View Full Version : Good direct drive turntables


varina
09-18-2012, 11:49 AM
Hi,

I have been seriously thinking of upgrading from my Project Debut mkIII for some time and now I think I have made up my mind of what I want from my new turntable.

The first thing is speed control. Setting the speed with a touch of a button. This is the only thing that's absolutely necessary.

Second thing that would be great is auto shut-off. This is something that I have been missing from time to time with the Debut.

Auto start would be nice. I can do without just fine but I thought it wouldn't hurt.

One more important thing is the looks. I don't want any flimsy plastic enclosures. Another thing regarding the looks is the size. The smaller the better. I have a relatively small apartment and it basically has to fit where my Debut now sits. Widthwise there's plenty of room but depth is quite limited.

I have mainly been focusing on Japanese direct drive tables for now. What are your opinions on which direct drive turntables are worth the money? Obviously SL-12000mkII is strong contestant even if it doesn't have any of the automatic functionalities. I have also been checking on these tables (just because they have been on auctions lately and have caught my eye):

Pioneer PL-530
Luxman PD-291 and some other direct drive Luxmans
Denon DP-45F
JVC JL-A40

The JVC is pretty much out because at least from the pics it seems to be plastic. A Luxman would probably look really cool next to my Luxman amplifier so those are definitely on the shortlist.

What are your thoughts on these and what else would you recommend? My budget is quite limited, but I figured I could stretch up to about 400-500€ if a good table comes up. That's about the price of a used SL-1200 if I'm not mistaken?

similost
09-18-2012, 11:53 AM
If you find a JVC QL-5 or JVC QL-50, both those are real sleepers as far as bang for the buck, and not plastic.

From your list the Pioneer is a good table along with the Denon of sourse..

Pioneer PL-55dx and the PL-71 are great direct drives too.

dnpainting
09-18-2012, 11:56 AM
First that came to mind was the Technics SL1200MKII. Have a look at the Technics SL1700MKII.
Sorry, no experience with the ones you listed.

Welcome to AK!

Glen B
09-18-2012, 12:01 PM
Denon DP-47F, DP-59L. My DP-59L continues to operate flawlessly after 24 years.

http://www.audioscope.net/images/denondp47l1.jpg

http://www.audioscope.net/images/denondp59l-2.jpg

Dr Tinear
09-18-2012, 12:02 PM
If you have the space for it, a Technics SL-1600 or SL-1700 would be an excellent choice. Both are direct-drive with fine speed adjustment, and both return the tonearm automatically at the end of the record. The SL-1600 also starts playback automatically. The Mk2 versions of these turntables have the quartz lock speed regulation that Technics also used on the SL-1200Mk2. The earlier (non-Mk2) versions use a frequency-generator servo (FG servo) drive system instead of the quartz lock, but speed regulation on these is still very good.

The Vintage Technics Web site at http://www.vintagetechnics.co.uk/menu.htm has specs on all the Technics turntable models.

awise1961
09-18-2012, 12:30 PM
Along with the Denon DP-59L might I suggest either of these.
None of which are cheap and plastic like, and they are full auto's.
The first is a JVC QL-Y66f, second is a Sony PS-X75, and third is a Yamaha PX-3 linear tracker. Others to look for would be a JVC QL-Y55f, Sony PS-X70, or other higher end Denon tables beginning with the DP-47F and up.

Al. Wise

Northman
09-18-2012, 01:18 PM
Denon PD-47F, DP-59L. My DP-59L continues to operate flawlessly after 24 years.

http://www.audioscope.net/images/denondp59l-2.jpg

Man, I would LOVE to get my hands on a 59L.

majick47
09-18-2012, 01:22 PM
Sony PS-X500 or X600.

js1138
09-18-2012, 01:33 PM
If you get a chance, take a look at the Pioneer PL-707.

varina
09-18-2012, 02:01 PM
Thanks for all the replies. All your suggestions seem really nice. I have never really regarded JVC very high, but those high end turntables seem really pretty.

I would have already gone for the Denon in my list if it weren't for the looks of the tonearm. It just seems so bulky. I suppose it's a good arm, but it just not very elegant looking.

How about Luxman decks? Are those good? They certainly look cool.

Northman
09-18-2012, 02:04 PM
I agree the Denon arms may not look very elegant, but I love mine, and the interchangeable straight and S arms make cart swapping and stylus cleaning a breeze.

ETI_5000
09-18-2012, 02:16 PM
Many of the Luxman turntables are quite compact. I have a Lux PD-288, and it’s much smaller than my JVC QL-Y3F or my Sansui XR-Q7, or most of the Denon turntables, both in height and width. I have a relatively narrow wooden hi-fi stand that is many years old (35?) in one room, and the Luxman fits easily on top of that, where the other two turntables are too wide for them to fit in between the side panels, which extend above the top shelf by about 2 inches (5 cm). The PD-289 and PD-277 are also similar models, and the PD-272 was another good performer.

