Ring Clamps. What do you think?


First let me say that I have not had the opportunity to hear a ring clamp. At a $1000 list price it is not a top priority. It would seem to me that the whole concept would be detrimental to good sound. Like an acoustic guitar, a record needs to breathe. Weight and air play a vital role. I do use a record clamp, wouldn't be caught dead without it, but a heavy metal ring laying on top of my album holding it down doesn't appeal to me. I could be wrong.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128dreadhead
If you like what a record clamp does, the perimeter ring clamp will provide more of the same. It is used to more effectively couple the record to the mat/platter in order to dampen vibrational energy imparted in the record itself by the motion of the stylus tracking the groove. Whether such dampening is desirable or not, depends on system tuning and taste. Some people might prefer less dampening and would find that ring clamps and/or center clamps make the sound too "dead" sounding.

I am not a fan of perimeter clamps because of various ergonomic considerations. It seems to be a big nuisance putting one on and taking it off, particularly because of the extreme caution required to preven accidentally bumping into the stylus on the cartridge. I would also think there might be concern with accidentally setting the stylus down in a place where it can be snagged by the clamp.

I use a table with a vacuum clamp (Basis Debut) so I don't need a ring clamp. But, someone I know said that a good ring clamp subtly improves sound even when vacuum clamping is employed. I have not tried it myself, but, if it really does work to improve on vacuum clamping, I would expect it to have a much bigger impact on the sound where something less effective than vacuum clamping is employed.
Folks, I truly appreciate your expertise in such matters. Clearly you love your vinyl rigs. However, the correct word usage is "damping", NOT dampening. If you dampen something, you are making it wetter by adding water. Damping refers to taming vibrations and such....

Thank you,

-RW-
I have a ring and use it for warped records that do not respond to my center clamp. This certainly improves tracking and thus overall sound.

I would agree that it is a pita putting it on though.
A well designed table does not need this junk.
The only tables that I've experienced that will lay flat a warp record are the original concave WTRP platter with reference clamp or a vacuum hold down. So, by your standard 99.99% of all turntables are junk.

If I am misunderstanding your brief quip, please clarify.

Also, because I mainly use it for settling down those warped records that are unmanageable by normal methods does mean that their may be some value to its damping properties. Although I haven't been able to discern a difference with or without it.
I hate that you can't modify your posts here.....anyway....I meant to say "doesn't mean".

Also, you didn't say the tables were junk but rather the rim clamp was. I disagree.anything that takes care of a warp is not junk. Finally, I use TTW's affordable rim clamp, which I bought used for around a buck thirty five, or so.
Using a ring clamp is like any other skill, you get better with practice. I was terrified when I first started using the VPI ring clamp, but now it's like second nature, like driving a car. In truth, there is very little danger to the stylus when placing it on the record. It took me a lot of time to learn how to balance it so it is true rather than cocked. The likelihood of damaging a cartridge when lowering it is not much greater than if you cue it too close to the edge of an unringed record. For me, records sound a tad better with it in place, but I had a bigger jump in sound improvement from installing a Boston mat for 1/4 the price paid for the ring clamp.
"Like an acoustic guitar, a record needs to breathe."

I don't think that's a very good analogy. The less a record
moves around, the better the stylus can trace the grooves. That
said, there is the Linn school of thought that believes one
should never use record clamps or anything on the record at all,
and the other extreme of heavy clamps and periphery weights to
prevent any movement.

You have to listen to it all and make your decision.
Personally, I don't want playing records to turn into a chore.
A simple record clamp works for me and I could probably just as
well live without that too.
I think a ring weight is great. I have a VPI and for many years I used a screw down clamp. The problem is that I always had to adjust the amount of pressure depending on the nature of any warp of a disk. Last year I switched to a TTWeights ring clamp and a center weight. I find that placing the ring and weight goes much easier than using the screw down clamp. You just plop them down and you're done; no adjustments. For me it's quicker. And the sound is noticeably improved. For one thing there is now more weight beyond the circumference of the platter giving extra fly wheel effect. The records are flattened and dampened. You don't want them "breathing," that is with air between them and the platter. I would never look back. As for bumping the stylus, I solved that completely with a small o-ring placed on the tonearm lift so that the stylus goes to the same exact spot on the lead-in grooves every time. Bumping is not an issue.
How does a guitar sound with loose frets, fingerboard, bridge, or a delaminated soundboard? Not too good. The perimeter weight acts in a similar way as if you tightening and tune all the part of your guitar to allow it perform at its best.
Let's not compare an instrument that creates music to one that reproduces it. They have different functions.

