Outer ring - who uses and what are your findings


I have been thinking about getting an outer ring to help flatten/couple/stabilize my vinyl as it rotates. 

Curious what your experiences have been. 


Thought about buying one for my Prime but it would just be one more thing for me to obsess about. 
I have one for my Kenwood L07D.  I don't routinely use it, but when I did use it, I placed it directly on the platter edge, UNDER the lip of the LP, so that I didn't have to remove the ring every time I played another LP, with the attendant risk to the stylus. 98% of the LPs that I keep and play routinely are already flat; for me the ring is only to add peripheral mass to the platter to increase inertia.  (I'm not saying it wouldn't work to flatten a warped LP and perhaps to dampen resonances; I'm just saying that it's an aggravation and a risk to use it that way, and I don't feel I need it for that purpose.)
I used the Clearaudio outer ring and centering spider for years on my Clearaudio Champ II. I would say it worked to keep records with slight warp flat. I don't use it anymore. Sold it. I haven't missed it and wouldn't spend more than $100 to buy another. I don't think it made any difference in sound quality in my system. If it did, it was so incremental that I didn't notice. Warped records is certainly not the weakest link in my sound chain.
Complete waste of time and a lot of money. Best way to flatten records is an SME style of system. Screw on clamp with a specially shipped bottom and a washer under the record. After getting my Model 10, I no longer worry about warped records. 
I use the VPI outer ring with the Stillpoint LPI. The combination is anything but a waste of time. 
I have a VPI SSM and use the outer ring clamp on every lp- the extra weight "bonds" the lp to the platter very effectively and the peripheral mass seems to even out even the slightest speed variations.  I have a wooden thread spool on the side of my rack to hold the outer ring clamp when changing sides or lp's.
Best way to flatten records is an SME style of system. Screw on clamp with a specially shipped bottom and a washer under the record.
25 or so years ago I had an Ariston TT, the "minimalist" round one (RD40?) which used that method. Very effective. Since then, I've made very simple mods to a clamp that accomplished the same thing: total flatness. It must be a clamp, not a weight, as it needs a positive grip on the spindle to hold it down.
Count me as another user of the VPI peripheral ring along with a Stillpoints LPI. Very effective or I wouldn't use it.  Like @lewm I mainly got it to add mass to the platter, but I can't help but think that if you like your platter mat then bonding it more tightly to the LP with a ring weight is a good idea. Is it a PITA to use?  Yes.  But in all honesty I'm not sure if that's a feature or a bug.... 

one thing that does truly irk me about it: fiddling with the weight to get it to sit evenly on top of the LP.  
I use an outer ring  from TTWeights with my VPI Scout when the LP is not sitting flat against the platter. I wouldn't give mine up but at today's rate of $1K+ for one it's cheaper to get a new record, if possible, or have it flattened. On a record that's not laying flat with just the clamp the outter ring makes an audible difference to me. 
I use it on my Clearaudio Innovation; the matching ring fits perfectly so no fiddling with a centering spider/etc. I’ve made it part of my routine and never go without; it’s worth it, never having to worry about edge warps again. This particular table's platter is so massive, that the added flywheel effect is negligible.

I think it enhances the sound subtly (nothing major on otherwise flat records), but my main reason for its use is to combat warps. I also have a SOTA Nova V for a 2nd table, and its vacuum hold down is also very effective!
Systems that rely upon a center clamp or weight, such as the SME one, certainly are superior to doing nothing, but if the LP is truly warped in a nasty way, you cannot flatten the outer edge of the LP reliably just by clamping it at its center, no matter how artfully the platter is dished, etc.  And if that system works for one side of such a badly warped LP, then it is unlikely to work as well when you flip to the second side.  So, for really badly warped LPs, if you cannot bear to recycle them, I think you'd need a peripheral ring weight. In my experience, warping always affects the outermost grooves the most.
@lewm SME is not just a center clamp/weight. It shapes the record to the platter. You should know better.
@invictus005 wrote
@lewm SME is not just a center clamp/weight. It shapes the record to the platter. You should know better.
Reflex clamps are designed to couple a flat record to the platter.  In some instance, reflex clamps can tame slight warps but the results will be inconsistent due the fact that warps do not present the same on both sides.  IME, reflex clamps cannot solve larger warps, for those those you need a periphery ring weight.

