magnet carts are “not”.
  17. carbonti

    carbonti Forum Resident

    I am all for interesting conversation. Even a topic perhaps purposely controversial as a catalyst to spurring lines of thought and cross currents of ideas and debate. But I don’t get the premise that you gotta buy into in order to get into this discussion. Seem (big word, kinda like ‘if’) to hate DD? Really? And even if one were to seem to truly hate DD, yeah then, so what?

    There is no underlying or overall shift that I am aware of that has engendered a festering hatred towards DD turntables. Quite the opposite with Technics re-entry into the turntable market offering up advanced DD technology into a vinyl receptive audience and marketplace.

    I don’t hate on anything that is different. I am rather more interested and curious as to the different approach taken towards viewing, contextualizing and solving an issue or problem. I am not shy about applying the term ‘audiophile’ to myself or others - it’s a hobby and ultimately we are all chasing the ideal of the same thing. Lotsa solutions seeking the same thing. In the realm of the man-made, there is no such thing as perfect.

    I dunno. This thread is way over my head.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2021
    Magic and macster like this.
  18. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    I politely suggest that hate is not the current consensus of well executed direct drive turntables.
  19. missan

    missan Forum Resident

    Trolling much?
  20. Ingenieur

    Ingenieur Going with the flow...

    If there is any audio parameter that can be measured accurately it is a TT's. Not the tonearm. W&F, drift, vbratiin and rumble. Lower is better and more accurate independent of drive method. 'Cogging', etc., are all reflected in these numbers.

    There can really be no debate, can there? I am not saying the tonearm or cartridge are part of this, they are separate parameters.
    bhazen and Tim Irvine like this.
  21. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Syracuse NY
    I am thinking the OP just stepped out of a time machine. The hate on direct drive tables, that started more as a result of industry propaganda than factual problems, has pretty much abated.

    You still get some old cranks on audio forums but other than that it’s pretty much dead. Having grown up with Technics, Pioneer, Rega, and VPI tables I’d never give up my 1200GR. Table before that was an RP6.
  22. 5-String

    5-String μηδὲν ἄγαν

    Sunshine State
    As long as I remember, serious audiophiles did not take Technics and direct drive turntables seriously.
    This has changed now. Direct drives finally get the credits they deserve.
    So, in my recollection it is the opposite, audiophiles used to hate direct drive, now they seem to love them.
    I own a direct drive and a belt drive turntable and I love them both.
    They sound different though. I can see why some prefer one versus the other.
    Classicrock, rischa and Randoms like this.
  23. Phil Thien

    Phil Thien Forum Resident

    Milwaukee, WI
    DD owners give it as good as they get it.

    MGW likes this.
  24. Leonthepro

    Leonthepro Skeptically Optimistic Autodidact Debater

    Its just fads, people latch on to whats popularly said and repeat it.
    unclefred, Nathan Z and VinylMan07 like this.
  25. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Yes it is, read the replies above.

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