@pbnaudio Yes, all SME platters come with self adhesive Isodamp SD125 (~3mm thick) mat installed at the factory. They also diamond turn the surface for a nicer finish as well as a better interface with the record. SME orders the mat material directly from Aearo Technologies (EAR).
Michael Percy sells the Isodamp SD125 material by the foot (it’s not cheap), so a DIYer can order and cut out a mat to experience some of what SME engineers do.
Best material for a mat that I have personally heard. It’s also great to dampen chassis, motor, etc. with.
Must be a new thing - been a while since the last SME was here - this is what I was referring to
@pbnaudio They’ve used Isodamp since inception. That mustard colored material is the Isodamp SD125 mat. Aero Technologies has discontinued the mustard color about a year, or so ago. New SME turntables will have black Isodamp instead. As can be seen on their website: https://sme.co.uk/audio/turntables/
Fremer actually mentions Isodamp in the very review you linked: https://www.stereophile.com/content/sme-model-2012-turntable-amp-312s-tonearm-page-3
Isodamp is great stuff, particularly when used as constrained layer damping. Because of it’s high price ($238 for a 4" X 4.5" X 1/8" square!), I chose to use the similar ASC Wall Damp for my constrained layer needs. A 4" X 4" square of Wall Damp costs only a buck or two. Of course, a turntable platter will look rather unsightly covered with 4" X 4" pieces, but ASC also sells it cut to size.
My experience is limited to a number of 401s with aluminum platters.
1. Boston Mat 2: energy suck, "cleaned" up the sound by removing microdetails including spatial cues, air and life.
2. Std. rubber mat: adds lushness and musicality. Smears mids and highs. Adds bass bloom.
3. 10" vinyl record: removes smearing and coloration (possibly due to the store and release of damping). Increase in detail, speed, air, transparency. Improved bass definition. Possibility of a little added brightness. This is what I use.
4. Cork, paper, felt, leather DIY mats: Meh. Not worth the effort.
@bdp24 Where are you getting Isodamp pricing? What you’ve posted is a nonsensical price.
Isodamp C-1002 Series 0.125" thick, 54" by linear foot is $68. That’s a lot of material. Can be ordered from the authorized distributor direct: https://www.rathbun.com/c-40-damping-isolation-materials.aspx
Michael Percy sells SD Series (what SME uses) 0.125" thick, 12" by 27" for $60. http://www.percyaudio.com/Catalog.pdf
Both sources have other thicknesses and sizes.
Oops! I was looking at the R.S. Hughes Industrial Supplier website, and misread the price sheet. The $238 amount is correct, but that's for a piece 5.4" by 4 feet, not 4 inches! If I had thought about it for a minute, it would (or should) have been obvious that Isodamp COULDN'T be priced THAT high!
The 12" by 27" piece Michael Percy sells for $60 (I'll take your word for it ;-) is enough to make two mats out of. How does one cut Isodamp into a perfect circle?
Thanks invictus005, but the Isodamp is not for my tables, all which have platters made either entirely of Delrin (Townshend Audio Rock), or aluminum with a top layer of Delrin (VPI). I have looked at the Isodamp for constrained layer applications, but didn't know it was available in black, as the SD-125 is. A lot of it is available in blue only.
Noromance, What you experience as "energy suck" is what some others might experience as proper dissipation of spurious energy that would otherwise generate resonant frequencies audible in playback. I am not saying that you are "wrong" and the others (including me) are "right". I am only saying that this is one of the eternal debates in audio. How much damping is too much? So far, for me, the BA Mat2 is the best I have heard for conveying a very neutral sound. I use the term "neutral" to indicate that I do hear a reduction in colorations that might be generated at the cartridge/LP interface. (Perhaps this is what you call "energy suck"; I cannot deny that those juicy colorations are addictive.) Paradoxically, another favorite mat, for me, is the SAEC SS300, which is metal, and so one would think that it does not interface with the LP as energy as the Mat2 might do, because the latter is made of graphite or something similar to vinyl in propagation of energy.
I have really disliked rubber or rubber-y mats that I have tried.
Waiting to hear from fans of the Resomat, for a completely different take.
I guess I'm a zombie, in that case. To each, his own. The BA mats have lots of fans, not too many detractors. What turntable, tonearm, cartridge? I use the BA Mat2 on my SP10 Mk3 with Reed tonearm and ZYX UNIverse cartridge. I also use a Mat2 on on my Victor TT101 with FR64S tonearm and a few different cartridges. I do also like the SAEC SS300 mat on the Victor, about as good as the BA Mat2 but slightly different sonic balance.
