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Turntable Mats?

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Posted on November 21, 2022 at 11:52:29
Don Reid
Audiophile

Posts: 726
Location: Rural NW Georgia
Joined: February 2, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
April 1, 2010
For the last forty years or so I have played LPs on a naked platter; that is with no mat. First it was on the acrylic platter of a VPI HW-19 now on the POM (polyoxymethylene) platter of a Clearaudioo Performance DC Wood. I hadn't ever given it much thought until now, but after reading references to various mats and their characteristics in posts by other inmates I wonder if I am missing the boat on a simple upgrade that might improve LP SQ. What do you say folks, do mats improve LP SQ and if so what mat should I try?
I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having it's motives questioned.

 

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I'll probably get heat over this but..., posted on November 21, 2022 at 12:14:28
ghost of olddude55
Audiophile

Posts: 26799
Joined: July 14, 2017
The only difference I've ever heard from one mat to another relates to the thickness of the mat and the subsequent change in VTA.
I've used rubber mats, DIY shelf-liner mats, cork mats, felt mats, paper mats, even made a mat out of old LPs once when I needed more thickness than I could afford to pay for.





The blissful counterstroke-a considerable new message.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 21, 2022 at 13:00:30
Sondek
Audiophile

Posts: 8591
Location: Fort Worth
Joined: May 17, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
Improve is subjective.

I did felt, shelf liner, and cork. Wasn't for me a question SQ, but inner detail extracted.

The one I settled on, which is one I suspect you'll get multiple reccos for, is Herbie's Way Excellent Mat.

No affiliation, just a satisfied long-term user.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 21, 2022 at 15:02:04
M310
Audiophile

Posts: 17
Location: Ohio
Joined: November 25, 2007
I've been thru the mat madness myself years ago on various tables and found no sound difference in any of them. What I did find was the height difference causing a tonearm reset and a few causing an LP to slip as I tried my usual pre play dusting. I had my younger son with excellent hearing listen for differences and he heard none either.

My current VPI Scout uses no mat at all and sounds excellent. The VPI screw down clamp secures the LP snug to the platter very well.

Might make a difference on your table though. One way to find out.

 

I have always used whatever stock mat that came with the 'table until I got this SP-25 with this mat ..., posted on November 21, 2022 at 15:40:26
J. S. Bach
Audiophile

Posts: 9429
Location: Chester, SC
Joined: November 28, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
June 29, 2004
,,,:




I left it on as the platter would have been bare otherwise. I later got an SP-15 with a stock mat but saw this one on ebay and just could not resist, I told a friend about it and he could not resist either:




Now, to find one of these, well, without the arm:








Later Gator,
Dave
Find more about Weather in Chester, SC

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 21, 2022 at 17:42:57
Self-Inflicted
Audiophile

Posts: 1156
Joined: January 4, 2008
I use a Soundeck PM on my Simon Yorke S4, made a huge difference, you do need to use a clamp though.














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Regards,
Mike.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 22, 2022 at 09:42:37
Don Reid
Audiophile

Posts: 726
Location: Rural NW Georgia
Joined: February 2, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
April 1, 2010
Thanks for the responses, guys. I was thinking I might well try Herbie's mat, but then I read the website for it and realized that it was expected that one would buy a mat of the same thickness as the stock mat on the turntable. Since my Clearaudio Performance DC Wood tt has no stock mat that thickness would be zero. I am extremely pleased with the sound of my turntable, Tracer tonearm, Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartidge and Passa Labs XP 17 phonostage as is so this might be a case where leaving well enough alone is the best course to follow.
I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having it's motives questioned.

 

I have three mats, posted on November 22, 2022 at 10:40:04
jedrider
Audiophile

Posts: 14474
Location: No. California
Joined: December 26, 2003
I found two of them to make a difference but in different directions, one more detailed but more lean. One of these I paid $100 for.

Now I'm back to a $5 mat I got at a thrift store (with turntable), which is the third mat.

I have no idea :-)

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 22, 2022 at 12:52:24
M310
Audiophile

Posts: 17
Location: Ohio
Joined: November 25, 2007
Probably a smart decision Don. Over the weekend I made the mistake of reading too many past posts on cartridge setup and alignment. My Scout/2M Bronze sounds so sweet and balanced but I thought, I wonder if I can squeeze a bit more out of the combo. So I get out my protractors and scale and find settings as they were 6 months ago as they should be. I like to align the cantilever with the grid lines as exact as I can with a small magnifier. After checking and re-checking I see it is dead center between the grid lines with any of the protractors, paper ones and mirror types. Finally a bit of common sense took over and I said to myself, leave the damn thing alone, it sounds so good as is.

Now a mat swap is no big deal like a cart re-align is as you may never get it back exactly as it was.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 22, 2022 at 14:42:16
Sondek
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Location: Fort Worth
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Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
Not really.

I'd have to sell my LP12, and that ain't gonna happen just so I can try a screw down clamp.