Speakers maybe the closest to instrument tuning but turntables aim to playback what is in the grooves and eliminate as many extraneous variables as possible. There goal is to reproduce what the cutter created and to that point accurate extraction not added color via creating more resonate points.
We will publish a spectral analysis report next week, this will show the huge reduction in record distortion and this project was done by a third party on an AMG V12 turntable.

We are engineers and then Audiophiles and only machine and build real products that do make music sound better by controlling vibration and absorbing unwanted energy in many different ways.

The record breathing as compared to a guitar is pure fiction and has no technical merit what so ever and is a pure opinion without facts. A record vibrates when not clamped it does not have sufficient mass to dampen itself and 90 % of record have some degree of warp thus this has been a century old problem.

We will prove it. Our Mat/Ring and center weight combination improved the factory V12 AMG dramatically!

Now the AMG will be replaced by our CU9999 Momentus and the purpose of this table is to reverse engineer from VINYL to tape where the master tapes have been lost.

The rim drive is the only table with rotational accuracy to do the job. Pretty cool and well engineered devices.
Thanks for all the support guys!

Larry
PS: Regarding loading - our rings take less than 5 seconds top load on any table...fact watch the video right here:

This is a quick 25 second demo of record loading - simple and patented

http://www.ttweights.com/home.html

Full demo:

http://www.ttweights.com/product-videos.html
There is no doubt that any believable theory would tell us that the LP has to be held flat and firmly in position, for maximal accuracy in tracing the groove. However, I own a peripheral ring and a heavy center record weight, and neither of these devices increases my listening pleasure. Both seem to dull the sound. Used together, they kill the verisimilitude entirely. So I use a minimal center record weight, and I'm happy. One hypothesis to explain my aural finding is that the nature and composition of the platter surface become much more important when the LP is physically clamped to it. Maybe therefore I should be experimenting with platter mats. But life is short.
Ttw
We will publish a spectral analysis report next week.

The above does little to substantiate whether it will improve
SQ.
Ding....ding...I think you got it when you indicated that it was the platter and not the ring.
The point you're missing is that a record SHOULDN"T breathe at all. It is not a musical instrument. It wiggles the stylus which make electric signals that are amplified, and brought to your room via the speakers. The stylus should only react to the bumps on the record...anything else is distortion. Ring clamps flatten the record to eliminate the "wow" from warps...riding up the warp raises the pitch, down the warp, lowers it. In my experience, ring clamps work.
My VPI ring clamp and center weight take < 10 seconds. The center weight doesn't screw down. There's no worry over proper adjustment. IMHE, bass is tighter and clearer because records are flatter allowing for better tracking. Warped garage sale and Quality Record Pressing LPs ;-) are not a concern for me. The ring clamp solves the problem.

IMHO if you are hearing dullness etc. when using a ring clamp, then you might want to play around with mats as mentioned above or reevaluate your setup parameters such as VTA etc. Cheers,
Spencer
When the stylus traces the groove, it induces energy into the LP. Where is that energy going to go? If the LP is clamped tightly to the platter, the mass of the platter will absorb the energy. Without the platter to dissipate the energy, it is transferred back into the stylus. This is what gives the aura of life to the music. Which is a distorted sound reproduction.

I use a 3.1 lp center weight and a 3.2 lp periphery ring. You have to listen for a while to get used to hearing only the music versus the distorted music.

With critical listening you discover just how much more music you are hearing with the clamping.
I recently heard a dealer demonstration using a Clearaudio turntable that utilizes both a center weight and peripheral clamp and an acrylic platter. What is very dramatically evident is how well this table performs at suppressing ticks and pops. I notice the same kind of minimization of noise with my own table, which uses vacuum clamping and an acrylic platter.

