6 Best Belt Drive Turntables

Published Categorized as Guides

Looking for a turntable that is going to give you a feeling of the classics without letting you down? Want one of the best belt-drive turntables on the market today?

Then come on in, as we explore some of these options for you today as well as what you might look to expect from them.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

What to Look for

The main thing to note in your search for belt-drive turntables is the fact that they will be belt-driven. If you are looking for direct drive turntables then (insert link here).

The central difference between direct drive vs belt drive turntables is the way that they work beneath the surface. Where a direct drive turntable is powered by a drive that is in direct contact with the motor, a belt drive turntable uses a rubber belt as its intercessor.

The use of a belt drive record player has a few key benefits that, despite advances in technology, have meant that people still purchase them over a direct drive model.

For one, belt-driven record players are often quieter than their direct drive counterparts, their motors often being somewhat isolated from the turntable platter. The belt is made of rubber, so it acts as a rather effective absorber of the kind of external vibrations that have been known to ruin the sacrament of a listening experience.

This can have a real effect on the sound quality, hence why so many people still gravitate toward belt drive tables.

Sure enough, the speed control on a manual turntable model like a belt drive one is nowhere near as advanced and capable as direct drive models, which is a large reason why these turntable models are often favored by DJs, offering a wide spectrum of customization options for the aspiring DJ to enact on their favorite tunes.

However, I might argue that the inferior sound quality that comes along with this and the fact that the inner components of such supposedly high-performance turntables are far more difficult to fix oneself, sets the scales of justice between belt drive and direct drive turntables firmly in favor of the former.

1. Sony PS-LX310BT (Best Under $200)

Sony is a legend in the audio hardware game and has made its presence no secret. My own first turntable was in fact a Sony that I inherited from my grandparents and that served me well for many years.

Sony PS-LX310BT Belt Drive Turntable: Fully Automatic Wireless Vinyl Record Player with Bluetooth and USB Output Black

And this one will be no exception, providing the user with a budget-friendly turntable that can get the job done, and wirelessly too!

The Bluetooth connectivity will be a real boon for those not fully willing to delve back into a nostalgia that means noosing oneself with wires. Similarly, the same kind of nostalgiacs will be delighted to hear that this turntable is fully automatic, meaning that the tonearm will remove itself from the surface of the disc once the music is done with.

The lack of extra frills and settings like tracking force will be perfectly suited to someone who is relatively new to this sort of thing.

Pros

  • Offers two speed options and does them rather well, offering consistent speed of playback.
  • Bluetooth connectivity for wireless connection is a real treat in this price range and should not be taken for granted.
  • Perfectly suited to those who are new to owning their own turntable, for all the mechanisms are fully automatic.

Cons

  • Since it is suited to the beginner, there is no option to adjust the tonearm and the like.
  • Nor is there much in the way of a hi-fi, audiophile sound response.

2. Fluance RT82 (Best Under $300)

Fluance have, by now, made quite the name for themselves on the turntable market, manufacturing affordable and fully-capable turntables that could turn all your favorite discs into gold.

Fluance RT82 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Ortofon OM10 Cartridge, Speed Control Motor, High Mass MDF Wood Plinth, Vibration Isolation Feet - Piano Black

Though only a little more expensive than Sony previously, this turntable is better equipped to impress the more discerning ear of an audiophile. To do so, it is fitted with an Ortofon OM 10 elliptical cartridge that is believed to enhance linearity, reduce distortion, and separate the two sides of the grooves channels more clearly.

This turntable will bestow upon the user a sight more control, for this is a manual turntable. This is not going to be as easy as plugging in and pressing play – the setup can, in fact, take up to an hour out of the box – so the beginner should be warned.

Pros

  • The wood is made from solid wood and is a marvel in craftsmanship that comes fitted with capable isolation feet.
  • The fact that the entire system is manually operated makes for a more personal experience.
  • The tracking of the grooves is covered thanks to the bold and bodacious tonearm
  • As well as the fact that all of this is crowned with an Ortofon OM 10 elliptical cartridge for better linearity of the stereo image.

