Tuning Mats

We use the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Arjen
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Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Hi,
Has anyone of you serious experienced with different type of mats (materials, construction, design) on Lenco L76 (alloy) like platters ypusing the Tune Dem method? I’m experimenting myself now with selfmade ( = son in law)ones MDF, oak laminated MDF, acrylic and rubber, designed with a circular regular pattern of perforated holes from center to the side. Subtle musical effects, hard to describe, but they can easily compete with my sandwich of leather and anti static felt by Tonar.
Last edited by Arjen on 2021-08-31 16:49, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by ThomasOK »

I have yet to hear a mat that is more musical than a Linn or Rega felt mat, and I can't count the number of different mats and materials I have heard. I often sell Linn or Rega mats as replacements on other turntables and have found them to almost always make an improvement. The Linn felt mat is much thinner than the standard Rega mat and it sounds worse on a Rega than their own mat. The Rega mat sounds worse on a Linn turntable than the Linn mat. My rule of thumb is that if the platter is fairly dead, like the various acrylic platters and the one on a Technics SL1200 the Linn felt mat will be the best bet. On a lightweight ringy platter the Rega mat usually works better. Although best to test both if you have the option.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by V.A.MKD »

Hi ThomasOK,
Great review on TT mats ...
Thank you for sharing your experience ...
Music First ...
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Thanks Thomas for your review.
But, what is your experience with mats on zinc alloy like platters? What kind/type of mat will improve that in your experience and opinion?
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by ThomasOK »

The LP12 and the original AR turntables use zinc/aluminum platters, as I'm sure did many others on turntables from Thorens, Empire, etc. They were all better with a Linn mat unless they had a lot of ringing where the Rega was better. The platters with a lot of ringing are generally ones with a single piece metal platter of light to medium weight, rather than the two pice ones like those I mentioned above. A quick google search noted that the Lenco platter did ring being a one piece unit. So the Rega mat is likely the better option.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Thomas, do you mean the Rega Feltmat, or are there other options, other materials, you came across with a good performance?
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by ThomasOK »

I'm talking about what Rega cals the standard black wool mat. It is the one that comes on the Rega Planar 3, 6 and 8 and sells for a whopping $35US. You can also get it in a few colors for $10 more. I have not tested the colors. ;-) They have a thinner and fancier one for the Planar 10 but I have not heard it and it would not likely be as good a match for the Lenco. As with the Linn mat you have to listen to both sides as one side is more musical than the other.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Thanks a lot Thomas for your input!
Input from anyother about this rega felt mat or other material mats welcome!
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Playing now, using the Tune Method, records on mats designed by my son in law,
a black painted MDF, a white acrylic one, an oak laminated MDF. Perforated, 30 mm thick.
Definitely more open articulated sound than my felt/leather sandwich mat.
The three themselves performs slightly, subtle different, but not for every record always hearable.
The acrylic performs a little more defined, the mdf’s, especially the oak fineer, more body (bass!).
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by lejonklou »

Arjen wrote: 2021-09-04 23:16 Definitely more open articulated sound than my felt/leather sandwich mat
Words like open, articulated, body and bass are not musical terms.

What happens to the music? How are the musicians playing and how are they interacting? With which mat are they more skilled in delivering their message to you?

That is what the Tune Method is about. Pretend there is no HiFi System, just musicians delivering their music. What happens when you change the mat?

And next, try Thomas' advice. It's not expensive.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Like anyone, I try to describe what I hear Fredrik. It is quite a hard job to use the words that perform like the music itself.. As you say it is all about delivering the music by the musicians I ‘d say you right. But then, what are the words/vocabulaire you are using for yourself when you listen to your own improvements, let say from the Slipsik 6 to the Slipsik 7? Or is it just the way you feel it?
Today I was in a Rotterdam park bij accident listening to a flamenco guitar duo and I tried to listen to what they delivered and to bring it back home wether musicians via my records and setup are able to deliver music like that.
About the mats, it is about experimenting, about a trial en error with private like made samples of different materials and design. For fun and musical pastime. And who knows what it wil bring to the music deliverance and experience. Of course I will follow Thomas’ advice as well as I do with your Tune Method advices. This forum is a great help for improving listening experience and pleasure.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by lejonklou »

I must admit the mats you posted pictures of look pretty cool.

But I also personally feel it's a waste of time comparing mats, as the results I've had are the same as what Thomas describes above. I've probably tried a hundred different mats since the late 80's, some borrowed, others brought or sent to me by other enthusiasts. There's always been a latest one that is supposed to be the best one ever, and each and every time it's been hands down beaten by a Rega or Linn mat, regardless of what turntable has been used. These last years I haven't really bothered, there are so many other things to tune that actually yield improvements. Last time I heard an aftermarket mat was when a customer had a red felt one with large white print on his LP12. It took about 5 seconds to realize that it was much worse than the original.

How did we experience the difference? That the pop song being played became musically chaotic and many notes felt slightly sour/out of tune. It was difficult to follow the progression of the music and the song stopped making sense to me. If I imagine for a second that there was no HiFi but just a band playing, I'd say the real band members had been exchanged to a bunch with considerably less talent.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

I definitely will try the Black Rega Felt as Thomas adviced. In the meantime i will listen the way you describe your experiences Fredrik, in terms of tune and coherence. Thank you for your lessons. For me there is still a lot to learn.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by lejonklou »

I'm looking forward to your impressions of the Rega mat.

