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direct drive

Direct-drive turntable

A direct-drive turntable is one of two main phonograph designs being manufactured today. The other style is the belt-drive turntable. Each name is based upon the type of drive motor used. Both are primarily for playing 12" and 7" vinyl disc records.

In a direct drive turntable the motor is located directly under the center of the platter and is connected to the platter directly. The first commercially available direct-drive turntable, the model SP-10, was introduced by the Technics division of Matsushita in 1969.

The sole disadvantage to direct drive turntables over belt-drive turntables is vibration from the motor. However, in recent years, shock-absorbing (less dense) material, placed between the motor and platter, has been used to cut back on vibrations. Since the motor is directly connected to the platter, the torque is usually much higher than in the belt drive models. Higher torque means the platter speed is less susceptible to outside forces (stylus, hand). Higher torque also means the platter will accelerate to its proper speed faster so less distortion is heard when the record begins to play.

Some direct-drive turntable further reduce the separation of motor and platter by using the platter itself as the rotor in the turntable's induction motor. This means that there is no motor, per se, in the turntable - the platter is entirely driven by the magnetic field induced by the turntable's stator.

In all turntables a motor spins a metal disk at a constant speed. On top of the rotating disk (platter) is a mat and on top of the mat records are placed to be played. In the past rubber mats were used to hold the record in place so that it would not rotate independently of the platter. Nowadays slipmats are used to reduce the friction between the spinning platter and record, and is often made of a felt like material. This way a DJ can scratch the record while the platter continues to spin underneath. In direct drive turntables the slipmat also helps isolate the record from motor vibrations that would be picked up by the stylus.

Many turntables also include a pitch control, which allows a DJ to mix using a technique known as beatmatching. From the late 1990s onwards manufacturers such as Vestax started to include other electronic controls such as reverse, and "nudge".

DJs and Turntablists have learned to use all the above functions to assist them in musical performances.

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