Perhaps the price of entry,for these "tuners" is prohibitive. I think I saw $700 for one of them which claimed to have Platinum as part of its makeup.
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Peter, this may be too simplistic for the type of response you are looking for. Based upon years of playing vinyl and using both weights and screw-down clamps, here are my observations.
Weights - faster and easier to use. Main concern is for any affect of the added weight on the spindle bearing, depending on the mass of the weight.
Clamps - ability to adjust pressure when considered for flattening a warped or dished record. I've experienced times when over-tightening a clamp can cause the outer edge of the record to lift up, thus requiring a reduction in pressure.
I can't say I've heard sonic differences between these types of hold downs, so long as they result in appropriate pressure to produce full contact of the record with the mat.
As a practical matter, the profile of either type of hold down can endanger some cartridges when they are allowed to move to the end of the run-out groove. The screw down clamp with my Kuzma Stabi was designed to minimize this concern.
I have been experimenting with the Stillpoints LP1 on my Kuzma XL, which is normally supplied with a heavy screw-down clamp. It definitely changes the sound in the following ways: the overall loudness of the system is lower; there is less apparent 'propulsiveness,' particularly in the upper bass; the midrange does seem more 'pacific.' I retuned my system to accomodate these changes, largely by fiddling with the crossover point and gain of the woofer on my Avantgardes, and adjusting the overall level of the system (i.e., I play it at a higher setting on the line stage). I spoke with Franc re using it in place of the factory clamp and he did recommend his ebony weight. So, in essence, there is no reason, according to the turntable manufacturer, why I have to use a screw down clamp.
I'm liking what the Stillpoint is doing. But I also changed out line stages recently, and that's made a dramatic increase in bass articulation. So, I readjusted everything again. And it sounds terrific. Right now, I'm sticking with the Stillpoints, but that isn't an across the board endorsement for you to go out and buy one.
I have been playing with several record weight for the past year. My house was going through major renovation and I had no toys to play with for 2-yars, so I bought a few record weights and tried them on several friends' systems.
In the arsenal are: VPI stock clamp, DIY African ebony wight, Furutech Tu-812, HRS, and two versions of Indonisian ebony weight ( same manufacture, one is same weight as the Kuzma, the other about 1/2 lb.
We had tried them on VPI and Clearaudio tables. The results are fairly similar. The HRS was the most consistent as it did not take away information, and had an evenly overall improvement and sounded good on all types of music. The Furutech seems to emphasize on the highs and took away some bass, but had a very good sense of realism. The DIY ebony provided some warmth and organic quality to the sound, but completely sucked out of the bass. The Asian ebony, on the other hand, has all the good quality of the African ebony but retains the bass. VPI clamp sounded veiled and lifeless compared to all of these, even on the ScoutMaster Reference.
We had also compared them to the Kuzma XL, and feel that the Asian ebony has an edge over the Kuzma. Both of them are made of "ebony", so maybe from different continents? The Indonisian one sinks to the bottom when put in the water and feel much more dense. My friend had since sold the Kuzma and kept the Indonesian one.
Note that all the previous comparison were done on non-spring-loaded tables. I had just done the comparison last week on my Michell Orbe SE against the stock clamp. I also use a peripheral ring. The additional weight did not affect the speed too much. But the heavier ones like the Furutech and the heavier version of the Indonesian ebony basically pushed the platter all the way down, nulling the spring effect. But it seems to solidify instrument/voice separation. In this regard, the stock clamp performed the worst, as the edge of a singer or instrument seemed a bit fuzzy or "leaky". All the other medium-sized weights solidify and separate the instruments/voices better, but not as good as the heavy weights.
On my table, both the HRS and the lighter weight Chinese ebony performed equally well. I've not spend time focusing on comparing the two against each other yet. I've also not tried the heavier Chinese ebony yet, as I figure it would push my table all the way down like the Furutech.
One note is that with warped LPs, I get a rumble when using all the weights. The only way to get rid of that rumble is to use the clamp to tighten it down to the platter. Because my table is spring-loaded, I had to use the lightest peripheral ring. It helps flatten some lightly warped LPs, but does not on others.
The Indonesian ebony was purchased on eBay. The guy also sells ebony feet and cubes. The prices are fairly reasonable, and they arrive within a week from Hong Kong.
