Stillpoints LP1 Record Isolator

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,597
9
375
I got one of these today and have been experimenting with it. The device has been the subject of a couple of formal reviews and at least one poster here, DMNC02, has been using one as a 'damping device' on top of his electronics. I am using it right now for its primary intended purpose- as a record weight. It has the same isolation elements that the Stillpoints Ultra 5 does, and those face the record label, embedded into a weight that otherwise looks like a nice, albeit somewhat expensive, record weight. My table is the big Kuzma, which normally uses an even heavier screw-down weighted center clamp. Sonically, there are differences. Most noticeably, with the Kuzma weight in place, the records I played (a variety of classical, jazz and pop) sound more propulsive. The system seems louder. With the Stillpoints device in place, the system seems like it is playing at a lower volume, but everything is there, it's just not as 'in your face.' Frankly, I was going back and forth as to which one sounded 'better.' I am still not sure and will continue to listen and fiddle.*
Reason for post: first, anyone else using this thing for its primary purpose, as a record weight? I gather that it is pretty good as an electronics 'damping plate' and Stillpoints itself recommends such usage (sort of like 'off label' drug usage?)
Second, this raised a bit of a philosphical issue in terms of the overall system and how it is 'tuned.' Maybe the Stillpoints is doing exactly what it promises, and is reducing resonance, perhaps to a degree that the system is now 'out of tune.' In other words, maybe I have to revisit the crossover settings to the woofer, or other aspects of system set-up because what i was hearing benefitted from a degree of resonance at the source (call it a form of distortion) that the system was tuned to accomodate. Now, if the system is actually delivering a less distorted signal from the turntable, I'm hearing its shortcomings more.
So, I will probably fiddle some more. Or maybe Franc Kuzma knew exactly what his turntable needed to make music and I should leave well enough alone. I don't know. But, the philosphical aspect, if I could put it squarely, is that perhaps by improving something, I'm revealing other system shortcomings. Yes, this way lies madness, and is exactly what the anti-tweak school rails against:- the endless fine tuning using expensive widgets in pursuit of something that has you going in circles.

_____________________________________________________________________________
*The Kuzma has one of those little metal discs that you put on the platter at the spindle, like an old-fashioned '45' insert, to create more clamp pressure using its factory clamp, i.e., from the bottom up-platter, spindle disc, record, then weight on top. I tried the Stillpoints both with and without the spindle disc. My current thinking is that it may interfere with what the Stillpoints device is intended to achieve and my listening comparisons later in the session involved not only changing out the record weight but removing or replacing this 'spindle disc' depending on which weight was in play. I'm not sure about this either. (Yes, I will be in touch with Paul at Stillpoints and Franc at Kuzma on the subject).
 

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,597
9
375
Slight update: in communicating with Franc, he recommended his ebony clamp, which is apparently even lighter than the Stillpoints and as far as I can tell, doesn't screw down either. So, at least according to the designer of the turntable, I shouldn't be locked into a heavy, screw-down type center clamp as the only way to make the XL do it's stuff. More once I listen and fiddle.
 

MylesBAstor

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
11,229
38
575
New York City
Slight update: in communicating with Franc, he recommended his ebony clamp, which is apparently even lighter than the Stillpoints and as far as I can tell, doesn't screw down either. So, at least according to the designer of the turntable, I shouldn't be locked into a heavy, screw-down type center clamp as the only way to make the XL do it's stuff. More once I listen and fiddle.

I've like the HIFI Tuning record clamp.
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,993
810
550
Pleasanton, CA
Slight update: in communicating with Franc, he recommended his ebony clamp, which is apparently even lighter than the Stillpoints and as far as I can tell, doesn't screw down either. So, at least according to the designer of the turntable, I shouldn't be locked into a heavy, screw-down type center clamp as the only way to make the XL do it's stuff. More once I listen and fiddle.

I think you are running into what I did with the SME turntable. The surface is milled in shape to accomodate the hard clamping system that bends the record down onto it, and is not shaped to passively accept the record with a non active weight. I "cured" this by using a 1.5mm leather mat and removing the spindle washer. The "screw down" type system was fairly intricate, and did not allow a good result just by putting the record down on the milled mat, weight or no weight.

I was never comfortable with the hard clamp down system, because I know that even the hardest materials will fatigue eventually, and sure enough, the SME clamp eventually stripped. At least the spindle did not break or distort.

