Benefits of a record ring

After purchasing a good record clamp, I'm curious about record rings. For those who use a record ring, what benefits or lack there of have you experienced? Furthermore, what ring are you using and why?
They work if you have minor long warp but like those overpriced "flattening machines" don't expect tight warps to be helped.I haven't tried a clamp but from what I read it would be last thing I'd get from VPI who make a good one.Yes if you use a clamp (I use best which is a carbon fibre) you can over tighten and record will slightly be pressed up from center but it's minor.It's good on other hand to have as much vibe isolation as possible so it's good in theory but for how much price?And VPI fits snuggly on platter so does not have to be centered.You need center guide touching you wax (so must be used carefully or padded) to get to work right.And in and what if you drop it and damge the $2K arm,the $2K Blue Note opriginal,or the scratch the $2K (well $5K) deck?I have read and thought about benefits but will for now keep my better TNT5 methcrylyte/lead platter rather than get a $1200 upgrade that fits ring and put $$$ elsewhere.I see some being sold off because people just don't think it's worth money that could be spent on rack,isolation or better cart,arm,platter or phono stage (or in my case better feet or finally getting Gingko/VPI feet).And if I needed to use centering device I would just say not worth it at all.Now let a user say "he who hasn't used doesn't know" but I have studied it a bit.
Pluses: straighten really warped records while in play, help heavy platter in maintaining speed, looks cool. Sound- increased focus, tight bass, enhanced details
Minuses: changes perfect analog sound to digital like sound by increasing focus, enhancing detail, tightening bass. If you drop it chances of serious damage to arm, cart, platter is great, looks tacky

Yes, difference in sound with ring on and off is NOT subtle

Not for me. I have Clearaudio outer limit ring, used as paper weight
Very wrong Chazzbo. I've had mine for a couple of years, and never had an accident with it. What if you had a gas leak and your whole house blew up. Not likely. It does only good things, and Im glad I have it.
Is yours a VPI or a ring needing to be centered?Like I said "ask the man that owns one" but this was some bits I picked up here and other forums.One thing I didn't mention was they are absurdly priced for what material and milling goes into them.But hey I might do the super and then get one.
"08-18-09: Nilthepill
Pluses: straighten really warped records while in play, help heavy platter in maintaining speed, looks cool. Sound- increased focus, tight bass, enhanced details
Minuses: changes perfect analog sound to digital like sound by increasing focus, enhancing detail, tightening bass. If you drop it chances of serious damage to arm, cart, platter is great, looks tacky". Agree with Nils' pluses, but for me, increased detail and tighter bass isn't digital-like. In my rig, for best sound, it's a must.
My TNT6 ring weighs plenty, and could do damage if dropped on arm, etc., but that hasn't happened to me, nor anyone I know.
The benefit with warped LPs can't be overstated. Many used LPs which were unplayable on my old tt(Nottingham Spacedeck/arm), are no trouble with my ringclamp and center weight on the VPI. Cheers,
I should add that my description is digital like is probabbly overstated and relative to with the ring off. In my system I just happen to find sound more musical (7 on scale of 1 to 10: 1 being extremly analytical and 10 being extremely warm) With ring on it changes to, in my system and IMO, to may be 5. I use it however for overly warped and warm recordings.

I am convinced that fundamental performance change happens when the ring is being used, either transferring resonances to the ring and or interact with record and platter interaction characteristics. However,someone in the know may prove me wrong ;-)

I for one really like what the VPI clamp & ring do for my turntable. (in fact I built my turntable around it)

The ring & clamp increase the record to platter contact, flatten warps, provide more stable speed, and most importantly - all of these things together make the stylus track the groove correctly.

When the original was cut on the lathe, it was at a steady speed, on a level surface without undulations (warps) of any kind.

You can look at a turntable with the VPI ring and clamp on it playing a good pressing and you will usually see zero movement..(this to me is the single most desirable thing that a turntable can do - it means it is tracking like it was cut.)

The combination of the VPI ring and clamp brings the sound to life on my rig. (much better than without it)

Your mileage may vary..
Enjoy the music.