I use a French-made Planax PX record clamp which I purchased during the 1980's. Rather than being a screw-down type of clamp, when installing it pressure is applied to a certain point on its circumference, which causes the diameter of the center hole to expand. It is then placed on the spindle, and pressure can be applied to the record in any desired amount. It is then released, causing the diameter of the center hole to contract, resulting in a firm grip on the spindle.
I don't know if anything comparable is being made today, and I haven't compared its sonic effects to those of anything else, but it seems to me to offer all of the advantages of both a weight and a screw-down clamp, and none of the disadvantages of either. I believe it is made of solid nylon, so that its weight is miniscule, yet it can exert any desired amount of pressure on the label area of the record, and it can be installed and removed in an instant.
Doing some Friday afternoon listening. On most LPs, there were no issue with using the record weights. but I got some rumbleing on side A of Diabolus in Musica. Then I switched over to the clamp, and the noise was gone. I then switched back to the ebony weight, and the noise was not there. Not sure what was going on. One sure thing is with the LP clamped down, I never had this issue.
I bought a VPI Classic and later added the rim weight. My wife was skeptical but the improvement was significant! I used the included clamp until it unscrewed the center spindle! VPI said that happens rarely, but it was alarming. I bought the center weight and I like how quick and easy it is to use. The whole thing sounds great and made me a believer of the two weights...never a warp!
Thanks for all the contributions so far.
I have to specific points which may help to concentrate the discussion.
When you replace a screw-down reflex clamp with a record weight, you are giving up a clamping system that specifically seeks to take advantage of the two obvious evacuation routes for vinyl resonances, through the platter surface and through the spindle/main bearing.
Record weights do little to bond the record to the platter, so they presumably are not in the business of optimising resonance-damping through this interface. On the other hand, the platter is still there and the record is still in contact with it to some degree. So it is in contact with whatever mat you have on the platter or whatever surface the manufacturer chose to give it - Isodamp in the case of an SME platter. Does the nature of this material make any difference to the functioning of a record weight like the Kuzma Ebony? I dont know what material is on the top of the Kuzma XL platter, but presumably this must be compatible.
What about the spindle/main bearing evacuation route? All clamps and weights have some contact with the spindle, and thus potentially could make use of this to evacuate resonances. Is the Kuzma Ebony - or any other record weight, exotic wood or otherwise - designed to optimise this channel or is it instead designed to minimise contact there, so as to favour absorption of resonances by the weight itself?
Grateful for any reflections on these points.
I have two clamps: a Clearaudio Twister and an Orsonic DS-200G. I also have two weights: a Clearaudio Statement and an Oyaide STB-MS. On both of my turntables the weights sound obviously better. The clamps create a "gleam" accentuating the upper midrange. The weights are much costlier but much better. I would that it were otherwise: I'd pocket some cash. Empiricism is your friend in this hobby. Try a few for yourself.
Hmm. After posting the above, I decided to take a dose of my own empirical medicine and do another sound-check of my weights and clamps. I hadn't compared them since I added a Minus-K under my rebuilt Lenco, so the landscape might have change, I thought. Indeed. My Oyaide is weight-adjustable from 200g to 440g. My Orsonic clamp weighs 200g. So I reduced the Oyaide to its lowest weight in order to eliminate the sonic differences from mass alone, and focus the differences in mechanisms--spring-loaded spindle clamp v. gravity weight. Of course, the difference in materials remained. Guess what. The Orsonic clamp sounds more open and natural than the Oyaide weight. When I add more weight to the Oyaide, the bass-weight increases and the image becomes somewhat denser, but the presentation becomes less open. Syntax might be on to something. I'll have to investigate further. Just thought I'd pass it along.
The XL mat is some kind of rubberized textile that is bonded to the top of
the platter. As far as what's best, screw-down clamp or weight, I don't
know- certainly, as I indicated above, Kuzma himself doesn't insist on a
screw down clamp for his own product (although sells the ebony weight as
FWIW, the Stillpoints has these little moveable plates on the bottom , facing
the record label, with some sort of resonance absorbing properties, which
are its raison d'etre.
