Table of Contents
- Direct Drive Turntable
- Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Turntable: The Difference
- Is Direct Drive Turntable Better Than Belt Drive Turntable?
- Advantages of Direct Drive Turntables
- 8 Best Direct Drive Turntables
- Choosing a Direct Drive Turntable
- Final Words
Vinyl music is not going anywhere anytime soon and is here to stay. If you are trying to upgrade your existing vinyl setup or are willing to buy a new one altogether, then keep on reading as we have got some of the most smattering menu from the premium categories as well as the cheaper end of the market.
Latest update on 2022-11-23 | Images | Affiliate links from Amazon Product Advertising API
In this review, we have brought you the top 8 vinyl record players that will give vinyl lovers the same retro experience, as well as give you some details about belt drive vs a direct drive record player. We have made sure that the products we choose have superb designs and features but do not burn a hole in your pocket yet still provide you with great music that you deserve.
Direct Drive Turntable
Direct drive turntables, unlike belt drive players, are run by a motor that is located directly underneath the center of the platter. Direct drive is an upgrade to the old belt drive mechanism which is more prone to wear and tear and requires some time to reach its full speed.
Furthermore, direct drive turntables, unlike belt drive, are susceptible to more vibrations as the motor sits directly underneath the platter; this can affect the sound quality of the music. However, most of new models use the latest technologies which minimize the impact of vibrations on the music.
Direct drive turntables also have a faster rotation speed and a higher torque which means that they are less affected by the external forces like the stylus friction. The higher torque also means that there is less distortion when the record just starts to play.
Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Turntable: The Difference
Belt Drive Turntables
A belt drive turntable is essentially a turntable with an elastic rubber belt that is directly attached to the motor; belt drive turntables offers a more precise and stable rotation. The isolation on a belt drive turntable is very good as the platter sits on a bearing that is isolated from the motor. The belt drive turntable takes it benefit from the bearings. The bearings give it both rotational and linear movements which makes it incredibly stable and precise.
The elastic belt of a belt drive turntable is resistant to vibrations. Since the belt is shock absorbing, it will absorb more impacts from the motor vibrations. Belt drive turntables are better for people who want longevity in their equipment because it will prolong the platter’s life. Furthermore, belt drive turntables are known to produce better sound quality.
Since a belt drive turntable reduces the vibrations, the output sound is cleaner and crisp. Noise reduction is a priority for vinyl players because the lower the noise, the better the sound quality.
While belt drive turntables may work extremely well for noise reduction, belt drive have some disadvantages too. First, belt drive is more prone to wear and tear as the elastic belt often needs replacement. Furthermore, belt drive has a lower torque which makes them more prone to damage by external forces; that is why the belt drive has a slightly less accurate playback.
Direct Drive Turntables
Direct drive turntables are more reliable than the belt drive. The difference is because the platter in direct drive turntables are mounted over a DC motor directly which gives it the ability to start up quickly unlike a belt drive. Direct drive turntables have more consistent playback with high torque. Due to their reliability, direct drive turntables, not belt drive turntables, are preferred by many DJ and professionals alike.
Direct drive turntables don’t have to deal with the belt degradation and have a higher playback quality. Their higher torque and consistent speeds are a benefit for most of the DJ.
Is Direct Drive Turntable Better Than Belt Drive Turntable?
Belt drive vs direct drive, so which is better: a belt drive or a direct drive? It all depends on your personal preference. If you want consistent speeds and great playback, then it’s a good reason to pick a belt drive, but if you are into something that gives you long term playback and ease of use, then you should go for a direct drive player instead of belt drives.
Advantages of Direct Drive Turntables
Direct drive turntables have motor at the center of the turntable. A direct drive can reach its full speed in a matter of seconds and the speed remains constant. They are not that precise compared to a belt drive but provide quality sound. The quality depends on the motor and how well the connection is made with the motor.
As far as the sound quality is concerned, direct drive turntables, unlike belt drives, have performed much better over the years and have incorporated newer technologies to dampen the vibrations.
8 Best Direct Drive Turntables
The Audio Technica AT-LP60 is perfect direct drive for beginners who do not want to burn a hole in their pocket yet still want to enjoy every dip of the music. It is a nice portable direct drive record player and is probably the cheapest. Considering the price per feature factor, this Audio Technica turntable is certainly worth it.
Audio Technica AT-LP60 will play most of your records and you don’t even need to spend more on buying separate equipment for an amplifier as it comes with a phono preamp. With this Audio Technica vinyl player, you get the surety that it will not harm your records as it is a fully automatic turntable that will lift off the tonearm when the music stops playing.