I actually like the mat/passive better in sound quality, it made the midrange a bit richer sounder, did not seem to reduce imaging or detail at all so what it added (subtract?) was welcome.

I could never recommend against the manufacturer's standard methods, however, it is risky and very individualistic as to what kind of outcome might reuslt.
 

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,597
9
375
I think you are running into what I did with the SME turntable. The surface is milled in shape to accomodate the hard clamping system that bends the record down onto it, and is not shaped to passively accept the record with a non active weight. I "cured" this by using a 1.5mm leather mat and removing the spindle washer. The "screw down" type system was fairly intricate, and did not allow a good result just by putting the record down on the milled mat, weight or no weight.

I was never comfortable with the hard clamp down system, because I know that even the hardest materials will fatigue eventually, and sure enough, the SME clamp eventually stripped. At least the spindle did not break or distort.

I actually like the mat/passive better in sound quality, it made the midrange a bit richer sounder, did not seem to reduce imaging or detail at all so what it added (subtract?) was welcome.

I could never recommend against the manufacturer's standard methods, however, it is risky and very individualistic as to what kind of outcome might reuslt.

Thanks Carl. Since Franc is ok with something other than a screw down heavy clamp (albeit his own, ebony one), I don't think I'm violating any basic design precept. Right now, I'm eliminating the spindle washer. As the system warms up, I am going to start experimenting with crossover settings on the woofer- if the Stillpoints is getting rid of some resonance -that changes the overall character of the system and I want to address that. I also want to make the evaluations over the long haul, not just based on my first reaction, although often my first judgment is correct. We shall see.....
 

cjfrbw

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
2,993
810
550
Pleasanton, CA
Just for yucks, get a piece of thin felt used for poker table tops (a coupla bucks at most), use an old record to cut a record shape out, poke a hole in the center and try that as a mat. It might require a VTA adjustment, but you might find the result interesting in terms of how it changes the sound.

I would only recommend it to point out the extreme sensitivity of the system to vinyl resonance as an educational exercise that is reversible and inexpensive, not as any kind of permanent installation.

Also, Alistair Aikman of SME believed in tuning record resonance by tapping the record over its surface and listening. If you are going to use different clamps and resonance styles, you can listen to the record surface by tapping it. Eventually, just by tapping, you can eventually learn yourself the resonance that you would prefer for playback.

I have gotten in the habit of listening to "tone" of the tap over the surface. The SME clamping system always left a bit of a rattle, it was very difficult to get a uniform tap over the surface due to record variables, and the sound seemed geared towards upper midrange definition. To remove the "rattle" required very hard clamping.

The mats seemed to give a more uniform "tap" that was tuned down with better tone distribution and a somewhat lower register. This was reflected with a more midrange centric playback, if you will.

This kind of vinyl surface tuning is going to be pretty individualistic as far as preference and system setup are concerned and yes, it could drive you nuts, you have to make a choice and then let it rest.
 
Last edited:

Bill Hart

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2012
2,597
9
375
Just for yucks, get a piece of thin felt used for poker table tops (a coupla bucks at most), use an old record to cut a record shape out, poke a hole in the center and try that as a mat. It might require a VTA adjustment, but you might find the result interesting in terms of how it changes the sound.

I would only recommend it to point out the extreme sensitivity of the system to vinyl resonance as an educational exercise that is reversible and inexpensive, not as any kind of permanent installation.

Also, Alistair Aikman of SME believed in tuning record resonance by tapping the record over its surface and listening. If you are going to use different clamps and resonance styles, you can listen to the record surface by tapping it. Eventually, just by tapping, you can eventually learn yourself the resonance that you would prefer for playback.

I have gotten in the habit of listening to "tone" of the tap over the surface. The SME clamping system always left a bit of a rattle, it was very difficult to get a uniform tap over the surface due to record variables, and the sound seemed geared towards upper midrange definition. To remove the "rattle" required very hard clamping.

The mats seemed to give a more uniform "tap" that was tuned down with better tone distribution and a somewhat lower register. This was reflected with a more midrange centric playback, if you will.

