What is an idler drive turntable?

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twoengine
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What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by twoengine » 11 Jun 2012 22:14

What is an idler drive turntable and how does it compare to a belt drive and direct drive turntables? What are some examples of idler drive turntables?

Thanks in advance.

Coffee Phil
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by Coffee Phil » 11 Jun 2012 22:35

Hi Twoengine,

An idler drive uses a wheel usually with a rubber tire to couple the motor shaft to the turntable platter. They were at one time the most common. They were largely displaced by belt drive which were purportedly more quiet as the belt connecting the motor pulley to the turntable platter served as a filter. Near the end of the reign of vinyl direct drives started to appear. These machines have the motor rotor and the turntable platter on the same shaft.

Direct Drives seem to be enjoying a renaissance lately.

You will find that many folks defend their favorite drive system with religious fervor.

An example of an idler drive machine can be seen here:

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/rek ... dine.shtml

Phil
twoengine wrote:What is an idler drive turntable and how does it compare to a belt drive and direct drive turntables? What are some examples of idler drive turntables?

Thanks in advance.

cats squirrel
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by cats squirrel » 11 Jun 2012 23:22

An idler drive turntable is as described above.

For those people who have used one, or even just listened to one, many find that they provide a more stable sound, with better rhythm and better imaging. This may be due to the torque of the drive system, as most idler drives were used to play 78's, with cartridges tracking at up to 10 grammes. A mediocre belt drive may not supply enough torque. Direct drives are a high torque modern principle which can compete with idler drives.

Typical examples of idler drives include Garrards, Thorens (TD145), EMT and Swiss Lenco's; I run four of the latter. They just sound right to me. But that is not to say some belt driven decks don't sound good, but one has to spend a lot of money for those. :D

[other religions will have different dogma!]

cafe latte
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by cafe latte » 11 Jun 2012 23:50

I agree with Cats, a well maintained idler is hard to beat. I love my commonwealth (resto link viewtopic.php?f=18&t=34547) and my Technics sl1210, they both sound different, but there is a solid stability that they both have in spades. Have a look on page 4 of my link and there is a pic that shows how an idler drive works, the platter is off and the wheel you can see runs on the inner rim of the platter. The speed is changed by a mechanism lowering and raising the idler wheel.
Regards
CL

Coffee Phil
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by Coffee Phil » 12 Jun 2012 00:44

I saw a screw up and it is too late to edit. Why is there a time limit on that?

I said Direct drives seem to be enjoying a renaissance. That should say idler drives are enjoying a renaissance.

Sorry.

Phil

Coffee Phil wrote:Hi Twoengine,

An idler drive uses a wheel usually with a rubber tire to couple the motor shaft to the turntable platter. They were at one time the most common. They were largely displaced by belt drive which were purportedly more quiet as the belt connecting the motor pulley to the turntable platter served as a filter. Near the end of the reign of vinyl direct drives started to appear. These machines have the motor rotor and the turntable platter on the same shaft.

Direct Drives seem to be enjoying a renaissance lately.

You will find that many folks defend their favorite drive system with religious fervor.

An example of an idler drive machine can be seen here:

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/rek ... dine.shtml

Phil
twoengine wrote:What is an idler drive turntable and how does it compare to a belt drive and direct drive turntables? What are some examples of idler drive turntables?

Thanks in advance.

JaS
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by JaS » 12 Jun 2012 12:59

Coffee Phil wrote:I saw a screw up and it is too late to edit. Why is there a time limit on that?
The time limit is a standard feature on many forums. You can write drafts and preview posts, but once posted you have 1 hour to fix any typos etc, unless the post has been replied to. Firstly this prevents people from completely rewriting posts after they have been replied to (some sort of wiki style edit history would be useful here, but we don't have one). Secondly it prevents members from deleting text wholesale from old threads and making them unreadable.

Regards,
JaS

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by Blue Angel » 12 Jun 2012 14:23

twoengine wrote:What is an idler drive turntable and how does it compare to a belt drive and direct drive turntables? What are some examples of idler drive turntables?

Thanks in advance.
In addition to the accurate descriptions posted here, the mere mention of idler drive turntables is sometimes also the cause of argument and bickering :lol:

ba

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by raphaelmabo » 12 Jun 2012 15:35

There has been a trend for some years now to dig out an old idler turntable (Thorens, Lenco, Garrard or something else) and making a new plinth construction to house the turntable in. With todays knowledge one can make plinths and technical enhancements and tweaking that makes those turntables sounding better than when new. The mechanical quality is of solid, reliable parts.

flavio81

Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by flavio81 » 12 Jun 2012 15:40

The difference between idler drive versus the most common "Belt drive" and "Direct Drive" is that Idler Drive is also an esoteric cult. And i love it.

