Turntables - Belt drive vs direct drive

Vinyl lives. New users of turntables are out there searching for budget-friendly and exotic "tables." Two basic types are available to choose from Belt drive and direct drive. In the recent past, there was an additional turntable type "The rim drive". That's another type we can discuss later.
In short, belt drive turntables are just that: a narrow belt couples the drive motor to the platter. it is stepped down in speed from the motor to the requires 33 1/3 or 45 RPM needed to play records accurately.
Direct drive turntables have the motor underneath the platter coupled to the platter directly. There is no step-down in speed to match the record, as the motor rotates at the exact speed needed.
Now we will discuss the controversial and often debated features and pros and cons of both types.
belt drive turntable shinjitsu audio
Belt Drive platter

Belt Drive

1) Generally, less expensive, and simpler to design with fewer electronic elements than a direct drive.
2) Arguably better decoupling of the motor from the platter due to the rubber belt.
3) Claimed decreased micro flutter as the motor is not turning at the exact platter speed and is once again decoupled by the belt. It's said this absorbs and smooths out the micro flutter elements and provides a more organic sound quality.
4) Belt drives have been in use far longer and have an esteemed reputation for their sound quality.

1) Belts stretch over time producing increased wow and flutter.
2) Belts can slip and produce less torque than direct drives.
3) Belts wear out and will need to be replaced eventually depending on your environment.
4) Belt drives produce more wow and flutter than direct drives as they are not usually microprocessor controlled.

Direct drive motor shinjitsu audio
Direct Drive motor

Direct Drive

1) The design used when records are made. Mastering facility's that cut and press vinyl records use direct-drive turntables. The high torque needed along with the low wow and flutter produces a better-sounding record.
2) Better speed control. Most direct-drive turntables use a quartz-locked circuit that is like your watch or CD player. This results in better wow and flutter measurements.
3) Micro flutter, although postulated as an issue with direct drive, simply does not exist. If it did there would be measurements that show this, and they do not. The exact platter speed is locked in by the quartz clock in the drive circuit.
4) Direct drive turntables have been around since the 60s and were and still are considered the audio standard for speed control and neutral sound.

1) Claims of micro-flutter or ratcheting/cogwheeling due to hunting and pecking about the rotational frequency.
2) Direct drives transmit any motor noise right through the spindle to the record.
3) Direct drives are not cool or audiophile quality.
4) Direct-drive turntables are used only by DJs.
My take is that I prefer Direct Drive turntables due to their low wow and flutter, high torque that fosters brush cleaning of the vinyl on the fly, and long service life.

The bottom line for me is that the motor is simply used to turn the platter and vinyl disc at an accurate speed despite the drag of the stylus. It should not impart a sound of its own. Organic or liquid does not imply accuracy - its colors the sound. Just as many motorcycles are moving to shaft-driven and away from chain drive, turntables are best driven direct coupled.

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