- Fully automatic 45 RPM turntable
- Built-in pre-amplifier with TCA output
- Dual magnet phono cartridge
- Anti-resonance die-cast Aluminum platter for vibration dampening
- Front panel controller
- Removable dust cover
- Fully automatic direct drive player
- Excellent value for money
- Dust cover
- Can’t replace the cartridge
- Passable sound
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60 model is great in the sense that it is cheap but it doesn’t suffer from a poorly aligned stylus and improper positioning of the cartridge. It is a cheap and reliable alternative for the more expensive brands.
Denon DP-400 Semi-Automatic
The Denon DP-400 Semi-Automatic is a good looking turntable that works just as well as it looks. This is a great starting choice for those who don’t want to manually maneuver through the player to lift off and put on the stylus to play the music.
For a budget turntable, the built quality is pretty decent. The only thing we didn’t like was the buttons which felt cheap, but this shouldn’t be a problem as it is understandable that companies cut costs on some of the lesser useful features to provide an overall better quality,
- Digital direct drive automatic turntable
- Supports up to 78 RPM
- Quality drive platter
- One-touch controls
- Supports both MM and MC cartridges
- An auto lift tonearm
- Built-in phono preamp
- Semi-automatic direct drive
- Great sound for the price
- Support for all types of cartridges
- Great finishing
- Plastic build
- Buttons feel cheap
The Denon DP-400 Semi-Automatic is an elegant turntable that works well. Its included cartridge is not that accurate but it manages to produce superb music.
Fluance RT81 Elite
The Fluance RT81 Elite is an outstanding choice for enthusiasts who are just starting in this domain. With its simple to set up installation and switchable cartridge, it is perfect for newbies. The good thing is that the amp is built in so you don’t have to worry about getting a separate one. Keep in mind that this is a semi-automatic direct drive model. This essentially means that it stops the platter from moving to prevent wear and tear but the tonearm still needs to be moved manually.
- Purely analog turntable
- Diamond tipped stylus to track the record
- Aluminum S type tonearm
- Walnut finish from solid wood
- Great built-in phono preamp
- Gold plated RCA line output
- Great sound for the price
- Decent sounding phono preamp
- Gold plated RCA output
- Highly durable tonearm
- Unsatisfactory vibration damping
- No auto returning tonearm
The Fluance RT81 Elite is a great quality budget turntable that focuses on great music production and convenient installation.
The Marantz TT-15S1 falls on the premium end of the turntable categories, but considering the quality of this turntable, you are getting a bargain. Its tonearm is just perfect and it is overall worth the investment. However, we would advise the newbies to stay away as it requires additional knowledge to set it up properly. For the more experienced, this is a bang for your buck.
- Vibration free-floating motor mount
- Plinth drive operation with an AC motor and a heavy platter
- Virtuoso Phono cartridge
- Anodized aluminum manual tonearm
- Ebony wood and diamond stylus
- Lightweight aluminum cantilever
- Adjustable aluminum feet for a strong base
- Elegant design
- Excellent attention to aesthetic detail
- Stylus made of ebony
- Great cartridge
- Very expensive
- Other products have the same features in a lesser price
The Marantz TT-15S1 is a premium turntable aimed at a very specific customer base to provide the highest quality sound possible.
Cambridge Audio Alva TT
If you have a lot to spend on your turntable and you want the top of the line record player, then Cambridge has got something for you. The Audio Alva TT is a premium turntable will take your DJ skills to the next level. Whether it is a concert or you just want to listen to your vintage collection, this turntable will do it all. We like that it is aptX supported and can directly stream it wirelessly without any loss in quality. The quality of this turntable has set up a benchmark for other turntables like the Rega or Clearaudio.
- Direct drive system with medium torque
- One-piece tonearm
- MC cartridge that comes pre-installed
- Comes with a phono stage box for convenient storage
- Alva pre amp reduces sound vibrations to a minimum
- Bluetooth enabled streaming
- Hi-res Bluetooth wireless streaming
- Easy to set up
- Long life
- Vibration dampening feet
- Can slip from its place while playing
- Hard to remove the cartridge
The Cambridge Audio Alva TT focuses on only one thing: quality music production.
Coming with an easy assembly and the provision to stream wirelessly, this Audio Technica AT-LP60XBT budget-friendly turntable can be in the collection of an enthusiast. The cartridge is where this Audio Technica turntable wins. The ATN3600L conical stylus is perfect for accurately detecting all the grooves on the record for accurate playback.
