To ring or not to ring?

Own a VPI Classic 3 with the heavyweight clamp (as well as the screw on clamp), but didn't spring for the periphery ring in order to hold down costs. My lps are in good condition; so, not sure I need a ring for the sole purpose of flattening warped lps. I can always switch to the screw on clamp if I ever come across one. But some reviews attribute sonic improvements to the rings. IMHO the VPI ring is very pricey. TT Weights offers a couple cheaper alternatives. Question is - even if I don't have any warped lps, would I glean sonic benefits from using a ring? And if so, does it really matter which ring I purchase?
Personally, I wouldn't bother with the ring. I have read varying reviews on it's effectiveness, from great to nothing at all. However, I have also read horror stories of the ring snapping caantilevers off of cartridges.
IMHO, there are many other tweaks out there to experiment with that are less risky to other investments, like Acoustic Revive RR-77 or Bybee filters, just to name a couple. Yes, they may or may not work, just like the ring, but there is no risk of damaging your system.
I hate gimickey add on's, so this is a big recommendation coming from me; get the ring.

I have a classic 1, and I love the ring. I think it adds depth to the soundstage, and actually helps the speed stability (but I can't prove that, but it makes sense).

I love the Sota turntables as well, and the vacuum platters help so much, and this is really the same effect.

I also alway put my tables on a Gingko isolation platform. I've found those 2 tweaks have made a huge positive difference.
You will find differing opinions on rings and even clamps/weights, etc. Some say they damp down the sound too much, taking away life. Some say they improve the sound. Personally, I quit using the clamp on my Well Tempered since it sounds better without it. And this table's design specifically incorporates the clamp into the equation. But, this is just in my system, with my components. It's all about system synergy/balance.
When I had my Aries 3 turntable, placing a peripheral ring on it was a huge improvement. My LP's were not warped either. Improvements in a lower noise floor were not subtle. More dynamics and detail were noted as well as increased air. From all the improvements in my Aries 3, I would rank from 1 (best) to 5 (minimal)improvments:

1. SDS
2. Peripheral Ring
3. Single Motor Flywheel
4. Black Diamond racing pucks under feet
5. Center weight (HRX weight)

There was a huge gap between 1&2 and the rest of the field.
One VPI Classic, it is a no brainer. Peripheral ring works really well, even on perfectly flat LP.
Some tables will suffer from using peripheral ring but VPI Classic is not one of them.
I don't think I ever saw negative comment regarding peripheral ring clamp, sonic-wise, on VPI Classic.
I am also using one currently on my Classic 3.
Get the VPI ring
Thanks for your input. If I start collecting pop cans along side the highway, forego an anniversary present for my wife, and not put anything in the collection plate at church, I may be able to afford the VPI ring.
I could never imagine using a turntable w/o vacuum hold down or a periphery ring. I like consistent VTA/VTF. Any edge warp at all without a ring and you won't have consistent vta/vtf during playback. Not to mention there is more wear and tear on the suspension as the warp spins and the cart is moving up and down.
Will now try to convince my wife that this is really a "must have" accessory. Will be a hard sell.

In my collection virtually every other record, both new and used, displays some warp. A perfectly flat record is in my experience hard to find. My Delos has always handled the warps like a champ, but why subject your cartridge to this extra stress and wear? So yes, I'd say get a periphery ring.

I was also in a situation similar to yours, where I already stretched my budget to get the Classic so the VPI ring was out of the question. What I did was to go for a much cheaper TT Weights ring to "tide me over" until I could upgrade to the VPI ring. I had a TTW 600 gram copper ring for close to two yrs, if my memory is correct, and I finally upgraded last summer.

The TTW ring was I believe a bit over $300, and did a good job with most warps. I do like the VPI ring better though so I agree with most here who advised you to go for the real thing, when you can. Sonically, the difference was audible, but not significant. I like the design of the VPI better as placing it is easier as it fits the platter, not the record. The horror stories you mentioned must be from users who were either careless or very drunk, or both, for if you're careful with placing the ring and lowering the stylus, there is virtually no way to damage anything.

However, equally if not more important to me was the knowledge that the record being played is flat, and my Delos does not have to struggle to stay afloat like a boat fighting against big waves. That feeling alone is worth investing in a ring, whether VPI or TTW, IMO.

