If you’re new to the world of turntables, you may be wondering what exactly the platter is and why it’s so important.
The platter is the spinning surface that your record sits on, and it plays a crucial role in maintaining speed consistency and preventing unwanted vibrations from reaching the stylus.
But not all platters are created equal – there are numerous materials used by turntable manufacturers, each with their own benefits and drawbacks.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at one popular material for turntable platters: acrylic. We’ll explore how an acrylic platter can improve your turntable’s performance and enhance your listening experience.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable platters!
What Is The Platter On A Turntable
As mentioned earlier, the platter is the spinning surface that your record sits on. It is an important component of your turntable, and its material can have a significant impact on the quality of your listening experience.
Platters can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, steel, aluminum, glass, MDF, and acrylic. Each material has its own unique properties that affect the performance of your turntable.
Acrylic platters have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to improve speed consistency, reduce unwanted vibrations, and enhance sound quality.
The Importance Of The Platter In Turntable Performance
The platter is a crucial component of a turntable’s performance. Its main function is to maintain speed consistency and prevent unwanted vibrations from reaching the stylus. The platter’s material can significantly impact its performance, leading to differences in sound quality and overall listening experience.
The density and mass of the platter play a crucial role in maintaining speed consistency. An acrylic platter, for example, is denser than other materials like MDF, which allows it to spin at a more consistent speed. This results in a better wow and flutter measurement, which means less deviation from the required speed of 33 1/3 or 45 RPM.
Another important factor is vibration damping. Unwanted microvibrations can cause distortion and affect sound quality. Acrylic platters are excellent at damping these vibrations, thanks to their high-density material. They can trap and dissipate vibrational energy that would otherwise creep into playback, leading to improved detail and clarity from your records.
Acrylic platters also have an analogous resonant frequency to the PVC material in vinyl records. This similarity aids in the cancellation of reverberations, resulting in a more three-dimensional soundstage with improved bass definition, a richer mid-range, and greater overall signal clarity.
In addition to these benefits, acrylic platters do not require a platter mat. Platter mats are often used with metal platters to provide some vibration damping, but they can also attract dust and add unwanted clicks and pops to your playback. Acrylic platters eliminate this issue altogether.
While the platter is essential to turntable performance, it’s worth noting that it’s not the only factor that affects sound quality. The cartridge also plays a crucial role in playback quality/character. However, upgrading to an acrylic platter can significantly enhance your listening experience and take your turntable’s performance to the next level.
Materials Used For Turntable Platters
There are several materials commonly used for turntable platters. Plastic is a common material used for entry-level turntables because it is cheap and lightweight. Steel and aluminum are also popular materials for platters due to their durability and high mass, which helps to stabilize the rotation of the platter. Glass platters are less common but can provide a unique aesthetic appeal.
MDF (medium density fiberboard) is a wood composite material that is often used for turntable platters due to its stability and consistency. However, MDF platters can be prone to resonances and vibrations, which can negatively impact sound quality.
Acrylic platters have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to improve speed consistency and reduce unwanted vibrations. The high-density material aids in damping unwanted microvibrations, resulting in improved soundstage and clarity. Acrylic also has an analogous resonant frequency to the PVC material in vinyl records, which aids in the cancellation of reverberations and results in a more 3-dimensional soundstage with improved bass definition and mid-range.
Leather is another material used for platter mats that can enhance sound quality. Leather platter mats are renowned for being used by lovers of bass tones and creating an unrivaled warm sound. They are also static-free and heavier in weight, which helps to stabilize the rotation of the platter. However, leather platter mats are usually one of the more expensive options.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Acrylic Platters
Acrylic platters have numerous benefits that make them a great choice for turntable enthusiasts. One of the most significant benefits is improved speed consistency. Due to the high density and greater mass of the platter, the increased inertia allows it to spin at a more consistent speed. This results in a better wow and flutter measurement, as there is less delineation from the required speed of 33 1/3 or 45 RPM.
Another significant benefit of acrylic platters is their ability to dampen unwanted microvibrations. The high-density material is better at trapping and dissipating energy that is transferred to the platter, resulting in improved sound quality. Additionally, acrylic has an analogous resonant frequency to the PVC material in vinyl records, which aids in the cancellation of reverberations. This results in a more 3-dimensional soundstage with improved bass definition, a richer mid-range, and greater overall signal clarity.
Acrylic platters also do not require a platter mat, which is beneficial as some mat materials are more susceptible to static electricity resulting in dust in the air being attracted to the electrically charged surface. The records on your mat become literal dust magnets adding those unwanted clicks and pops to the playback.
However, there are some drawbacks to acrylic platters. One thing you may notice with acrylic platters, particularly on slightly warped records, is that there may be some slippage. This is most noticeable when you are cleaning your record with an anti-static brush. To address this issue, you can add a record weight to your playback routine. A record weight has many of the same performance enhancements such as improving speed consistency as well as assisting with vibration damping.
How An Acrylic Platter Can Improve Your Listening Experience
Acrylic platters are known for their high density and low stiffness, which helps to minimize unwanted vibrations and provide a cleaner and more detailed sound. This is because the increased mass of the acrylic platter increases rotational inertia, which decreases wow and flutter effects.
Furthermore, acrylic platter mats are denser than most other turntable platter mats on the market, which gives the platter even greater mass. This density and increased mass are particularly useful for those who are concerned about speed consistency issues.
By using an acrylic platter, you can improve your vinyl listening experience by achieving greater mass, improved damping, and consistent speed. As soon as you drop the needle on your record, you’ll hear the difference that an acrylic platter can make.
In fact, some turntable manufacturers have started to include acrylic platters as a standard component in their higher-end models. Music Hall’s Acri-Plat is one such example that can be used as both an acoustic and aesthetic upgrade. It lowers background noise, increases bass definition, and makes the sound more 3D while improving the highs.
Maintaining And Caring For Your Acrylic Platter
If you have an acrylic platter on your turntable, it is important to properly maintain and care for it to ensure optimal performance and longevity.
Firstly, it is important to use the right cleaning products. Avoid using any cleaning solutions that contain ammonia or alcohol, as these can damage the acrylic material. Instead, use a gentle soap mixed with lukewarm water to clean the platter. Be sure to dry it thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth.
If you want to invest in a specialized cleaner for your acrylic platter, consider purchasing a product like PLexus or Novus No1. These cleaners are specifically designed for use on acrylic surfaces and can safely remove dirt and microswirls without causing damage.
When cleaning your acrylic platter, be careful not to spill any liquid on or in the center bearing shaft. This part of the turntable contains lubricant and should not be exposed to any water or cleaning solution.
If you have a Clear Acrylic Platter Mat, it is important to keep it clean as well. The mat can be wiped down with a soft cloth and mild soap solution. The label recess should also be cleaned carefully to ensure proper record support.
In addition to regular cleaning, it is also important to handle your acrylic platter with care. Avoid dropping it or exposing it to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight. If you need to remove the platter from your turntable for any reason, be sure to do so gently and with caution.
By properly maintaining and caring for your acrylic platter, you can ensure that it continues to provide superior sound quality and performance for years to come.