The first quartz lock models were the semi-auto (auto return) Luxman PD-290 and the fully auto PD-291 (which effectively replaced the PD-288/289 twins – the only differences between those two were slightly different tonearms). Luxman got taken over by Alpine soon after that, so there weren’t many later turntables. There are a few lower level models too, but the ones I’ve mentioned were all midrange models with excellent performance, and nice sturdy low mass tonearms, using a double tube near the pivot to increase rigidity (they were much more rigid than many low mass tonearms). Those turntables were all made by Micro Seiki, who was one of the main Japanese turntable OEM’s.

They were all very good performers in independent reviews. In fact, the Lux PD-291 was the best turntable for rumble when measured using Thorens’ rumble test adaptor (Rumpel-Messkoppler), of 16 turntables tested by Australian Hi-Fi in the mid-1980’s. Here’s a list of the results, all in dB unweighted, using the Rumpel-Messkoppler, with the date and prices in brackets:

-56dB Luxman PD-291 (1985 AUD$439 less cartridge)
-52dB Technics SL-Q20 (1984 $299)
-51dB, Denon DP-75 (1984 $2155 less cartridge)
-50dB Denon DP-30L II (1984 $385),
-48dB Ariston RD-80SL (1984 $599 less tonearm, cartridge)
-48dB Denon DP-57L (1985 $629 less cartridge)
-48dB Heybrook TT2 (1985 $699 less tonearm, cartridge),
-46dB Micro Seiki BL-10X (1984 $799 less cartridge)
-45dB Aiwa LX-70 (1985 $455)
-45dB JVC QL-L2 (POA)
-45dB Technics SL-D21 (1984 $205),
-44.5dB Luxman A522 (1985 $579 less cartridge)
-44dB Harman Kardon T60 (1985 $599 less cartridge)
-43.5 dB Sota Sapphire (1982 $1350 less tonearm, cartridge)
-43.5dB CEC ST-630 (1985 $329)
-40dB Technics SL-QX200 (1985 $379)

Some of those, like the Denon DP-75, were many times the price of the Lux PD-291, so it was excellent performance for the money.

The other thing about the Luxman turntables is they all look fantastic.:thmbsp:

ETI_5000
09-18-2012, 02:23 PM
I should say that all those Luxman models I mentioned have wooden bases, not plastic!:D And some other manufacturers, including Pioneer, believed that compact dimensions were an advantage in lowering susceptibility to acoustic feedback, as lower profile turntables received less vibration from direct sound waves, leading to better sound (allegedly).

SaSi
09-18-2012, 02:40 PM
I have a luxman PD-121. Fully manual, no auto return. It's a fantastic performer and the tonearm and cart combo (denon + denon mc) seem to make a perfect match. Would recommend this totally but doesn't fit the requirements.

I've had some limited experience with automatic luxman TTs in the past. Look equally nice but build quality wasn't as good.

The Technics SL-1600MkII seems to be the perfect match for what you are looking for. The 1300MkII is even better looking (personal taste) but has a tonearm lift issue that can be fixed (not easy) and the VTA adjustment is crude compared to the 1600MkII.

vincei
09-18-2012, 02:49 PM
Lot's of excellent suggestions, I recently picked up a Sony PS-X70. Really nice table!

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8438/7989515427_7fc2142992_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mastercontrolmedia/7989515427/)
Sony PS-X70 Turntable System (1978) (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mastercontrolmedia/7989515427/) by mastercontrolmedia (http://www.flickr.com/people/mastercontrolmedia/), on Flickr

flavio81
09-18-2012, 03:16 PM
been on auctions lately and have caught my eye):

Pioneer PL-530
Luxman PD-291 and some other direct drive Luxmans
Denon DP-45F
JVC JL-A40

From your list, the Pioneer and the Denon are the best. I'd pick the Denon if it works correctly; the tonearm is really advanced.

That Luxman has mediocre build quality and an unsophisticated motor. I speak from direct-hand experience dissasembling one of them. The JVC may have a lot of plastic but might be decent; JVC gear is generally of bad look but high performance. Don't forget that JVC was a company commanded by an engineer, the brightest engineer in Japan, were the ones who pioneered stereo record cutting and making in Japan, and invented the CD4 quadraphonic system which carried many, many improvements to vinyl record and playback technology.

The Sony PS-X series are generally very good.

