Originally Posted by Skylab
This does not surprise me at all. In my experience, the better 70's and 80's direct drive Japanese turntables from JVC, Denon, Yamaha, Pioneer, Kenwood et al generally will sound much better than entry level belt drive turntables made today. About 10-12 years ago when my Kenwood died, I bought a Pro-Ject to replace it. And I was devastated - it sounded much worse than the Kenny. I found a Denon DP-59L, and the magic was back! I still have and use the Denon regularly. My VPI Scoutmaster is a little better than the DP-59L...but not as much as some might think...
In the link I posted yesterday in "turntable setup", there was tested Inspire Hi Fi Monarch turntable, with the measurements to die for. http://www.inspirehifi.co.uk/ Turns out Inspire Hi Fi is taking the best reasonably available TTs and mods them into stratosphere. There are LP12s, L78s, etc, yet the prince of them all seems to be the 1210 with new - ahem - most everything, being called Monarch. There is even baby version of the 1210 mod, retaining the most crucial changes from stock. They are relatively inexpensive, but do not expect them to be cheap.
Nothing like that would be happening if basically the Technics design was not sound. Even the very top Technics TTs , SP 10 Mk II and SP 10 MK III, had more than fair share of their gremlins - none of which are not possible to be put aside. But the sheer numbers of 1210 produced and their relative availability makes such endavors as Inspire's possible. SP 10s are simply too rare and too expensive for this purpose.
Technics was not alone - JVC, Kenwood, Denon, Yamaha, Pioneer, to stay with those that do not cost an arm and a leg. There were "statement" designs by above and other japanese manufacturers in early 80s, both direct and belt drive, never exported out of Japan, that can still be regarded as role models in engineering - being matched or surpassed only fairly recently, at 5 figures or more. When confronted with this calibre, belt drives like Linn or Rega have zero chance. They are great value for money, but once true precision is required, direct drive starts creeping in - if not through the main door, through back, if not there, through chimney, etc. There are modern DDs,
Rockport, Grand Prix Monaco, Brinkmann Bardo, VPI - true, they are expensive, but they would not come into being if it was felt such results were achievable trough other means. And this SOTA technology should trickle down to products more people will be able to afford.
There is a caveat with vintage DDs. If ICs in their electronic regulation fail, you can end up with a dead TT - replacement parts are in more and more cases becoming no longer available. Which brings us to 1210 again - for forseable future, it will be possible to maintain your existing "basically 1210" if by no other means, through canibalizing say beat up DJ deck you should be able to get at reasonable price.