Hello there, I could really use some help from those with experience using record clamps. Could you refer to me a clamp for use with a spindle that is NOT threaded. Are you under the belief that a clamp improves /enhances sound or degrades it? Thank you very much for your consideration.
The Basis clamp is not threaded and does an excellent job of clamping the record solidly to the platter. You can literally lift the platter up by the clamp, it holds that strongly. I believe the theory is that the more tightly the record bonds to the platter, the less unwanted vibrations transmitted from the record to the stylus and the better the sound (in the case of the Basis tables, the platter is designed to be similar to vinyl so that playing a tightly clamped record is like playing a 12-25 pound record). Now that I'm using a vacuum system, which clamps the record even tighter all around to the platter, I would agree with that theory, as the backgrounds have gotten even quieter, and the presentation of the music even more effortless, than they were when I was using the clamp. I believe the SOTA reflex clamp works on the same principle; haven't seen a VPI clamp. There is a school of thought that a clamp is bad for the sound and the use of a felt or other damping mat is all that's appropriate (Linn and Roksan, I believe, follow this view); perhaps that makes sense with certain types of platters, but I haven't found it to be the case with at least the Basis and Well-Tempered tables I've owned. I would ask the manufacturer of your turntable what their view is, as they've certainly designed their table with this thought in mind.
An excellently made, inexpensive, and simple to use clamp is made by J.A. Michell. It is of the collet variety, and is available in satin-finished aluminum or black delrin (I have the latter). It is commonly sold for about $50, and my previously clampless turntable setup exhibited much greater image focus, depth of field, and precision of transient attack with the Michell fitted. Of course, a clamp will also be of at least some help, and frequently of great help, in playing warped (within reason) records - very useful for those of us with much vintage vinyl!
I've heard "the Big Pig" was a great non threaded clamp--I don't know if it's still in production. There are probably some new ones that are even better. I have a VPI--so it's threaded and I can't give you any first hand information. I can tell you that I upgraded the VPI clamp to a BDR carbon fiber clamp. It made a significant improvement--which surprised me. I found one at a great price and thought--why not, can't hurt, and the carbon fiber looks pretty cool. I don't think BDR makes a non-threaded clamp--but if someone does make a carbon fiber non-threaded one, and it made as big a difference as it did on my TT, I would certainly recommend it.
Although I've never tried this, it sounds like it would work well. Take an appropriately shaped piece of leaded crystal (give it some thought - only a few shapes will work) and fill it with melted paraffin wax. Once it fully cools, carefully locate the center point in the wax and drill a hole slightly smaller than the diameter of the turntable spindle. A dealer told me about this homemade clamp. He's a dealer for VPI, Wilson/Bensch and Black Diamond and he claims that the crystal/paraffin is clearly superior to any clamp he carries. It sounds fairly easy to make and it should be low cost, say $50. I imagine you would have to regularly "recast" it due to wear and tear at the center hole.
Of course, there's always the Shun Mook clamp for $2000 or so. For fun, I actually borrowed one from a dealer and used it on my Basis when I owned one of the original Transfiguration cartridges. I can't comment too much on the sound, as I only listened to one side of one record (didn't really notice a difference from the Basis clamp on that one side). Due to the shapes of the clamp and the cartridge, when the cartridge reached the end of side one, it slammed into and then scraped against the side of the clamp, sending me flying out of my chair to save my ears and my speakers! Needless to say, it went back to the dealer the next day.
I had very good results some years ago with a SOTA clamp, and then I (unwisely) sold it. More recently, I used a Michell in conjunction with a SOTA vacuum. Both are reflex designs that work on unthreaded spindles. I now use a VPI clamp on an Aries, but of course that is threaded. I strongly share the belief of those others who report that clamping helps to couple the record to the platter.
Thanks to EVERYONE for your kind replies! They have been very helpful!