Don't go for a Technics SL-1200MK_; they are grossly overpriced on the secondhand market. Don't go for a SL-1200 lookalike: they all are terrible.

flavio81
09-18-2012, 03:18 PM
-56dB Luxman PD-291 (1985 AUD$439 less cartridge)
-52dB Technics SL-Q20 (1984 $299)
-51dB, Denon DP-75 (1984 $2155 less cartridge)
-50dB Denon DP-30L II (1984 $385),
-48dB Ariston RD-80SL (1984 $599 less tonearm, cartridge)
-48dB Denon DP-57L (1985 $629 less cartridge)
-48dB Heybrook TT2 (1985 $699 less tonearm, cartridge),
-46dB Micro Seiki BL-10X (1984 $799 less cartridge)
-45dB Aiwa LX-70 (1985 $455)
-45dB JVC QL-L2 (POA)

Rumble levels like the ones above

(1) Are all good enough
(2) Do not tell you anything about the sound quality
(3) Actual rumble will depend a lot on the cartridge used and the specific tonearm design. The Thorens rumble coupler elliminate this factor, but it is important.

JohnInICT
09-18-2012, 06:39 PM
I'm a Pioneer guy, so my vote would be for the 530, 570 or 71....but a PL 510 or 518 are a good bang for the buck and a Marantz 6300 is gorgeous. Sansui made some nice DD TT's as well.

speedle
09-18-2012, 06:48 PM
Holy cow vincei that thing is magnificent!

JohnInICT
09-18-2012, 06:55 PM
Agreed.


Holy cow vincei that thing is magnificent!

the architect
09-18-2012, 08:28 PM
PL-530 is a great table but the feet stink! so to speak. Either upgrade the feet or really isolate the turntable.

varina
09-19-2012, 12:30 PM
Despite of Flavio's advice I am still thinking of SL-1200. There is a mk5 going for 400€. Now that's without cart so it seems a bit much, but I sent the guy a message anyway. Is there a lot of difference between mk2 and mk5? All I could find was the looks...

I'm still very much looking for options, though. I wouldn't want spend all that for the mk5 without the cart. After all the Denon I mentioned had a Goldring 1042 cart with it so it would be a lot more bang for buck. Even if it is a little fugly.

sled108
09-19-2012, 04:41 PM
Sorry, but I have to Say It....The Denon's ToneArm looks like a Gun Turret from a BattleShip...

cactuscowboy
09-19-2012, 05:10 PM
Is there a lot of difference between mk2 and mk5? All I could find was the looks...

Nothing significant, mostly cosmetic. They're essentially the same. The other series "M5G" etc... have better stock tonearm wire and a few amenities geared towards DJ use.

You'd hardly go wrong with a Technics SL-1200. A great choice IMO. That's not to dismiss other vintage decks though. There are plenty out there that are excellent as well.

varina
09-19-2012, 09:33 PM
Sorry, but I have to Say It....The Denon's ToneArm looks like a Gun Turret from a BattleShip...

Yep. If it weren't for the tonearm I would have grabbed that deck immediately. I just think it will probably start to bother me at some point and I will start looking for a new one again. I would like to get a deck I can be happy with for years. SL-12000 has been a deck I have been wanting for as long as I have known something abut turntables. I'm pretty sure it would be a keepsake for real.

sled108
09-19-2012, 09:41 PM
Well, Hell then...The SL-1200 is a Great Deck...Get One...And, Enjoy It...

Unless...If, You might want to take a Shot at this Beauty...

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=377322&stc=1&d=1348110032

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=377323&stc=1&d=1348110038

http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-MARANTZ-6300-SERVO-CONTROL-DIRECT-DRIVE-TURNTABLE-W-DUST-COVER-RECORD-/120985652175?pt=Vintage_Electronics_R2&hash=item1c2b4e8bcf

This is what I'd go for in a DD TT...Good Luck with the Bids...It will not go for Cheap...

varina
09-20-2012, 01:13 AM
That beauty would surely be welcome in my shelf. But buying from overseas just feels a little too complicated...

varina
09-20-2012, 04:46 AM
After some googling I have found very contradicting opinions on Luxmans. I am considering DP-290 for 250€ (no haggling yet). It comes with Ortofon OM 10 cart, which I would probably upgrade as well. Auto-stop would be really nice and I really like the design.

How does this model compare with, say SL-1200? Are we talking about completely different ball park or what? How about my current debut compared to the Luxman? I am, after all, looking for an upgrade, not just something different.

flavio81
09-20-2012, 10:10 AM
Well, Hell then...The SL-1200 is a Great Deck...Get One...And, Enjoy It...

Unless...If, You might want to take a Shot at this Beauty...

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=377322&stc=1&d=1348110032

The DD motor on it is pretty unsophisticated, and the tonearm mass is on the high side, so it limits your cartridge choice.

As for the beauty, i found that one ugly as hell.

flavio81
09-20-2012, 10:11 AM
After some googling I have found very contradicting opinions on Luxmans.

Because Luxman made pretty amazing tables and also "just OK" tables.

flavio81
09-20-2012, 10:13 AM
After some googling I have found very contradicting opinions on Luxmans. I am considering DP-290 for 250€ (no haggling yet).

