Sound Foundations Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp Review

Record clamps are an important part of a good vinyl replay system. Most often, these take the form of center or spindle clamps. I was keen to find a good, affordable peripheral or ring clamp that I could recommend, however. I may have – read on.

A while back I was searching online for a peripheral or ring-type record clamp to review, and I stumbled across Sound Foundations, operating out of Mumbai, India. A quick email to their friendly owner, Ali, and I was discussing the details of the peripheral clamp they sell. More on that in a bit, but first, let’s look at why record clamps are a good idea.

Two clamps – center and edge, with record positively held to the platter mat.
Why Clamp..?

A theoretically perfect record will sit perfectly flat on a theoretically perfect platter. The entire record surface will make intimate contact with the platter and be damped by this contact. All great in theory, but real records, mats and platters are far from perfectly flat.

Irregularities may be small with high-end gear, where the mat and platter are manufactured to fine tolerances, but with cheaper gear, the mat and platter can be significantly out-of-flat. Add in the gross out-of-flat condition that even slightly warped records create, and you have reality, where records never sit perfectly flat, on anything.

As a record is played, the modulations in the groove cause the stylus and cantilever to vibrate. Some of this mechanical energy is transferred back into the record, muddying the sound. The other problem with out of flat records is warp-induced wow. As the stylus tracks the groove, up and down undulations cause the stylus to travel further than if it were perfectly flat, causing pitch changes. This is warp-induced wow. It also affects the vertical tracking angle of the cartridge, causing it to constantly change, with additional impacts on sound.

Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp

OK, so we want to clamp, at the center and at the edge. Both clamps are important in minimising the effects of record surface vibration and warp-induced wow.

I will state here that I paid full price for my record clamp. This review, like all my work, represents my honest evaluation. No fear or favour here.

The Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp, alternatively known as a ring clamp or peripheral clamp is sold by Sound Foundations. The clamp is manufactured from what they describe as a non-magnetic alloy. I figured it was a grade of stainless steel, which is a non-magnetic alloy, but I have no further details on the precise make-up of the clamp.

Hopefully, this image gives you an idea of the silky, brushed finish on the Sound Foundations record clamp.

The clamp weighs around 775 g, or 27 ounces, and will fit many, but not all turntables. This is quite important, so chat to Ali if you are not sure whether the clamp will fit your deck. I can state with certainty that the clamp will work with the Kenwood KD-600 / 650, and the L-07D.

Be careful if you have a sprung chassis belt-drive deck, as the combined mass of ring and center clamps can cause these wobbly decks to crap-out. Most good direct-drive decks have the torque and solid chassis needed to easily support a ring clamp and center clamp, which I recommend you use together.

I purchased my clamp directly from Sound Foundations, after making contact with Ali.

Benefits of Peripheral Clamping

Sound Foundations lists the following benefits of their ring clamp. Note that I’ve edited the list a little.

  • Optimum Coupling of Record to Turntable Platter / Mat
  • Lowers Noise Floor Significantly
  • Will make old worn vinyl sound 100% better
  • Eliminates Resonances and Lowers Distortion
  • Improves cartridge tracking and stabilizes the VTA of the Stylus
  • Improves Stereo Image and Focus
  • Superb instrument separation with wider sound-stage
  • Will flatten most warped records
Arrival…

My clamp arrived very quickly for a delivery from India. Sound Foundations uses a quality shipper, which is a nice touch and means you get your record clamp quickly. The clamp also comes incredibly well-packed, in a special wooden shipping box. There is little chance of shipping damage with this arrangement – well done Sound Foundations.

I wish everything fragile were packed this way – bravo Sound Foundations.
Very little chance of damage with this kind of packaging. The record clamp comes wrapped with a cellophane-type plastic, sandwiched between sheets of polystyrene foam.

There was a small manufacturing issue with my first clamp, causing it to run slightly out of flat. I contacted Ali and the service from Sound Foundations was faultless. They very quickly sent me a second clamp, which was perfect. If only all sellers operated this ethically!

