Best platter mat, especially for DD turntables


There has been quite a bit of posts about platter mats and I wanted to add my experiences. I have posted this on the vintage DD thread but have been requested to move this into a new discussion, so here it is.

For my Technics SP10mk3 (Krebs 2 mod), I have tried Boston Mat 1, Micro Seiki CU180 and the TTM Mat with Matching Oil filled clamp (http://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649203862-ttm-mat-2-and-oil-damped-stabilizerweight-combo/). Among these 3 mats, the TTM was the best and after I introduced it to Albert Porter, he too thinks it's the best for the Sp10mk3. However, I have found an even better platter mat that I would like to share with the group. It's Acoustical Systems SDP (http://www.arche-headshell.de/accessoires/sdp-the-sonically-most-effective-upgrade-for-every-turntable/). SDP stands for Special Decoupled Platter. This is not just a mat but an additional platter that decouples and isolates the bearing and spindle from the stylus. While most mats offer some isolation and decoupling of the platter, this is the only mat I know that also decouples the spindle. It stands head and shoulders above all the other mats. In fact, for me, the improvement it brought to my SP10Mk3 was greater than the Kreb mods. It's expensive and requires the arm-boards to be raised but it's worth the trouble IMHO. Especially for DD turntables where you have  the motor directly connected to the spindle (in most designs though there a few that are decoupled), it makes sense to decouple not only the platter but the spindle from the LP. Hence, SDP probably makes more improvements for DD turntables than Belt drive turntables. 
Here is how the SDP is different from other mats. What is not obvious form the pictures is that the SDP mat is thicker than the original spindle height. Hence it sits over the original spindle completely and has its own precision spindle to guide the LP and clamp/s onto the SDP. In other words, the original spindle is buried inside the SDP. Underneath the SDP are soft vibration absorbing gel packs which interfaces between original platter and SDP. This allows the SDP to absorb vibrations from the original platter. The mass of the SDP also acts as a damper for any vibrations from the original spindle. 

The net effect is that the noise floor drops further and I can hear more detail, resolution, separation and space. Very startling improvements.  FWIW. 
ddriveman
Interesting topic ddriveman....
It's so true that different platter mats all sound differently on every turntable regardless of the drive system employed, so finding the one that sounds 'the best' is a labour of love....
But one worth doing 😎🎼
Having gone through the same exercise and tested literally dozens of mats and combinations of mats (don't forget combinations 👅) I agree that the CU180 copper mat sounded wonderful on my Victor TT-101 DD deck so I can believe that the TTM Mat sounds better and that the AS SDP sounds better still....👀
The problem for me with the SDP (as you rightly say), is the fact I would have to make three new higher tonearm pods for my setup
http://i.imgur.com/JEroaY8.jpg
which would be a costly exercise as they are cast bronze 😱
In the end, even though the CU180 sounded so well on my deck, the weight of it worried me as the Victor has an electronic brake system which stops the platter 'dead'.....but it can't be adjusted for the heavy weight of the CU180.
Surprisingly....I found that using the Victor pigskin mat directly on the aluminium platter
http://i.imgur.com/OvDW2EZ.jpg
achieved a sound almost identical to the CU180 😘
I may try the TTM Mat on my Raven AC-2
http://i.imgur.com/WXRFfcK.jpg
as Acoustical Systems makes extension pieces for the Raven arm mounts to accomodate for the extended height of the TTM Mat 😀

But as you brought up platter mats.....you must also know that different headshells and their materials similarly make as much (if not more) difference to the sound.....👀
And the choices here are daunting.....
But perhaps that is a subject for another Thread....❓
It does look interesting, but somehow I'd be more inclined to try wooden ones like these: 
http://i57.tinypic.com/10ge1pt.jpg

That's from this trip about halfway down the very long page:
http://killerdac.com/index.php?topic=842.380;PHPSESSID=7a831d709ddb6478e0ed42388ec5f2d9

These are all idler-wheel driven turntables, but I would suspect the direct drives would respond in a similar way. There are plenty of pictures of similar ones on the page.
If this arrangement helps as much as you say, what does it tell us? It tells how poorly those turntables were designed or/and made in the first place. Why use those tables at all then ?
Halcro,

 Note that Acoustical Systems makes tonearm risers to match the height of the SDP. So you do not need new tonearm pods.
Interesting point about the pigskin mat. I must try it too on my upcoming TT-801. I managed to snag a couple of Victor pigskins mats. Do you use the suede side up? 