- Superb audio
- Bluetooth enabled wireless technology
- Stream seamlessly to your wireless speakers and other devices
- AptX codec compatible
- Fully automatic turntable
- Two-speed operation
- Anti-resonance die-cast aluminum platter
- Best value for money
- Easy to setup
- AptX enabled Bluetooth streaming
- High quality aluminum platter
- The audio could use a little bit more detail
- Built quality feels a bit cheap
The Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT is a budget-oriented turntable that reveals all the details in your songs and makes the music a joy to listen to.
This fully automatic Audio Technica turntable allows you to play music with just a push of a button. Audio Technica AT-LP3BK has a phono stage for storage and a durable removable cartridge that can be swapped at your preference. The Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK is a budget turntable but is of very good quality. The separate controls for volume, speed, and size are an absolute convenience and you can switch quickly between multiple records.
- Straight tonearm with ½’ universal head shell
- AT91R dual magnet cartridge
- Accurate stylus level for safe playback
- Fully automatic operation
- Die-cast aluminum platter and 4 mm rubber pad for reducing vibrations
- Able to play records at 35 RPM and 45 RPM
- Dual RCA output for connection to home stereo
- Clean and crisp music
- Detailed highs and lows
- Built-in phono stage
- Fully automatic tonearm
- The stylus could have been better in quality
- Quality loss in RCA output
While the sound may not be so enjoyable for enthusiasts, its price is tempting. With an easy upgrade option, you can do a lot with the Audio-Technica AT-LP3BK Turntable.
1byone Wireless Turntable
1byone is a mid-range wireless record player that is tuned for performance and stability. It is known that increasing the performance often decreases the compatibility but this turntable has achieved a balance between those two spectrums. It incorporates a counterweight that gives more precise and stable rotation speeds. It has a wide range of connectivity and it can connect to any of your RCA outputs; at the same time, it gives you quality wireless streaming.
- Precise iron platter for increased stability
- Adjustable counterweight
- Easy to switch phono line and a built-in preamplifier
- Dual RCA output
- Quality wireless streaming
- Stable rotation
- Precise playback
- Wireless streaming
- Phono line is easily switchable
- Streaming loses its quality
- Built-in preamp is low in quality
The 1byone Wireless Turntable is a good mid-range option for both beginners and professionals.
Choosing a Direct Drive Turntable
If you are new to the vinyl records game, then there are a few things you need to get acquainted with. This section will cover most of the things you need to know before buying or upgrading your setup.
Platter: The part that sits on the top of the base.
Bearings: Provide the smooth rotation.
Motor: Responsible for providing torque to the platter.
Tonearm: The part which traces music on the record.
Cartridge: Responsible for turning the energy from the records into electrical signals.
Feet: Specially used in direct drive motors to dampen the vibrations caused by the turntable motor.
Most of the cartridges come pre-mounted to the tonearm. The cartridge itself is composed of different components. The stylus, which is better known as the needle, picks up the grooves and tracks the sound data on the record. It is also responsible for converting the sound data into electrical signals.
There are three types of vinyl record players and we have mentioned them below:
In a manually operated record player, you will have to manually lift the tonearm and place the needle at just the right level for the needle to trace the music. If you care about sound quality, then the manual operation is the best choice for you.
The semi-automatic is somewhere between quality and convenience. In a semi-automatic record player, you just need to manually lower down the tonearm only once. When the record stops playing, the motor is automatically shut down and the tonearm is set to its default position. This protects the stylus from degrading your record.
A fully automatic record player does all the above-mentioned processes for you. With just the push of a play button, just as in any stereo player, the tonearm automatically sits on the record and starts playing. Once there is nothing left to play, it automatically lifts the tonearm and shuts down the motor.
Although it is on the premium end of the spectrum, we have to recommend the Cambridge Audio Alva TT. None of its competitors even come close to it owing to its high quality build and spot-on sound production. If you are a beginner, then we recommend that you go with the Denon DP-400 as it gives you quality and convenience at a reasonable price.
This article aims to provide you information with the best quality turntables with a broad range of selection coming from different brands. Each products on this list cover almost all the features and quality that one can expect to have in a turntable. With that being said, no one turntable is perfect. Although any of the above-mentioned turntables will work great for you, there’s still a good reason to evaluate your needs and preferences first, then choose whichever record player suits you the best.
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