I believe it was Robert Harley of The Absolute Sound who mentioned how such tight clamping suppresses energy imparted in the disc, such as the sharp impulse of ticks and pops; he mentioned using a pen to tap of the record surface near the stylus and how loud the impulse is with most tables, but barely noticeable with the Basis table with a vacuum clamp.

While noise suppression is a big plus of tight coupling of the record to the platter, I can see how some will NOT like the results. My Basis table, and the Clearaudio table I recently heard can be characterized as "dark" or "dead" sounding compared to other tables. If that characteristic does not fit a particular system or taste, then whether it is more "accurate" or not is just an academic concern. I once heard the same Transfiguration cartridge in a Basis/Phantom setup and in a Linn/Naim ARO setup sie-by-side. The sound was dramatically different (Linn/ARO much more lively sounding). I could see how someone might prefer the greater liveliness of that setup in this particular system (I liked the liveliness, but, I was concerned with that liveliness becoming jangly "noise" after a longer audition). I like clamping, in my system, but, I can see why others prefer no clamping.
Redglobe wrote, "When the stylus traces the groove, it induces energy into the LP. Where is that energy going to go? If the LP is clamped tightly to the platter, the mass of the platter will absorb the energy." This is true, if the coefficient of energy transfer from LP to platter is unity or close to unity. For platter surfaces that are very dissimilar from vinyl in energy transmission, there will be some fraction of that energy reflected back up into the vinyl, from the platter/vinyl interface. Seems to me that the better the coupling (tighter the clamping) between LP and platter surface, the more efficiently energy will be reflected back into the LP, when there is a mismatch. One could envision that when the platter surface and the LP are mismatched for energy transmission, it's better not to clamp the LP, in fact. Further, while I do endorse the theory around clamping, I also believe this is a crazy hobby with surprising "truths". Therefore, because I or someone else may prefer not to clamp LPs, it is not necessarily true that my system or his system is "broken".

The opposite side of this dilemma is exemplified by the Resomat, where the LP is as decoupled as possible from the platter surface. Therefore the energy interface is between the LP and room air, on both sides of the LP. I've not tried it, but some whom I do respect do swear by it.
On my main TT (85 lbs, including a 35 lb, lead-weighted cocobola platter), clamping the record makes a big sonic improvement. Center clamp helps. Ring clamp helps more. Both together help most.

The biggest benefit is not warp flattening (though that's significant). The biggest benefit is reducing background sonic mud. This is undoubtedly due to the damping phenomenon described by Redglobe. Clamping to a high mass platter, bearing and plinth engineered to absorb, deaden and dissipate a lot of extraneous energy makes any record play with a very quiet background.

OTOH, my old, cheaper TT rings like a bell. Clamping a record to an echo chamber is a sonic disaster, obviously. If I cared enough I'd experiment with mats, which would probably be better on any such table.

YMMV, depending on your TT.

As to records "breathing like guitars", that's nonsensical as others have said. The only time a record should do anything like a guitar is when it contains a recording of a guitar. In that case, only the modulations in the grooves should emulate a guitar. Aside from groove modulations, the record itself should do, well, nothing.
This is an interesting thread. The people that make the Ringmat use no weight on top of the record at all, the argument being that it channels energy away and lets the record breath
The Ringmat, like many mats, is designed to ISOLATE the record from the platter. This is why it should be used unweighted.

However, the Ringmat doesn't "channel energy away". It barely has any points of contact, so how could it channel anything? What it does is (1) limit the amount of noise from the TT that gets into the record and (2) limit the amount of intra-vinyl energies that reflect off the platter and back into the record, as Lewm described.

As I just described, isolation works best on tables that are (a) noisy or (b) not particularly engineered or built to dampen/dissipate intra-vinyl energies on their own. Just guessing, but it might work well on your EMT 950, whose relatively lightweight platter may be subject to (b). OTOH, isolation provides no benefit on my main TT, which works best when the record is COUPLED to its high mass, energy absorbing platter.

ISOLATE the record FROM noisy turntables, COUPLE the record TO quiet ones.