@brf That’s not how SME works. SME system flattens a bolw shape warped record on either side. Surface of the platter and the bottom of the clamp are machined to a specific geometry. There’s a metal disc that is placed under the record. Once the clamp is threaded on, one can adjust the force to where the record is perfectly shaped to the platter. Insanely warped records become flat like glass on the SME. You guys really need to know what you’re talking about before posting. 

The ring system on the other hand is a cumbersome nonsense. It needs to be very heavy to work properly. You guys are not only wasting your money and time during every record change, but are also changing the properties of your platter and are possibly ruining your bearings. 
@invictus, if you are referring to the SME Type 20 collet clamp, it does not flatten poorly warped records as proven numerous times by my friend who owns a SME 20 with said clamp. BTW, bowed shaped records are merely a small sub set of warped records.
@brf There is no collet on the SME. I clearly explained how it works. As I told you in the other thread, please take the trolling elsewhere. 
Never tried an outer ring, I use a Mitchell eng record clamp which is supplied with a couple of different thickness felt washers to be used under the record. You can adjust the pressure of the clamp by how much you tighten it.
I have found it works very well for minimalist warped vinyl but if you have a really bad edge warp it does not help much.
Every time I look at cost of outer rings it puts me off...lol
I own an SME Model 10 as well as Michell Gyro SE. Michell’s clamping system works fine, but SME’s is state of the art. If a record can’t be flattened by SME, it should be tossed into the garbage and life goes on. It would have to be visibly warped and severely rippled on the edge. No one should be buying a record like that to begin with. No periphery ring will fix that. 

But regular edge warps are easily fixed by SME. As the clamp is threaded, the outer part of the record gets bowed towards and pressed against the platter. 
If you have any problem, or even exertion sensation, in lifting a 3-4 lbs outer ring, you should hit the gym. 3 lbs is plenty to flatten anything that's going to get there. In the Clearaudio system, the ring plops right on, perfectly fitted and centered via a lexan lip on the platter. That's less annoying to me than screwing in a threaded clamp, or fiddling with a reflex clamp. Also the vertical bearing is a magnetic suspension with 0 friction or contact along that direction, so the ring weight cannot cause any wear.
Another happy VPI Prime user with Stillpoints LP1 and Periphery ring.  I also have a VPI weight that came with the Prime, and on a VPI HW19 MKIII a older VPI Clamp.  The setup on my Prime, works the best, but they all work.
As I have not tried one these are just musings.
Surely one of the 3 to 4lb rings is only going to work on a tt with a generous platter weight and powerful motor?

I guess if you are in the market to spend $1000 to $1500 for a ring it should be presumed obvious your tt would be up to snuff to start with.
I have a SME 10 and the screw down clamp works well but it does not correct poorly warped records.  BTW @invictus005, SME makes both a screw down clamp and a collect clamp (both are the same reflex design clamps) to be used on non-threaded spindles. 

For warped records I use a TTW copper ring clamp with excellent results. There are a lot of very usable and rare warped vinyl records that can be rehabilitated by using a ring clamp.
Is there such a thing as an " affordable" outer ring?
I mean less than the cost of a lot of people's carts or whole tt?
Thanks for all your input!

Heres the thing, there are some albums that are worth keeping and not dismissing to the circular filing cabinet.

As I have a modest TT, Clearaudio Concept, I realize that any sonic improvement may be subject to the limitations of the TT, however, it is a "tweak" that can be "payed forward" and used in future systems. Kind of feel like its money well spent - if it helps - as it will have an ongoing lifespan in my system.