There is a definite sonic difference between the Stillpoints and the factory
clamp- if I had to choose straight up, without adjusting the system as
described in an earlier post, I would probably choose the factory screw
down clamp. If I compensate for the sonic differences as I have by
changing the x-over and woofer gain, as well as overall system gain, and
note the exact settings for repeatability, that would probably be a fairer
WRM57, "...the presentation becomes less open." I suggest you listen more closely. Are you hearing more of the fine details of what is recorded versus the sensation of live sound?
From what I have observed, an LP that is not closely bonded to a well-damped platter, will transmit sonic feedback through to the stylus. This will give the impression of an open feel. It is subtle. However, it is really feedback. Like hearing music performed in a large hall.
Redglobe--I know what you mean and it's possible that the openness I'm hearing is illusory. I'll have to listen further. My rebuilt Lenco has a metcrylate mat bonded to the platter, reducing resonance. But that doesn't mean it's been eliminated. On the other hand, the clamp sounds pretty good so far.
Some of the comments above demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of clamps/weights. You have to look at the total picture, in particular what is under the record.
Record weights do little to bond the record to the platter, so they presumably are not in the business of optimising resonance-damping through this interface.Real answer is - That depends on what is under the record.
Some clamps/weights are designed with a slightly concave platter or platter mat and the downward force couples the record to the mat.
Examples here are
Goldmund clamp/mat - reflex clamp with concave mat
VPI Classic - screw clamp with concave platter
Most heavy weights will help couple the record to the platter if the platter is slightly concave
Some clamps/weights are designed to work with a washer under the record. These will have a peripheral edge that applies pressure to just inside the outside edge of the record label such that the clamp/weight when applied couples the record to the platter/mat.
Examples are -
Sota Reflex Clamp - uses a washer under the record.
Final Audio VSD17 - a 1.8kg weight with a peripheral edge that uses washers under the record.
When I look at most of the clamps or weights on offer, then, unless they are used in conjunction with a concave platter/mat or washer they will do very little or nothing. They might possibly help reduce any slippage of the record during play. If all they do is reduce "resonance or vibration" then a potato impaled on the spindle might be just as effective.
There are some caveats as as been pointed out above -
Use of a heavy weight with a suspended deck may impede the performance of the deck.
Use of a heavy weight may accelerate bearing wear if the bearing quality is poor or not designed for heavy mass.
Dont assume anything here, I have seen bearings on the some much vaunted TT's that are made out of junk metal. Check your oil after a few months - if its dirty, then your bearing is wearing out.
On the subject of mats one of the most ill informed reviews I read recently in an online magazine did a shoot off of mats on a Garrard where they compared leather, copper & carbon mats. Well anyone that has owned a Garrard should know that Garrard platters are slightly concave and unless you have had the platter top skimmed, then any hard mat is only supported at the outside edge and would most likely sound awful. No mention of this in the review. No wonder people in this hobby get led up the garden path.
Thanks, Dover, for the complete lack of understanding of clamps/weights.
If you reread the sentence that you quote in its context, you will realise that I am making a distinction between clamps (= devices that grip the spindle either by screwing down onto it or by holding it in a sort of vice - like the Sota - and use this grip to apply pressure to the record and bond it to the platter, whatever the shape of the latter) and weights (= devices that simply sit on the record, grip nothing, and apply no pressure other than that created by their 350g weight).
My question concerned record weights in this sense, and was directed at those who have experience of them. It was: given that these weights clearly do not give priority to binding the disc to the platter, but given also that the record and the platter are nevertheless in contact, to what extent will the nature of the platter affect the functioning of these weights? The aim of the question: to clarify whether these weights do their job irrespective of the platter material or shape (personally I would be rather surprised if this were the case).
The HiFi Tuning VRO weight actually stands on three pin-like feet (two in wood and the third in platinum); the main body of the weight is not in contact with the record. Have a look: http://positive-feedback.com/Issue52/analog.htm
My Kuzma Stabi Ref. has, what Dover called a washer, and the screw-down clamp. Because the shassis is suspended I always use the clamp despite the fact that I don't like
the whole procedure. Besides one need to switch on and off those 'small motors' each time. I considered the Ebony weight but am confused by 2 different 'philosophies' involved while the price would make me look stupid in my own self-perception if the weight is as Syntax think it is: nonsense. BTW thanks Syntax you saved me 600 Euro.