 

it really depends on the turntable. , posted on November 22, 2022 at 17:20:27
kff
Audiophile

Posts: 856
Location: SE PA
Joined: October 19, 2006
Tried these on a Thornes TD-160 Super Dynavector 23R
Stock mat sounded like crap compared
Platter Matter sounded like what it is a thick, heavy soft plastic. Wooly sound
The Marcof Glasmat sounded crisp and shrill
The Herbies Way Excellent mat sounded very good and neutral compared to all the others.

then a few months later we did this on a different system on a TD-125 and I dont recall if SME or the Audio Mods suspect the latter with a ZYX Yatra.

There was very little difference.

I believe the thin chassis sheet metal that holds the arm and platter suspended below the top of the table on the 160 was susceptible to the changes in the mats.

The 125 is different with the arm and platter supported above the chassis on a thick chunk of cast metal. The platter mats didn't impart their differences on this suspension system.

We gave up on the 125 swapping, returning the herbies to this table and the 160 sports a herbies mat now, too.

I have an opportunity to do this again with some KD-500/KD-600 and TD-125/TD-126. Same arm and cartridge on em and this time Cork, KD-600 mat, Glasmat and Herbies. That will be a while.

But my opinion is the mat of choice is turntable specific.

 

Been there, done that., posted on November 23, 2022 at 09:11:07
Cougar
Audiophile

Posts: 4129
Location: SoCal
Joined: June 25, 2001
When I had my LP-12, I tried the "Ring Mat" that everyone was raving about. It did change the sound of the table but for the worse. That Ring Mat just killed the bass, so I went and tried some other but always came back to the Linn original Felt Mat that sound best on the LP12.

I bought a Teres 255 with thick Lead Shot filled acrylic platter, tried some mats but the table always sound best with just the "Naked" platter with no mat. That's also what Chris Brady recommended.

Now, with my Technics and other Japanese DD table the different mat did make a difference.

 

RE: Herbie's Donut mats, posted on November 23, 2022 at 09:30:19
tketcham
Audiophile

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  Since:
October 1, 2005
I use Herbie's Donut mats on my Michell Gyro SE with thinner LPs to keep them at the same surface height as the thicker LPs. The Donut is made of an elastomer that is pretty much benign as far as sonics go but does seem to help with minimizing resonances from thinner LPs. The 0.5mm thickness mat might be something to try. You might find that you like using it even with 180g records. I recommend getting the washer to use with the mat. See link below.

Tom

 

RE: Herbie's Donut mats, posted on November 23, 2022 at 11:51:50
beach cruiser
Audiophile

Posts: 6225
Location: so cal
Joined: September 24, 2003
far be it from me to criticize a guys happiness, but I own a gyro player so am somewhat familiar with the features and benefits. if you look into the design principles , the material of the platter was specifically selected for its characteristics to optimally interface with the vinyl record.

I realize you might already be aware of this feature, and the benefits of getting the tracking angle right might be more important than using the as designed platter surface, but thought I might mention it, just in case.

I use the Michel arm, and just kind of Mickey Mouse the adjustment by simply loosening the threaded post ring nut on the bottom of the post to allow twisting the top threads to lower or raise the arm , and then once I hear the sweet spot, I tighten the bottom ring nut. I generally only do this for critical listening, and mostly just use a ball park general adjustment for records of normal thickness.

I suppose most rega post mounted arms would allow this, but you have to be able to reach the bottom ring nut to secure the post against vibrations during play.

 

I had the same experience with a DD table., posted on November 23, 2022 at 12:14:40
beach cruiser
Audiophile

Posts: 6225
Location: so cal
Joined: September 24, 2003
I had a well regarded ( at the time) Kenwood with a vestigial turntable mat, and a cast aluminum platter that would ring like a bell without that puny thin mat. the mat looked more like a design statement , because it had variously textured rings separated apart from each other, so that the vinyl surface was only intermittently supported, a very common approach that most have seen on generic or older platter mats.

I replaced it with a slow response rubber like plastic material mat out of France , the Bumpa Mat, that had some diagrams of frequency patterns on the front of the box, with explanations I couldn't read.
But it was being sold out of a very creditable audio store , so I bought the thing.

Really worked well, in that it gave me better clarity and a much increased bass.

It wasn't suitable for my next and upgraded player.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, or dunce caps?, posted on November 23, 2022 at 13:14:34
beach cruiser
Audiophile

Posts: 6225
Location: so cal
Joined: September 24, 2003
one must always be aware that most offered performance upgrades on the internet are nothing more than simply repeated gossip. unsubstantiated stories repeated with nothing more than impressions to recommend them as effective to a particular need.

After all, one must first identify a problem before a remedy can be affected.

Once you get beyond the very basic players, you have to give some credit that the product designers know what they are doing, and have selected a platter vinyl interface that works best for their design.

It would be a tremendous palm plant to the face for a product developed with a lot of care and expense to be successful in a competitive market place, that it could be easily improved by simply changing the selected platter vinyl interface, no matter what an aftermarket mat seller might say, or what might be offer as an improvement over the gossiping internet.

it's not as if the materials were unknown during the product development and various mats were not considered during product design, but rather the designers just decided to just skip it, ignore the plater vinyl interface and just go with whatever happens after the platter is produced.

