View Full Version : Record Clamps: The Absence Of

Mike Reed
12-04-2008, 18:14
I've now seen more current turntables through piccies posted onto T.A.O.S. threads than I used to see at shows a decade or more ago.

I had the impression then that many decks were being designed with clamps. Having bought a Michell Orbe prior to that, I thought this was a previously overlooked essential.

Surprise, then, to see so many being used by members, which don't have clamps on them. Anybody guess why? It all makes perfect sense to me, as it did to the late John Michell. His part screw, part spin solution probably hasn't been surpassed.

13-04-2008, 09:11
Hi Mike,

My experience with clamps is that they only work if they're part of a turntable's integral design. Aftermarket clamps, in general, I find make things worse. I ordered a threaded clamp from KAB with my SL-1210 and the deck sounds better without it. One is simply adding unwanted damping.

In short: if a deck's designed to be used with a clamp - great, if not leave it as it is. You will also find that it's mostly high or medium mass designs that feature clamps, and generally not suspended designs, as they cause wear on the bearing and motor.


Mike Reed
13-04-2008, 19:49
Thanks, Marco; some interesting points. Hoever, whether my Orbe is a medium or high mass unit I know not, but it sure as Hell is a suspended design, with everything on springs. Yet it was designed for a clamp!.

Yes, I can see how bearings (at least) could suffer, but the Michell clamp operates with horizontal torque, not downward pressure. The platter is pretty heavy, too. After nearly thirteen years, my bearing is fine, as is my friend's, so I suppose, as you say, it's all in the overall design.

As my VPI record-cleaner needs clamping as well (well, being screwed down, rather than clamping, I suppose) before you can clean a disc, I thought the same principle would apply to the stylus drag and the record, despite the relative disparity.

14-04-2008, 08:55
Mike, I would put your Orbe pretty firmly in the high-mass category, and as it was designed with a clamp it will sound better with one.

The thing about clamps is to work properly (and improve performance) they have to be factored in at the T/Ts design stage and not simply stuck on as an afterthought, in which case more often than not they will degrade the sound.

The classic example is a Linn LP12. Have you ever tried using a clamp on an LP12? It totally kills the sound, and the deck's much vaunted (although inaccurate) 'tunefulness', simply because it was never designed to be used with one, and the addition of one upsets the deck's suspension and 'bounce'. This is why you don't see clamps on what I would call 'LP12-style' decks, such as Thorens', Roksans, etc.

Companies like Rega don't use them because they don't like the damping effect of a clamp and prefer records to 'float' freely on the platter. I prefer this approach myself, but I have also heard excellent T/Ts which use clamps, so again it shows that if implemented correctly record clamps can enhance performance.


27-07-2010, 14:02
I ordered a threaded clamp from KAB with my SL-1210 and the deck sounds better without it. One is simply adding unwanted damping.

Marco - was the one you ordered like this one?



If so, and you've still got it would you be interested in parting with it?

27-07-2010, 14:29
Hi Alex,

Yes that's the one (although mine doesn't have the built-in level bubble) - and yes, I still have it.

Thing is, it's useless unless the partnering deck has a drilled-out spindle, as it's a screw-down design :)


27-07-2010, 14:33
Ah, I see... Hmmm... I was told (by the vendor) that the one he is selling would work equally well on a Rega (short spindle) and the Garrard so I guess although similar looking they must work slightly differently, with the ebay one clamping the outside of the spindle I guess. Thanks anyway, worth a try before I buy one online. :)

27-07-2010, 14:53
No worries, Alex. Just make sure that whichever one you buy isn't designed for a threaded spindle :)


28-07-2010, 09:04
No worries, Alex. Just make sure that whichever one you buy isn't designed for a threaded spindle :)


If considering a centre weight, it's probably better to go for a 'puck' type ad opposed to a clamp. This would make it more universal in it's application.

Here is the TT Weights 375g alluminium puck that James Henriott of Whest Audio gave me as a 'freebie'. He uses the heavier brass/stainless weight on his own turntable.


Manufacturers website here:- http://www.ttweights.com/ttctrclamping.html

28-07-2010, 09:15
Regas don't require weights or "pucks," as the supplied mat does most if not all that's needed. Better to investigate a Ringmat or Spacemat as expensive or cheap alternatives respectively.

I'm not sure the 401 needs a weighty puck either, but I'm open on that one.

A little rubber puck type (Revolver Pig) may possibly help if the record is dished and sitting up in the middle, but unless the platter surface is slightly concave, a weight won't do much for a disc that's up at the edges.

28-07-2010, 11:29
My experience with weights and clamps is thus:

1/ Coupling the record tightly to a mat often gives an over-damped and lifeless quality to the music. I rarely (pretty much never) like the effect even on those decks designed to have one (I know my deck uses one but then the mat arrangement is very different; as is the bearing).

2/ They help couple bearing noise to the record and thus to the stylus.

Audiophiles love accessories (I've got at least 3 different clamps).

29-07-2010, 15:37
Main reason for wanting one is I've got a few records (a fair few) that seam to sit up in the middle, and the KAB CClamp appears to be an update of the Revolver pig idea I think in that it grips the spindle, so presumably you can control the amount of down-force (or not). Maybe just some blue tack would do the trick? But as you say Mark, we do love gadgets... :)

The Grand Wazoo
29-07-2010, 19:41
Trouble is, a clamp only really works on the convex side - you're rarely able to flatten the concave side even if you put something like a felt washer underneath, because a clamp doesn't have a big enough diameter.