As to records "breathing", I've yet to see one inhale or exhale. That's just pseudo-mystical marketing babble.
Some good reading for anyone interested in the nature of human hearing and what true hi fi actually does and what makes "AIR and SPACE"...location and distance in analogue music...compared to digital

Read both parts.

Also test reports of (spectral analysis) TTW Audio outer ring/mat and copper center weight.

http://www.ttweights.com/web-page_2.html

Thanks
Larry
Stringbean,
Ever notice the interlocking joints on the pavement of a long bridge? The bridge needs to have some play or it will surely collapse. That's engineering, same as with the guitar.
If you believe movement and air have no place in turntable design that is certainly an opinion your welcome to have.
I would think a heavy metal deadening ring would do just that, deadening the sound.
When is enough enough?
Larry- I took a look at the power point you link to on your web site. Unfortunately, it contains a very basic error in its argument that we can perceive energy with wavelengths far above what we typically call sound (>20 kHz). 10 microseconds DOES NOT EQUAL 100 kHz. Hz or kHz is measured in cycles per second. Time is measured in seconds. Time does not equal vibration. Regardless of that, let's go back to the example in the power point. The fact the we can perceive the difference between two sounds arriving 10 microseconds apart says nothing about our ability to sense vibrational energy in the kHz range (which, btw, is typically referred to as radio energy not sound or acoustical energy). I'll use an analogy. The fact that we can perceive which of two sources of light is brighter, tells us nothing about our ability to sense or be influenced by color. I'm not saying that we cannot perceive vibrational energy beyond the range of human hearing. But I can perceive bull$hit when I see it. Of course none of this says anything about the benefits of center clamping or ring clamping to LP reproduction. Conceptually, I think we can agree on a very fundamental level that when you drag a stylus, which converts physical variations in the groove (not the LP) into electrical energy across an LP, the relationship between the stylus and the LP should change only as a result of the information that is stored in the groove. All other variables should remain constant. The speed should remain constant. The LP should remain as stationary as possible, with respect to the stylus. The spindle fixes the LP in the horizontal direction. Center clamping helps maintain speed by helping combat stylus drag to a certain degree. Center and ring clamping both help fix the LP in the vertical direction, so that the stylus moves only due to the variations in the groove where the information is stored and not due to variations in the shape of the LP in the vertical direction. How different kinds of "clamping" interact with platters, mats, bearings, and LPs at a micro-scale is beyond my ability to conceptualize. Doug's comments make sense, but I think this is one of those things that is highly system dependent. Kinda like cables. There are some basic fundamental principles that govern on a macro scale, but after that, if you think it's important, ya gotta listen.
dood, i donno ehemmm, but certainly can do that for a lot
cheaper. lemme know if you need same thing for $50 and
i'll cut it for ya k? i can cut different shapes too. i
guarantee it will do the same effect as ring clamp as
well.
right now have few clamp samples made of pvc that are
superior to michel clamp
Ever notice the interlocking joints on the pavement of a long bridge? The bridge needs to have some play or it will surely collapse.
The interlocking joints on bridges protect the bridge from thermal expansion/contraction due to thermal extremes and water/ice infiltration. Turntables are not exposed to such factors. A less relevant example would be difficult to imagine.

Movement certainly has a place in TT design. Nobody's denied that. Specifically, the platter must rotate at the selected speed, preferably with minimal deviations due to external inputs like stylus drag. Additionally, suspended turntables are designed to move under elastic, spring-loaded controls to reduce the amplitude and frequecy of vibrations. (BTW, this is the exact opposite of the expansion joints in a bridge.) Beyond these two specific types of movement, the less a TT moves, the better its sonic performance.

Air, on the other hand, has little practical relevance to TT design (air bearing designs excepted, obviously). Most vinyl rigs would in fact perform better in a vacuum, as that would eliminate airborne vibrations as a source of sonic mud.

This last fact highlights the absurdity of comparing a TT to a guitar or any other musical instrument, as none of them would perform in a vacuum at all.

