If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you know that the platter is a crucial component of your turntable.
It’s what holds your precious records in place and ensures they spin smoothly.
But when it comes to using an acrylic platter, there’s a debate about whether or not you need a slipmat.
Some say it’s unnecessary, while others swear by it.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of using a slipmat with an acrylic platter and help you decide what’s best for your setup.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable accessories.
Do You Need A Slipmat For An Acrylic Platter
Acrylic platters have become increasingly popular among vinyl enthusiasts due to their ability to control resonance generated by the stylus scrubbing in the record groove.
One of the main arguments against using a slipmat with an acrylic platter is that the resonance of acrylic is very close to vinyl, so a mat is not needed.
However, it’s important to note that the role of a slipmat goes beyond just providing a surface for the record to spin on.
A slipmat also helps dampen the vinyl record, which has very little damping of its own. Without proper damping, the record can pick up vibrations from the sound in the room and vibrate, sometimes quite a lot.
Additionally, a slipmat helps dampen any vibrations coming up from the platter, including motor noise.
When you place a record directly onto an acrylic surface without a slipmat, the record will not be damped anymore, and vibrations from below the platter (and the platter itself) will transfer to the record, to be picked up by the pickup.
While some argue that using a bare acrylic platter without a clamp or weight is sub-optimal, others believe that as long as both surfaces are smooth and you’re gentle with handling your records, it’s fine.
However, it’s important to consider that small dust or dirt particles on your records can cause them to move while touching the platter, potentially leading to scratches or damage.
Using a slipmat or felt pad can help prevent this from happening and provide an extra layer of protection for your records.
What Is An Acrylic Platter?
An acrylic platter is a type of turntable platter made from high-density acrylic material. This material has a higher density than traditional platter materials, which allows for better speed consistency due to increased inertia.
The high-density material also aids in damping unwanted microvibrations, resulting in improved soundstage and clarity. Additionally, the analogous resonant frequency of acrylic to the PVC material in vinyl records aids in the cancellation of reverberations, resulting in a more 3-dimensional soundstage with improved bass definition, a richer mid-range, and greater overall signal clarity.
One unique benefit of an acrylic platter is that it does not require a platter mat. Metal platters utilize platter mats to provide some of that vibration damping, but some platter mat materials are more susceptible to static electricity, resulting in dust being attracted to the electrically charged surface.
What Is A Slipmat And What Does It Do?
A slipmat is a circular piece of material that sits on top of the turntable platter. Its main purpose is to provide a surface for the record to spin on, but it also serves other important functions.
Firstly, slipmats help protect vinyl records from scratches that can occur when the record comes into contact with the platter. This is especially important for collectors who want to preserve the quality of their records over time.
Secondly, slipmats help reduce static and improve sound quality. Vinyl records are prone to static buildup, which can cause pops and crackles in the sound. Slipmats made from materials like felt or cork can help dissipate this static and provide a smoother listening experience.
Thirdly, slipmats help dampen vibrations that can occur during playback. As mentioned earlier, records have very little damping of their own, so a slipmat can help absorb vibrations from the sound in the room and prevent them from being picked up by the pickup.
Finally, slipmats can be used to personalize your turntable with different designs and artwork. They come in various materials, colors, and patterns, making it easy to find one that matches your style and taste.
Pros Of Using A Slipmat With An Acrylic Platter
Despite the arguments against using a slipmat with an acrylic platter, there are still some benefits to consider.
Firstly, slipmats can help reduce static electricity, which is a common issue when playing vinyl records. Static electricity can cause the record to stick to the platter, making it difficult to remove and potentially causing damage. A slipmat can help reduce this static buildup and make it easier to remove the record after playing.
Secondly, slipmats can provide better grip for records that are slightly warped or uneven. Without a slipmat, these records may slip or wobble on the platter, causing mistracking or other issues. A slipmat can help provide a smoother and more stable surface for the record to spin on.
Lastly, slipmats can also add an aesthetic touch to your turntable setup. There are a variety of designs and materials available for slipmats, allowing you to customize the look of your turntable and express your personal style.
Cons Of Using A Slipmat With An Acrylic Platter
While using a slipmat with an acrylic platter may provide some benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.
Firstly, using a slipmat can add an extra layer of friction between the record and the platter, which may affect the speed accuracy and timing of the turntable. This can be particularly noticeable during long playing sessions or when playing certain genres of music that require precise timing.
Secondly, slipmats are known for attracting dust and lint, which can accumulate on the surface and potentially affect the sound quality of your records. This can be especially problematic for audiophiles who demand the highest level of sound quality from their vinyl collection.
Finally, some argue that using a slipmat with an acrylic platter can actually reduce the overall sound quality of the turntable. This is because the slipmat can create additional vibrations and resonance that interfere with the natural sound of the acrylic platter.
Ultimately, whether or not to use a slipmat with an acrylic platter will depend on personal preference and specific listening needs. Some vinyl enthusiasts swear by using a bare acrylic platter, while others prefer the added protection and damping provided by a slipmat or felt pad. It’s up to you to decide what works best for your turntable setup and listening experience.
Alternatives To Using A Slipmat With An Acrylic Platter
If you’re looking for alternatives to using a slipmat with an acrylic platter, there are a few options to consider.
Firstly, you could use a cork turntable mat. Cork mats are known for their anti-static properties and ability to provide better damping than felt mats. They also tend to stay adhered to the platter rather than the record, which helps prevent static and stress. Cork mats can also improve sound quality by dampening unwanted resonance.
Another option is to use a cork and rubber turntable mat. These mats have a dual design, with cork on the top layer and rubber embedded into the bottom layer. The rubber provides grip for the turntable’s platter, while the cork helps absorb vibrations from the motor.
Acrylic mats are another alternative to consider. They can help brighten highs and tighten lows, making them a good choice for modern releases, rock, and metal records.
If you’re looking to broaden bass, a leather turntable mat could be a good option. And if you want decoupling from vibrations and a transparent sound, silicone turntable mats may be the way to go.
Some audiophiles even use materials like brass, plastic, wool, or glass as turntable mats, or even another record itself as a mat. Combination mats with two materials are also available, usually with a carbon-type layer on the bottom.
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to use a slipmat with an acrylic platter is up to personal preference. However, it’s important to consider the benefits of proper damping and protection for your records before making a decision.
How To Choose The Right Slipmat For Your Turntable
When it comes to choosing the right slipmat for your turntable, there are a few factors to consider.
Firstly, consider the material of the slipmat. Felt slipmats are the most common and are great for DJing and scratching due to their ability to allow for freedom of movement. However, they do attract dust and can increase static. Cork slipmats are a good alternative as they reduce static buildup and are easy to clean. They also work well on steel and lightweight platters, reducing friction and absorbing vibrations without over-dampening the sound.
Secondly, consider the design of the slipmat. While aesthetics may not be a top priority for some, there are many slipmats available with unique designs and personalization options.
Lastly, consider the purpose of your turntable. If you’re using it for DJing or scratching, a felt slipmat is the way to go. If you’re using it for casual listening and want to reduce static buildup, a cork slipmat may be a better option.
Ultimately, the choice of slipmat comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your turntable setup. It’s important to do your research and choose a slipmat that will enhance your listening experience while protecting your records.