What Is A Turntable Slipmat? A Comprehensive Guide

If you’re a vinyl enthusiast or a DJ, you’ve probably heard of a turntable slipmat.

But what exactly is it and why is it important?

A slipmat is a circular piece of material that sits on top of the turntable platter, and it serves several purposes.

It helps protect your vinyl records from scratches, reduces static and improves sound quality, dampens vibrations, and even adds a touch of personal style to your turntable.

But that’s not all – slipmats are also essential for DJs who need to manipulate records while the platter continues to rotate underneath.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what a turntable slipmat is, how it works, and why it’s an essential tool for any vinyl enthusiast or DJ.

What Is A Turntable Slipmat

A turntable slipmat is a circular piece of material that sits on top of the turntable platter. Unlike the traditional rubber mat, which is designed to hold the record firmly in sync with the rotating platter, slipmats are designed to slip on the platter, allowing the DJ to manipulate a record on a turntable while the platter continues to rotate underneath.

Slipmats are typically made out of synthetic fabric, with some having thin plastic backings to make the mat slick. They come in various thicknesses, weights, and sizes, depending on the preference of the DJ. Thicker and heavier slipmats weigh down the deck platter, which slows down rotations, while thinner and lighter slipmats are easier to use but deteriorate quickly.

The main purpose of a slipmat is to allow DJs to stop the record while allowing the deck plates to continue to turn. Without a slipmat, trying to stop a record could damage both the deck plate and the vinyl record. Pressing too hard on the record could break it or damage the deck plate underneath, while pressing too soft will slow down the stop of the record and make mixes and cues inaccurate.

Slipmats also assist in scratching and increasing the accuracy of cue-ins. They are classified by material, thickness, weight, and size. The size of a slipmat is simply based on the size of the records being used by the DJ. Slipmats are available for 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch records.

The History Of Turntable Slipmats

The use of slipmats in the DJ community dates back to the early days of turntablism. The invention of the slipmat is credited to hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Flash, who wanted to improve the sound and move the vinyl counterclockwise without causing too much drag and friction. Flash experimented with different materials and settled on felt, but encountered an issue with its limpness.

To solve this problem, Flash cut out two round circles of felt the same size as a 33′ LP and used spray starch to make it stiff. He called it a “wafer,” and it is now known as a slipmat. The invention of the slipmat revolutionized the DJ industry, as it allowed DJs to manipulate records on the turntable while the platter continued to rotate underneath.

In addition to its use in DJ circles, slipmats have also found a place in home audiophile environments. Slipmats are used to absorb extraneous vibrations and static, which can mar the listening experience. The slipmat has evolved from a tool for flashy and speedy mixing of songs together to a method for improving sound quality. Today, slipmats are available in various designs and personalization options, making them not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

Materials Used In Slipmat Production

The materials used in slipmat production can vary greatly, depending on the manufacturer’s intentions. Synthetic fabric is the most commonly used material for slipmats, with some having a thin plastic backing to make the mat slick. Felt was the original material used by Grandmaster Flash when he invented the slipmat, but it was found to be too limp and draped. To solve this issue, he used spray starch to create a stiffer material that he called a “wafer.”

Aside from synthetic fabric and felt, slipmats can also be made from materials like rubber and cork. Rubber mats are designed to hold the record firmly in sync with the rotating platter, while cork mats have been shown to be very effective in combatting extraneous vibrations that can mar a listening experience.

Turntable manufacturers are also turning to materials like acrylic for their mats. This material has been shown to be very effective in reducing static and improving sound quality. However, the most popular materials from which mats are constructed are usually rubber and cork.

How Slipmats Work To Protect Vinyl Records

Slipmats not only help DJs with cueing and scratching but also protect vinyl records from scratches and scuffs. Slipmats provide a safe, soft surface for the vinyl record to rest on, preventing it from getting scratched or scuffed during playback.

Additionally, slipmats can reduce vibrations and resonances that may occur during playback, resulting in better sound quality. They absorb extraneous vibrations and stray static that might otherwise ruin a sanctimonious listening experience. This is particularly important for audiophiles who value high-quality sound.

However, it’s worth noting that slipmats can also attract dust and lint, which can stick to the vinyl record. This can make swapping records tricky and affect the sound quality. To avoid this problem, many slipmats are made out of synthetic, non-static fabric.

Reducing Static And Improving Sound Quality With Slipmats

One of the most significant benefits of using a slipmat is reducing static and improving sound quality. Traditional rubber mats can generate static electricity, which causes pops and crackles in the audio playback. Slipmats made of synthetic fabric, on the other hand, are designed to reduce static and improve sound quality.

Felt slipmats, while soft and safe for records, are notorious for attracting dust and lint, which in turn attracts static. This can cause unwanted noise and distortion in the audio playback. Synthetic fabric slipmats, on the other hand, are designed to reduce static buildup, resulting in a cleaner and more accurate audio playback.

Acrylic slipmats are also effective at reducing static and improving sound quality. They are thicker than traditional felt slipmats, which helps to dampen vibrations and reduce rumble. Acrylic slipmats have natural anti-static properties that help to eliminate pops and crackles in the audio playback.

Leather slipmats are another great option for reducing static and improving sound quality. They are excellent at dampening resonance and cutting back on unwanted noise such as pops, ticks, and crackles. Leather slipmats are also less prone to attracting dust and lint than felt mats.

Cork slipmats are known for providing the biggest sound difference of all platter mats. They create a smooth contact between the record and the platter, making it easy to separate the record after use. Cork mats also effectively dampen resonances between the record player and vinyl while absorbing mechanical noise from the record player with greater ease.

Dampening Vibrations With Slipmats

Another important function of a slipmat is to dampen vibrations. Vibrations can negatively impact the sound quality of the music being played, and can also cause skips and jumps in the record. Slipmats made of synthetic fabric have been found to be effective in reducing vibrations, as they absorb and dissipate the vibrations that would otherwise transfer to the record.

Felt slipmats are particularly effective in dampening vibrations while providing the DJ with the freedom of movement they need. The felt material is soft, which allows it to absorb vibrations and prevent them from affecting the sound quality of the music being played. Additionally, felt slipmats provide a smooth surface for the record to spin on, which reduces friction and prevents damage to the vinyl.

Leather slipmats are also used by some DJs, as they offer a similar level of damping as felt mats, but with a slightly different feel. Leather slipmats are more rigid than felt mats, which can provide a different level of control for some DJs.

Adding Personal Style To Your Turntable With Slipmats

In addition to their practical uses, slipmats can also be used to add a personal touch to your turntable. Slipmats are available in various designs, including your favorite band logos and artwork. Felt mats are particularly popular for this purpose, as they allow for colorful and eye-catching designs.

Using slipmats with personalized designs can not only add a unique touch to your turntable but also showcase your personality and musical taste. Slipmats with band logos or album art can also serve as a conversation starter when friends come over to listen to music.

When selecting a slipmat for personal style, it’s important to consider the material and thickness. Felt slipmats are great for their aesthetic appeal, but they may attract static and dust that can affect sound quality. Thicker slipmats may provide better sound quality but may also slow down rotations.

Overall, adding a personalized slipmat to your turntable can be a fun and creative way to enhance your music listening experience. With various designs and materials available, there’s sure to be a slipmat that suits your style and needs.