I bought a traded-In Merrill-Williams 101.2 with an Ikeda IT CR 407
tonearm. I believe that the 101.2 is designed to be used with a centre weight and ring. The 101.2 came with the centre weight but not the 
peripheral ring. Curiosity got the better of me and I bought the,
quite expensive, ring separately.
I now use the centre weight and ring for all my records. Not to flatten them but because you can hear the difference. Blacker back grounds
and more recorded 'ambience'. Slightly more very low-level detail.
I do have to take more care when cuing my Ikeda 'Kai' but think It's
worth the effort. 
I use the VPI ring clamp with my Classic 3. It does seem to help flatten out slightly warped records but honestly I don't hear much of a difference with it. It's also a PITA to get installed correctly on some records as it can slip off an edge. I'm not sure if it's due to variations in record diameter, record thickness, or possibly slightly off-center drilling but whatever the cause the outer ring can wobble slightly if it's not sitting perfectly. That can't be good...so is the cure worse than the original symptom?
From the sounds of things I will stick with my Mitchell center clamp and just avoid buying badly warped records!
I have none in my collection that I deem bad enough that the Mitchell does not resolve, maybe I am lucky.
I have two systems of hold downs in my tables, one a screw on clamp on the TNT - I've avoided trying a periphery ring on that table as I believe it requires a change in platter and a $2,000 bill that probably isn't warranted by any benefit in sound. The existing set up is excellent and I'd be reluctant to give up the composite platter I have that significantly benefited the sound.

The other table, a Sota Cosmos, has vacuum hold down with a screw on clamp and it is also very effective at taming mildly warped records.

I'd be interested in doing an A/B comparison on the same table, fitted with a stock clamp with and without the ring.  What have people that have done that observed - any benefit on non-warped records, or is it just useful for the odd warped one?

I also have a VPI with an older acrylic-lead platter that I wouldn’t change. So I opted for a 2.5 lb. 3rd party ring. It is a TTW ring; they’re out of business now, but there's still a reasonably priced vendor..

Not only did it improve the sound and flatten disks, but I find it easier and faster to use than the old VPI clamp. Sold the VPI SS center clamp so the $ burden was eased.

I would not be without the ring clamp. Adds flywheel too.

Hi , I have missed the post , so my addition might be late or redundant.

I do use a outer ring (and try to avoid using a centering spider if possible to keep the routine as simple as I can).
I must say it works to keep records with slight warp flat. But I think there is more to it then that and I have written a document on the subject, presenting my thoughts and followed up with some experiments and experiences.
I prefer to combine the outer ring with an Oracle and SME style of system; screw on clamp with a specially shaped bottom and a washer under the record.
I regard the ring as the next best next thing to vacuum holding of records, which I have to my availability on 2 of my TT's. I have sent my ring to a work shop for slight modification and when returned (taking some time still) I will also use the ring in conjunction with a vacuum platter to see what benefits may still be present.

As an aside; I am not in favor of dished platters/mats because of the variable azimuth that results from it. A clamp without a dished platter cannot, as skilled its design may be, completely flatten a severely warped record. With a straight, flat platter and mat the outer ring will help considerably in reducing warps.

If you would like to read the document on the subject I could send it. I have translated the doc into English, which is not my home language.

I would like to read your paper.  Please send it.  Of course there is more to a periphery ring and clamp, or vacuum system as well, than just flattening out a warped record.  Records vibrate a bit as the stylus travels through the grooves, and these devices help to dampen the micro vibrations that develop in consequence.  How much affect this phenomenon has on the sound we hear coming out of our speakers is subject to a number of variables.  I look forward to learning your thoughts of all that might be involved.

melm233 posts07-13-2018 10:51amI also have a VPI with an older acrylic-lead platter that I wouldn’t change. So I opted for a 2.5 lb. 3rd party ring. It is a TTW ring; they’re out of business now, but there's still a reasonably priced vendor..
Would you name the aforementioned vendor please?
From what I've read on this post is that most users of clamps like
the effect .
I have an original Merrill Heirloom TT that had many firsts
in the TT design , the ring clamp being one of them .
I have done the with and without the ring clamp 
and I found it to have a positive effect on the sound  
and record flattening works wonders on  the worse of warping .
My clamp weighs  665 grams , I had tried one from Vinyl  Nirvana  
weighing about 325 grams  
( sounded great but didn't do well at flattening warped vinyl ) .
 One post brought up the weight  and the bearing and I agree putting 2.5 or 3 lbs. one a TT that wasn't designed
for one might not be a good idea .
Another post brought up the cost , agreed if you don't have one and your TT wasn't designed for one you might be better off buying a used table with one than buying one , except the one from Vinyl Nirvana
it's a bargain .

If I replace this table my next will either have a ring clamp of it will be vacuum clamped .