For my SP-10 which already got a present from me in the form of the impressive SAEC SS 300 'mat' I use the Orsonic DS-200 G 'stabilizer'. This little gem make much sense to
me because many LP's are 'concave' so my friend Dover should not only look for what is 'under' the records but also at the records. Or so I thougt.
Dover, thanks for your insights.
I have a Kuzma Stabi (not Ref) with the screw-down clamp and washer. I always considered the primary function to help flatten records. This raises a second point in considering clamps and weights. Along with the washers and concave platters now included in this discussion, there can be a design purpose of flattening less than perfect records, in addition to damping resonances. Years ago I had a WTTT with a concave platter and lightweight screw clamp specifically stated to flatten records.
Regarding the SOTA Reflex clamp, you imply it came with a washer for under the record. I have one that I bought used that didn't come with a washer. I use this sometimes with a SP-10. Guess I should find an appropriate sized machine washer and try that.
Pryso - For my Final Audio VDS weight I just made some hard plastic washers of varying thickness and then tested to find the optimum. The Sota Reflex also is adjustable from memory, if you look down from the top there is a screw inside for adjusting the force of the grip on the spindle. I would think about a 1/16 of an inch should be enough for the washer, you want the minimum to minimise the bending on the record.
The Michell Orbe, which comes with a threaded spindle and a screw-down clamp, has a slightly-raised disc at the spindle for just the kind of leverage Dover is talking about.
FWIW, after listening through the weekend, I'm sticking with the Orsonic clamp instead of the Oyaide weight. More open, natural, and detailed on my Lenco. I'm guessing that my earlier preference for the weight was the result of resonance coming through my stand that the mass of the weight helped to offset. With the Minus-K added, that resonance is gone and the band-aid of the added mass no longer is needed. Anyway, I prefer the clamp now.
This thread has been helpful. Thanks.
I've had excellent results with the Basis clamp. However the patter design on any 'table is crucial for optimal results. Plus the LP itself plays a role. Sometimes you are better off using an O-ring on the spindle to help dish the LP, other times that does not work so well.
If the platter pad does not have damping qualities of its own you may not get the same results... thus without the platter/turntable information included with comments about the clamp or weight the results will be unreliable.
I've been playing with the Stillpionts recently. It has its own sound and is better than nothing at all, but I've not been able to get it into the same realm as the Basis clamp so far.
I use our own Atma-Sphere 'table.
For clarification, I want to point out that the washer used with the Sota Reflex Clamp is made of felt. When I bought my Sota tt and clamp many years ago, it came with two or three of these felt washers. As mentioned, the washer makes a big difference in coupling the record to the platter with the reflex clamp. As far as I can tell my platter is flat, except for the slight relief near the spindle that is about the same diameter as the record label. The Sota reflex clamp flattens the record out to the outer edge with the felt washer under the record. Without the felt washer, I think the record would dish when applying the reflex clamp.
I have a couple of records with funny warps that make the outer edge roll up on one side when I clamp them down, but they are coupled to the platter the rest of the way in. I experimented years ago with and without the clamp. I don't remember hearing a big difference, but I use it everytime because many records will not lay perfectly flat on the platter without it.
I wonder if a noisy bearing transmitting chatter or resonance up the shaft and
spindle into the platter and then the LP is the reason that some people report
better results without the use of a weight or clamp. The LP is thus less coupled
to the noisy platter. Clamping this LP would transfer more noise to the stylus
and thus out through the system.
It seems that the goal is to minimize resonances at the LP/stylus interface. That
means draining energy and resonances out through the arm and also down
through the platter/bearing. If resonances are entering the system from the
bearing then the use of a record weight or clamp could make the situation worse
by coupling the LP to the resonance transmitting platter.
I would think the ideal is a silent bearing supporting a heavy, damped platter
coupled closely to a flat LP. This would introduce minimum resonance/noise
and drain away energy from the stylus.
Peterayer - interesting hypothesis of yours that when people report an improvement on changing from a screw-down clamp to a record weight (of the type we are discussing) this may actually be due to some sort of 'decoupling effect', i.e. the record weight, precisely because it does not optimise transmission of resonances through the spindle/main bearing channel, may in fact help to stop bearing noise being transmitted upwards through the splindle into the disc.