I sold my Clearaudio ring a long time ago for reasons which Nil so aptly has described above, was however curious to try the TTweights ring which is made of copper not stainless steel and chose Larry's heaviest version for on my Goldmund Reference I with excellent results. All the advantages and none of the drawbacks Nil has described and which I had experienced before with the Clearaudio at more than double the cost. Don't ask me why this is so. Probably lucky in hitting on a good synergy between ring and TT. Never thought the sound of the Goldmund, which I had already heavily modified, could be improved that much. But there you are.
I use both the VPI and TTweights ones. [not at the same time]. The TTW is actually easier to use for me as the VPI often appears to be correctly placed but isn't. I also have both the top VPI weight and the 3 pound one from TTW. [my ring is the lighter one]. I recommend all these, I used vacuum tables at one time and these give the advantages without embedding dust as the vacuum did. The sound is definitely different, better for me , for you ? I have heard from Raven users that they don't like either, they have their own set of upgrades. I recommend them but try before you buy if you can. A dealer should let you try something this expensive out if you have one locally, at least I will. Don't ask me about which ring set or combination sounds better, I haven't used them nearly enough to know.
I recently purchased the TTWeights 1150 gram ring. I have a VPI TNT Jr. with an 11.5 inch platter. There was a vast improvement in sonics across the entire audible frequency range. Everything had a much fuller character. Background noise diminished significantly. This is the case for warped or flat records. The improvement was so dramatic that I would not consider listening to my LPs without it. Periodically, TTW has sales on their products which makes them a very good value.
FWIW, I use the TTweights ring, clamp and platter on my Raven One and like the results.
Bought myself a TTweights ring on impulse at the RMAF, using it on my Clearaudio Master Solution; it's only the 600 gram model, but all the improvements Redglobe hears on his system I hear on mine, and it's a third the price of Clearaudio's own ring (and being copper likely more effective). Amazing how much vinyl I've been spinning lately, a voyage of rediscovery.
I'm using the TT Weights ring and like it alot. My only concern is by using both the clamp and ring could impact negatively on the motor assembly not to mention belts, idler wheels etc. Does anyone have any comments on my caution?
It depends on the motor, belt, idler wheels, etc. If the table's design allows, helping the platter get going with a manual push removes most of the additional stress from those components. Once the platter's at speed a ring won't hurt them. If anything, the greater inertia will actually reduce demands on the drive train.

Another possible area of concern is whether your TT bearing can support the additional weight without wearing prematurely. Again, it depends on the table.

When I used a ring the most important benefit for me was the improved sinking of resonances out of the vinyl and into the platter, as others described. Flattening of warps was nice but most of my LP's aren't that warped. But they all benefit from a lower sound floor.

Can't use it any longer due to my tonearm, but I'd buy another if I could find one that fit.
I think an outer ring pressing down the record more firmly with a larger portion of its surface to the platter has a lot of benefit.
The possible drawback of too much additional load on the bearing - well, if a TT's bearing can't take the additional 2-5 lbs, it is hardly of any quality.
Furthermore the inertia of the platter is increased and the platter is kind of dampened. All these side-effects should and will - in a carefully set-up thread or belt driven TT - increase the overall performance. It is however important to add a good record clamp to the periphery ring.
On DD or idler drive TT's the increased inertia is counter-productive and it certainly needs some careful tests before going for this option.
Same is true for some 9" tonearms with conical armwands (SME V) - it often interferes with the increased diameter of the platter surface.
If your table and arm allows , I would always go for a periphery ring w/clamp.
Another tonearm that doesn't work with most rings is the TriPlanar, for similar reasons to an SME IV or V. The TP's sub-arm hits the ring. I had to sell my ring when I got the arm. :-(
After the stated concern/issue with conical armwands, I borrowed the 600g ring from a friend to see if it will be a problem. I have a Michell Orbe SE + SME V. The armwand was set up at the height stated in the instruction manual (I believe something like 10mm from the platter to the parallel lines on the side.) I tried it with a 200g and a regular LP, and there is enough clearance underneath the armwand. The only thing was that I had to move the armrest further away from the platter. But otherwise it looks like it will work.

I have the new TTweights Black Onyx table and am using the TriPlanar Vll. When the arm is set at the recommended pivot to spindle length, the arm does come in contact with the ring near the end of the albums, but, there is also room in the Tri's head shell for the ZYX Universe to be moved forward. I simply moved the arm pod 2mm further away, reset overhang etc. and problem solved.

Doug; It wasn't until I had the Black Onyx that I gave your 'post-it' notes idea a thought. My wife now helps me set each albums VTA properly, she has better ears than I. Our kids think we're crazy.
Cousinbillyl, sorry to hear about your recent insanity. Welcome to the ward.

Of course we find this makes it VERY fast to dial in for replays. I started maintaining those notes in 2004. Since then we've changed cartridges, tonearms, TT's, TT bearings and drive systems, and of course each change affected VTA/SRA. Therefore, our postit notes include not just a list of arm height settings, but also the cartridge or TT or whatever associated with each.