This kind of vinyl surface tuning is going to be pretty individualistic as far as preference and system setup are concerned and yes, it could drive you nuts, you have to make a choice and then let it rest.
Helpful, and stuff for my brain to chew on. Materials are easy enough to access. Thanks for this, Carl. Right now, using the Stilpoints, no spindle tensioner, and readjusted the crossover settings/level on the woofer. I may play with some repositioning of the speakers as well- that's a bit of a project, though. Everything makes a difference.
 

rockitman

Member Sponsor
Sep 20, 2011
7,109
394
480
Northern NY
I will say this...if you use stillpoint's under a component, you only get half the total improvement until you add an LP1 on top. Using my XP-25 phono as an example, you can stand there pulling the LP1 off and putting it back on and you hear an immediate change in transparency for the better. The LP1 lifts yet another veil from the music. YMMV depending on the component. They work really well with Pass gear on both power supplies and gain stages.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
6,006
3,467
870
Utah
I will say this...if you use stillpoint's under a component, you only get half the total improvement until you add an LP1 on top. Using my XP-25 phono as an example, you can stand there pulling the LP1 off and putting it back on and you hear an immediate change in transparency for the better. The LP1 lifts yet another veil from the music. YMMV depending on the component. They work really well with Pass gear on both power supplies and gain stages.

There seems to be Stillpoints fever here, hope its not too much of a good thing.

Record clamps, even the most basic and lightest ones will have an effect on the sound you hear. Depending on your system, table and personal tastes you might prefer one over another. No rules here. Personally, I don't like the ones that dampen the sound.

david
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,300
1,647
698
I will say this...if you use stillpoint's under a component, you only get half the total improvement until you add an LP1 on top. Using my XP-25 phono as an example, you can stand there pulling the LP1 off and putting it back on and you hear an immediate change in transparency for the better. The LP1 lifts yet another veil from the music. YMMV depending on the component. They work really well with Pass gear on both power supplies and gain stages.

I am a big fan of what I call 'isolation sandwiches'...something on top and on bottom. But the 'formula' for each component is slightly different, and it took me some experimentation. I do use an LP Isolator as part of the particular set of dampers I use on my Zanden DAC PSU. I actually have 4 dampers on top...HRS/Stillpoints...and moving 1 of them across the top to a different location (let alone actually removing it) and you can hear the difference. I demonstrated to the Dealer, and he was very surprised. (Funny - normally its the other way around!) ;)
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,300
1,647
698
For some components I find heavy brass mass damping placed on top of a damping plate like HRS or Artesania makes a big difference on top of certain components. Velodyne, Gryphon amp and Tripoint Troy have a combined 154lbs of solid brass damping. And it works. When I spoke with Miguel at Tripoint, he was not surprised and actually confirmed it should work as described.
 

Barry2013

VIP/Donor
Oct 12, 2013
2,231
416
353
Essex UK
On Monday afternoon I took delivery of the new V2 Stillpoints Ultra LP1 record clamp to replace the stock clamp on my SME 20/3 with SME V.
Mine is in black with a polished steel surround at the base which looks very good on the tt. It just slots onto the spindle so a lot more convenient than the SME clamp which you screw on. I understand they are available in silver as well.
The improvement is on the integral ceramic filtration but not a lot of detail available for understandable reasons.
They retail in the UK for £575 so not particularly expensive.
All, of course, secondary to the real question which is how they sound!
In short brilliant. The first record I tried was the Ryan Adams live acoustic set at Carnegie Hall. The difference and improvement in the sound was immediately apparent as compared with the stock clamp. So much more body and definition to the sound across all the frequency ranges. It improved the imaging and the soundstagewhich was already very good.
Next up was the Vivaldi in Venice audiophile recording with I Musici in the San Vidal Church. It has a lovely acoustic which the new record clamp added to significantly. The tone of the strings had a new lifelikeness and a palpable in the room quality.
I am told that its benefits are not restricted to high end decks and that it works extremely well on more modest turntables. I can't vouch for that but I can believe it.
I honestly was not expecting the scale of improvent to the sound of my system which I am now experiencing. I am delighted with it and wholeheartedly recommend you give it a spin.
 
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magichifi

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2016
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Your experience with the Stillpoints sounds good, as the clamp does not screw on do you have to leave the small washer off the spindle or is the weight heavy enough to push the record on to the platter ok?
 

Barry2013

VIP/Donor
Oct 12, 2013
2,231
416
353
Essex UK
Your experience with the Stillpoints sounds good, as the clamp does not screw on do you have to leave the small washer off the spindle or is the weight heavy enough to push the record on to the platter ok?
Hi there
The weight is enough to do the job on its own.
Still very pleased with it when playing a new Lp earlier tonight.
 

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