I was using a Dual turntable prior to the idler drive. The dual worked fine, with a good sound...but I'm sensitive to pitch control, and the cheap belt drives always seem to have that issue. The belt was starting to wear out on the Dual, and I was thinking of buying another. But then I recalled the Musicmaster TT I had purchased with the Altec amp and other gear, that I had stashed in the back room for a good year.
So I brought it out, cleaned it up, looked over the rubber on the idler wheel, which was still soft with no flat spots.
Gave the old turntable a try...I was surprised at how much more big and open the Musicmaster sound was compared to the Dual. The midrange especially.
I tore it down, re-lubed everything, fixed the spindle to pivot distance, and leveled the arm more even with the platter. I even bought another idler wheel from eBay some seller custom made for the KS Musicmaster, but the old one still works fine.
No plastic in this beast. A stupid simple design which uses a magnetic eddy brake sort of thing for pitch control and it works very well.
There is the usual isolation problems which gives some platter growl...it's an ongoing project. But the rumble is rather subtle.
I've listened to a VPI Scout vacuum platter TT with a Shelter cart. Beautiful analog sound, but the old Musicmaster with all it's warts still gets my feet tapping.
I use a Scott LK-48B for the tube phono stage the Scott has. This turntable seems to sound best with a tube phono stage, over the vintage cheap SS receivers I have.
I have built a tube phono stage preamplifier based on the passive RCA circuit with 12AX7, but wasn't too thrilled with the result as compared to using the Scott.
The use of tone controls and the mono switch are nice options to myself, along with an occasional bass boost for the weak records.
But I still need to build a separate tube phono stage...