Using the Sound Foundations Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp is a breeze. You just unpack it, give it a quick wipe down and set it very carefully down on your first record. You must of course be very careful to make sure the clamp does not foul the platter, mat or structures around the top surface of your record player.

Slight manufacturing marks were present on both samples I received. They have no bearing on the performance of the clamp and finish is otherwise excellent.

The ring clamp fits my main deck comfortably and clears everything. You must check this first, to avoid problems later. Direct-drive helps of course, because you have a decent amount of torque to deal with the additional rotating mass and inertia of the system. The KD-600 barely even notices the extra 1.2kg ceramic mat, plus 1.5kg of center and edge clamps, what a deck!

Centering it is important and can be slightly tricky. I suggest nudging it slightly to get it as close to centered as you can. A centering tool would be handy, perhaps Sound Foundations can include one in future editions.

Sound Quality

In a word, fantastic. The record clamp did an excellent job flattening warped records and reducing warp-induced wow. In combination with a centre clamp, as you see in these images, the peripheral clamp really helps couple the record to the mat, which is what you want.

Some of the benefits in my system are reduced wow, reduced noise, cleaner mids and tighter bass. Mind you, these are all the things you would expect when you think about and understand the vinyl replay chain. This is the closest thing you can get to a vacuum platter turntable, without the associated hassle, expense and disadvantages.

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this record clamp, as long as it fits your turntable. This is excellent value, well-made and will make a real difference to sound quality in most systems.

The Bottom Line

I paid USD$185 for my Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp, which is a bargain in terms of bang for your buck. There are very few options when it comes to peripheral clamps. VPI make one, but its super-expensive. I’m not keen on paying USD$1000 for a record clamp!

For the price, I think this is the best value in peripheral clamps available at this time. I highly recommend you try one!

Another view, showing the layout with a deck like the KD-600. Note that there is good clearance between the ring and Jelco, but perspective makes it look closer than it is.
My current setup, with ring and center clamps, FR cart and headshell.
This is a killer combo and I highly recommend you grab yourself a Sound Foundations Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp.

Sound Foundations Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp

$200AUD
8.2

Build Quality

6.5/10

Sound Quality

8.5/10

Bang per Buck

9.5/10

Pros

  • Heavy clamp, flattens warped records
  • Stainless steel construction
  • Fits many, but not all decks
  • Best value peripheral clamp

Cons

  • Machining could be better
  • Centering tool would be helpful
  • Some unit-to-unit variation

25 thoughts on “Sound Foundations Record Stabilizing Ring Clamp Review”

  1. I have an update on my ring status. I have received a replacement ring from Sound Foundations which is perfect in every way. I have yet to find a record in my collection that it will not perfectly flatten when used in conjunction with the Pro-Ject Clamp It center spindle clamp. All the claimed benefits of the ring weight are very much in effect on my Kenwood KD 650/Jelco 750E rig, reduced surface noise, rumble and wow (or is it flutter?) increased bass tightness & punch!! (which this table already did very well) + just a better overall dynamic sound. I do have one caveat to point out that I don’t think has been mentioned. Some wider bodied cartridges with short cantilevers will not provide enough height clearance to work with the outer ring weight The Audiotechnica AT 440 for example will not but lots of others like the Dynavector 10 x 5 will work fine no problem.

    1. Excellent news Tim, glad it’s all sorted. You’ve also made a great point about the edge of the ring potentially fouling cartridge bodies, where the underside of the cartridge sits very close to the record. All in all though, an excellent product I think.

  2. hi
    this is ALI
    soundfoundations

    i had no idea there was this much activity here
    till you guys pointed it out to me

    i have been taking in all the feedback i have recieved

    there is one ring which had a serious poblem
    i think it was tims

    its the only one to date that has had such a serious problem and completely our mistake since its the only batch we did using a different piece of machinery ( since the regular CNC was broken down )
    on rechecking found the table of the new machine to be 0.6 degrees tilted

    which casused problems in 3 rings

    1 which went to tim

    ofcourse tim has been refunded in full and will be sent a new one once the new machinery is out from service ( waiting on some spares that are shipped internationally which has caused some headaches

    1. Hi Ali! Yes my review caused quite a stir and quite a few orders I believe. Glad to hear the flatness issues are being addressed. You might recall that I also had a clamp that was slightly warped. You sorted out my issue very promptly which I really appreciated, so thanks again for that. I did email you when I wrote the review but I didn’t hear back and figured you were flat out making clamps! I think teething problems with any new product are to be expected. It’s great to know that all the feedback is being taken on board and that most users are very happy. Let me know if you have any other interesting new products you’d like me to have a look at. Regards, Mike.