Inna,

No, the fact that the SDP works well does not mean that the turntable itself is bad. No more than putting different mats, headshells, damping feet etc means that the design is bad. SDP works well also for belt drive turntables like Micro SX5000, Brinkmann and other high end belt drives. SDP completely isolates the spindle from the LP. This is something that other mats or TT designs do not do.
Hi Sampsa,

Thank you for sharing the link to the wonderful Japan trip with Jean Hiraga. There is so much to learn from Japanese audiophiles. And I really like WE horns and recently heard a replica WE system. Sounds very good. And of course the Japanese food. Yum! The wooden platter on the Garrard 401 seems to go after the same principle as the SDP i.e. isolate the platter and spindle from the LP. Just a different use of materials. I also like the vintage Gray Research tonearm. It looks odd but sounds great.
Yes, they look like the same principle just different materials. Now that two groups of people apparently independently have found positive effects like this makes me all the more interested. 
Since you are reporting a profound improvement, the original design is definitely not good. This is not fine tuning, basically it's an effort to quite radically change the design. Would be better to start with the drawing board instead of patching.
Wow....sampsa55 thank you for those Links.
That trip through Japan with the sites, the systems, the horns and the exquisite food has given me such pleasure and a real 'high',,,👼🏼
I hardly know where to go from that.....
It shows that the discriminating Japanese audiophile has a sensibility and conviction to his audio pursuit that transcends the western concept of 'new product is better product' syndrome. 
Horns and more horns....idlers (almost exclusively)....vintage arms (almost exclusively)....SPU cartridges and valves...and more valves.
I know some 'modern' western audiophiles who will snigger at such systems and dismiss them as 'nostalgia' and 'irrelevant' but for me, they represent a visionary truth which has been (only for the moment I hope) ignored by the masses because of its exclusiveness and unattainability,
Thank you once again for this timely reminder...😎

Since you are reporting a profound improvement, the original design is definitely not good. This is not fine tuning, basically it's an effort to quite radically change the design. Would be better to start with the drawing board instead of patching.

I think you are over-reacting Inna....
This IS fine-tuning just as much as tube-rolling, different spikes and footers, isolation platforms, different weights, headshells, power cables, speaker and interconnects and indeed cartridges themselves.
Each improvement we make does not negate the sum total of the collective 'machine' we have developed.
Our hobby (by its nature) is a constant quest for ever-diminishing micro improvements towards perfection...which of course can never be attained.
This quest results in the proliferation of audio Forums that you populate and contribute to....👀
Halcro, I know what you think, no need to say it.
Indeed ddriveman... suede-side up
http://i.imgur.com/UnMbyr3.jpg
Here is the Micro Seiki CU180 platter mat
http://i.imgur.com/qEWvSHn.jpg
Well, this is my heavy Micro Seiki CU-500 on SP10mk2 now in use with Audio Union ST-10 disc stabilizer (also made by Micro Seiki).

I use lighweight Saec SS-300 mat on Luxman PD-444 with Noritake NC-02 ceramic clamp.

Both are great mats/clamps for different turntables.
I think CU-500 is the rarest. 
Dear @ddriveman : Best true mat for any TT is the AT 666, yes the one with vacuum hold down.

The mat you are refereing is not a mat is an acrilic platter and what you are hearing is not is not that " decoupling " characteristic but the main relationship between the acrilic and the LP vinyl and that's all. A diferent kind of sound.

