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 platter
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