Are you sure the model number is OK? I can't find any info. Anyway, if it's a current production Denon, like the DP-300F, then stay away. It's not worth it.

If you can afford the SL-1200MK x, then it's a good choice.

varina
09-20-2012, 10:59 AM
Are you sure the model number is OK? I can't find any info. Anyway, if it's a current production Denon, like the DP-300F, then stay away. It's not worth it.

If you can afford the SL-1200MK x, then it's a good choice.

As I said, Luxman PD-290. :D

I guess I have been thinking this too much because all the model monikers are getting mixed up in my head.

So what's the verdict on PD-290? In some discussions I've read that it's good and some have said that it's not worth it. It's really nice looking and compact. Would fit my stereo shelf just fine. If only it's a good upgrade from Debut.

Every time I re-evaluate my budget I come to the different conclusion on whether or not I can afford the Technics. What do reckon? Is 400€ on mk5 without a cart ok? It's been on DJ use, so there might be some scratches on it. Not in mint condition, but the seller said that it is in good condition.

flavio81
09-20-2012, 11:38 AM
As I said, Luxman PD-290. :D

I guess I have been thinking this too much because all the model monikers are getting mixed up in my head.

So what's the verdict on PD-290? In some discussions I've read that it's good and some have said that it's not worth it. It's really nice looking and compact. Would fit my stereo shelf just fine. If only it's a good upgrade from Debut.

Every time I re-evaluate my budget I come to the different conclusion on whether or not I can afford the Technics. What do reckon? Is 400€ on mk5 without a cart ok? It's been on DJ use, so there might be some scratches on it. Not in mint condition, but the seller said that it is in good condition.

Depends on what are you expecting. I'm no fan of the SL-1200MK2+ series, but i'd place that Technics head and shoulder above that Luxman.

I've dissasembled the PD-284 which is almost identical and i didn't like it. The DD motor was way too unsophisticated. The tonearm was flimsy and the tonearm mounting wasn't really beefy. Yes, everything was on a wood base, but it wasn't a really dense wood. And the internal construction quality wasn't so good.

In any case it IS a ok turntable that would be a good buy for a turntable newbie, certainly better than many entry-level TTs available today.

varina
09-20-2012, 01:53 PM
I guess my decision is whether I want to go for something I will end up upgrading later or wait for a good deal and go straight for something I can hold on to for years and years... The latter option seems wiser but less fun.

varina
09-22-2012, 09:28 AM
Does anyone know anything about Pioneer PL-3F? From what I found out it's apparently pretty much the same as PL-707. I am now wondering between this one and the Denon DP-45F...

varina
10-14-2012, 07:22 AM
Hi again. I just thought I'd conclude this thread. I ended up buying the Denon. In real life the arm doesn't look all that bad. The pictures don't make justice to it. It looks outlandish compared to the simple design on my old Project Debut, but it suits this table just fine. I'm loving the steady speed of the direct drive. No wow or flutter that I can hear.

It came mounted with a Goldring 1042 cartridge, which sounds really good. I've had Belle and Sebastian's Tigermilk on vinyl for years and years and the vocals have always sounded distorted with the lower end Ortofon OM mounted on my Debut, but the Goldring has no problem tracking the sibilant S's on this record. Finaly I can honestly enjoy this great music.

I always thought that automation was lazy and that queuing the record was part of the ritual of enjoying vinyls. I am now enjoying them much more as I can just press a button and listen to music.

So all in all: thanks for all the input. All the comments here were helpful. I am now a proud and satisfied owner of a good automated direct drive turntable. Success! :)

Azimuth
10-14-2012, 09:14 AM
You seem to be contradicting yourself. On one hand, you would like auto-return. On the other, you are considering the SL 1200, which does not have auto return. There are many high quality direct drive Technics that do have it. Just check Vintage Technics. The SL 1600 and 1700 and the Mk II versions of these, plus the SL Q2 and many others.

stonedeaf
10-14-2012, 11:00 AM
A table that has gotten a lot of use here is the Denon DP-61F.Essentially same arm as your turntable - dead quiet in terms of rumble -excellent isolation and has so far worked flawlessly. I've never encountered another arm that is actually able to work well with cartridges whose compliance runs from a Shure V-15-III to a Denon DL-103 -that electronic dampening is simply amazing!
My only gripe with this series of tables is the slightly difficult to find Headshells. I've actually bought cheap low end Denon's from this era just to get their headshell and then traded them off with a higher mass homade/modified shell.
Finally - one point in favor of the Technics SL-1200 is that it was discontinued relatively recently compared to everything else on your list - from a serviceability point of view - the ability to get any of the parts for this as NEW rather than scavenged parts is a pretty big advantage right now for the 1200.