Cons

  • The ability to maintain the same speed consistently is a little lackluster.

3. Denon DP-400 (Best Balance)

Denon is another manufacturer that has paved quite the reputation out for themselves amongst all of the other turntable companies out there working today.

Denon DP-400 Semi-Automatic Analog Turntable with Speed Auto Sensor | Specially Designed Curved Tonearm | Supports 33 1/3, 45, 78 RPM (Vintage) Speeds | Modern Looks, Superior Audio

This turntable is especially good at striking a balance between the automatic and the manual binary that many turntables these days seem to strike.

The Denon, instead, opts for a semi-automated mechanism that engages the user in the vinyl experience but in a way that does not become burdensome.

Likewise, the moving magnet cartridge that comes with the turntable is perfectly able and provides a decent tonal response, though it is suggested by some that it should be replaced with something by Ortofon or Audio-Technica, lest you lose a whole bunch of the hidden harmonics in the grooves of the record.

Remarkably enough, this is one of few turntables on this list that offers the opportunity to play records at 78 rpm and to fine-tune the speed controls.

Pros

  • The built-in preamp is more than up to the task of amplifying the signal well enough to be heard properly by the amplifier itself.
  • Offers the option to play records at three speeds with fine-tuning capabilities.
  • The cartridge that comes with the turntable is more than capable, being a moving magnet cartridge with an elliptical diamond stylus.
  • Semi-automated mechanism strikes a perfect middle ground between the manual and automatic binaries so often established in turntables.

Cons

  • The whirring of the motor is rather loud and can affect the listening experience.
  • The listening experience in general is better when the cartridge is upgraded.

4. Fluance RT85 (Best Under $500)

Another offering from Fluance, here surfing an entirely different price range to bring you a turntable that is entirely capable and will be for years to come.

Fluance RT85 Reference High Fidelity Vinyl Turntable Record Player with Ortofon 2M Blue Cartridge, Acrylic Platter, Speed Control Motor, High Mass MDF Wood Plinth, Vibration Isolation Feet - Walnut

The sound response is full and rich thanks to the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge that comes attached to the S-shaped tonearm.

Any unwanted vibrations that might otherwise mar such a full and balanced listening experience as absorbed as best as possible by the acrylic turntable platter. Similarly, the speed is kept incredibly consistent by the isolated motor with an adept speed control mechanism.

The solid wood plinth with feet to absorb any more vibrations just seals the deal.

Pros

  • The capable isolated motor comes with an equally adept speed control mechanism that ensures as little wow and flutter as possible.
  • The heavy acrylic platter on which the records reside does a stellar job of ensuring a stable sound rid of any unwanted external vibrations.
  • The S-shaped tonearm does a similar job of making sure that the tracking is done as accurately as possible.
  • All crowned by an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge!

Cons

  • There is no preamp built in, so any user wanting to plug in and play will have to purchase one in advance.
  • This is certainly for the more experienced turntable user, requiring considerable adjustments and customization out of the box.

5. Rega Planar 2 (Best Modern)

This space-age flying-saucer looking turntable by turntable afficionados Rega is sure to take your sounds out of this world.

Rega Planar 2 Turntable with RB220 tonearm, Glass-platter and Carbon Cartridge (Gloss Black)

Rega is a well-established audio brand hailing from the UK who have been specializing in audiophilia since the early 1970s. Though their humble place within the world might fool you, they are a well-respected and highly thought of brand that manufactures all of its products by hand.

This turntable comes fitted with a sumptuous glass turntable whose very thickness alone ought to send away any vibrations that feel themselves mighty enough to step up to the sanctity of your listening experience.

The cartridge contained within is one of their own and, much like everything from their factory, it is entirely constructed by the hand of one of their gracious employees.

