Kick out the jams with our new cork record mat. Instruments pop to life. Crackle is reduced. Vocals are clearer and more dramatic. The background is quieter, soundstage wider and deeper. How does this thing work? The secret is in the 12 isolation discs surrounding the outside of the mat and the single larger disc for the center label. The discs lift and support the record while floating it above and decoupling it from the platter. This lowers record vibration and reduces acoustic feedback. Stylus tracking is improved and record wear reduced. The mat eliminates the grunge and leaves behind a rich, clear, dynamic sound. Cork is the perfect material. It sucks up unwanted vibrations and releases the life and energy of the music. It’s naturally non-static and non-adhesive making the mat perfectly safe for use on all platters and it won’t harm your records. Cork grips the record better than felt so there’s less record slippage and fewer timing errors. The mat is thin, lightweight, and generally doesn’t require a VTA adjustment. Listen for yourself, the improvement is easy to hear.
Roy Hall is always on the lookout for products that provide tons of musical enjoyment for only a modest investment. On a recent trip to Europe, Roy found this fabulous sounding platter mat and was utterly beguiled by its sound. The sound of theMusic Hall Mat is fast, lively and rich with surprisingly deep black backgrounds and a slight flair for the dramatic. Music seems to leap from the table with great enthusiasm and even revitalizes mediocre recordings.
How it Works
A seemingly simple lightweight mat, the Music Hall Mat is made entire from cork and is designed to be a direct replacement for virtually any turntable mat. The secret to the Mat’s great sound are the cork pads which suspend the record, a dozen small pads around the outside of the Mat and a single larger one for the spindle. These cork pads have excellent damping characteristics and do a great job protecting the record from the platter’s vibration and allowing the vinyl to “speak” on its own. An additional advantage of the Music Hall Mat is its ability to “grip” the platter and the record simultaneously, eliminating the micro-slippage that plagues standard felt mats. This gives the Mat greater focus and improves pacing, especially on complex passages or those with substantial low-frequency content.
Music Hall’s Cork record mat not only improves the sound of your favorite records, it also lowers record wear and improves stylus tracking. How does a slipmat do all this? Music Hall describes it best, “The secret is in the 12 isolation discs surrounding the outside of the mat and the single larger disc for the center label. The discs lift and support the record while floating it above and decoupling it from the platter. This lowers record vibration and reduces acoustic feedback. Stylus tracking is improved and record wear reduced. The mat eliminates the grunge and leaves behind a rich, clear, dynamic sound.” In addition, the cork material sucks up unwanted vibrations and is naturally non-static and non-adhesive making it completely safe for all platter types and all records. Cork also grips the record better than the usual felt-type materials so there is less record slippage and fewer timing errors. This thin, lightweight mat is an excellent upgrade for all listening turntable setups (but NOT for DJing or backcueing).
Music Hall Mat Cork Turntable Mat Review By Rich Teer
I don’t mind admitting it: I am an audio sceptic, albeit an open-minded one. By this I mean that although I’m not prepared to accept at face value many of the audio theories and products that have been espoused by various manufacturers, I am more than willing to give them a fair chance. Such has been my approach to topics such as different interconnect and speaker cables, speaker bi-wiring, and isolation devices. In all of these cases I’d read about the claimed improvements they could bring, but was sceptical that they would work or would be audible in my system (which in those days was pretty humble!). But the cost of trying t h e m o u t was well within my very limited means, so try them I did and in every case I heard a difference. The fact that these differences were repeatable, coupled with my expectation that they wouldn’t work, rules out any placebo effect.
Because I’ve heard the differences with my own ears, such concepts are no longer a contentious issue with me. Of course, there are many other tweaks and ideas out there in audio land that I haven’t yet tried, so when Music Hall’s Leland Leard offered me the opportunity to try out one of your cork turntable mats, I couldn’t refuse!
With the Music Hall Mat, there’s not much to describe. It is a thin (about 0.5 mm thick) cork disc, approximately the same size as a record. Around the circumference of the cork disc, about 1 cm from the edge, are twelve smaller cork discs, each of which is about 1 mm thick and 13 mm in diameter. A separate cork disc, about the same size as a record label and the same thickness as the main mat, is supplied to support the centre of the record. This smaller disc is removable to facilitate use with records whose labels are thicker than usual.
The mat can be used with your turntable’s clamp (if it has one), but Music Hall prefer that it be used without, so as to decouple the record from the turntable.
The mat comes in an antistatic record sleeve, which is itself packed in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box.
Use and Listening
Using the Music Hall Mat is simplicity itself: one just places the mat on the platter (label side up), places the smaller disc (assuming the record label’s thickness doesn’t prohibit it) on top, and finally puts on a record.
I used the Marantz TT-15S1 we reviewed in Issue 3 for this test (I decided that my Forsell Air Reference would be an inappropriate match because it is designed to be used without a mat), and only had time for a relatively brief test before the Marantz had to be returned. After trying a few records, I finally settled on using disc one of Classic Records’ Clarity version of the Casino Royale soundtrack.
When I used the Music Hall Mat, the main thing that struck me was the improvement in the mids and highs. Specifically, they seemed a touch more prominent, and low level details were improved. I’ll be honest and say that beyond that I’d be hard pressed to describe any differences not necessarily because there aren’t any, but because I couldn’t pin them down in the limited time I had to test.
The good news is that I couldn’t hear any negative effects of using the mat. Apart from the improvement in low level details I mentioned previously, the TT15S1’s basic sonic signature was not adversely effected.
I must admit I was mildly surprised to discover that a turntable mat can have an affect on the sound, but thinking about it more it only makes sense. The platter (and anything on it) is in direct contact with the record, so it’s not unreasonable that a mat would affect the audio fidelity. Given the mild improvement in the mids, and bearing in mind the reasonable price, I’d say this is one accessory that is worth trying!
ABOUT MUSIC HALL:
Music Hall LLC was founded in April 1985. It is a company dedicated to manufacturing, importing and distributing well priced, top quality, high-end audio components. Its emphasis is almost exclusively 2-channel (stereo); a rarity in this day of iPods and multi-channel products. It has grown over the years to become one of the pre-eminent distribution and manufacturing companies in the industry. Music Hall manufactures its own range of turntables in the Czech Republic. These are produced in a factory that has been making turntables for over 50 years. All Music Hall turntables come fitted with arms, cartridges and dust covers. They consistently make the “Recommended Components” list in Stereophile Magazine. Our electronics are developed and designed in the US and manufactured to our strict specifications in Shenzhen, China. The range consists of integrated amps,CD players, receivers, phono amps and D/A converters.