Record Clamps – Do They Make a Difference?

ttw record clamp silver bullet

Audiogoner Elegal wonders whether record clamps make a difference.  He asks, “I have a Sota Sapphire that I love. I recently purchased the reflex clamp. I cannot tell a difference. Perhaps they matter when you have an older record that is somewhat warped?”

There are many threads discussing the pros and cons of record clamping, but I think the general wisdom is that a clamp helps eliminate some of the micro-movement of the record, resulting in a more precise sound. I would put on a well-recorded solo piano or piano/bass and listen again. IMO, clamps and weights are tuning devices and I could see that, depending on one’s system, someone might prefer the somewhat looser, more resonant sound without a clamp. Ask anyone who owns a Linn. If you can’t hear the difference, so be it. Try it with some more records, but don’t turn it into a source of grief.

My strong belief is that the LP must become one with the platter if if it is to sound it’s best. Rapping one’s knuckle against the LP surface when it is on the table will reveal the truth. If properly coupled, you will hear a solid sound. If not, it sounds hollow, flimsy. The difference in playback is MAJOR! The Sota tables, with their vacuum platter, do an excellent job of this. The clamp helps pull the center of slightly warped records down flat, enabling the vacuum to complete the job. An LP that is ‘floating’ above the platter will sound very inferior! Clamps on non vacuum tables can also help. I have both a Sota and a SME table. On the SME, the clamp is threaded to the spindle; the degree of tightness is critical. Again, rap the LP and listen!

I am of the came which says If you cannot hear any difference, then, for you, there IS no difference.
Do some task because someone else might hear it (but they aren’t there with you) is crazy IMO.

I ony use a weight clamp, and that onky when a LP seems too slippery on the platter due to slight dishing.

Otherwise for me, a clamp is a PITA to bother with.
(I am really lazy)

I have a sota jewel. My friend with a sapphire brought his clamp over. Within 10 seconds I was in shock. It took the clarity to a whole other level. Are you putting the clamp on tightly? Is your table set up properly?

To complete the mating on the vinyl with the platter, add a heavy weight periphery clamp.

It all depends on the table. The worse the turntable, the greater the need.

It depends on the platter. The old VPI TNT platters we’re recessed in the center with a washer around the spindle, so when the clamp was turned down the record was held flat across the entire surface. The result was the entire surface was part of the platter. Worked well if you did not “over tighten” the clamp, resulting in “dished” record.

Vacuum hold down also works in most cases

If you have the right mat, a clamp is not beneficial.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

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