I don't know if you enjoy some of these subjective reviews on YouTube, but I happened to watch this top ten of iconic turntables
and the Garrard 301 was first on the list. You may recognize some of the others as well. A few of these are before my time. I am more familiar with some of the Thorens and Denon models of the 80's. I was surprised that some of the ones mentioned used idle wheels. My father's Dual used an idle wheel but I thought that was for cheaper models and that belt drive would have been more common.
The list in the video consists of:
Acoustic Research XA
Transcriptors Hydraulic Reference
Linn Sondek (LP-12)
The big reveal (Rega P10)
Back then turntables used idler wheels, or were variants of the old electric drive with gimbal governor, like the old spring driven mechanical turntables.
The other issue is that most had 78, 45 and 33 and1/3 RPM records in their collections. So three speed was mandatory after the introduction of the 45 RPM discs.
In addition as 78 RPM was not completely standard, so some degree of speed control was required.
The other issue is that the synchronous motor has not been invented. I think the Swiss Papst motors came out mid to late sixties. There was no servo speed regulation either, that had to wait for Herr Willi Studer and the servo electronic speed control on the Studer/Revox tape machines. This was eventually adopted by Thorens with the introduction of the 125 series.
The Garrard 301is a superbly designed and built idler wheel turntable, with an eddy brake on top of the huge induction motor for fine speed control. They are dead silent with no rumble audible and full deserve their iconic reputation. I bought mine after arriving in Manitoba in 1970. At that time they were thought old fashioned. I found one in a bin in American Hi-Fi in Winnipeg and the other in a parts bin in a firm that kitted out studio and radio stations. It had come out of a radio station. I paid only a few dollars for each of them. Since they were built for North America they were for 60 CPS and not 50 cps.
I think the first turntable to use a belt drive and synchronous motor was the Thorens TD 150. I bought mine in March 1965, at an audio dealer in Rochester. I bought it less PU arm and plinth for 13 pounds and nineteen shillings GBP in March 1965. It has a very low serial number. I had to swap the Papst synchronous motor from the original 50 cps for a 60 cps one on leaving the UK. It is belt drive, and two speed, 33 and 1/3 and 45 RPM. There is no fine speed adjustment. I mounted a Decca arm and ffss Mk II head, which was later converted to my 78 RPM head when I bought the H4E in 1971. For most of its life it has had the SME III arm which it still has. There is no doubt that the Thorens TD 150 was a trend setting turntable. The TD 160 by the way, is virtually identical to the TD 150, only the trim is different, the mechanism and drive are identical. So I essentially have turntables 1 and 2 on the bi reveal!
Here is my Thorens TD 150 with SME series III arm and Shure V 15 xmr. Note the disc light is on, the red light of the tape 1 monitor loop is also alight on the Quad 44 preamp. This is because a dbx encoded LP is being played and dbx II decoder is engaged through that tape loop.
This is my only turntable with electronic speed control, the Thorens TD 125 MK 11. I did not buy that one new. I bought it cheap on eBay non working
, and restored it.
That is the only table I have ever bought with a plinth!
So that is a bit of a walk through my personal turntable history. I do buy and keep equipment for the long haul. I avoid junk and look after it. Then this hobby is budget friendly.
So, in this home you can find some truly iconic items.
Just to complete my turntable story, I found our old Connoisseur turntable when I cleared out the Old Parsonage after my mother's death. This turntable was purchased in 1952 when I was five, and so predates the Garrard 301. It is two speed 33 and 78 rpm. The arm is one of my father's home built unipivot arms.
I have to give Arthur Sugden as lot of credit for that design. Essentially Garrard ran with that and turned it into the Iconic and excellent. Although that was far from a bad turntable, but it did have some just audible rumble. There was no fine speed control. It originally came with an arm with slide on and off 78 and 33 heads. LP tracking force was 10 GM! That turntable arm and and cartridge were the mainstay of discs reproduction over the BBC and they bought lost of them prior to the 301.
I don't know if you are interested in an old man's ramblings, but that is some of our audio past recounted while I can still remember it.