By keeping a standalone list of those system changes and what effect each has on arm height, I'm able to calculate a current height number for LP's I haven't played for many years/rig changes - in just seconds.

Visitors think it looks geeky, as do I, but the experienced ones understand what I'm doing. Everyone hears the difference when I dial it in precisely, though only Paul and I notice when it's off without A/Bing, because we know the sound of our system of course.

Steve Marsh, an online reviewer, visited recently to compare his Hovland to our preamp. He wanted to use an LP we'd last played 3 years ago and watched me check the post-it, my list, do some arithmetic and set the arm height. This took about 15 seconds while the platter was spinning up.

After a few bars I jumped up and tweaked the height to get it perfect.
"Moved it down a bit?" he asked.
"Yes" I said, "good ears."
"It does sound tighter, good adjustment. By the way, how far did you have to go from the setting you calculated?"
"1/200th of a turn (0.5 on the numeric dial)."

BTW, it also helps to record the LP's weight, as a proxy for thickness. Similar weight LP's on the same label generally have a very similar arm height. Big time saver when playing an LP for the first time.

Still, your kids are right, about all of us.
Hey Doug

Here is a problem my wife and I encountered last night. We started listening shortly after supper, but, my post it notes where all wrong!!!, we had to lower the arm on each album a tiny bit, around 1.0 - 1.5 on the dial. As the night wore on, the notes became more and more correct. We have now come to the conclusion that either A; we can only listen later in the evening, or B; live with an edgier sound during the day. Oh well, such is life.

Tell me more about your post-it-list. What are the parameters of this list?.

Maybe nothing to do with arm height per se? Improved power quality at night, fewer appliances running, etc. Most systems sound best late at night...

*** Here's the whole craziness ***

The master list has two columns:
Column 1. the system change that required an arm height change (e.g., name of new cartridge, name of new TT, etc.)

Column 2. the amount of the change as measured by the TriPlanar's dial; example: +150 means the system change in column 1 required adjusting arm height by one and a half turns of the dial.

Some typical entries:
ZYX UNI #3: -220
Etched belt: +3

This means that my 3rd UNIverse required an arm height adjustment of 2.20 turns from the previous system change. Later, when I changed drive belt types, arm height needed to go .03 turns in the opposite direction.


The post-it on each LP jacket includes basic info at the top (record weight, cleaning regimen, demagged?). Below that are two columns of arm height history:

Column 1: same as Column 1 on the master list (ie, what system change is this setting for)

Column 2: arm height as an absolute number, expressed in whole turns of the dial. Since the numbers on the TP's dial go UP as the arm goes DOWN, the higher the number the lower the arm. A typical number might be (say) 2544. This means the arm must be positioned 25.44 turns from its highest position. (No, I don't go up to the highest position every time! I have a visual marker for where 2500 is, from there I just rotate the pointer clockwise to .44. Voila! 2544.)


Now imagine I pull out an LP and the post-it tells me I last played it using the setting just before I got UNIverse #3. The arm height for that play was (let's say) 2660.

Checking the master list, I see that there've been two adjustments since then. Adding them together (-220 and +3) yields an adjustment of -217. Add that to the previous absolute height (2660 - 217) yields a new absolute height of 2443. That's where I start the arm for this play.

It's unusual to be off by more than 5 or so, even if the previous play was several years and system changes ago. I fine tune while listening and update the post-it while re-sleaving the record.

Of course this is MUCH faster do than to write. :-)
Doug & Paul

And I thought I was OCD. Awed and humbled
My take is that the effect of a ring clamp depends on the turntable where it is used. In the case of the turntable I build, a ring clamp has the potential to affect the moment of inertia to the detriment of the sound. It depends on the weight of the clamp, and it also depends on the drive system. If the turntable is a drive method other than a belt type, I would suggest trying the clamp first because too much mass at the outer edge of the platter has the potential of negatively affecting transients and micro dynamic detail. All that said, it may be possible to develop a featherweight ring clamp...fingers crossed.
Mosin, I have to agree with you. On some albums the ring is a plus, some not so much, and still others no way.

I find that the albums that are really flat (typically 200g pressings), benefit from no ring or center clamp. I will postulate that the album sits mostly on the platter which more easily dissipates resonances. I will add that Larry's top plate is smaller than the album, so the small lead in bump is hanging out over the platter. My older thinner rock and pop albums need both clamp and ring, likely from the fact they are warped.

