vacuum, worth the expence/hassle?

I have a SOTA Sapphire series IV TT, am wondering if the vacuum platter would produce a noticable improvement in sound. If so, would the improvement be noticed on all records or just warped, complex music, etc.
I'm a bit concerned about the extra equipment associated w/vacuum.
Currently running a PT-6 arm and Shelter 501 cartridge.
The arm needs replacement and I am considering SME or Graham.
Your input on the usefullness of the vacuum platter is appreciated
I've never owned one myself, but I have used them. They are very good for flattening warped records, and it couples the record to the platter well. There are some concerns, though, in that some designs will cause any grit or dirt that might be on the platter to be pressed into the record on the bottom side. I have heard some complaints about this. Other concerns are vacuum "pulsations" from the pump finding their way into the sound. Better systems don't have these problems. Check the designs of each that you are condsidering for these concerns.
I have two Star Sapphires and am very happy with them. One has a Clearaudio TQ-1 arm and the other has an ET II. I have no intentions of replacing them anytime soon. Depending on the costs involved and your specific budget, i would not hesitate to take the step.

Having said that and in response to Twl's comments above, there are some "drawbacks" to such a set-up. It is best if you can put the vacuum pump in another room from the one that you are listening in. Much like how Ernie ( Subaruguru ) has his monoblocks mounted under the floor in has basement ceiling joists, i have my vacuum pumps mounted in the same manner.

As far as vacuum pulses go, so long as the "lip" is kept clean and the seal between the record and "suction lip" is adequate, this should not be a problem. Once their is an adequate seal, the pump should only operate if there is a loss of vacuum, etc... This would require something breaking the seal between the suction lip and the LP or a leak within the vacuum system itself. Obviously, the first one would require major jarring of the LP and the second situation means that you need to repair the problem.

As far as "grit" being ground into the LP, the solution is simple. Keep the platter clean ( that should be obvious ) and thorougly clean your records. With the irreplaceable investment that one has in vinyl and a rig of this nature and expense, it would only seem natural to try and take care of such things as best possible.

For the "record", i recently picked up a Star that i'll be giving to my brother. Hopefully, i'll have it back before Christmas. It is currently at Sota being inspected and having an arm mounted. Sean

PS... Did you see the comments in the November 2002 Stereophile regarding the Sota's ? John Atkinson commented that "the Sota is the turntable that Newton would have designed". Given what he had to say about the other competing tables involved, i think that this was QUITE the compliment. It was also the first one that he commented on, making me think that it was first and foremost in his mind in terms of sonics and design. I might be reading a bit into that, but hey, what the hell... : )
The new VPI TNT HR-X uses a ring weight that fits on the outer edge of the record, flattening out most warps and absorbing vibrations. It seems too early to gather opinions of its efficacy. VPI often sells parts like its record clamps independently of its turntables. Perhaps the ring weight will be made available, possibly replacing the need for a vacuum system.
James, adding a weighted device of the type that you mention may require a complete over-haul of how the suspension of the table is designed and / or set up. As such, i would proceed with caution when trying something like this.

This is not to mention the increased load on the bearing, which could be substantial if the device is actually massive enough to pull down / straighten out a warped record. On top of that, the record may experience "buckling" due to the uneven tension applied between the record clamp at the spindle and the outer edge where the device is pulling down.

The beauty of the vacuum system is that it does not add mass and the vacuum is applied evenly to the entire underside of the record. Like JA said, it is a design that Newtown would have come up with i.e. well thought out and working with the laws of physics. Sean
I had a Sapphire and after many years of use I sent it back to Sota to see about upgrades. The deal they offered me on an upgrade was so good I didn't pass it up. I traded my Sapphire for a Star Sapphire and have not regretted it for a minute.

Every aspect of the sound has been improved. The bass is much more immediate with a greater punch. The midrange is smoother and fuller. The biggest improvement though was in the soundstage. I could go on about it for a long time and probably end up even boring myself not to mention you.

Call Sota and talk to Donna or Kirk. They are great people to work with and will not sell you something you don't want or need.

The vaccuum is worth it. AVOID VPI! Sota makes a better table and as a rule the comparable table from Sota costs less. Sota just doesn't advertise as much. They appearantly don't sleep with Michael Fremmer either.