  3. I’ve received an email from “Ali” today in which he expressed his surprise & informs me that he has not had a single complaint regarding flatness, (apparently I live in an alternate universe where this is a true statement) I’ve also received a refund. So no harm no foul I guess. Still, it would have been nice to have had such an upgrade to this wonderful Kenwood driven sound. Speaking of Kenwood tables, Mike, due to my own poor judgment & the dishonesty of folks in my city I am now missing 1 hinge for a Kenwood KD 600/650. Do you know of anywhere I can acquire a replacement or any company that could make a replacement that would fit that particular table?

    1. Hi Tim, good news about the refund, hopefully Ali gets the flatness issue sorted. There used to be a guy selling hinges on eBay but it seems he’s run out of stock. I acquired a set from him years ago. The only options would be to obtain another deck for parts, or have a set made locally. A number of Kenwood decks from the time used these hinges, some are made of metal like the set I have, whilst others are made from plastics and degrade over time. Try to find a metal set.

  4. My ring weight FINALLY arrived. Sadly, it’s junk. There is a warp in it so bad that it strikes the cartridge body from underneath at the peak of the warp for the 1st 2 or 3 groove revolutions. I’m beyond disappointed & wish I’d never even ordered one. Part of me wonders if they sent me the bad one you got 1st time around Mike as it took over 2 months to get this delivered in the 1st place. I’ve sent ol’ Tahir an email expressing my displeasure & am not looking forward at all to the months of stall tactics which yet await me in this venture as a chaser to the previous round of said same.

    1. Hi Tim, that’s disappointing for sure, but worth keeping in perspective I think. I still have the first warped clamp, so you don’t have mine. They must have some QC issues, so I’d suggest working with them, remembering that this is a relatively inexpensive clamp as far as peripheral clamps go. That being said, it should definitely be flat so I suggest insisting on a perfectly flat one, or a full refund if preferred.

    2. I’m having the same issue with a warped stabiliser – just enough to to cause issues. I’ve not heard from Ali/ Tajir since before Christmas.

      1. Very interesting, sounds like perhaps the sudden demand has caused a few QC issues for these guys. Keep me updated, I may have to update or change my recommendation of this product if these issues are not resolved.

        1. Mike, I’ve heard from Ali just now, he didn’t receive my I initial email. He’s asked me for more information, which I shall provide him when I get back from abroad. I’m sure we can sort it out. Apparently if you have a warp on the record playing, the stabiliser ring will magnify/reproduce it if it’s severe. A 0.1mm warp in the stabiliser is apparently normal. Will keep you posted.
          Regards
          Anthony

          1. Yes Anthony this is true, and for this reason the clamp needs to be flat, as in FLAT! Ali, if you are reading this, please look after my readers and resolve these out-of-flat issues. I like supporting small businesses and some issues are inevitable, but it’s important that they be resolved swiftly, as mine was.

        2. Mike, Ali is checking all his stock now… Just got another email. He’s very responsive to feedback. He’s very good with communication, so I’m confident he’s trying to sort things out
          regards
          Anthony

