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Observation on vinyl playback with acrylic platter and Clamp


mobile homeless

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pe_table.jpg

As some of you might know, I finally have the new Progressive-Engineering turntable up and running. The table employs a precisely machined acrylic platter along with a high quality clamp to use as well. It is designed to be played with no mat with the LP resting directly on the platter. It is said that the acrylic more closely matches the consistancy/makeup of an LP hence the better sonics/coupling. And the clamp is supposed to to bring this even more into play as well as firmly couple the record to platter supposedly improving bass and definition across the board.

I have to say, I was up at 3am listening and doing some comparisons. I found that the sound WITH my Linn felt mat and NO clamp was:

1. More natural

2. Sounds less pinched

3. More airy

4. Let ambient details in recording breathe more

5. Slightly more expansive

6. Had more natural bottom end

I found this just as prevalent on indie rock recordings/hard rock as something like Bill Evans at the Village Vanguard or Sonny Rollins Way Out West. If anything, I was WANTING the Clamp/platter to sound better.

I think that if someone is used to listening to something like the Linn LP-12 and vinyl for years and years, then a clamped LP on an acrylic platter just doesnt have the natural air and relaxed presentation that is so important to vinyl playback.

In a way, I liken the comparison to tube vs solid state. To me, the clamped record on the Acrylic sounds more like the solid state approach to reproduction while felt mat sans clamp resembles tubes in that harmonic naturalness.

I am going to be trying some other experiments here and will see what different settings hold (it's a bit tough since the mat does change the VTA too). As for now, I really suggest those with acrylic platters and clamps to TRY your table with a mat (so far, I have only tried felt) sans clamp. I know a host of you have ditched your mats and use a clamp on the MMF-7 as well as the Scout. I am starting to question the use of a clamp altogether now and the mat seems postitive, despite the static (which is not a problem here).

Just something to think about and consider.

kh

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A quick note about the post above. I have not yet found the optimum setup for this table so findings will likely change even more. That being said, I have found the above true over the last week of listening. I am getting two new cartridges in sometime in the next few weeks so I'll have a better take. I am also probably going to end up getting a MC stepup transformer for my Cary phono stage.

kh

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Interesting post ... Once I have the phono stage back in place, I'll get out the felt mat that came with the MMF7 and give it a comparo. I haven't tried the "clamped to acrylic" yet since I've had limited vinyl time.

I emailed George Wright about the step-up transformer option for the WPP100C. Didn't know if he felt it was a significant upgrade for the total phono stage ... I'm sure he'd like to sell one but I was curious what his reply might be. Any thoughts on why you're deciding to give it a spin? Maybe the output on your new cartridges will change?

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The ONLY reason to use a step-up transformer is so you can listen to low output MC cartridges which would just not reach near enough volume with your MM phono stage. Otherwise, adding more to the reproduction chain, especially a whole other transformer with the gain, would be a negative. Indeed, the quality of this stepup transformer has to be VERY good (because of the miniscule level of output via the MC cartridge and ease of picking up hum and noise).

True MC cartridges NEED this gain though. I would hold off on the Wright Step-up transformer since you have a high output cartridge anyway. Get this later down the line and possibly from someone else or used at that. Not sure how much George is charging here... Did he tell you? Regardless, no need for that now, IMO.

kh

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----------------

On 12/16/2002 12:55:26 PM mobile homeless wrote:

I am going to be trying some other experiments here and will see what different settings hold (it's a bit tough since the mat does change the VTA too). As for now, I really suggest those with acrylic platters and clamps to TRY your table with a mat (so far, I have only tried felt) sans clamp. I know a host of you have ditched your mats and use a clamp on the MMF-7 as well as the Scout. I am starting to question the use of a clamp altogether now and the mat seems postitive, despite the static (which is not a problem here).

Just something to think about and consider.

kh

----------------

When I picked up my Nottingham I questioned Larry Weinstein (Hollywood Sound) about the use of a clamp and he pretty much echoed your thoughts. I was able to negate static on the mat (and LPs) by using a Mapleshade IONOCLAST:

ionoclast_new.jpg

There are a number of different products like it out there - I suspect they all help with the static problem to a greater or lesser extend.

Overall I find the sound of the Nottingham w/o clamp very mellow, natural and thus pleasing - as far as my personal taste is concerned.

