A guide to turntable mats

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Everything you need to know about turntable mats.

The significance of platter mats can be daunting to grasp, whether you’re a novice or a seasoned enthusiast. These unassuming accessories wield the power to elevate your listening experience, making it important to understand their role.

Essentially, a platter mat is a thin, circular layer placed on top of the turntable’s platter, providing a foundation for your records. With thickness ranging from 1.5mm to 4mm, they are crafted from various materials, each offering distinct advantages and drawbacks.

Beyond aesthetics, platter mats shield the record’s surface and prevent unwanted damage. Platter mats work to dampen resonances and diminish vibrations between the platter and other turntable components. This process aims to enhance sound fidelity and reduce skip rates, resulting in a more cohesive auditory experience.

Materials such as felt, cork, rubber, and leather dominate the platter mat landscape, each with unique sonic characteristics. Felt, renowned for its affordability and slip-resistant nature, finds favour particularly among DJs due to its thinness, facilitating smoother scratching. It is however susceptible to static and dust buildup. Cork offers superior sound isolation and ease of record handling, though durability may be a concern.

Rubber mats prioritise grip and vibration dampening, delivering warmer tones reminiscent of original recordings. Leather mats, esteemed for their bass tones and opulent feel, occupy a higher price bracket. Hybrid options blend materials like cork and rubber to cater to varied preferences.

Beyond conventional choices, materials such as acrylic and glass platters offer alternative sonic possibilities. Discovering the ideal platter mat is a process of experimentation, guided by personal taste and genre-specific nuances.

Serato Official Butter Rug Slipmats (Pair)

Price: £15
Pros: High-quality synthetic material offers decreased friction. Designed with input from Thud Rumble and DJ Q-Bert.
Cons: Durability may vary depending on usage intensity.

Verdict: Trusted by professional DJs, the Serato Butter Rugs offer high-quality synthetic construction perfect for scratching and mixing.

Serato’s collaboration with Thud Rumble results in the Butter Rug slipmats, renowned for their high-quality synthetic material and thin plastic layer providing optimal friction and resistance for scratching and mixing. While some users may prefer traditional felt mats, these offer a unique experience favoured by professional DJs.

Their official Serato branding adds to their appeal, though limited design options and a higher price point might deter some buyers. Overall, they excel in their intended purpose of facilitating precise turntable manoeuvres.

Turntable Lab Cork & Rubber Mat

Price: $24.95
Pros: Reduces static electricity on records, better grip than standard felt mats.
Cons: Thicker and heavier compared to standard cork mats, not recommended for DJ use.

Verdict: A versatile mat combining cork and rubber for enhanced sound quality and record grip. Ideal for audiophiles, but not suited for DJs.

This mat offers a unique blend of cork and rubber, providing excellent sound dampening and grip, enhancing playback quality. Its reversible design and compatibility with all turntables make it a versatile choice for audiophiles. A solid choice for home listening environments seeking improved sound quality and record stability.

Fluance Acrylic Platter Mat for Turntables

Price: £25
Pros: Superior damping, static reduction and superior tracking, reducing static buildup, precision-made recessed centre design maintains record integrity.
Cons: May be more expensive compared to traditional felt or rubber mats.

Verdict: The acrylic mat offers superior sound quality, static reduction, and precise playback, making it an ideal choice for audiophiles seeking enhanced performance and compatibility with all turntables.

The acrylic mat provides a significant upgrade for audiophiles, improving sound quality with superior damping and static reduction. Its precision-made design ensures accurate playback and maintains record integrity, while the compatibility with all turntables makes it accessible for any setup. A reduction in static buildup and improved stylus tracking result in cleaner sound reproduction and enhanced listening experiences. Though it may come at a higher price point, the benefits in sound quality and performance justify the investment for serious enthusiasts.

Hudson Hi-fi Acrylic Platter Mat

Price: $30 (USA)
Pros: Reliable acrylic material, compliant with RIAA standards, kabel recess ensures flat record playback. Can be used as an anti-skate test record.
Cons: May not provide significant improvement for all turntable setups.

Verdict: The Hudson Hi-Fi Acrylic Turntable Mat offers enhanced sound quality and durability at an affordable price.

The Hudson Hi-Fi Acrylic Turntable Mat impresses with its reliable acrylic construction, meeting RIAA standards and ensuring secure, scratch-resistant packaging. Its label recess feature guarantees flat record playback, enhancing the overall listening experience. It serves well as an anti-skate test record and aligns with a range of turntable setups, making it a solid choice for those seeking improved sound quality and durability in their vinyl playback experience.

Music Hall Cork Record Mat

Price: £50
Pros: Cork material gives more static protection than a felt mat.
Cons: Relatively higher price compared to traditional felt mats.

Verdict: The Music Hall Cork Turntable Mat offers enhanced sound quality and record protection while offering more static reduction than a typical felt mat.

Light and easy to use, the Music Hall Cork Turntable Mat has 12 isolation discs and high-quality cork–VIP treatment for your vinyl. Say goodbye to static cling and hello to smoother spins. Whether you’re a vinyl newbie or a seasoned audiophile, this mat is a ticket to a new world of sound.

Auditorium 23 Hommage

Price: £95
Pros: Thicker than standard Auditorium A23 mat for enhanced performance. A textured diamond-crosshair pattern on the playing side improves dynamics and reduces surface noise. Doesn’t stick to records or hold dust particles.
Cons: Slightly thicker and heavier than typical felt mats, potentially requiring adjustment for some setups.

The Auditorium 23 Hommage Turntable Mat enhances sound quality and reduces static on higher-end turntables, albeit with minor concerns about lifting and thickness.

The chunky thickness and funky textured diamond-crosshair pattern of this mat jazz up your sound with boosted dynamics and smoother vocals, all while keeping surface noise at bay. Despite some worries about records taking flight, it dances through static and keeps things squeaky clean. A tad thicker and heavier than your average mat, it’s a great investment for audiophiles craving top-notch sound without skimping on quality craftsmanship.

Funk Firm Achromat

Price: £100
Pros: Reduces colouration and distortion, universal compatibility. Innovative composition with millions of bubbles for effective energy dissipation.
Cons: Limited thickness (3-5mm) compared to some other mats, may not suit all turntable setups or personal preferences

Verdict: The Achromat excels in reducing distortion and colouration with its innovative energy-absorbing design, making it a top choice for discerning vinyl enthusiasts.

Achromat, born from Arthur Khoubesserian’s original acrylic interface, has evolved into a pinnacle of turntable mat technology. Its innovative design effectively absorbs record energy, reducing colouration and distortion. Despite its slim profile, millions of bubbles within provide substantial energy dissipation. Praised by both users and experts, it’s won accolades and become a favourite among LP12 and Technics SL1200 owners. While its higher price and limited thickness may deter some, its demonstrable superiority in A/B comparisons underscores its status as a top-tier mat option for audiophiles.

SPEC Analog Disc Sheet AP-UDI

Price: £250
Pros: Made of aluminium coated with special material for enhanced sound quality. Thin profile (1.7 mm) suitable for most turntables without VTA adjustment, zero static or dust capture issues.
Cons: Slightly larger diameter than a record, requires adjustment in lifting technique.

Verdict: The SPEC mat delivers significant audio enhancements but requires careful handling, making it ideal for users seeking premium sound quality on higher-end turntables.

The SPEC mat proves its worth with notable audio improvements. Crafted from aluminium coated with a special material reminiscent of a record stamper, it’s like music magic for your turntable. Despite its slightly larger size, the mat is thin and lightweight, fitting most setups like a charm and eliminating static woes.

Read more: A guide to turntable weights, clamps & stabilisers