Vinyl enthusiasts know that every detail counts when it comes to achieving the best possible sound quality from their turntable.
One often overlooked aspect is the turntable mat, which can have a significant impact on the overall sound.
With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. From felt to leather, cork to rubber, and even acrylic, each material offers unique benefits and drawbacks.
In this article, we’ll explore the top turntable mats on the market and help you decide which one is the best fit for your setup.
Whether you’re a casual listener or a professional DJ, upgrading your turntable mat can make a world of difference in your listening experience.
So, let’s dive in and find out which turntable mat reigns supreme.
What Is The Best Turntable Mat
After researching and testing various turntable mats, we have determined that the best one is the HEXMAT Eclipse.
Unlike most turntable mats that focus on dampening and controlling resonance, the HEXMAT Eclipse works on the opposite theory. Its special embedded spheres elevate the record while still delivering full torque transfer from the rotating platter to the record. This results in a very low noise floor and prevents contamination of dust from one record to another.
Additionally, the HEXMAT Eclipse has a contact surface area as low as 1-2 square millimeters, which effectively reduces friction and absorbs vibrations without over-dampening or under-delivering on sound like other materials can.
While it may be pricey compared to competitors and may not look as attractive on metal Technics style platters, the HEXMAT Eclipse delivers unparalleled sound quality and is worth the investment for serious audiophiles and DJs alike.
The Importance Of A Turntable Mat
A turntable mat is an essential component of any vinyl playback system. It plays a crucial role in ensuring that the vinyl record is properly supported, isolated from vibrations, and protected from scratches. The right turntable mat can enhance the sound quality of your records and prolong the life of your stylus.
One of the primary functions of a turntable mat is to isolate the record from vibrations. Vibrations can cause unwanted noise and distortion in the sound. Turntable mats made of materials like cork, acrylic, silicone, and rubber are excellent at absorbing vibrations and preventing them from reaching the stylus.
Another important function of a turntable mat is to protect the record from scratches. Felt mats are the most commonly used mats for this purpose, as they are soft and gentle on the record’s surface. However, felt mats can also attract dust and static, which can negatively impact the sound quality.
Different materials used in turntable mats can also have an effect on the sound quality. For example, cork mats tend to produce a warm sound, while acrylic mats can brighten highs and tighten lows. Leather mats can broaden bass, while silicone mats provide a transparent sound and decouple from vibrations.
Ultimately, the best turntable mat for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs. Consider factors such as vibration isolation, scratch protection, and sound quality when choosing a turntable mat. With the right mat, you can elevate your vinyl listening experience to new heights.
Different Types Of Turntable Mats
When it comes to turntable mats, there are various materials to choose from. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider them before making a purchase.
Felt is one of the most common materials used for turntable mats. It is cheap, light, and easily adjustable. Felt mats are also aesthetically pleasing, often featuring colorful designs and graphics that can make your turntable more personal. However, felt mats are notorious for attracting static, dust, and hair that can affect the sound quality. They may also feel cheap compared to other materials and may not stay tight to the turntable if only used for listening.
Leather turntable mats are a great alternative to cork mats. They reduce noise, avoid static load, and dampen resonance from metal platters much like a cork mat. However, they also broaden the sound, open up the bass, and improve clarity with unique sound characteristics that you’ll only find in leather. Additionally, they look great on your platter.
Cork turntable mats are naturally non-conductive materials that are airy and light. They’re soft to the touch yet still pretty tough. Cork mats don’t attract dust as much as other materials can and are still easy to clean. They greatly reduce static buildup for a cleaner sound and are infused with rubber for extra durability. Since cork is non-resonant, it works especially well on steel and lightweight platters.
Rubber turntable mats are durable and long-lasting. They’re great at reducing vibrations and dampening resonance from metal platters. Rubber mats also have excellent grip and won’t slip around on your turntable. However, they may not offer the same level of sound quality as other materials.
