Question: Is there an advantage to using a record weight?
Answer: Like so many others, you have recently discovered or rediscovered music on vinyl records. Many of us never left vinyl and have always enjoyed the sound of analog music from a good turntable, but today we are being joined by a new generation of vinyl enthusiasts. If you are one of those, we would like to say, “Welcome!” So many music lovers new to vinyl are learning all they can about how to get the most out of their turntables. What kind of sound system should they use? Should they upgrade the stylus and/or cartridge or upgrade the slip mat? They are also confused about what accessories they need, such as record cleaners, stylus cleaners, tracking force scales and more. Yet one item confuses not only those new to vinyl but the more experienced users as well: the record weight (also known as a disc stabilizer, such as our AT618a). Is it necessary? Are there advantages to using it? There is a lot of discussion and maybe even a little controversy over whether you should use a record weight and if there really are advantages to doing so.
First, some like to use a record weight to play warped records. Most records, both old and new, are probably not completely flat and could be warped to some degree. A record weight could help in those situations. But please note that a weight will probably not help for severely warped records.
Using a weight will help couple the record to the platter and therefore reduce vibrations. This could result in a cleaner sound with less distortion.
It may help reduce wow and flutter. This may or may not be true, but even if it is, very few people will be able to hear the difference unless they have very good ears and a sensitive sound system.
Depending upon the slip mat being used, a weight may reduce the possibility of the record slipping. If it slips it could change the pitch of the sound being played.
Some believe that adding the extra weight of a stabilizer disc could strain the belt on a belt-drive turntable as well as the motor on a direct-drive turntable. Please note that the AT618a has been tested on all Audio-Technica direct-drive turntables and found to be safe for use with all of them.
The bottom line: A disc stabilizer or record weight does provide some benefits and very few, if any, issues to be concerned with. Will it transform your copy of the William Tell Overture into a concert-like experience? Probably not.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of using a record weight on your vinyl albums. As always, feel free to contact the Audio-Technica Audio Solutions Department for more information.