Regards,

~Michael~

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See the pic of the Progressive-Engineering table at the top? See the metal piece in the center of the platter at the spindle? This is a CLAMP that screws down via threads on the spindle. After you put your album on the platter, you would screw the clamp down over the record. It is supposed to tightly couple the record to the platter. Some feel it extends the bass giving better definition and extension along with increased imaging specifity and detail. It's also supposed to flatten out warps etc.

Please see the following link for an explanation:

The Clamp via the Progressive-Engineering "The Turntable"

I have used clamps in the past via VPI tables but really have come to dislike the approach lately although I need to do more listening. To me, it takes away some of what I value in analog playback in the first place.

kh

ps- Interesting comments, Michael! Chris, think that's the wise option here as well. Dont know how much George is charging but think he DOES give a good deal if not the best option sonically.

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mobile stated:

"To me, the clamped record on the Acrylic sounds more like the solid state approach to reproduction while felt mat sans clamp resembles tubes in that harmonic naturalness."

Let us know how the sound is with those various ring mats and other type of mats on the acrylic. Don't forget to make those subtle VTA arm adjustments for the various mat thicknesses. How about different clamping torques? How about those inner tube things and the various other isolation platforms, are they relevant to this type of turntable? Lot of stuff to be trying and tweaking here in the quest for ultimate sound, as you so enthusiastically endorsed to all of us recently as well. Let us know what you find out.

On that diy inner tube isolation box product that you liked so much, the one you posted a picture of, any recommendations for perfuming the stink that those inner tubes let loose in the living room through its leaky valves? 2.gif

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I use a felt mat and no clamp and it sounds great, however, this is only because when i clamp the record, somepart of the platter rubs against something else. I was given an Ariston RD11s with a Micro Seiki tonearm and a Sumiko Talisman MC cartridge and a Fidelity Research toroidal transformer...nice gift, i know.

Anyway, it also came with this big old clamp made by Monstercable...this thing is like a "sit 'n' spin". Well, it weighs down the platter.

Does anyone know how to adjust the suspension, so i can handle the weight or should I just be content with things the way they are?

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Ummmm.....see above? If you are asking me, I say to ditch the clamp, especially with a suspension table like the Ariston R11s which is very close to the Linn in many ways. As far as I know, that table was NOT designed for a clamp and neither was the Linn. The springs are very complient and not really setup for that.

The clamp is a bad idea all the way around with this setup, both design-wise and sonically, this my opinion, of course. Just getting your Ariston setup properly is a chore and adding the weight and complexity of the clamp can do no good.

kh

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Mobile,

I don't get to drop in very often lately. What's the world coming to? Mobile listening to something other than his Linn? Dean liking Heresys?

Seriously speaking, congratulations on FINALLY getting that PE TT up and running. BTW, I recently read a review of the Clearaudio Virtuosso Wood in Stereophile. Taken for what it's worth and not worth, it's likely to be my next cartridge venture to avoid the whole stepup transformer issue.

On the "felt/no clamp" issue, I do not have a felt mat at this point to try with my Scout, but I'm willing to buy one in the interest of further audio "science??" discovery. I had listened to my Rega with and without the felt mat and did prefer the mat to no mat. I am planning to add a maple block for my Scout to sit on, so a felt mat and no clap playback could be an extension of that venture. The Scout and the PE seem to have different composition of acrylics and platter thickness based on what I see, and not sure what part that plays with the audio dynamics.

Again, glad to hear you giving the PE a workout. Someone once said a "Linnie" will never like anything but a Linn, so I'm sure it will take some time to shake out all the variables.

Klipsch out.

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Good to see you, Jazman! I was off this place for a bit too but have lately been posting a bit. There is a lot to like about the PE table but I am finding the presentation with clamp and sans mat to be too close to digital in its lack of bloom. The PE table is VERY neutral and offers an amazing black background. IT has one of the most rigid subchassis' out there and SHOULD as it costs $3000 WITHOUT a tonearm.

As for the platter, they are very likely the same type of Acrylic. The original platters were NOT POLISHED so they were milky just like your platter. You get that see through nature from polishing it. Check out the various Teres tables and other options. Pre-polishing provides the frost look as in the VPI.

I think the digital age has really shaped the direction that many have taken with Turntable/analog reproduction. I think a lot of the super tables are getting TOO sterile sounding and lacking a bit of the magic of the harmonic richness of vinyl. To me, at the moment, the clamp is really putting a hamper on this relaxed open sound. It DOES tighten things up...but there goes some of the air as well.