I have moved my document on the subject of an outer ring into dropbox. See attached link towards this doc. I will leave this in place for some time to come.

I have a Merrill-Williams 101 (first edition) that I bought used a few years ago with the clamping system, which was an option at that time. I have found that as far as sound reproduction goes using the clamps has an effect somewhat similar to plugging the ports on ported loudspeakers, although not as drastic. Some what leaner more focused and tighter sound, and depending on your system and your personal taste you may find you like or dislike the change.
I have some records that are warped, and I can say without hesitation that if you take a record that on the spinning platter shows not only an edge warp, but viewed from a slightly elevated angle the playing surface will also look uneven or maybe wavy (like swells on the water). Now install the center and outer clamps and view the spinning record, the playing surface now looks flat.
I don't mind the little time it takes to use the clamps and find that for me its use is almost always an improvement.
I have used my copper TTW outer ring with a variety of decks. I have used it with and without center weights. Here are my thoughts. The outer ring does help with records that have minor warps. I can see the difference with less tonearm movement and less pumping of the woofers on the first and second track of warped records where the deviation tends to be greatest. On every record I can hear a difference. Without the ring, in general, the sound is more vibrant and "alive" on first blush but at the loss of inner detail and firm low bass that sound true to tone. After trying dozens of center weights with my VPI Prime and highly modded TD124 with a Reed 3P, I have a favorite with both; the original Thorens Chrome and rubber O-ring classic. But I have several custom made wood center weights (very tall and high-mass) and they sound great with the outer ring as well. Everything makes a difference-mat, center weight or clamp, and outer ring or no outer ring. Whether they are positive or lateral differences is up to the listener. I've settled on the Gem Dandy cork and rubber mat on my VPI and a carbon fiber mat on my Thorens. I'm pretty clumsy and I have never come close to taking out my stylus/cantilever with my outer ring. So what I am trying to say is this; the main benefit of an outer ring IMHO is to damp and absorb energy dissipated across the record surface by the stylus in the groove. I can't prove this is what the outer record does, but it makes perfect sense and from what I hear, the theory behind the outer ring and the benefit coincide. And one more thing; don't even think about an outer ring with a 9" arm (if someone has succeeded with a 9" arm, I am sure I will hear about it). Most times, you will need a 10.5 or better yet a 12" arm so that there is plenty of clearance between the outer edge of the ring and the tonearm column. 
I could find no outer ring for sale on the vinyl nirvana site, seemed to be just for thorns and ar tables and repairs?
I use the VPI Periphery Ring on every play. It does what it's supposed to do. It stabilizes the image, lowered the bass floor as well as helping to deal with warps. I've used the screw on clamp with the grommet under the record. It can cause the record to form a dish or a dome. The ring does a very good job of damping resonance generated from the record not in contact with the platter, even with warped records.
I was always fussy about my records. In the day; record shops exchanged records with Pops, Tics and Warps for the same record; No Problem. I live in Chicago. Music Direct was less than 10 minutes from my condo and they had the same policy in their early days. Don’t know how they handle this now.

So most of my records are flat. Used records do have some long warps or sudden edge warps. I have multiple pressings. Not really a big problem.

My new Technics 1200G, modded with Triplanar Classic SE tonearm handles these warps with ease. I believe Atmasphere was the one who explained it. The Triplanar bearings are in the plane of the record. One of the SME arms also features this setup. Seems to be working well for me. Also bass is tighter and more textured. Speed control brings the spatial qualities recorded in the grooves to a new level. Neither my LP12 or Kuzma can extract the info in the grooves the way the Technics/Triplanar rig can. Unless I hit a lottery; this will be my final rig.

Two other tweaks on the Technics; I use an Oracle hard acrylic platter mat and an HRS 315 gram record weight.

 I have been pondering the purchase of an AFI Flat. German made record flattener with a difference. It not only flattens records.  It has a Relax function that supposedly Relaxes the stresses in the vinyl incurred during the actual pressing process.
Users have reported results that equal that of US cleaning. 

There is is no doubt in my mind; that flat records play and sound better. Just listen to One. Try a MoFi UHQR or a UD1S. 