For me there is also still a lot to learn. Thankfully!
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Well, I just ordered the Rega standard black mat. I will give you my impressions of that one too Fredrik.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

The delivery man at the door. A cartridge for the Brother printer, Jamie Hawkesworth ‘The British Isles’ photobook and……Rega black woollen platter mat.
First impression a woolly reproduction of the music. Sandwich of 1 mm Tonar leather mat under the Rega wool mat is a bit less woolly, more clean and clear.
Just my first impression after listening The Beach Boys ‘Take a load of your Feet’.
Tonight more Audiophile Demonstration Time, more listening and Tuning Dem.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Spannko »

Excellent. Which model printer?
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

HL-2130
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Best mat tuning result for tonight:
A sandwich of three:
- under a Lenco Matic very thin plastic mat
- middle the new woolen Black Rega
- upper the 5978 black leather Tonar mat
(see pic from right to left)
Concluded after playing Sonny Clark Cool Struttin’, Blue Note 1588.
Playing Beach Boys’ Surf’S Up and Bonnie Prince Billy I have made a place did not make that big difference with the pictured private made perforated mats. So some work to do for my son
-in-law to compete with new samples (playing Jazz. But…he did a good job already.
By the way, anyone else experimented to any result with a sandwich of 2 or 3 different (thin) mats or a retailed sandwich mat?

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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

At the moment my mat is a sandwich of Rega felt and Tonar leather. It is okay. But reviews and also users of Levin Design Mat and Hexmat (Yellow Bird and Eclipse) say those two are significant upgrades (in detail, refinement). Anyone who have experience with one of those mats or with the Soundeck? Please let me know.
Last edited by Arjen on 2022-01-08 11:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by tpetsch »

It's impossible to try them all but maybe some could be more in tune, just no way of knowing and I'm not willing to take that journey. ...But the dozen or so that I have listened to over the past 35 years or so have neither been here nor there for me, and I always found myself going back to the factory Linn or Rega mats.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Well, reading back this topic timeline same as you Tpetsch, Fredrik and Thomas and others always turning back to Rega or Linn Felt after having listened to other mats. I’m confound that a lot on this forum is about upgrading Linn TT, arms, legs, carts etc. which costs lots of money, but upgrading mats is not even an issue here, whilst it still is on other forums.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by lejonklou »

We learn from our experiments, Arjen.

I worked in retail between 1990 and 1995. This was the time in my life when I tried the largest number of turntables, parts for them and also mats. Apart from all the mats available on the market, most of which we bought and tested, there were frequent fads that customers would bring in and let us listen to.

Every material has its own signature. When you combine several materials, you combine the signatures. We never heard anything that could touch pure wool, but there were major differences between qualities and thicknesses. Independently of Thomas O'Keefe, who I didn't know at the time, we found thick Rega wool mats sounding best on Rega and older turntables with ringy platters, thin Linn wool mats sounding best on Linn turntables and ultra-thin (at the time) Pro-Ject mats not sounding best on anything.

Lately the mat testing has slowed down considerably, it's simply not worth the time unless someone hands me a mat and says "Try this!" Last time that happened was in 2020(?) when a customer brought that red wool mat with a white logo on it to my lab. Took about a minute to conclude that it was utterly unmusical on his LP12 compared to the original mat.
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by Arjen »

Thank you Fredrik for again sharing your experiences. But still I’m kinda amazed that in the opinion of many on the forum there is on the one side so much (successfully) to improve on an already very expensive basic Linn LP 12 (see LP12 product history item and retail pricelists from more than 4000 E to over 20.000 E), affordable for only the happy audio few) and on the other side very hard to improve with mats, affordable for more than only the happy audio few. In the opinion of Peter Reinders (TPT TT)the Levin Design Solingen ( though not a cheap mat) brings more refinement in the performance, which is. Also the verdict of Paul Rigby reviewing the Eclipse of Hexmat. But both for 275 E to expensive just to gamble….
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Re: Tuning Mats

Post by David Neel »

Arjen wrote: 2022-01-08 15:07 Thank you Fredrik for again sharing your experiences. But still I’m kinda amazed that in the opinion of many on the forum there is on the one side so much (successfully) to improve on an already very expensive basic Linn LP 12 (see LP12 product history item and retail pricelists from more than 4000 E to over 20.000 E), affordable for only the happy audio few) and on the other side very hard to improve with mats, affordable for more than only the happy audio few. In the opinion of Peter Reinders (TPT TT)the Levin Design Solingen ( though not a cheap mat) brings more refinement in the performance, which is. Also the verdict of Paul Rigby reviewing the Eclipse of Hexmat. But both for 275 E to expensive just to gamble….
Maybe it's telling that Linn themselves haven't come up with a better musical solution that the felt mat? With their upgrade paths and dealer network for the LP12 it would surely be a good seller? I once had a third party mat, but later reverted to the Linn mat because it was more musical. The word you use above is "refinement" - well, I find Qobuz far more refined, but I listen to Spotify because it's way more musical.
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