Pros

  • Comes equipped with a particularly able EBLT belt drive for improved speed accuracy.
  • Besides the plastic cover atop, there is also a wool dust cover that can be placed atop the whole thing to prevent dust seeping in through its orifices.
  • The glass platter is lush and has properties that mean it can kind of clean itself.
  • The tonearm is incredibly versatile and can cater to a whole host of different cartridges as per the user’s preferences.

Cons

  • The power button might be deemed a little inconveniently placed.
  • There are other features missing that might be impregnable for sound optimization.

6. Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO (Best)

Finally, we arrive at another manufacturer that has been making a name for itself over the past few years with a selection of some of the most tasteful-looking and fullest-sounding turntables on the market today.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, Audiophile Turntable with Carbon Fiber tonearm, Electronic Speed Selection and pre-Mounted Sumiko Rainier Phono Cartridge (High Gloss Black)

The motor suspension on this turntable really is something else and makes for an altogether quieter listening experience than you might otherwise be used to in turntables where there has been less attention to detail put into the entire process.

The heavy steel platter (which features a thermoplastic elastomer ring) seeks to deliver entirely noiseless sound response, and with a motor that supports all three of the main vinyl record types and speeds, you are bound to be able to find the experience you are after.

Pros

  • The Ortofon 2M Red cartridge that this turntable comes fitted with is one of the most capable cartridges you are going to find on any turntable under $2000.
  • Caters to all three of the main record speeds: 33 1/3, 45, and 78 rpm.
  • The heavy steel platter features a thermoplastic elastomer ring, a long way of saying that it ensures as quiet an operation as possible.
  • The isolated motor has improved suspension for fewer vibrations.

Cons

  • The tonearm will likely require some adjusting out of the box, so this is one for those who are a little more experienced.

Final Tones

So, there you have it!

Hopefully, this has been useful to you and you have found what you came here to find!

FAQs Belt Drive Turntables

Are belt-driven turntables better?

Neither is inherently better than the other, though belt-driven turntables certainly have a few advantages over their direct drive counterparts. There is more isolation from the motor in a belt-drive turntable, which in turn means they are quieter in general, thanks to the fact that the conduit between the motor and the platter is a rubber belt which can absorb vibrations.

Why do DJs use direct-drive turntables?

One of the main pulls of a direct-drive turntable is the fact that the platter can stop spinning or start spinning pretty much instantaneously. No matter how good a belt-drive turntable is, there is always going to be at least a short delay between pressing play and then having the platter spin at its optimum speed. For a DJ, this short gap between press and play makes all the difference, hence why they tend to opt for direct-drive turntables which mean that there is more control at the hands of the DJ to do whatever they wish with a record.

What is the difference between direct-drive and belt drive turntables?

The difference lies in the way that they are driven and the way that the turntable and its platter are spun. A belt drive turntable works by having its motor pull the platter via a rubber belt, hence the name. A direct drive turntable, on the other hand, works in a more direct way, where the motor is in direct contact with the platter, meaning that it can stop and start pretty much instantaneously, though with the caveat that it is considerably noisier and the quality of the sound is usually less good, owing to the sonic interference of the motor added into the mix.

What is a belt-drive on a turntable?

The belt drive on a turntable refers to how the turntable is run and how its motor communicates with the platter. In a direct drive, the motor will be right up against the platter, meaning that it can be stopped and started almost instantaneously. In a belt drive turntable, on the other hand, the motor will be moving the platter via a rubber belt, hence the title.

Can you scratch with a belt-drive turntable?

In as much as you can try to do anything, you can, though they are far from ideal. Owing to their inherent construction and status as belt-drive turntables, the turntable platter is pulled along with a rubber belt that is powered by the motor. Since the motor is not directly communicating with the turntable platter as in a direct drive turntable, there will be a lag between any movement on the platter and its eventual outcome. Just stop a record with your finger and then watch it attempt to get back up to speed as quickly as possible.

Published
Categorized as Guides

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

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