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Giant Killer, Record Mat

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I lost a battle with my obsessive-compulsive dysfunctions. I stopped at Michael's craft store with the plans a Spotmat #10 and the Spotmat #8. My intentions were to give up platter testing and rest a week to enjoy the sonic signature found so far. Yet, I returned to the euphoric state of analysis. I wanted to build the Spotmat #10 since it had which ended record mat discussion at theanalogdept.com. I have been in record mat testing mode I wanting to build one myself and compare my findings.

The material I found made construction easy. No glue was necessary I simply cut the basic circle from the foam sheet (1500-21) and punched a hole for the spindle. The dots for my foam Spotmat were flower foamies with adhesive backings (#1039-99m). While I was at it I built the Spotmat #8 as well using a cork dinner mat from Ikea and cork furniture dots from the hardware store. The finished foam Spotmat #10 was cute looking with flowered dots scattered about. It's thickness measured 3.5mm. The cork Spotmat #8 was 4mm thick. I used large dots for the center and smaller ones about the perimeter. The cork mat was tough and masculine in comparison to the foam project. These two mats were now ready for my turntable wars.

The battle commenced rather hurried. I wanted to hear the exclusive Spotmat #10. It was the champion mat for this series. While the Spotmat #8 had set the first milestone at theanalogdept.com the #10 was its evolution. I cued my charming foam Spotmat and poured a Vodka Tonic.

The sound from foam was quite different than I had expected. I could not believe I was hearing a faint and over-reactive presentation. This was to be an all out battle, I had fought wounded but this mat just gave up. When the needle hit the vinyl this mat whimpered and it's harmonics vanished. The sweet spot I had tuned the system to present offered a small stage presence. The track "Down By the Riverside" I had come to enjoy was missing Jimmy's deep organ. Everything was all together laid-back in response to what I had been hearing. On the Technics 1200mk2 the foam Spotmat #10 was disagreeable. I replace the girlie foam mat with the cork mat. I had high expectations for the cork Spotmat since cork alone had yeilded good results in previous presentations. The Spotmat #8 was a logical progression from full cork.

Round #8, this time the needle hit the record with a heavy hand. However the cork mat bowed with two fist and quick feet. The sound was familiar and authoritative. The music was rich and weighty. Jimmy's organ and the stage was positoned well. I slid comfortably into the sweet spot to enjoy the show. The next track "Happy-Go-Lucky Local (Night Train)" was over before I stopped the recording. The cork Spotmat was a keeper it sounded more refined than cork alone. I preferred the punctual sound of the FCSM mat. The rubber mat with cork under added some sweetness to the midrange and warmed the stage. The high-end of both mats lack the resolution but the overall package was complete.

Stepping back to line things up, I felt that I had come full circle. What I learned about platter material was reflected in their presentation. The foam floated the platter but wasn't dense enough to combat resonance. The cork adhesion was good and it's medium a great resonance buffer. The self-liner with cork dots mat (cork-liner) had enough air in its medium to float the vinyl and add some resolution. I pondered this for a moment and decided to try the rubber mat (sink mat) with shelf liner under. I visited the kitchen to remove liner from my junk-drawer. After washing away the dust and debris, I laid the liner down for cutting. It would function like the "None Felt mat" I had read about while studying the Spotmat. This time I cut the basic circle with an oversized spindle hole (fits a 45rpm adapter). The battle continued after a sponge drying session. I called the new mat the SLSM.



Final round, this time the vinyl sang on cue and responded with detailed resolution. The sound was revealing and open. In the digital world we have the option of switching signal processing when a different sound is desires. What happened here was similar, the sound went from recording studio (FCSM mat) to Live at the Green Mill (cork-Liner) and later returned to Carnegie Hall (SLSM mat) with each mat swap. I could not believe my ears. I settled into the sweet spot and reclaimed my diluted tonic. I had trouble myself too long with mat swapping amusements. Tags

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