IF I were you, I would really consider getting a simple step-up transformer used so you can finally try some MC samples to get a taste of that sound. That is what I want to do. Right now, I am doing as you say and trying to sort out the pros and cons of the Super TAble sound. Yes, there are some great things such as a HUUUUGE soundstage and very extended lows. There is also a quick immediacy to the sound...and all this with a subpar Grado and Linn K9 at the moment (waiting for other options). Also, leave your mind open and try your Scout without clamp and with some form of mat, either The Donut or Felt.

Drop back by or throw me a mail. Did you see that Chris Robinson got some Wright Sound WPA-3.5 Monos?

kh

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I wont mention mats as we dont want Kelly getting all hot under the collar again, however on the subject of clamps...

The Project comes with one. I tried it with. I tried it without. Precious little difference to my ears except where the record is very warped and the clamp helps to fix it down better.

As it is I never really use the clamp - too lazy. It only goes on to make things look neat and tidy when I am not playing the TT...

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I was waiting to receive my refund on the returned "air box" before commenting.

As you remember, I came up with a solution in the meantime with marble slab, handballs, and furniture cups. As it turned out, my solution was elegant and worked like a charm.

The "air box" is a flat black painted box about 4'" high with the top lid (3/4" MDF) floating on three small inner tubes which fit into the box. The inner tubes have air tubes which lead to valves on the front panel of the box. You get a bike pump and fill the inner tubes to create a cushion for the floating base (top lid).

The bike pump idea is not all that convenient.

One of the valves on the unit leaked, so it was difficult to tweak this system with exactly the right air pressure. The inner tubes fill up quickly causing the platform to be higher than the sides of the box. When you let air out to get the platform back down, it seems that the cushioning is too soft and wobbly, plus you just let this smelly air into the room.

The smell from inside the inner tubes is not a pleasant aroma for the living room let alone out in the garage.

The top lid, the platform which floats, tended to scrape a little bit on the inside of the box, scratching the flat black paint. The overall impression was that the system was not really perfected.

The whole idea seemed complicated compared to the marble slab which works so well, if fact, much better.

The marble slab is free standing with no box to rub against. The handballs have a standardized pressure inside providing the perfect cushioning. The marble slab needs to have enough weight. This slab is 19 x21 x 1" and weighs at least 40 #s. The fine tuning of the level can be done easily by adding shims under the furniture cups if needed. The marble is beautiful and the system works great.

I also returned those ring mats which were inconvient and made no audible difference to my ears.

Both companies have integrity and refunded. They were open to comments.

-c7s

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There were no instructions with the air box. Low pressure would keep the platform from going too high. It just seemed kind of soggy that way. Anyway, my system with the marble slab is far superior and way more elegant.

I could not really hear the difference with the ring mats. Then again, I didn't have a standardized media to check with. I think one needs to have a particular recording that one is really tuned into for these AB comparisions. Maybe a recording that one has listened to over the years in many different audio configurations. I haven't really done that yet.

The idea that I would have to tweak the VTA by a couple of angstroms for every comparison of mats simply told me that this level of tweaking is not my path. I am happy with the MMF-7 just as it is. The clamp seems like a good idea for making sure the LP lies flat, if nothing else.

Whereas I cannot really hear some of these things, I do enjoy the entertainment of the audiophile discussion battles, and the wars between the engineering giants from planets Zeta and Theta over 'group delay' and other interesting graphs. I am, however, enjoying my new found sales resistance. Meanwhile I need to find a system for organizing 10K LPs.

The plywood is in the shop, if all goes well I will make some cuts today. The Cornwalls are staying in the house even after the big Altec system, so AB comparisons of speakers will be relatively easy.

With the MMF-7, and Tube line up, those Cornwalls are sounding pretty nice these days. If nothing else I have really learned the reality about Horns revealing the inappropriateness of other components down the line. The tube preamp and amp really make all the difference in the world.

This is a long slow process of trial and error, buying and selling off, until you get something nice. Sometimes frustrating and mostly fun.

-c7s

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Over the years I have tried a few mats (Ringmat being the latest), records directly on the platter with an extra weight, but the best (most natural sounding) solution was/is a simple 78 shellac record. On my TT (brass platter) it provides the tonally most pleasing (read: natural) tonal balance. It's a cheap device and works very well for me.

Just my $0.02

Wolfram

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