I often read of a lot of various solutions, but rarely of any specific identified problems these mats actually solved. Most often someone decides that the mat selected " sounds better" perhaps within some kind of experimental context, but rarely to solve an identified flaw with a somewhat frequency specific solution. Given the known verities of human hearing , there are no guarantees that what sounds right to one guy can be reasonably expected to have the same results for you.

internet gossip is no better than the regular kind, it is just more powerfully amplified . believe me, there are a lot of guys with my line of car running around with their air filters turned around backwards because of an unproven suggestion from the internet that they accepted as better.

And this is in spite of GM spending millions of dollars in product testing and years of development , a team of professional automotive engineers with access to supercomputers, far beyond what a turntable manufacture could swing. Plus with cars, performance can be measured, it is not just what one thinks is heard. The logic still doesn't matter to some people, they prefer opinions.

I am not, of course, suggesting that every design is perfect. But jeez, you are giving the manufacturer a certain amount of trust when you fork over the money to buy the product. and yet, all bets are off when it comes to the platter vinyl interface, it's open season for any wild hair idea. Just because something can be easily done, doesn't necessarily mean the change is needed or valid.

 

RE: Herbie's Donut mats, posted on November 23, 2022 at 18:06:15
tketcham
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October 1, 2005
I like the materials that Michell uses in their platters for the reasons you mention. For the thicker LPs it works well. In fact, I upgraded the spindle on my Gyro SE so I could use the Orbe clamp. It definitely helps to couple the record to the platter.

I did find that the 0.5mm elastomer donut mat was at least benign for the thinner LPs and in some cases, especially high energy vocals, brass instruments, and piercing guitar riffs, that the mat helps to keep the sound from becoming harsh and brittle. The mat tames those resonance distortions.

The benefit of keeping record surface heights consistent is admittedly subtle, even with fine line stylus profiles, but after years of experimenting I've found it can make a difference, so I use them.

 

Never really noticed a difference, posted on November 24, 2022 at 10:08:16
voolston
Audiophile

Posts: 3189
Location: New Orleans
Joined: October 14, 1999
I have/had solid cork, the DIY "spot mat", one made of a foam material, felt, a Herbies, and can swap them all out and not really hear difference if any at all. I avoid felt due to static and dust reasons. Currently use the Herbie's likely for no other reason than it's the one I paid the most for. Guess my system is not revealing enough. Lol!

voolston - audiophile by day, music lover by night!

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 25, 2022 at 08:07:38
Don Reid
Audiophile

Posts: 726
Location: Rural NW Georgia
Joined: February 2, 2001
Contributor
  Since:
April 1, 2010
Sondek wrote: "I'd have to sell my LP12, and that ain't gonna happen just so I can try a screw down clamp."

Sondek, if you want to try an effective clamp it doesn't have to be a screw down type. I use a Record Doctor clamp, $37.50 from Amazon. It has a nicely machined brass collet which firmly grasps the spindle. Down force is applied by pressing down on the clamp while screwing it tight.
I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having it's motives questioned.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 25, 2022 at 08:26:15
Tre'
Industry Professional

Posts: 16550
Location: So. Cal.
Joined: February 9, 2002
but doesn't the platter need to be slightly concave for a clamp to work properly?

My VPI uses a thin rubber washer to hold up the center of the record.
The clamp then bends the record down (only pushing on the perimeter of the label) and holds it tight against the rest of the naked platter.

Without the washer to hold the center of the record up and a clamp that pushes down on the record only at the perimeter of the label and a concave platter so the record can be held against the platter I don't see how a clamp (or a weight) could do anything but cause problems (like the lifting of the record at the outside edge).

Tre'
Have Fun and Enjoy the Music
"Still Working the Problem"

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 25, 2022 at 10:26:34
Sondek
Audiophile

Posts: 8591
Location: Fort Worth
Joined: May 17, 2000
Contributor
  Since:
April 5, 2002
Thanks for that, Don, but I have less than no interest in a metal clamp for my LP12.

Additional weight of a metal clamp would mean screwing with the table suspension. I already have a DIY clamp that weighs only a few grams I made from a plastic peanut butter jar lid. For use on those records that are dished, but since I got Vinyl Flat, my DIY clamp, which worked perfectly, is in the drawer likely to never see light of day again.

Do appreciate the suggestion, and again, thank you.

 

RE: Turntable Mats?, posted on November 25, 2022 at 20:08:32
M310
Audiophile

Posts: 17
Location: Ohio
Joined: November 25, 2007
Tre, You're right about the VPI supplied clamp. It does nicely snug the LP down to the naked platter. You can see it gently and just slightly flatten the record to the platter. And it really helps with any warped records. I've spun 70 some LP's since tracking hours on my Bronze and have yet to see any lp that isn't totally flat on the platter and I think at least a few of those 70 might have had a touch of a warp, could be wrong though I don't know for sure.

 

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