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by raphaelmabo » 12 Jun 2012 16:00

flavio81 wrote:The difference between idler drive versus the most common "Belt drive" and "Direct Drive" is that Idler Drive is also an esoteric cult. And i love it.
Yes, they can be found in dark alleys trading secret schemes of plinth construction, and hosting listening sessions in secret underground chambers, playing tunes to achieve a higher state of consciousness and making holy rituals of different kinds. One of them is called, I have heard, "The Holy replacement of cartridges"... :)

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by Coffee Phil » 12 Jun 2012 16:58

Hi Jas,

I figured it had to be something like that. It does tend to keep us honest.

I do use the preview, as without it I would seem marginally literate. The draft thing is something I haven't figured out yet. I have also composed posts in Word and after I got them to where they looked half way literate copied and pasted into the text box.

Phil
JaS wrote:
Coffee Phil wrote:I saw a screw up and it is too late to edit. Why is there a time limit on that?
The time limit is a standard feature on many forums. You can write drafts and preview posts, but once posted you have 1 hour to fix any typos etc, unless the post has been replied to. Firstly this prevents people from completely rewriting posts after they have been replied to (some sort of wiki style edit history would be useful here, but we don't have one). Secondly it prevents members from deleting text wholesale from old threads and making them unreadable.

Regards,
JaS

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by J.D. » 12 Jun 2012 17:04

Generally speaking the torque of idlers is higher, but not all that much. I'd like to suggest that the "solid" presentation is due to a lower level of micro-variances in the speed stability -- due to Closely Coupled drive elements.

Like the open reel tape decks that are the source of the recordings we play on turntables, the idler system works with capstan and roller to ensure more stable speed than is realistically possible with compliant lengths of stretchy belt.

Direct Drive is the only competition to Idler, and can give spectacular results. Their drawback seems to be that lots of electronics are involved in the control circuits and require a well-versed technician with good bench resources to adjust and test.

Drawbacks with idler are that original companies (thorens or garrard, say) are not supplying replacement parts and aftermarket is hit-and-miss. Restoration can also require more mechanical / milling expertise than the average diy practitioner can bring to bear.

Oh, and the more 'classic' rap on these two is that directdrive cogs and is gray/ distant sounding ... and that idlers are loud and have motor rumble.

The enthusiasts in both camps would point out that those classic things are true only of misadjusted or worn-out decks. Which is pretty much accurate. A direct or idler in full first-class operating condition is extremely close to the signal/noise performance of a beltdrive, but critically -- without the vaguely squiffy, squirrelly stability flaws that you get with belts.

J.D.

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by Ottermel » 12 Jun 2012 17:34

Also, not to forget more recent developments on the drive front like "rim drive", used on some newer turntables (external"idler" type drive but not the same).

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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by J.D. » 13 Jun 2012 17:25

Ottermel wrote:Also, not to forget more recent developments on the drive front like "rim drive", used on some newer turntables (external"idler" type drive but not the same).
Ballots are still out on those. They've not been around long enough, or produced by enough companies, or most importantly--- in any kind of range of models, to be considered one of the big three (idler, belt, direct).

There are those, it should be mentioned, that regard the "rim" drive as a kind of after-market retrofit attempt to cash in on the idler renaissance of the last ten years. They have a definite point.

(However. The efforts by the Teres company are interesting and shouldn't be slagged with the 'aftermarket' label, though. They have a fully revised drive system going, with their Verus direct-coupled motor and controller system.)

cats squirrel
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Re: What is an idler drive turntable?

Post by cats squirrel » 13 Jun 2012 19:00

the discussion about old turntables having a come-back reminds me of a conversation I had with the owner of a 'classic' Jaguar XK120 car. Vic, the owner, said he (and his XK120) were invited to the launch of the latest Jag range. Whilst his Jag was the star of the show, he was asked by a really raw salesman if he (Vic) wanted a new Jag (with some discount on offer). The salesman asked what 'extras' Vic would like. Vic said, 'no engine management system'. The salesman looked puzzled, and said it couldn't be done. Vic said his Jag had been running for 60 years without one!

Vic also told me that he developed front disc brakes for his XK120, which were later sold by Jaguar as an after market alternative, and that he had replaced the rear wheel bearings with those from a combine harvester (well, he lives in Devon, as do I !). In some ways, Vic's story reminds me of idler drivers, a bit agricultural, but simple to repair, and still source parts, and those that can't be sourced can be made (like bearings, idler wheels and arms, etc.)

Do I prefer the XK120 to a modern Jag, you bet. Do I love idler drives, you bet. And decent ones don't rumble, its just a silly rumour put about by the rubber band brigade! :D We have no need to hide away with our prized possessions, but openly provide music to those who have ears and an open mind!

http://img404.imageshack.us/img404/981/tnp1014264.jpg
Vic's prized possession.

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