The Dual 601 is one of the better belt drive turntables that Dual produced. It is an upgrade to the original 505 series turntables.
Like the 505, it is belt driven. The Dual 601 does not seem to have the charm of the 12xx series turntables from Dual, primarily due to its fairly average looks. There is nothing that would make the Dual 601 stand out at a yard sale, and one would be forgiven for passing it by. However, the Dual 601 may be an ugly duckling in that regard, for it truly is an excellent belt drive turntable, and one of Dual’s best.
Dual produced a lot of turntables intended for multi-play purposes, such as the 1229. Multi-play was always clunky, worthless technology though, and even on the turntables that make it possible it is certainly not worth using. The 601 is a little more stripped back than other Dual turntables, as it does not provide a multi-play option. However, the automatic features common to most Dual turntables are present.
The real problem with the Dual 601 turntable is its motor, the SM-840. It has a problem whereby when started up at 33 RPM it will play at 45 RPM. The problem can only be solved by switching the turntable on and off a few times.
In 1985 the turntable was recalled to fix the motor issue. If the previous owner of a second hand Dual 601 did not oblige with this recall request, then the motor on the table might be a lemon. It’s worth asking if buying second hand, or consulting a service history if available. A new motor will cost around $100, which really explodes the price of the turntable. Alternatively, if you have a 504, 521, 1245 or 1246 lying around you can use the motor from that (a SM-860 that does not have the same problem).
Dual 601 Turntable Specifications
Drive type: belt drive
Platter weight: 1.3kg
Wow & flutter: <0.08%
Rumble: >63 dB weighted
Tonearm: tubular aluminium in pivot bearing
Cartridges: Accepts standard mount cartridges with weight 2-10 grams. Available tracking force 0-3 grams.
Dual 601 Cartridge Recommendations
Since the Dual 601 originally shipped with a V15 III, any Shure cartridges work well. The quality of the Dual 601 turntable justifies at least an M91, right up to an original V15 type III or a M97xE.