If you’re an avid vinyl collector, you know that every little detail can make a big difference in the sound quality of your records.
One often overlooked aspect is the turntable mat. While many turntables come with a standard felt or rubber mat, there’s a growing trend towards using cork mats instead.
But are cork turntable mats actually good?
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of using cork mats on your turntable, and help you decide if it’s worth making the switch.
So sit back, grab your favorite record, and let’s dive in!
Are Cork Turntable Mats Good
Cork turntable mats have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Cork is a naturally non-conductive material that is airy, light, and soft to the touch. It also doesn’t attract dust as much as other mats can, making it easy to clean. But the benefits of cork mats go beyond just cleanliness.
One of the biggest advantages of cork mats is their ability to reduce static buildup, resulting in a cleaner sound. This is especially important for vinyl collectors who want to preserve the quality of their records. Cork mats are also infused with rubber for extra durability, making them a long-lasting investment.
Compared to standard felt or rubber mats that come with many turntables, cork mats offer tighter and more focused sound. They also work especially well on steel and lightweight platters, reducing friction and absorbing vibrations without over-dampening or under-delivering on sound like felt can.
However, there are some potential drawbacks to using cork mats. Some users have reported that certain cork mats can start flaking over time, which could lead to tiny bits of cork getting lodged in your records. Additionally, cork mats may not be as durable as felt mats and could require more trial and error to find the right fit for your turntable.
What Is A Turntable Mat?
A turntable mat is a thin layer of material that sits on top of the platter of a turntable. Its primary purpose is to provide a smooth and stable surface for the vinyl record to rest on during playback. Turntable mats also help to reduce unwanted resonances and vibrations that can negatively impact the sound quality of the music.
Commonly, turntables come with a standard felt or rubber mat, which can be upgraded with a cork mat for better sound quality. Cork mats are known for their ability to reduce static and improve contact between the record and platter, resulting in a tighter and more focused sound. They are also less prone to dust buildup than other mats, making them easier to clean.
When choosing a turntable mat, it’s important to consider the material and thickness of the mat, as well as its compatibility with your particular turntable model. While cork mats offer many benefits, they may not be suitable for all types of turntables and could require some trial and error to find the right fit.
Felt And Rubber Mats: Pros And Cons
While cork mats have many advantages, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of other mat materials such as felt and rubber.
Felt mats are the most common type of mat that come with turntables. They are cheap, lightweight, and provide a smooth contact between the record and platter. However, this smooth contact comes with a major disadvantage: static buildup. Felt mats often collect dust and transfer it to the record, which can affect sound quality. Additionally, felt mats have limited damping ability, which can be problematic with metal platters.
Rubber mats, on the other hand, are designed to grip the record and prevent slipping. They also help reduce vibrations and protect records from scratches. However, rubber mats can attract dust and stick to the record. They can also over-isolate a record and increase static, leading to audible noise clicks.
Hybrid mats that combine cork and rubber have become increasingly popular in recent years. These mats offer the best qualities of both materials for a unique listening experience. They are heavier than cork mats but have a firmer grip on the platter. Acrylic mats are another option that some swear by for dampening mechanical sounds and improving warm tones.
Benefits Of Using Cork Mats
There are several benefits to using cork mats for your turntable. Firstly, cork is an inexpensive upgrade that can significantly improve the sound quality of your records. It reduces resonance and improves contact, resulting in a tighter and more focused sound. Cork mats are also less prone to static, which is a major advantage for vinyl collectors who want to preserve the quality of their records.
Another advantage of cork mats is their ability to absorb vibrations and reduce friction without over-dampening or under-delivering on sound like felt mats can. This makes them an excellent choice for those with steel or lightweight platters.
Cork mats are also easy to clean and maintain. They don’t attract dust as much as other mats can, making them a great choice for those who want to keep their records clean and free from dust particles.
Lastly, cork mats offer a unique and attractive appearance that can add a touch of style to your turntable setup. With new companies offering creative designs and finishes, cork mats have become a popular choice for vinyl enthusiasts looking for something different.
Drawbacks Of Using Cork Mats
While cork mats offer many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider before making the switch. One of the most commonly reported issues is that some cork mats can start to flake over time, which can lead to tiny bits of cork getting lodged in your records. This can be a serious problem, as it can damage your records and affect their sound quality.
Another issue with cork mats is that they may not be as durable as felt mats. While cork is a tough material, it may not hold up as well over time as other materials. This means that you may need to replace your cork mat more frequently, which can be an added expense.
Finally, finding the right cork mat for your turntable may require some trial and error. While cork mats work well on steel and lightweight platters, they may not work as well on other types of platters. This means that you may need to experiment with different mats to find the one that works best for your turntable.
How To Choose The Right Cork Mat For Your Turntable
When choosing a cork mat for your turntable, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, make sure the cork mat has an indent to house the record label, which will allow the record to lay flat and improve contact. This is a key feature of high-quality cork mats.
It’s also important to consider the type of platter your turntable has. If you have a steel or lightweight platter, cork mats are a great choice as they can reduce friction and absorb vibrations without over-dampening the sound. However, if you have a glass platter, other materials like acrylic may be a better option.
Another factor to consider is the durability of the cork mat. Some cork mats may start flaking over time, which could lead to tiny bits of cork getting lodged in your records. Look for high-quality cork mats that are infused with rubber for extra durability.
Lastly, it’s important to experiment with different cork mats to find the right fit for your turntable. Some cork mats may work better on certain types of platters than others, so don’t be afraid to try different options until you find one that works best for you.
Overall, cork turntable mats can be a great investment for vinyl collectors looking to improve the sound quality of their records. Just be sure to choose a high-quality cork mat that is compatible with your turntable’s platter and offers the right balance of durability and performance.