folkishienne wrote:The sound of a well serviced and correctly mounted 301 is very different to a belt drive TT.
Agree. This is the fundamental, if undramatic, answer to the orig poster's question. The two playback methods have quite different successes & drawbacks.
Working your way around from the drawback side, I'd say that the choice comes down to which methodology (add in direct drive, too) has the least noticeable drawbacks
, and that cuts thru a lot of the peripheral discussion.
To be honest, if it were a case of a carte-blanche menu, I'd have the pace & drive of the garrard, the tone of the beltdrive, the inky-black silences in-between of the direct drive.
But given the situation --- beltdrive's slushy time & light smear is noticeable, directdrive's greyish, once-removed quality is noticeable ----- I'd go with the idler-drive garrard whose steady-state noise floor is largely un-noticeable in a deck that is up to maintenance spec.
Oh, and I'd add to the rationale for the garrard being not just the larger, higher torque (somewhat, as compared to the little ac-sync type) motor, but the ' the 'closely coupled' aspect of the intermediate drive wheel. Which manages to keep speed control under constant check, much like an open-reel tape mech, while maintaining the relentless drive of the Ac induction motor.
Arm and cartridge ? Well, I've tried Graham, Sme 3012/I and Sme 3012/R and I like the Sme 'R' for everyday use with Spu or Koetsu, and the Sme 3012/I with Koetsu.
Comparing to modern tables, again : very different sort of transport.
For me, strictly from listening, once I'd restored and plinthed my 1956 Schedule One properly, it was easy to compare sound quality to the Vpi Aries I had been using.