Direct-Drive vs Belt-Drive
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Direct-Drive vs Belt-Drive Turntable (Spinning Secrets)

Direct-Drive vs Belt-Drive

If you are shopping for a new turntable, one of the most significant considerations will be in a direct-drive vs belt-drive turntable.

To get the best playback, it simply makes sense to understand the differences between the two.

In this article, we’ll look at both types of turntables and give you the information you need to make the best decision based on your needs.

Direct-Drive or Belt-Drive: Which Spinner Is The Winner?

Direct-Drive Turntables

A direct-drive turntable has a platter that’s attached directly to the motor. It starts quickly and offers more substantial torque and more accurate speeds.

These are often preferred by DJ’s because they are more reliable and more durable than belt-drive turntables.

Direct-drive turntable motor

There is a negative side to direct-drive turntables, and that is, they tend to have lower quality for playback.

There is a lot of noise from motor vibration, and even the stylus can affect the sound quality. For these reasons, many people prefer belt-drive turntables.

Belt-Drive Turntables

Many turntables use belt-drives, which are attached to the turntable motor. The bearing offers linear and rotational movements, and it is exact.

Often, this type is used because it is so adaptable, and it requires little maintenance.

Belt-drive turntable motor

The belt-drive is uses a rubberized belt which absorbs shock, and it helps reduce vibrations coming from the record player motor.

This type of drive offers terrific sound quality, and there is an excellent focus on noise reduction.

The downside is that there is a lower torque, which is important for some people. Also, the playback speed may not be as accurate as with direct-drive turntables.

Which is Best?

When trying to determine which is better, belt or direct-drive turntables, it really all comes down to personal preference, at least for most people.

If you’re looking for high-quality sound with consistent playback, a belt-drive turntable is the best option.

On the other hand, if your budget is not a significant consideration, and you want something long-lasting and durable, a direct-drive turntable may be best for you.

Fat City Turtables

Direct-Drive vs Belt-Drive Turntable Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Direct-Drive Automatic Turntable?

A direct-drive automatic turntable has a motor located directly under the platter, and it rotates using the bearing.

When it comes to belt vs. direct-drive turntable, remember, this is not the same as a belt-drive turntable with a motor connected to the platter with a belt.

If you are getting into DJ’ing, your best option is a direct-drive turntable because it will give you a much faster response time.

Pioneer DJ PLX-1000 Professional Turntable

Pioneer PLX1000 Direct Drive DJ Turntable

Are Direct-Drive Turntables Better?

In the debate over a belt vs direct-drive turntables, the most critical factor in this question is your personal preference.

Suppose you’re looking for high-quality sound with consistent playback. In that case, you might want to consider getting a belt-drive turntable.

As mentioned previously, if you’re looking for a turntable that’s durable, offers plenty of long-term play, and is easy to use, a direct-drive turntable is the better option for you.

In short, both types of turntables have lots of benefits.

Something else to consider, the quality of the record player itself. Other components such as the needle, tonearm, plinth, built-in speakers, and other elements have an effect.

Even sound from the drive source can have influence, and everyone tends to like something different.

Before making your final decision, you should make it a point to test out a few other turntables to see what is going to be best for you.

How Long Does a Turntable Belt Last?

This is a difficult question to answer. If you don’t use your turntable very much, the belt could last for several years.

If you use the turntable regularly but not always, you can expect the belt to last for anywhere from three to five years, give or take.

A typical belt from a belt-drive turntable should last 3-5 years under normal playing conditions.

Believe it or not, a cheap belt on a cheap turntable could last longer than an expensive belt on an expensive turntable.

Something else to consider is where the turntable is being used. If you work at clubs with ambient light and a smoke machine in use, the urethane in the belt could deteriorate more quickly than if it were just used in your home.

Where Can I Buy a Turntable Belt?

You can buy a turntable belt at most stores that sell quality audio equipment. If your favorite audio store doesn’t carry turntable belts, they will probably be more than happy to order one in for you.

A great source for replacement belts can be found here:

lp logo

Of corse, you can get turntable belt replacements on Amazon, and they aren’t overly expensive (less than $15).

How Do I Know if My Turntable Belt is Bad?

It’s pretty straight forward to tell if the turntable belt has gone bad: the turntable doesn’t spin when the record player is turned on!

But this isn’t the only indication that you need a new belt. Another way to tell is if the records you are playing have lower or deeper pitches. In other words, wobbly sound playback is another indicator.

You may also need a new belt if you notice a change in speed due to drag when the needle touches the record.

Fat City Turtables

What is the Best Direct-Drive Turntable?

With so many different turntables on the market, it is difficult to say which are the best belt-drive and direct-drive automatic turntables.

Our recommendation for one of the best direct-drive turntables we can think of is the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB with a DC servo motor with selectable 33/45/78 RPM speeds.

Audio-Technica is known for manufacturing high quality audio products, and this is an excellent direct-drive turntable for those who are just getting into vinyl or working with relatively small budgets.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB-BK Direct-Drive Turntable (Analog & USB), Fully...

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Turntable 

Additional features include:

    • Fully manual operation featuring adjustable dynamic anti-skate control
    • Variable pitch control with quartz speed lock
    • Balanced S-shaped tonearm with hydraulically damped lift control and lockable rest

Overall, it’s good advice to check out as many direct-drive turntable reviews as possible.

It would also be a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable salesperson (or someone you know who knows a lot about stereo equipment).

By getting a knowledgable opinion, you can figure out which one is going to be best for your needs, and whether you really need it, or if you should be looking at the best belt-drive turntable for your needs.

Direct-Drive vs Belt-Drive
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Steve Bee is a musician, audiophile, author and publisher. Drawing on his extensive experience with audio equipment and music, Steve and his team share insight into the world of vinyl and audio.

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