Lastly, I don't mean to hijack the thread, but a quick question for those who have the Classic with a 300 rpm motor: do you know whether you can use the SDS with it? I'm thinking of upgrading from a 600 rpm motor and wonder whether I could continue using the SDS with a different motor. Mike from VPI is impossible to get. Thanks.
You can also try the periphery rings sold on Ebay for around $240 shipped. They are machined from stainless steel like the VPI. I would have taken this route if I had been aware before I purchased my more expensive aftermarket one.

I have used an aftermarket ring in combination with a heavy center weight for a number of years. Conceptually, the idea is to couple the record to the platter to dissipate energy into the platter and not back into the stylus. Additionally, it provides a solid foundation for the stylus to track the groove. (Is it easier to walk on a vibrating floor or a stable one?)
Looked on Ebay and think I'd consider only the TT Weights DP 16-2.0 for $391. But is the VPI ring for $700 worth the extra bucks? Google search shows the VPI ring is 7.5lb (versus 2 for the TT).
Just shop around eBay. You'll eventually find one for sale. I think I paid less than $400 for mine. You just have to be patient.
I'm getting lazy in my old age. Is the VPI ring EASY to remove and and install again when it's time to flip or change an lp?
Very easy to do. A little cumbersome, but still the technique is simple and trouble free.
Rockyboy, a VPI Outer Ring Clamp just went up for sale today on Audiogon.
I was too slow; ring sold yesterday. My dealer sells the ring for $615. Think I'll let the moths out of the wallet and get one; who cares if the wife and I have to eat cat food for the next couple months. If it disappoints, I'm coming after everyone who endorsed it! LOL
I am a Scoutmaster user and am very pleased with the ring. I think it reduces noise floor, gives a greater sense of weight to the music, adds to speed stability.
Somebody abI've asked about convenience. Yes, it is a little extra trouble, but I just put it over my head, around my neck, while changing albums. Another option is to just put it on the platter before putting the record on. Just leave it there. Get maybe 80-90% of the benefit with none of the hassle.
When used over top of the record, it really is incredible to watch the cart tracking absolutely flawlessly. No movement whatsoever except moving steadily across the record. Very cool.
Net net, I think it is a great upgrade.
Just took delivery of a VPI ring that I found on Audiogon. Seems to improve the sound on all records, even flat ones. Highly recommended. Aaah - I feel my Classic 3 is now complete!
Johnny Cash. Where are you when we need you? (Ring of Fire.)
I have a peripheral ring made 30 years ago by Kenwood for use with the L07D. I use the ring only to improve the inertial mass of the platter; I place it UNDER the lip of the LP, rather than OVER. Puts the stylus in less jeopardy that way.

This is one of the eternal controversies in audio: flatten the LP like a pancake with vacuum or a peripheral ring vs float the LP off the mat entirely, a la the Resonator tt mat and Transcriptors' turntable platters. Each side believes completely in its preferred approach. I am an agnostic.
Can you share with us what you hear when the ring is used as intended?

I believe firmly in both approaches, since each has its merits. ;-)

If one has a noisy TT bearing or motor, isolating the LP from them will benefit the sound.

OTOH, stylus/groove interactions generate energies that travel through the vinyl, bounce around and ultimately muddy the sound. Coupling the vinyl to a platter which can sink some of this energy away will also benefit the sound.

Doing both on the same rig at the same time seems impossible, so which is better will come down to the essential charactersistics of the rig. If its motor and bearing are really quiet, coupling may be best. If they're noisy, not so much.
I think an outer ring is well worth it.

I am selling my TTW mega ring used with excellent results on my clearaudio master solution that my buyer did not want.

I bought a clearaudio innovation TT with matching clearaudio ring otherwise I would keep the TTW ring for my Innovation

Here is link to my ad:

Note this ring needs a table with at least a 1. 5 " thick platter.
Richard, IMO the ring combined with the center wt just take too much "life" out of the music. I freely admit that the quality of "liveliness" or "life" must in some part be due to resonances. I don't believe in stamping out each and every last bit of resonance, either. Some quantum of it adds back, for me, what is lost in the recording, stamping, and playback processes. This is a personal preference.
If you don't have a ring or vacuum hold down, most records will not lie flat (Edge warp, dish or cup). Therefore you have changing VTA, VTF throughout each revolution of the disk. This is not beneficial to the sound. Some suspended designs cannot tolerate the added weight, so it doesn't work for all.
Thanks for the feedback. I wonder if say a reflex clamp with a suitable washer under the record would be superior?
I'm working on a L07D now for a client and he does not have the ring. So we were looking a the options. Imagine it would be pretty hard to track down an original.
Can I ask you if you have done such a comparison?
Many thanks
I have used a variety of copper mats in conjunction with weights & washer or reflex clamp & washer on a variety of TT's and in my experience hard mats such as stainless or copper always sound better with a proper clamp system designed to couple the record to the mat. Without a clamping system the results lack focus.
Listening to a variety ( copper, stainless, original & resomat ) on the mongrel version of the Krebs Technics SP10 in the same system showed me that none of the mats were perfect. Based on my own experience I believe this was due to the lack of a clamp with the metal mats.
Same result with the Goldmund Mat, which I have heard on the Goldmund, Sota, Oracle & Technics SP10, it sounds much better used in conjunction with the reflex clamp.
Most weights manufactured today do nothing unless the record mat/platter is slightly concave because they have a flat bottom and cannot apply pressure at the perimeter of the record label to clamp over a washer placed under the record.
Very few records are truly flat, and therefore unless you are using a soft mat such as felt or leather then the records are not supported across their entire surface on a hard mat such as metal or acrylic unless a clamp/weight is used and has been designed properly, that is either the record mat is slightly concave as in the goldmund, or a washer/reflex clamp system is used.
I am not sure why anyone would put a clamping ring under the record, unless of course they are superman and wear their undies over the top of their trousers.
The primary purpose of a ring or vacuum clamp is NOT to remove warps but to more tightly couple the record to the mat or platter surface. When a stylus runs in the groove, it is actually elastically deforming the groove and the groove then rebounds. This creates a lot of vibrational energy imparted to the record. The tight clamping of the record to the large surface of a mat or platter dampens this energy and also drains that energy off for dissipation in the much larger mass of the platter. This accounts for some people finding the sound to be a bit dead or overdampened (a matter of taste and system matching).

I have a table with a vacuum clamp (Basis Debut). In use, this is far easier than a ring clamp, and, I don't have to worry about accidentally hitting the cartridge with the clamp or the needle getting snagged at the clamp/record interface. If I did not have a built in clamping device, I would use the ring. I like the less hashy sound of the play with clamping than the slightly more lively sound of play without the clamping.
The energy picked up by the stylus creates a subtle echo effect similar to hearing music in an auditorium. This distorts the original recorded music. It is also deleterious to sound retrieval. If one's system is good enough at extracting the music from the grooves, one should find it more pleasurable hearing the recorded music and the aural sounds of the environment in which it was recorded.

With regard to playing warped (even slightly warped) records: Why optimize the VTA setup only to have it altered during playback with a warped record? Is the purpose of listening to recorded music to hear what was recorded or to hear an altered version of the music?

I have used record mats (copper, alloys, Delrin, carbon fiber, in some combination) with center weights, and various periphery clamps. I have applied them to belt-drive, idler drive, direct-drive, and rim drive. When the devices are implemented, they always produce a truer image of the originally recorded music when contrasted to non-applications of the devices.

The ability of the stylus tracking the groove is analogous to walking: Is it easier to walk in a straight line on a stable surface or a vibrating one?
Your posts are spot on. People should think of mats as a transmission device, not an end point. They should drain the unwanted energy away from the vinyl into the platter and beyond.
Copper is much quicker than acrylic in terms of draining energy, but equally important in determining the effectiveness of the mat is what is underneath the mat.
On my Final Audio Parthenon TT the 4.5kg copper mat,1.8kg stabiliser, 15kg platter & substantial gunmetal subplatter are specifically designed to provide a rigid platform for record playback and also wick away the unwanted energy. The whole platter system is terminated with a 40kg rigid slab of SPZ which is a superplastic zinc alloy that grain slides at a molecular level when excited by mechanical resonances.
What I hear with this deck over my earlier decks which included WT, Oracle, Pink Triangle, Roksan & Vaccuum Sota and other decks such as the direct drives SP10/L07D is an absence of smear, a focus and density to notes that is missing from most TT's. I put this down to the energy control design as well as the power supply which consists of an AC motor driven by split sine/cosine wave generators and 80w power amp. This was an early 1970's cost no object product that preceded the Melco's, Micro's and SP10/LO7D but in my listening experiences is superior.