Direct Drive Vs. Belt Drive Turntables
Before we get into the specifics of belt-driven or direct-driven turntables, let’s better understand the motor and what it does. Every turntable has a motor built inside of it. The motor’s job is to spin the platter at a constant rate while a record sits atop the platter, and a stylus runs through the grooves of a record, creating vibrations, and thus creating sound.
There are two motors that almost all conventional turntables use to achieve this, which now brings us back full circle: what is a direct-drive turntable, and what is a belt-driven one? What are the differences, pros, cons, etc.? It may all seem like an overwhelming amount of information, but let us proceed by breaking down some of the basics for you.
A direct-drive turntable refers to a turntable that has its platter spun directly connected to the motor. In contrast, a belt drive isolates the motor from the platter, and the platter is spun via an elastic or rubber belt that connects the two using bearings.
What is a belt-drive turntable?
It is the traditional drive mainly used by the people and based on a popular design. We call it a belt drive due to the process used to turn the platter, which contains an electric motor covered with the belt. The motor and belt are attached beneath the platter, making it easy to rotate.
The belt used in this drive are ribbon style, more like the vacuum motor belts but are pretty smaller than them. It is created with unique quality rubber and built to last long. However, the belt drives are constructed to last long, but some users still complain that the rubber turns black over time and becomes difficult to move. To remove the mess created by the rubber belt, you can use alcohol on a cotton swab. Lastly, belt drives are quite popular among audiophiles.
Don’t Miss to read about a belt-drive turntable: [Audio Technica AT-LP60 Review]
What is a direct drive turntable?
The motor is attached to the platter directly without any belt in the direct-drive turntable. It does not need any belt to move the platter. People for decades have used this drive, but recently, the demand for the direct drive has increased as the DJs love them. The direct drive comes with excellent speed control and an extra switch plus buttons for better control. However, the direct-drive motor is almost like the one used in belt drive, but they are more sensitive to resistance. These drives have a faster start and stop without any slow time. It can go from zero to full speed in the blink of an eye.
Also Read: Audio-Technica AT-LP120 Review 2022!
Similarities between direct and belt drive
Both drives tend to produce good sound quality and are long-lasting too. These drives allow you to play the records at different speeds, and you can also change the vinyl easily. You can easily make adjustments in the tonearm or other components in both drives if needed. In terms of function, there is no such huge difference in these drives. Honestly, you can use any of them to run the vinyl of your choice. However, for DJs, direct drive is better than others.
Differences between direct and belt drive
The motor function of the direct drive is different from the belt drive. They both are different in how the motor spins, and their design differs from each other. Both are created for different audiences. The direct drive is mainly created for the DJs and designed to work with two turntables, while the belt drive doesn’t possess such functions.
There are more bells and whistles in the direct drive, plus the design is slim compared to the other one. You can easily change the platter’s speed and direction in direct drive. However, belt drives are created for audiophiles or other users. This drive is designed for high output quality and is relatively easy to use compared to a direct drive.
Pros and Cons of Direct Drive:
- Direct drive turntables offer the user more stability and consistency in rotation speed.
- This stability can be attributed to the constant torque the direct-drive creates.
- Faster start-up times.
- Less sound distortion.
- With direct drive, you can easily change the speed direction and also the turntable’s volume.
- The platter is less susceptible and vulnerable to any outside forces negatively affecting it.
- Most DJs are akin to these direct drive turntables because only direct drive motors allow the platter to spin backward on command, which is how many desired sounds and special effects are created.
- One major con of the direct drive is that the motor itself inherently generates unwanted vibrations.
Pros and cons of belt drive:
- The belt drive doesn’t have any vibrations made from the motor that interfere with the constant rotation needed by the platter.
- Natural shock absorber.
- Belt drives have quieter operations.
- Belt drive creates superior sound quality compared to that of the direct drive.
- The sound quality of the belt drive is excellent.
- The belt drive suffers from a lack of torque.
Who can use the belt drive turntable?
Are you a beginner or just new to the turntables? We’d suggest you go for the belt drive. These drives are not only affordable but also quite simple to use. For a newbie, the belt drives are pretty easier to understand, as there are only a few buttons in it compared to the direct drive. If you’re an audiophile or need a turntable for your home to play your favorite vinyl, then go for this one. Belt drives are also quieter and produce good sound quality too.
Who can use the direct drive turntable?
If you’re a DJ, we’d suggest you go for the direct drive. Because it allows you to start/stop, change speed, mix two decks, slow or fast the speed or stop in between the song without any hassle. These functions are not present in the belt drive. Moreover, the sound produced by these drives is also of good quality with minor distortions.