The Oracle mat and HRS weight are good for dealing with the resonances generated in the grooves. Start with Flat Records and I don’t think that you will need a ring anymore. IMHO.

Best to All on this Journey 
"melm233 posts07-13-2018 10:51amI also have a VPI with an older acrylic-lead platter that I wouldn’t change. So I opted for a 2.5 lb. 3rd party ring. It is a TTW ring; they’re out of business now, but there's still a reasonably priced vendor..
Would you name the aforementioned vendor please?"

Here ya go:

Turntable Outer Ring SS-1 VPI Clearaudio Sota Linn Music Hall Rega Hanss Basis
I have a hopped up VPI TNT Jr (flywheel motor, sds, super platter and ring) and was playing it w/o the ring for like 6 months as its a bit of a pain.  Last week, I did an A B just for giggles and realize I should not be playing it without the ring.  Really adds weight to the presentation, more bass slam, better resolution, quieter back ground and more vivid three dimensional presentation.
I apologize , I had tried the ring a few years ago ,
Vinyl Nirvana was using them on their upgraded AR turntables ,
I looked at the web site after I posted and was surprised to see all the Thorens tables. Shortage of AR's ? 
But I suggest you keep checking the web site for a used Merrill Heirloom tables that they have once in a while .
Check out the AR & Thorens Gallery Mike Castellana's " Heirloom-ette "
or My ( Daves of Vinyl Nirvana ) Refurbished Merrill Heirloom in the AR Turntable Resources .
Contact them to see if ring clamps are still available .

Thank you for the extra info
also appreciate the site info for cheaper options
Cannot see myself changing out my Nottingham Analog table anytime soon and have not seen or heard of anybody running an outer ring on one of them but who knows?
I use a TTWeights TTMega 1.2kg ring weight in addition to a 1.4kg "Nugget" centre weight, for EVERY SINGLE record that I play. The innovative way that the TTWeights ring is centred, makes it a no-brainer to use it. The difference with mildly warped records is nothing short of miraculous, but the audible improvement with normal flat records is profound! I have several thousand vinyl records.

I cannot attest to the performance of this combination on other turntables, but it categorically improves the musical reproduction on mine from excellent to exceptional.

For the record, pun intended, my vinyl system is as follows:
I did that ritual for 5 years on my Classic 3 and it became so routine I didn't really think of it as a choir after a while. However, when I changed over to the Spiral Groove SG2 with Centroid Arm I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to flip a record over.  All kidding aside, I definitely thought on the VPI Classic 3 the peripheral weight was worth the effort. However, I am happy now I have a table that doesn't require it. I also have the option on the Spiral Groove to use a washer and dish the record to the platter. I found that most of my records don't require it. So I ditched the washer also. Put on a record, thread in the clamp and done. 
Threading the clamp with a washer is non trivial, since to do it correctly, you should spin the record to see if you have enough dish for the corners to meet the platter. Too little and they don't meet, to much and it bows away from the platter. 
I did that ritual for 5 years on my Classic 3 and it became so routine I didn’t really think of it as a chore after a while.
I use a TTWeights TTMega 1.2kg ring weight in addition to a 1.4kg "Nugget" centre weight, for EVERY SINGLE record that I play. The innovative way that the TTWeights ring is centred, makes it a no-brainer to use it.
I should explain that the TTWeights ring is placed on the record by means of a positioning cover which is so fast to use that it takes about a second to remove the ring and about 2 to 4 seconds to put it on! It takes me as long to put on the centre weight as the ring weight. Putting a record away in its sleeve and jacket and taking out the next one takes far longer than putting on the weights. It takes me about 10 seconds to take off the weights, flip the record, and put the weights back on. Given that I brush away static from the record and treat my stylus, every side change, the placing of the ring weight is a trivial proportion of changing record sides.

Here’s a two minute YouTube video by TTWeights, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOwvm_cuytc, showing an extreme example of a warp being totally flattened, but notice that the time it took to place the ring weight on the record was about the same as placing the centre weight on it - less than 2 seconds all up. I believe that the same is true of the techne-audio ring mentioned above. My understanding is that positioning the VPI and Clearaudio turntable-specific rings is more involved.

I hadn't seen that, using the spindle for positioning the outer ring. Very innovative.