I've got to agree with noromance. I've used many different mats and they all were different, but not overall better to what was already used. Certain pieces of music seemed to like one while others sounded somewhat better with another. NO mat was superior including TTW copper mat on the platter. Some cost quite a bit more, but were worth less. I've had Boston Audio, Origin Live Herbie's mat, TTW copper mat (platter), Platter Pad, a different copper platter, glueing down the supplied rubber mat. These changes were done to VPI Classic, VPI Scout, Lenco with multiple upgrades, and a Maplenoll Ariadne. Thus far, the best sound by far was with no extra mat on the lead platter of the Maplenoll.
I'm an anti-aftermarket mat guy at this point. I may try an Artisan Fidelity copper mat on my Lenco platter, but it's very expensive. I'm rebuilding my 10-layered plinth right now so it can be used with the much upgraded AF chassis--we'll see how that goes.
@lewm I guess each *system* to its own then. It's not a taste issue. It can't be. I know when the leading edge of a snare strike sounds correct verses a muted facsimile of one. Or the subtle ambient chatter of an audience muted to the point of being inaudible by a damped mat. To answer your question about my source, it is an AudioGrail Garrard 401 in a slate plinth on maple with a modified 12" Jelco and paratrace tipped Decca SuperGold. Tube amps. I've another 401 in a ply plinth. Same deal.
dorkwad, In what respect are you agreeing with noromance? Noromance uses an LP as a platter mat, not a bare platter. And really, using a bare platter only means that you are placing the LP on a surface that is native to that particular platter. In other words, one man's bare platter is not another man's bare platter, unless both use the same turntable. Parenthetically, LPs have rounded circumferential edges that I think were once put there so that when one is using a record changer, the piled up LPs on the spindle do not make contact with each other on the playing surfaces. Therefore, noromance is technically suspending the LP in space. That's the idea of the Resomat, too.
I've got an upgraded Lenco, too. The platter was sprayed with a dampening paint. Then I use a BA Mat1 on top of that. Anyway, my only point is that mats are like seasoning on food. There is no universal right answer, and what to use is not subject to a vote. I can sub in the SAEC SS300 metal mat on any of these three turntables, and that changes the sound by a very little bit, perhaps toward more of the sound that noromance prefers, perhaps better reproducing the leading edge of transients. Not sure. I certainly do not perceive the detrimental effects that noromance describes. His entire vinyl system is geared to a big, in your face sound, which I kind of like too. (I had a Decca London for years and enjoyed it very much.)
I have been using the K-Works Ersamat for about 8 years on my Thorens TD-166 MkII. The designer, Igor of K-Works, developed it using his VPI 'table with aluminum platter. It acts to block RFI and EMI from reaching the stylus and entering the signal chain.
Bondmanp: Sounds like what you’re referring to is about the same mat I’m using on my pioneer. It’s designed to drain any static charge into the spindle and dissipate it into the ground. I keep my humidity around 50-60% and use a Zerostat to be sure. I bought this mat over 35 years ago and it has served me well. It’s interesting to read all the comments on how my old Pioneer PL-71 in no way, can approach the same sonic quality of my VPI. I guess I’m just lucking. I must have hit the correct "synergy" by dumb luck. I did have to increase my tonearms mass, then balance out the tracking force. Being 63 years old, I can't hear much above 12K. Maybe I'm not hearing what others still can.
I apply a constrained layer damping solution to my SP10MK2 I use a K-works ERSA mat on the platter then a 1/8 technics rubber mat topped off by a Boston Mat-2 . I use a Michell clamp to couple the record to the stack .I feel this arrangement handles the two things a mat should address isolation from the motor and the resonance caused by the stylus groove interface .I believe a TT should be as inert as possible an add no color to the sound .The ERSA mat is made of ERS paper being the motor is right under platter I thought it was a good idea to use it in this application .
enginedr1960, Are you blocking EMI with the ERSA mat? I ask because this is worth doing for some DD turntables. On the L07D website, one is advised to do something about that, even though the L07D has a 5-lb stainless steel "platter sheet", which one would think has at least some effect on blocking EMI radiating from its coreless motor. Nevertheless, and in agreement with the advice on the L07D website, I hear improvements with a piece of TI Shield between the platter and the platter sheet. I have had a copper platter sheet made, which mimics all dimensions of the stock stainless platter sheet, in hopes that it will better block EMI, and I will be able to remove the TI Shield. It's "in the mail" coming to me as I write this. (TI Shield causes issues with some LOMC cartridges, because it contains iron; the L07D motor stator induces a magnetic field in the TI Shield, which sucks down on LOMC cartridges. No free lunch, I guess.)
bondmanp, Thanks for that info. I will look into that mat for use on the TT101, which also has a coreless motor. Both the TT101 and the L07D motors are derived from the original Dual cordless motor (as is that of the newer Bergmann DD turntable). In these motors, the stators and rotors are oriented 90 degrees differently from those in typical iron core DD motors, such that I think there would be a field directed upward toward the LP. In any case, the L07D behaves as if there is. I've often thought of buying a meter to measure the field strength, but so far thought has not turned into action.