Years ago SOTA marketed what for me was the best real mat builded with a blended material  that matched the vinyl resonance characteristics of the LP. This SOTA mat take cares about the main subject on mats: resonances in between mat/LP.
Unfortunatelly these SOTA mats disappears. I still own a couple of them, I think??

The AT 666 is diferent and takes care of other critical subjects in that very complex relationship between TT platter and LP surface. Differences with and with other kind of mats are " big differences ". Yes different kind of sound but for me more in the MUSIC live performance.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Ddrive, I beg to differ with your premise: "Especially for DD turntables where you have the motor directly connected to the spindle (in most designs though there a few that are decoupled), it makes sense to decouple not only the platter but the spindle from the LP."  This is a common misconception usually propagated by belt-drive enthusiasts. The motor is NOT directly connected to the spindle in a direct drive turntable; only the rotor part of the motor is coupled and usually to the platter, rather than to the spindle.  The rotor per se is incapable of making any noise; it's just an inert magnet, usually, that is made to rotate by the action of the stationary stator via an alternating magnetic field.  The issues with DD are mostly EMI emanating from the proximity of the totality of the motor.  Otherwise, the only source of noise is the bearing, a problem with any and all types of turntables. Other than that, I will refrain from arguing here about turntable mats; what a can of worms!

inna2,537 posts09-13-2016 4:17amIf this arrangement helps as much as you say, what does it tell us? It tells how poorly those turntables were designed or/and made in the first place. Why use those tables at all then ?
If you're about Technics SP10, than perhaps you might not know what you're talking about. 
SP10 is a champion deck that can compete side by side with Clearaudio, Basis and far more superior than top of the line Rega or Pro-Ject. 

With great arm such as SME3009 this deck can be your final upgrade.

The original SP10 mat is great one to use and right way. Although the motor of SP10 is quite powerful and high torque, I would not recommend overloading platter of direct drive deck. It can bring-up cogging as the platter with matt are designed to have certain weight for specific direct drive deck.

Hi Halcro,

Do you use the pigskin mat on top of the CU180 or directly onto the bare aluminum TT-101 platter? Thanks for your reply to "inna", could not have said it better. 
Hi Raul,

Good to hear from you again, my friend. My Essential 3160 is performing very well and is still ... "Essential" to my system, LOL! Thank you for it.

Yes, I do have the AT666 mat. But I stopped using it after the rubber lips lost their elasticity and lost vacuum hold (and not long after I bought it). I think you are using the AT 666 without vacuum, correct? And you still like it a lot without vacuum? But do you still keep the OD and ID rubber rings for vacuum in place? If so, then the LP rests on these rubber rings and I wonder if you are liking the AT 666 because of this interaction.

As for the SOTA mats, I also have the Goldmund Relief mat and clamp. Have not actually tried it because it requires the mat to be glued to the platter with its adhesive tape backing. It’s messy to remove the Goldmund mat after you stick it on. The Goldmund mat also a kind of metacrylate that supposedly matches the vinyl resonances. Now that your mention the SOTA, I must try the Goldmund, one of these days.

Have also tried Herbie’s mat and extreme phono mat (on Denon DP6000), Micro CU500 (good but heavy, so only certain TTs), Trio Ceramic (very nice), sorbothane (not so good results on DP6000). Have a new Concert Fidelity thin Carbon mat that I’ve yet to try and others I can’t remember. Yes ... I have too many mats. LOL!!! And don’t get me started on headshells, and headshell wires and don’t forget clamps, footers, platforms .... etc.
Dear @lewm : You are right but marketing for the sellers is the name of their " game ". Always exist misinformation, everywhere.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Hi lewm,

Thank you for your clarification on the DD motor to spindle connection. You are correct that the rotor is just the magnet and is part of the motor only and by itself is inert.

In fact for the SP10MK3 (and only the MK3, the MK2 is different), the magnet rotor is huge and around the outside of the coil stator and connects to the platter directly. So, in the case of the SP10MK3, there is no part of the motor that attaches to the spindle and in this respect, resembles a belt drive.

