Posted on October 17 2016
You've probably seen record clamps before and either wondered what they do, or what they were, right?
We'll admit to having been mystified by record clamps the first few times we saw them. Why, we wondered, do we need to bring additional equipment into this equation? We've been playing records just fine without a clamp for ages!
So, what are record clamps and what do they do?
Record clamps are basically weights that are placed over the spindle onto the label to apply downward pressure on the center of the record.
The weight eliminates any gaps, or pockets of air, between the record and the platter. Those gaps create vibrations that come through your stylus as noise and distortion in playback. So this is what clamps do, they improve the sound quality of your record.
They're also good for temporarily smoothing out warped records. Placing a weight in the center of your record will smooth it out, often making it playable.
Are they really worth it?
Well, there are arguments that to sound their best, records must be able to "breathe," and that using a clamp "suffocates" your record by over damping the sound and making the music sound overly dead and unmusical. So, who knows?
It's really up to you and your ears.
So, before you part with your money on a piece of equipment you may or may not need, try to find a friend or a fellow collector who already owns a clamp. Invite them over and ask if they can bring the clamp with them.
Test the clamp on a few of your favorite records on your own sound system. If you hear a difference that you like, go buy a clamp! The beauty of collecting and playing records is that it's a totally customizable experience.