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Audiophile Q&A: Using a record weight

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The weight of a clamp is fairly insignificant to the motor because the clamp’s mass is in the middle of the platter, where it has the least effect. One exception is where a felt mat is used on a slippery platter (for example, one that is very polished metal or acrylic). With an “old fashioned” moving coil that tracks at 3 grams. The drag of the stylus is sufficient to cause the felt mat to slip. A clamp will certainly fix this issue.

With a traditional record weight, the same can be said. The mass is concentrated where it has the least effect. It can cause more friction in the main bearing, adding drag, and therefore give the motor more to work against, but it really isn’t going to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

The usefulness of clamps and/or weights is in clamping a record down to whatever mat or platter is present. It helps to prevent vinyl noise by eliminating air pockets, or gaps, between vinyl and platter. The gaps are where noise is generated and fed back into the vinyl. Whether clamped to plastic platter, or felt mat, the result of clamping (or a weight) is usually lower noise. Also, if the record in question has a warp, clamping will help flatten the record, reducing “warp wow” and improving the tracking of the cartridge.

The only effective way of clamping and increasing speed stability is with a periphery clamp. These definitely make a positive difference, and in multiple areas. They almost completely eliminate warps. The added weight is at the edge of the platter, where it has the most “flywheel” action. It solidly presses the record to whatever is beneath it, damping out vibrations and noise that are generated by the tracking of the stylus.

A relatively affordable approximation of a vacuum hold-down platter can be had by using a combination of traditional record clamp and periphery clamp. I use a Monster Cable branded clamp that was marketed by multiple companies (made in Japan by one of the huge OEM guys). It has a locking collet that grips the spindle. The best clamp I’ve used has been the SOTA reflex clamp. With the Monster Cable clamp, I use one of Rudolf Bruil’s Universal RSR periphery clamps. The combined improvements are worth way more than what I paid. Every aspect of performance is improved: imaging, distortion, noise floor, dynamics, bass, traceability, speed stability, etc…..

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