I would think a heavy metal deadening ring would do just that, deadening the sound.
You might think that, but as you've apparently never actually used one, you're just speculating. Why post a question to people who've actually done the experiment, then argue with their results? Are you seeking validation of your flawed assumptions, or just trolling?
It's really interesting to see how all of us agree "in principle", yet we are in separate camps, in many ways, on "practice". I think I know what TT Doug uses, and I also know that it is made by a guy who probably did an excellent job in providing a platter that does just what Doug says it does, drains energy and dissipates it in the platter. Some other less well designed platters will instead store energy, as well as reflect energy back into the LP, and can possibly be set in some resonance mode by energy entering the platter via the LP, during play. In that case, clamping might not be a good idea. Factors such as this could account for our different opinions of ring and center weights.
+1 to Lewm

Not only my platter, but my bearing, plinth, armboard and TT supports were all designed and built to dissipate/dampen vibrations. Clamping on this table is beneficial.

My secondary TT is the just opposite, noisy motor and the platter rings like a bell. Clamping a record to that rig is a sonic disaster

My summary was:
Couple TO quiet materials, isolate FROM from noisy ones.

We're in complete agreement.
It's really interesting to see how all of us agree "in principle", yet we are in separate camps, in many ways, on "practice".
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” - attributed to Albert Einstein, Yogi Berra!!!! and Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut.

One of the problems here is we have no universally accepted way of "measuring" or judging if we have achieved our objective, i.e., better sound. We can't even agree on what better sound is. That's OK. Better sound is, despite our best engineering and scientific efforts, a judgment call. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. That's not to say that Doug's observations are incorrect (I think that they make a great deal of sense and explain very well why different people report different results) or that there are not certain principles, theories and practices that we can agree on. But when it comes down to whether or not a ring clamp is "better" on a particular TT/arm/Cart/RIAA/pre/amp/speaker system than a center clamp or a center clamp + ring, ultimately, you have to decide yourself whether the practice (what you hear) conforms to your theory. If not, then maybe your theory needs to be revised... or maybe your practice. No way for us to know in advance. I also think that part of the problem is our innate desire to oversimplify complex systems.
And yet, Swampwalker, if two of us were in the same room with the same system, I think there would be a lot of agreement about what sounded good and what did not, on that particular system.

By the way, Albert and Yogi had a contractual agreement. Yogi could get credit for any quote that was embarrassing to Albert. It was actually Albert who said, in regard to a restaurant in NYC, "Nobody goes there any more; it's too crowded."

Albert also said "Physics is 50% luck and 90% genius."
Lewm- Well that explains a lot ;-). It's kind of amazing when you do a little research and find so many quotes attributed to Albert and/or Yogi, that are largely unsubstantiated. Kind of like Fox News (rimshot!). On topic, I think w a particular analog front end there might be some agreement on what sounded good, w or w/o a ring clamp. How that would apply to another analog front end might or might not be predictable. OTOH, Based on the prices of some of the rigs I see demonstrated at shows (to the extent that price is dictated by the market which hopefully is correlated with what sounds good...I know, big leap of faith) I'm not sure that is a given.
Nipple clamps are a lot cheaper.
Doudeacon I appreciate your passion, but what I wrote was in essence summarising what is in the Ringmat website. Only heard one in use on a Platine Verdier - not exactly a NOISY table like my NOISY EMT 950 - which I happen to have not yet got working - theorising without experience. I am only making the point that this is a forum and people have a right to theorising without being vilified for it. I have used both weights and screw down clamps and listened without as well. I am sure the use of such clamps are not a one size fits all approach - that's about all I can fairly say
Lohanimal,

Thanks for your reply. I intended nothing personal and I didn't vilify you.

What I wrote was in response to your (correct) quotations from the Ringmat website, which demonstrate that their marketing doesn't align with their product. They are not the only company whose advertising lacks a basis in reality.

Agree that a "one size fits all" approach would not be effective for clamps or mats, as I said above.
The thread was about outer record clamps so here is a comparison:

Price, ease of use, materials and PRICE!

TTW Outer Rings vs. VPI and ClearAudio Outer Rings

http://www.ttweights.com/ring-payment.html
Doug, I started the thread, why would I be trolling? If you read my original question you would have my seen my final comment,"I could be wrong". Vacuums weren't practical and went away, in my opinion outer ring clamps are a luxury, if not a fad.