You conjecture that, the noisier the main bearing, the more likely it is that a record weight (as opposed to a clamp) will have a beneficial effect.
Of course, it is true that some turntables have noisier main bearings than others, but surely practically all main bearings produce some degree of resonance or vibration. So even our SME turntables (mine a Model 30/2) - with their fantastic main bearings - are still producing some noise, albeit to a degree that we would normally consider negligible.
So I wanted to ask: as a long-term SME user, have you ever tried a record weight as an alternative to the SME reflex clamp on either of your SME tables? Have you ever tried either of your turntables with no clamp at all (i.e. leaving the SME clamp off)?
Hello Pgtaylor, I have not tried any alternative clamping/weight systems to what is supplied with my SME tables. I did try listening to my SME Model 10 without the clamp and spindle washer. I thought the sound became a bit less clear and dull, but that was a long time ago and I can not recall the specifics.
Prompted by this thread, I did some more extensive listening on my SME 30/12 with and without the SME clamp and washer system. The results in general seem to be about the same as with my Model 10 but as this system is more resolving, the difference seems more pronounced.
I listened to selected tracks on three LPs in A-B-A or B-A-B order:
1. Vivaldi, Les Concertos Pour Mandolines
2. Ellington/Brown, This Ones for Blanton
3. Johnny Harman, Once in Every Life
The Vivaldi is very difficult to reproduce well because of the complex harmonics of the mandolines and harpsichord. Sure enough, without the washer and clamping system, dynamics were dulled, leading edges were not as crisp and harmonics were rolled off and blurred. On the Blandon and Harman, bass, piano and voice had less weight. Overall tonal density was diminished slightly. I'd say the sound was less vivid.
The differences were not huge, but I was very pleased to get the old sound back with the washer and clamp. Interestingly, I also tried one cut with the washer and no clamp. This raised the LP off the platter surface and the result was terrible. The LP slowed down so much with stylus drag, that is sounded almost like a 45 played at 33 and speed shifted with more or less stylus friction. It makes me wonder about playing an LP on a hard platter surface like brass or copper with no clamp, but many people do this with reportedly good results and hear more "air".
So, at least with my SME tables, the washer/clamp system seems to flatten the LP against the platter and improve the LP/platter interface for improved sonics. Whether this helps to drain energy from the cartridge away from the LP into the damped platter or isolate the LP from bearing noise, I don't know, but I much prefer listening as recommended by SME.
Peterayer - my Final Audio has a 4.8kg copper mat with an indent for the record label. With the VDS-17 1.8kg gunmetal weight and washer, it is crisp, articulate and very detailed. I tried a 300/400gm weight instead ( with the washer ) and the sound lost articulation and detail - the top end sounded rolled off, lacking extension and detail. We are talking $2000 cartridge versus $10 old Grado kind of difference here, not minor.
I strongly suspect that 300-400gm is insufficient for coupling with a washer type system. It may be insufficient to do much on a concave platter in terms of effective coupling. It may dampen resonances but I would seriously question whether the difference is large in that application.
Many thanks, Peterayer, for your interesting post.
It does not surprise me that playing records on the SME without some form of clamping gave a less satisfactory result than using the standard reflex clamp. This is also my finding. And of course if you leave the washer in place when not using the clamp, the results will be dire! In that case the disc is simply not stabilised and will in all probability wobble (this would be the same on any turntable). You will also have changed VTA.
Personally I had always used the SME clamping system on my Model 30 (it was no stranger to me since I had previously used the Sota Reflex Clamp on a Goldmund Studio). About a year ago I happened to use a record weight (the Sutherland Timeline, which has a thick delrin base so that it can be used for disc-damping purposes) and found that this also worked quite well. The result was different from that obtained with the SME clamp: more laid-back, maybe in the end not quite as clear. I continue to prefer the SME clamp on most records, but I have begun to think that a record weight could also do a very good job on the SME.
Since the Timeline's disc-damping function is more or less an afterthought, I suppose that one can do better (read: Kuzma Ebony, Hauer-Analog Bubinga or HiFi Tuning VRO).
So the question is whether one of these (supposedly) optimised record weights would do a better job than the SME clamp. My money is on the HiFi Tuning VRO, which appears to be a carefully thought-out device.