However, for most other DDs (including the SP10mk2), the magnet rotor connects to the spindle directly. And while the rotor itself is inert, force is applied to the rotor and hence spindle in order to create motion. This is unlike belt drives and the SP10, whereby force is applied to the platter in order to create motion. And the argument here (commonly made by belt drive aficionados) is that the platter has a higher mass than the spindle and provides more damping properties. But we're splitting hairs.

Nevertheless, the whole point of the SDP and the Japanese wooden platters (from sampsa55's link) is to completely isolate both the platter and spindle bearing from the vinyl. And while the Japanese designs rely on mass and the damping properties of wood; SDP relies on its material, POM (which closely matches vinyl characteristics), mass and gel absorption packs between platter and SDP. But I'm now thinking that Acoustical Systems probably got the concept from Japanese, after seeing the links from sampsa55.

For my SP10, I ordered the SDP height to just cover the original spindle because I do not need additional platter mass to help with speed stability (thanks to the wonderful speed stability of the SP10mk3) unlike belt drives.

BTW, I'm not pitching for Acoustical Systems. I'm just a satisfied user and offering this solution to those who are seeking to go beyond the normal mat/clamp fine-tuning and try to address one area that affects both DD and belt drives which is spindle bearing vibrations.
OTOH, I suppose air bearing spindles do not have mechanical contact and friction also. Hmm, maybe the SDP may be seeking to get the benefits of air bearing spindles in this respect?
Dear @halcro : I agree on your post to inna other than that " fine tunning " refereing to that acrylic " mat " that in reality is not a mat but a TT platter that's way diferent because a mat is a way of system fine tunning but a TT platter is a  change in the design.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.


Dear @ddriveman : Look, maybe what happened with your AT666 is that in order those rubber rings can makes the LP hold down must be on certain " position " and with precise " stretch " characteristics. For do that AT surrounded the rubber rings ( at the midle of its mounting in the At platter. ) with a nylon thread that puts the eaxact pressure in the rubber for vaccum can happen.

That nylon thread ( time to time. ) it brokes and with out it there is no vaccum so you need to build by your self that thread and put on place. Because that kind of behavior is more or less often what I did it with was instead of nylon I used a thing guitar metalic chord and wroks with out problem.
This task must be do it with care because the metalic chord if we put so much tension around the rubber ring we can broke the rubber and then there is no way to fix it.

In the other side, what you posted about the Goldmund is the same with the SOTA when you install it you can't take out again but you can use the SOTA/GOLDMUND mat in removable way: with out take away the protector in the bottom plate of those mats.

Btw, good to know that the Essential is still " Essential " in your great audio system.

If you can I appreciate that email me: rauliruegas@hotmail.com

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
Ddrive, I am sorry to hassle you, but you are incorrect in drawing any distinction between the SP10 Mk3 and the Mk2 (each of which I either own [Mk3] or have owned [Mk2]), when it comes to motor "noise".  The distinction you make between the two in terms of how the rotor is mounted to the platter/spindle is correct, but you are drawing the wrong conclusion. Think about it. The rotor is NOT a source of mechanical noise, no matter what, because it is acted upon only by an alternating magnetic field.  Whether torque ( or "force", as you put it) is thus applied to the platter or to the spindle does not make any difference.  Further, in a belt drive turntable the belt itself is a way in which motor noise or vibration CAN in fact be transmitted to the rim of the platter.  This is an issue germane to belt drive technology. In a way, you've got it backwards.  If you think more about this, I predict you will come to see my point.
Hi lewm,

I see our point (I think).
The DD motor generates motion via magnetic force and hence there is no mechanical contact (although one can argue that the force generated by magnetic field in a way provides "stiffness" between rotor an stator and may still transmit some vibrations, but certainly much less than physical contact).
But in belt drives, there is physical mechanical contact and you actually need friction between pulley/belt and belt/platter and that is a bigger source/risk of vibrations being transmitted!! Am I correct?
I guess I was still touting the typical thoughts of belt vs DD in my earlier post. The British audio press via Linn Sondek did "pollute" our minds about belt drives and shape so much of the vinyl world that we know today.
And no worries about hassling me, especially if you're polite about it, which you are. It's the great part and fun of audio forums and learning.
Hi Raul,

