I would think with Kevlar and similar type belts you wouldn't have to worry about stretching as the fibers are high tensile strength with a much lower modulus of elasticity than a strait rubber belt. Oh well. Direct drive is definitely simpler, which usually means more reliable. Interesting stuff.
Not every mfr is offering direct replacement kevlar belts, although I am sure they are all the rage if you can get one that fits your units. Look, I have enjoyed owning some of the most wonderful machines ever made which used belts, so it's not like I was always such a dork :lamo
But the heartbreak/headache of waking up one day to find that you're going to have disassemble something instead of use it when you were going to get paid to use it finally started to cost me too much, both in money and opportunity.
I lost out on a chance to shoot an interview with Joan Rivers because of a broken drive belt on a VTR...that cinched it for me a long time ago.
You know, part of me misses the romance and elegance of all these old machines. I was a reel to reel audio fan forever and I still have miles and miles of tapes. But I am relieved that we've finally entered the file based era.
Those old machines are beautiful, and they were a lot of fun to operate, but in the end it is acquiring and working with the recorded material itself that brings me the most joy, and the sheer genius of being able to do so with NO moving parts is something I cannot deny.
Sure, now the gear all looks like soulless boxes and there's no elegance anymore.
SD cards don't look cool the way a big ole 10.5 inch reel of 15 ips tape does.
And I've made my living off of restored material from AMPEX 2-inch videotape.
Try one of those twenty pound reels on for size...
And here's a couple of machines that play those reels:
But still, I am in awe of high definition digital video and file based storage, it is nothing short of amazing.