All three of the turntables in my home setup are equipped with acrylic platters. There are many advantages to acrylic. The heavier weight increases spin inertia which helps to reduce wow and flutter. The high density helps to reduce vibration. It can also help to reduce static. It looks cool with LED backlighting shining through… With an acrylic platter, you usually place the record directly on the platter with no mat. I prefer the look and the sound, but this does introduce challenges, especially around warped records. With less surface-to-surface contact, the vinyl can move on the acrylic. In severe cases this can impact playback. And virtually every warped record in my collection — and even brand new records can have a slight warp — can grind to a halt when I use a record brush. That risks damaging the record.
A record weight helps by placing weight on the center of the record, helping to create more contact between vinyl and platter. Over the past week, I’ve been testing just how well this works, using a Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer.
Hands-On With the Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer
The Fluance record weight is a pretty simple piece of gear. It’s a machined steel puck weighing a hefty 26.8 ounces. My review unit was coated in rubberized black, and you can get plain steel if you prefer. The bottom is velvet to protect the record label. In the center is a spindle hole. It’s designed to offer an easy grip — the last thing you want is to drop a metal weight like this on your turntable and records…
To use it, you place the record on the platter as usual (no 45s that require a spindle adapter), set the record weight over the spindle, then spin it up. You cannot set it on an already spinning platter, and you need to wait until the platter has stopped spinning to remove it. Basically, it’s one added step in the record-playing process.
In terms of warped records, no record weight is going to magically completely flatten them. Remember, the weight is basically over the label. So the outer edges where the warp might be especially noticeable remains pretty much as warped as without the use of the record weight. Especially on the side that is concave (on the convex side, the weight can be more effective in its flattening effect).
When I used the Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer on warped records, the weight helped to flatten minor warps, but even in severe cases it ensured more of the record surface made contact with the platter. This resulted in a noticeable playback improvement for these severe cases compared to playing them without the weight. My tone arm still had to ride the wave of the warp, but with vinyl slippage out of the picture, the speed was more consistent and the increased contact helped to deliver more detailed sound. And it also stuck the records to the acrylic platter firmly enough that I could use a record brush without the record grinding to a halt while the platter continued to spin beneath it.
Will a Record Weight Damage My Turntable?
This is a natural question. After all, your turntable’s motor and belt are designed to spin a platter with a thin, light slice of vinyl on it. It would make sense that adding a pound and a half of additional weight to the mix might add some strain.
However, that weight is centered directly over the spindle, minimizing the effect. And once the platter starts spinning, the added weight adds inertia that actually helps to keep it spinning. The bottom line is most major turntable manufacturers sell record weights and Fluance says this one is compatible with all its turntables.
One thing to keep in mind if using this record weight with a turntable from a different manufacturer is spindle measurements and height. You’ll want to make sure it physically fits and that you can close the turntable lid with the record weight installed.
Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer Specs:
- Steel with black rubberized coating (also available in steel finish)
- Velvet base
- Weighs 26.8 ounces
- 1.098 inches tall, 2.760 inches in diameter, spindle hole diameter 0.291 inches, spindle hole depth 0.732 inches (fits all Fluance turntables)
- MSRP $49.99
I don’t think I’d be buying a record weight for a record player-in-a-suitcase kind of setup. At $49.99, the Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer would represent a considerable chunk of the price of one of those systems and I’m not 100% certain their motor/belt would be up to it. If you’re going to be spending money for better sound from your records in that situation, the cash would likely be better applied toward an entry level turntable…
However, if you own a decent turntable — and especially one with an acrylic platter like the Fluance RT85 (you can read my review here) — the case for spending a little on a record weight is a lot stronger. Especially if you have a collection that includes some warped records. I’m not fully convinced that my records generally sound better, although the argument for coupling the record to the platter reducing vibration makes sense. It would take better ears and probably better speakers than mine to be able to detect that distinction.
The big win for me from a practical point has been the improvement in playing warped records. Not only do they make much better contact with the platter (which had definite audio advantages), the Fluance HiFi Vinyl Record Weight Stabilizer put an end to my issue with warped records being stopped in their tracks by the pressure of a record brush. That is well worth the relatively modest expenditure.
For $50, this hefty steel puck is a pretty solid investment for your turntable.
Disclosure: Fluance provided a record weight for evaluation purposes but had no input into this review.