Acrylic turntable mats or acrylic platters are another option worth considering. They’re great at reducing noise and vibrations while providing a flat surface for your records to play on. Acrylic is also easy to clean and maintain. However, they may not be as aesthetically pleasing as other materials and may not offer the same level of sound quality as cork or leather mats.
Felt Turntable Mats: Pros And Cons
Felt turntable mats are one of the most common and aesthetically pleasing platter mat materials. They are also used as slip mats by DJs because they have less friction, making scratching easier. Felt mats are cheap, lightweight, and easily adjustable, making them a popular choice for general use. They are also able to feature colorful designs and graphics that can make your turntable more personal.
One of the main advantages of felt mats is that they offer a soft surface that protects against scuffs and scratches, making them a safe option for your records. They are also low friction, which is good for DJs who need to manipulate the record quickly.
However, felt mats have some significant disadvantages. They attract dust and static, which can affect the sound quality of your records. The regular clinging of the records to the mat increases the risk of damage to your vinyl. Felt mats also have low dampening ability and do not control stylus vibration as effectively as other materials.
Leather Turntable Mats: Pros And Cons
Leather turntable mats are a popular option for those seeking an upgrade from standard felt mats. Here are the pros and cons of using a leather turntable mat:
– Leather mats are known for their ability to dampen resonance and reduce unwanted noise, such as pops, ticks, and crackles.
– They do not hold a static charge, which is a common issue with felt mats.
– Leather is a durable and long-lasting material that can provide a high-quality look to your turntable.
– The soft and smooth surface of leather provides an ideal playing base for your records.
– Leather mats are easy to clean and maintain.
– Leather turntable mats tend to be more expensive than other options on the market.
– While they can enhance the quality of bass tones, they may not be the best option for those seeking a neutral sound.
– Some argue that the use of leather can result in a loss of detail in the higher frequencies.
– Leather mats may not be suitable for all turntables, as they may not fit properly on certain platters.
Cork Turntable Mats: Pros And Cons
Cork turntable mats are a popular choice among vinyl enthusiasts and DJs. They offer a number of benefits over traditional felt or rubber mats, but also have some drawbacks to consider.
– Reduces resonance: Cork is a lightweight but rigid material that effectively dampens vibrations and resonances from the turntable and other sources. This can result in a cleaner, more focused sound.
– Less prone to static: One of the biggest advantages of cork mats is their ability to control static electricity. This reduces the amount of dust and debris that can accumulate on your records, as well as minimizing pops and clicks during playback.
– Looks great: Cork has a unique and stylish appearance that can add a touch of personality to your turntable setup.
– Not as durable as felt or rubber mats: Cork is a softer material that may wear out or start to flake over time, especially if used frequently.
– May not work well with all platters: Some users have reported that cork mats don’t work as well on certain types of platters, so it may take some trial and error to find the right fit for your turntable.
– Can start to fall apart after time: As mentioned above, cork mats may deteriorate over time and small pieces may become dislodged and potentially cause damage to your records.
Rubber Turntable Mats: Pros And Cons
Rubber turntable mats are a popular option for those looking for a firmer grip on their records. One of the main advantages of rubber mats is their ability to isolate the platter from any vibrations coming from the turntable parts. This results in a reduction of noise and static, making for a cleaner and more enjoyable listening experience.
Another advantage of rubber mats is that they are more durable than other materials such as felt or cork. This means that they can withstand years of use without showing signs of wear and tear. Rubber mats are also easy to clean and maintain, making them a convenient option for those who want a hassle-free setup.
However, it’s worth noting that rubber mats can sometimes be too firm, which can lead to over-dampening or under-delivering on sound quality. Additionally, some users have reported that rubber mats can attract dust and debris, which can affect the sound quality over time.
Overall, rubber turntable mats are a great option for those who want a durable and reliable mat that can provide excellent grip and reduce vibrations. However, it’s important to choose a high-quality rubber mat that strikes the right balance between firmness and sound quality.