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Turntable Mats Accessories for Garrard 301 and 401

Further Tweaks

Playing with Rubber, Leather, Copper and Carbon

[Italian version]

Product: Loricraft turntable mat for Garrard 301 and 401
Manufacturer: Loricraft - UK
Approx cost: 40 UKP. For exact prices, please ask Terry or Nigel, the folks at Loricraft.

Product: Thin leather mat for turntables
Manufacturer: Acoustic Solid - Germany
Approx cost: 15 EUR. For exact prices, please ask the manufacturer

Product: Rubato pure copper turntable mat universal for different turntables
Manufacturer: Pure Sound - UK
Approx cost: 265 UKP. For exact prices, please ask Guy Sergeant from Pure Sound

Product: Millennium Audio M-LP Mat Carbon
Manufacturer: Millennium Audio - Germany
Approx cost: 130 EUR. For exact prices, please ask.

Reviewer: Hartmut Quaschik - TNT Germany
Reviewed: March, 2010

[Garrard 301 with original mat]

You may have read my articles on the Kokomo bearing kit and the Loricraft plinth and motor power supplies on tnt-audio. My Garrard adventure is still going on.

In this article I will present some alternative turntable mats, and tell you how I perceived the relative sound of them. This article summarizes my experiences with different mats on the Garrard 301 over the last two years. For this reason, I simply do not know the current regular prices, and the prices quoted above are just ballpark prices.

The original mat is a heavy and thick rubber mat. It sounds muddy and overdamped, and may be appropriate when loudspeakers with excess treble output are to be compensated.

The Loricraft cork mat is a two piece thing consisting of a normal round cork mat and a cork ring covering only the groove area of the record. The Loricraft mat is considerably better than the standard rubber mat, and provides a cleaner presentation, less damped and more precise.

[Acoustic Solid mat, thin leather]

When I had the Garrard 401 in the 90ies of last century, I had a thick leather mat on the turntable most of the time. You can get yourself a piece of leather and cut your own mat, or just buy one from Acoustic Solid. There are other manufacturers of leather mats, too, but their offerings are more expensive. A leather mat sounds better than the original mat, it has a more organic and pleasing sound. If you choose a thin one, it sounds a bit lifelier, if you choose a thick one, the sound is more damped. I had the thick leather mat in use when I used pure transistor amplification in my audio chain. Ah, and yes, suede side up, please. I always preferred the suede side up, and the glossy side down, seems to be more organic and natural.

[Millennium mat, carbon side up]

When I tried the Millennium M-LP mat, it was really a shock hearing how much detail is being resolved from the records. This mat is very thin and consists of two different sides: one side shows its carbon structure, the other side is made of felt. With the carbon side up, details seemed to be exaggerated and sometimes unpleasing. The felt side up was very balanced, but showed the best resolution and detail of all single mats (as opposed to layering them - see below). Unfortunately, I have only one of these, so I have to move the Millennium from one turntable to the other, when I change from my fat Micro Seiki to the Garrard and vice versa.

[Millennium mat, felt side up]

Out of competition, I had a DIY mat from a local buddy. He cut it himself out of a xerox copy machine - don't ask me which model he disassembled, please. This mat is quite heavy and consists of very hard rubber with textile. Similiar mats are available commercially, and sometimes made of roadster roof material. This mat was between the Loricraft and the Millennium, soundwise.

[DIY mat, made from copy machine]

My stereo setup is tuned towards a high resplution, yet comfortable listening environment. Crucial to this are my high resolution active loudspeakers with all Alnico drivers. If something is overly edgy or resonant, my setup will show this. I could not make friends with the Rubato, when it was used as single mat, without any other damping. I guess the Rubato copper mat did not provide enough damping to the platter, so I combined it with the other mats already described. Best result was with the textile/rubber DIY mat underneath and the Millennium mat above, yielding a three layer sandwich. I liked this very much. But it changed the sound of the Garrard a lot. The copper mat provides 1.8kg of additional mass, and you can hear this. With this combination of mats the Garrard sounds akin a high mass turntable. Have in mind that the Garrard platter has a weight of approximately 2.3kg, so now we have nearly double the platter mass. Dynamic, speed and pitch stability are better now. But the Garrard feeling is somewhat less than before, that warmish, cozy relaxed way of presenting the music. You have to own a Garrard to understand this, I guess. I was immediately reminded of a very expensive Japanese platter/bearing combination for the Garrard 301, which completely lost the Garrard character. But this rubber/Rubato/Millennium combination that I tried was not that bad, you lose only say 30% of the Garrard feeling, and not 100% like with those Japanese parts.

[rubato mat]

As I also have this big fat Micro Seiki turntable, it makes no sense converting the Garrard into sounding like a high mass turntable. I prefer to keep the Garrard's character like it is. If I had only one turntable, then I would be tempted to use the three layer mat combination.

Rather than presenting you a clear winner, this article is meant to encourage you to try it yourself and to experiment. A leather or rubber mat can be made cheaply, if you are at least a bit into DIY. I had a visitor at my place, who reacted very strong on the loss of original Garrard sound. While I liked the three layered mat construction of rubber/Rubato/Millennium, he rejected it, because it was too far away from the Garrard sound, "much too less garrardy".

© Copyright 2010 Hartmut Quaschik - www.tnt-audio.com

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