  5. Well, I’m still waiting for my Stabilizer Ring to arrive. I’ve had to get by reading this post over & over again & drooling over the photos, LOL! The new batch is ready but Ali is having some difficulty with my shipping info. Hopefully we’ll get it all sorted out soon. I DID get my Kenwood KD 650 back from the service tech though. It’s 100% repaired. The problem actually lay in the IC that controlled the on/off sensor functions. He found a replacement in Canada. He also did all those wonderful things you preach about Mike, cleaned & lubed the bearing well, did the dual channel oscilloscope regulated adjustments of the trim pots back to factory specs & even replaced a few caps & a diode. I’ve successfully installed the Jelco 750E arm & am currently trying all my carts out on it. I’m really enjoying a vintage Grado F1+ as I type this.
    The 1st sonic difference I’ve noticed compared to the Stax UA 7 cf on my KD 600 is that whenever I’d close the dustcover no matter how softly I’d always hear a mild thump, compared to no sound at all when closing the lid with the new Jelco arm. Clearly, from the base up it is a superior product. You have single handedly steered me to multiple major upgrades to my audio experience several times over now Mike! I feel like I owe you big time!! I wanna do something to repay you for all the great advice. Is there possibly some vintage lp you seek that’s hard to come by in Australia which I can keep an eye out for whenever I’m digging through the used record stores over here in the states? If’n I finds one I’ll be glad to spring for the purchase price & shipping costs to you sir, it’s the least I could do…

    1. Hi Tim, great news of getting the 600 fixed and I’m really glad you are enjoying the new Jelco arm. It sounds as though your system really is coming along, which is fantastic and I’m sure the new peripheral clamp will be on its way soon.

      Very generous of you to offer to send me some vinyl, but you certainly don’t owe me anything at all. You know what though, I love old vinyl so much that, if you insisted and found something say by Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Rush, Rainbow, Emerson Lake and Palmer etc, what could I say?!!

      I’m not sure if you use Facebook, but if you would like to leave me a review about your experience at my Liquid Audio Facebook page, that would always be appreciated. This should take you there – https://www.facebook.com/liquidaudio.com.au/

      Anyway, keep playing those records Tim and let me know how you like your record clamp!

  6. I think I wants one of these Mike, is it fair to say that the awesome rumble & wow & flutter specs on the Kenwood KD 600/650 will be made even better by using this product ? Also is there a shopping cart system on the product’s website? So far I haven’t been able to find one…

    1. Hi Tim, the ring won’t interfere with the performance of the deck, but it will improve the way it extracts the information from the groove. There was no shopping cart when I bought mine, so you need to email the guys to set up a purchase.

      1. Thanks Mike, Ali has already responded to my message & purchase is now pending their next production batch completion. Apparently you created a sales surge for their product with your compelling & informative review. I may purchase a 2nd later for another vintage table which I’ve recently acquired at a very good price due to it needing a little work. It’s the only other composite faux granite base brand I’m familiar with, a Sharp Optonica 3636. Have you ever seen one of these?

        1. Hi Tim, great news about my review generating business for these guys, they deserve it. I’m familiar with the Optonica brand but not that deck. Sounds like a cool turntable!

          1. The Optonica does seem to be a pretty decent model but I think it’ll be a while before I’m clear on just how good it may be. It’s manual scans on Vinyl Engine list wow/flutter of less than 0.05% & rumble of better than -68 dB which spec-wise fall in between the Kenwood KD 2055 & the 600/650 but I’m not sure if sound wise it is that much better then the 2055. It’s tonearm might be a weaker link & it’s platter is definitely a lower mass disc (maybe I’ll try out that Jelco 750E on it while I’m awaiting the return of my KD 650 from the repairman) plus I have yet to clean & re-lube it’s bearing well so perhaps there is more sound quality waiting to be revived. A thing I found interesting about it’s construction is the fact that the sub base is made of well braced plywood instead of mdf. My study of many of your previous repair posts on other ‘tables was absolutely essential to mending several minor issues this unit had which contributed to it’s more than fair selling price. Prior to discovering your website I would have been at a loss to comprehend it’s inner workings but now when I opened it up I understood what each section’s function was as well as comprehending what was wrong. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge as well as your emphasis on meticulous attention to detail. It’s been invaluable to me, it really has!

  7. great! do you think it will with a Alphason H100RS – spindle pivot is 211mm – this is about 3 mm closer to the spindle than the Jelco (spindle pivot 214mm)?

  8. great info Mike thanks very much

    My Denon DP1200 would benefit greatly I’m thinking

    will check with Ali first though

    Cheers

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