I too, have an older VPI TT with a heavy metal platter. I am using the GEM Dandy R.C.C. (Rubber Cork Compound) Turntable Mat. Designed and sold by George Merrill. BTW "GEM" are Mr. Merrill's initials. He sells many well designed analog products and of course his own TT's.
Link to the RCC: http://hifigem.com/rcc-record-mat.html This mat is constructed of 2 different types of rubber with differing energy absorption characteristics and cork to aid in the transmission of energy into the mat.
A brief review link: https://www.dagogo.com/practically-priced-tools-for-the-lp-lover/2/
In addition, no discussion of energy absorption/control would be complete without addressing the myriad methods of record clamping. I again will offer the following link that Mr. Merrill addresses: http://hifigem.com/record-weights-and-clamps.html
I am not familiar with the previously referenced Isodamp SD125 mat.
My RCC mat performs with aplomb at $60. Spend your additional funds on proper record weights/clamps!
I use a custom made (as in I asked the guy to reduce the diameter) acrylic mat topped by a Teac Washi https://www.musicdirect.com/accessories/TEAC-Washi-Turntable-Mat
on my Oracle Alex III with an aluminum alloy platter.
I tried the Acrylic because that's what Oracle has switched to. It proved to sound somewhat cleaner than the Groove Isolator that I was using. Still, I didn't have the nerve to clamp mt vinyl down on such an unforgiving surface. Hence the Washi.
These days I remove the Washi when playing 180 g LPs and clamp ever so lightly. This compensates for VTA (I tell myself ;^).
Anyway, it sounds very realistic and 'present' to me.
Combak Harmonix tu800 ex. It's not the i(improved) version. It came with my table along with the turntable weight. I think it's a VPI. Has two rubber bands on it. I took those off a couple days ago. I did notice a little more livelyness for lack of a better way to put it. I have been wondering about the mat and trying something else. A 10" record sounds like a fun and inexpensive experiment.
Herbie’s Way Excellent Turntable mat!!!
Don't spend $400 on a mat. Get the Herbie and put the rest towards a Stillpoints record weight. Now that takes out the micro-resonances!
I have a VPI Prime Signature. I could not stand the "hard" sound from the bare platter. I got the 3mm Achromat, I use the peripheral ring and the sound sweetened up and became more musical. VPI claims the paper shipped on the platter is supposed to be used as a mat also. I don't know what they listen to, but I want musical music. I had heard about the Achromat on many forum threads, but Michael Fremer's review was what sold me.
To get back to the OP, I think your best bet if you can afford it is to try a number of different mats and find the one that works best for you. The various threads on this topic seem to demonstrate that people have different results with different mats according to the particular character of their system and its problems (i.e. the sources of disruptive vibrations or tonal inaccuracy). That makes it hard to generalize.
That said my turntable is somewhat similar to yours (as is Stringreen's) so maybe my experience will help. The TT is a VPI Aries 1 with Classic Platter and a Teres Audio rim drive motor, among other 'mods'. I've tried the VPI rubber mat (overdamped and dull), Herbie's Way Excellent TT Mat (Way too trebly and harsh), Auditorium 23 mat (nice but a bit too polite), the new Oracle acrylic mat that supersedes the old Groove Isolator (also nice but a bit too glassy and well, acrylic-sounding), and no mat at all (also a bit 'juiced' in the upper registers).
In the end I settled on the Funk Firm Achromat. I like the theory behind it, and I found that sonically this mat far outweighs the other TT mats on my 'table. It sounds to me like it's doing what it claims. I use it with a VPI peripheral ring clamp, which seems to me to accentuate the impact of whatever surface the LP is resting on. I also just added a Stillpoints LPI after a period using the VPI center weight, and I find it to be a significant upgrade. I expected that to be the case because of the rim drive - it has to be adding vibrations to the platter, no matter how smooth the motor is. But I'd guess your experience would be somewhat different if you're using the standard VPI motor and belt.
@bdp24 congrats on the new Aries. Unfortunately mine didn't come with the original platter so I can't answer your question. I got a classic platter bundled into the deal when I got the TT, along with a vpi acrylic platter installed by the original owner. I liked the classic better so I eventually sold off the acrylic one. Not sure how the acrylic compares To the aluminum/Delrin but the classic has more detail and dynamics and better midrange and lower end as I remember it.
@jollytinker, I found an Aries 1 plinth and motor, without a platter and bearing. I was looking at the platter options for the Aries when I was offered one of the type that came on the table, the TNT-3/4 type. When I was considering getting what the op of this thread and you have---an aluminum VPI, either the Classic or Scout 1.1---I knew I, like he and you, would want a platter mat on top of the aluminum. It's funny no one makes a Delrin mat, as it is an excellent interface between an LP and a metal platter.