How does this sound Mosin; I am going to go out and find a nice big piece of slate. Uneven, jagged edges, lots of loose layers. I will ask Larry to machine the appropriate holes, etc, and nothing else. I would think that this ugly looking thing will dissipate any and all plinth associated vibrations????. What do you think?.

It is even more impressive to watch Doug and Paul as they tune. A glance, a nod, a tilt of the head, some mumbling, etc. Sometimes it is just a shoulder shrug. :-) Can't say I have ever heard them go the wrong way.

I can't help but think that the extra mass in the thicker LPs may change the resonance characteristics in the vinyl, and by that have an effect on how the platter surface does its work. Thicker LPs aren't as easily excitable.

But Mosin is also on the mark. (yeah, like Win needs me to tell him about 'tables ) It does depend on the table. I know well the tables that Doug, Jazzdoc, and myself use so I am fairly confident that these can handle the weight of a ring. More importantly these tables have platters that give us a fighting chance at exceptional resonance control. Cousinbillyl's Onyx looks like it works well with a ring from the pictures. ;-)

I'm still planning to give the Galibier Anvil another try without the o-rings. Thom's TPI surface changed things so that the compliance of the o-rings used on the spindle and Anvil can sometimes cause some folks to squint. At six pounds there is real potential for platter surface coupling.
A couple of things...

First: In response to Dan_ed, my turntable can handle the extra weight. It is where the weight is placed that I find troublesome. I find it troublesome with certain other turntables, too. Keeping the mass near the center of the platter is a definite plus with idlers and direct drives because the very last thing you want to do is create a runaway flywheel effect where none existed before. A ring clamp might do exactly that.

It brings to mind the point that a ring clamp isn't a clamp at all. Rather, it is a ring weight. What the world needs is a true ring clamp, which could be very lightweight, and that doesn't exist, at least to my knowledge it doesn't.

Second: Cousinbillyl mentioned the used of slate. I use it, and I like it. However, there is no one reading this post who hasn't heard a very good turntable that doesn't use it. It is a material, and with modern designs that do not employ the use of a top plate, its significance is diminished because there are a lot of great turntables out there that are made from other materials. At some point in high-end audio, we begin to talk about flavors, not absolutes, and slate may well be another flavor.

I happen to believe that plinth materials are best discussed when in relation to vintage turntables that have faulty resonance creating top plates. Slate struts its stuff there. In other designs? Maybe, but maybe not.
HI Mosin,

my thoughts were following your line of thinking as well. The lighter platters of most rim and DD tables may have issues with the additional mass added. When the platter weighs 30+ pounds the additional mass on the circumference may not make much difference as far as the drive system is concerned.

I have to say that I'm also in agreement you regarding the plinth-mania that seems to be viewed by many as a fix all solution for any 'table.

With the Saskia, I assume that you designed the table with slate in mind. Or did it just happen to be the best available alternative? Hope I get to hear one someday.
When I had my SME 20/IV-VI, I had a custom record ring made by Bob Benn.
It made the presentation smoother, the dynamics became less those of the turntable and more those of the music, and the speed stability seemed better.
I liked it and preferred using it to not, made the SME 20 sound quality go about 30 percent of the way toward the SME 30. I tried to get the ring modified for the 30, but Benn went out of business so I sold it. The SME 30 is good enough without it and there seems some hazard to lofting he ring up and down anyway around the delicate arm and cartridge, that would be my main objection to using the ring on a routine basis.
A glance, a nod, a tilt of the head, some mumbling, etc. Sometimes it is just a shoulder shrug. :-)
LOL. You should watch us trying to choose a restaurant. The eyebrow is mightier than the sword. ;-)

Mosin, isn't a "record clamp, but not a weight" the idea behind vacuum hold-down?

Platter coupling for improved resonance management was much more significant on our table than any improvement in speed stability. The ring we used was pretty heavy (~1200g) but I'm not sure we heard ANY affect on speed stability. As Dan said, a 35+ lb platter isn't going to notice the extra moving mass very much.

Frankly, any high end (ie, costly) TT that benefits from additional circumferential mass by maintaining steadier speeds is fundamentally flawed, at least IMO. Maintaining constant speed despite the challenge of variable loads is job one for any TT, and it's the job of the designer to match the rotating mass of the platter to the chosen drive system. Mosin has evidently thought about that and my (too short) experience of the Saskia suggests that he succeeded. If a heavy ring impairs its speed stability that would actually be evidence that he got the mass/drive system balance right. :-)
IMO the only downside would be logistics - I fail to see how a flatter record surface could be anything but positive. In my case I have a suspended table and an SME arm so it wouldn't really work...