Thanks for your insight on AT 666. I will have to check on my AT 666 again. I'll send you email and maybe you can help me with pictures.
So, you like the AT 666 because of the vacuum hold then. Ahh! I see.
Hmm, makes me want to go and figure out how to get the vacuum hold to work on my TT-801. The original vacuum rubber mat is not usable at all, badly warped and distorted. Or maybe put the AT 666 on it !
Interesting thread - I am trying to get hold of a Sony OL2k mat - I am told its by far the best mat for the TTS8000 - no modern equivalent out there either. That said the mat from thecartridgeman looks promising. I am not convinced that there is a 'one mat fits all' ultimate mat though. I say this because the AirForce one has optional top surfaces/mats so does the Artemis Labs SA1 - horses for courses possibly
I finally set up my TTS8000 and did not yet even try the original mat. I went straight into my 2.5kg copper mat + thin leather on top that I find appealing on other turntables. 
This what I use for an SL1200 II:

http://herbiesaudiolab.net/ttmat.htm

Substantial sonic improvement over the stock mat.
Dear @ddriveman : Just email me and we can talk.

R.

It is obvious that the TT manufacturers have no idea how to

produce an, say, decent mat. What they overlooked is to

consult the amateurs from different forums and learn how this

should be done. The ''mat mistery'' is easy to understand. We

all want incredible impovements for cheap. Considering  the

present TT prices not a bad idea at all. The only thing one need

is to believe to have heard ''incredible improvement'' in sound.

Even the LP 12 owners will get again  a new ''improved '' TT

with a new mat. But which one?  

I have tried many mats including Herbies, silicone, and leather on top of many different rubber mats.  Then I tried  George Merrills' GEM Dandy R.C.C. Turntable Mat a couple years ago, and have never looked back.  Most musical by far, works great with Technics SL1200 M5G  (mine), Technics 1800 MKII (my brothers'), and also great with Thorens 125 MKII (mine), and Thorens 160 (my brothers').  I guarantee you will not be disappointed (no affiliation).  When I brought mine over to my brothers'  house to demonstrate it on his system, he bought one immediately.  I later bought a second one to use on my Thorens.
@sdory . Thank you for sharing your experience with the GEM Dandy mat. I've not tried it yet but will now be on my "to try" list, especially given your experience on Technics TTs.
The SOTA delrin mat is awesome.  Detail, percussive punch to every note.  Call SOTA turntables.  :-)  

What's wrong with plain old cork? No static, no rumble . . .
Sdory, how can a mat be musical?  For purposes of eliminating static electricity from the record, what is the best brand or type of mat to buy for a belt drive (Music Hall mmf-7.3 in this case)?  Thanks!

Backintohifi,  the improvements using the Gem Dandy mat on two different systems and four different turntables (the two Technics tables and the two Thorens tables are very similar to each other) made the WHOLE SYSTEM SOUND MORE MUSICAL.  What we heard reminded us of the improvements that Herbies Audio Lab footers made in our SYSTEMS to make them sound more musical.  More natural tone, less glare, better dynamics, fuller deeper and tighter bass along with better timing are what we are hearing.   We preferred the sound of the Gem Dandy mat versus various other mats using at least six different moving magnet cartridges.

Well those damn variables. As some honest economist confessed:

''I am sorry but there are to too many variables. We can predict the

past but not the future''. I wrestled with some of them in connection

with my SP10 (aka SL 1000 Mk 2) with Obsidian plinth. Among many

mats I have chosen for the SAEC SS 300. Alas I has no idea that

 Lew has those as spare in his closet. So I paid the full price.

However the AT 636 pneumatic footers made much more

improvement to my SP 10 than any of those mats. So while all those

variables are marked in the same way (x,y,z) they are not equal. So,

I would say : ''check first your footers''.