What’s better: belt-drive or direct-drive?

There is a long-standing myth that there is something inherent in belt-drive that makes it superior. There isn’t.

Technically, direct-drive has several advantages, specifically in terms of torque and drive speed consistency. It’s much cheaper to make a belt-drive turntable though, this is why most affordable decks tend to be belt-driven. This suits small manufacturers who can build a belt-drive turntable using readily available, low-cost motors.

It’s much more expensive to design and manufacture a really good direct-drive machine and this is the overriding reason why you don’t see many of them these days. The performance advantages of direct-drive systems explain why some of the best and most expensive turntables, tape machines and lathes utilise direct-drive though.

Most of your records were recorded, mastered and cut on direct-drive tape machines and cutting lathes. Ever wondered why that might be? If belt-drive really was superior, it would be used where cost is no option, it’s that simple. This explains why many of the great turntables are direct-drive and why those machines are so highly sought after.

These are facts of course, not my opinions, but this is not what everyone wants to hear. People can get really angry about this, lovers of particular belt-drive brands especially. Most of these people have never even heard a really high-end machine like an L-07D or SP-10/SL-1000, but cling to these beliefs anyway.

I like what’s best, so show me an excellent turntable and I’ll use it, belt-drive, direct-drive or idler-drive. My current working reference is a belt-drive Luxman (Micro) PD-350, which hopefully demonstrates my open-mindedness on this point!