Hi James- I just got my 1210 M5G last week and having a ball with it. I am curious as to how a mat that is under the lp and not even in the signal path can have such a profound influence on the sound. I know that I am showing my ignorance, but if I don't ask I will not learn. My experience has been that room size, shape and acoustics has a measurable effect on sound and is probably more the culprit of the same table sounding different to some, not to mention the vast differences in electronics and speakers. I try different mats and for the life of me can tell no difference whatsoever. I do like the music that my Technics table makes though, a vast difference from the Parasound 1200 I had previously.
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I feel like Casper
Can someone tell me how a mat changes the tone? What are the physics behind it? Obviously these tweeks work, thousands are spent and volumes written. Are sounds really generated from platters/matts? Is it so subtle only a trained ear can hear? Pardon if I sound sarcastic, that is not my intention.
I tried the stock rubber mat upside down, it was a big improvement over right side up. However, the Boston Audio Design Mat1 was always better in an A/B swap with the stock. I even tried the BAD on top of the stock (both right side up, and up side down).
The Boston Audio Design Mat1 always revealed more detail and resolution. Individual instruments are easy to hear. Dynamics are more alive, and the lower end bass is tight. A more even handed delivery of the frequency range. The stock rubber mat is very obtuse in comparison.
Zenblaster, I'm not a physicist, so I cannot scientifically describe what is exactly happening, but just keep in mind the needle is tracing a groove that has bumps, and those bumps translate into sound. So contact with the needle is what it is all about.
Vibration control is critical to get the very best out of your components. If you haven't explored this path, you are in for a surprise. Your system is capable of quite more when you address these issues of dampening and vibration.
Oh, I forgot, I have the Technics on a Symposium Ultra shelf and it currently has Isonoe footers with out the sorbothene boots. Its a direct aluminum (top of Ultra) to stainless steel (Isonoe footer) coupling. Now the Isonoe has a viscus elastic dampening design similar to what the SME tables are hung on as an example. This gives the Technics a suspension.
I use a Funk Achromat on my 1210 M5G. I haven't tried the thick Technics rubber mat though because my table only came with the felt DJ slip mat. I was using the felt mat in combination with rubber drawer liner previously and the Achromat is an improvement over that. Current the rubber liner under the Achromat provides the best sound.
As to why mats change the sound of a table, I think that they all affect damping and resonance to some degree. Small vibrations from the bearing, platter, and air/speakers can travel through the record and into the needle. Because the principle of operation of a cartridge is on such a small scale, vibrations tend to be more damaging in a turntable setup than in digital. All I know is that mats do alter the sound to a degree that is not insignificant, for better or worse.
It's out of production, but I found a used Oracle Groove Isolator for $10. It's sorbothane, but unlike the current $99 Audioquest mat, it's not sorbothane *gel*, so it's not sticky and doesn't overdamp the music. It seems to weigh about as much as the Technics 17 oz. "Supermat."
Recently I tried adding the Technics felt slipmat underneath the Groove Isolator and I like that even better.
Flicking the platter with my fingernails before and after, the felt/sorbo mat stack dampens the ringing out of the platter more than the sorbo mat by itself, and I noticed a small improvement in liveliness and clarity when playing LPs after I made that change.
I think finding the optimum mat for the Technics is more of a challenge than for the MDF/glass/acrylic-plattered belt drive turntables, because their platters are already pretty inert, and the mats for those turntables only have to drain the LP of resonances and isolate it from noise from below.
The SL12x0 platter, however, literally rings like a bell, so the mat has to kill that ringing as much as possible while doing all the other things that mats do. I think that's why you'll often find multi-layered mat approaches to the Technics.
I've certainly found that putting the felt slipmat on first, with a heavy mat on top, kills the ringing the best of anything I've tried yet. However, I haven't tried a Herbie's (which is dual composition), Iron Audio, or Funk Achromat, all of which have gotten thumbs-ups from various SL12x0 owners.
I'm using SDS Isoplat Mat with cork backing.
The biggest sonic improvement though, has been realized
after replacing stock feet with Starsound Technologies
Audiopoints. I can't emphasize strongly enough a degree of improvement, especially in the bass definition.
It all will depend on the flooring and the rack construction, but in my case (concrete floor and Mapleshade
Samson DIY clone)direct coupling is the way to go.
Recently switched to the 1/4" super mat from KAB and could hear an immediate improvement.
I also highly recommend the KAB TD-1200 Tonearm Fluid damper. Its a serous upgrade
I got back into vinyl about 2-1/2 years ago, taking a Technics SL-1200/II turntable. I tweaked it endlessly going through several cartridges, removing the vibrating transformer, changing out the springy feet, replacing the tubes and making numerous parts replacements to my phono preamp. For instance, for the preamp I built an outboard power supply using only film capacitors, adding a choke, and adding several more -R-C stages. I even upgraded the stock tonearm to an Origin Live silver Mk II (wonderful product!). All this improved the sound of vinyl playback tremendously. But I could never correct a perplexing problem: the ever-present midrange suckout. Then a got a Funk Firm achromat platter mat - the Technics version compatible with the lip on the periphery of the platter. Problem solved. With the FF mat the mids are fleshed out nicely - even voluptuously, the image specificty improves, the bass tightens. My experience confirms that the stock thick rubber mat is the cause of the "dark sounding" Technics turntable and ought to be tossed.