SpotMat uses two concentric polar arrays of round cork pads glued to a heavy textured paper. Malcolm has chosen artists watercolor paper for this task. The cork pads are .75 inches in diameter and .07 inches thick. Twenty of them altogether. The inner circle consists of 8 equally spaced pads on a 5.04 inch diameter circle. The outer circle has 12 equally spaced pads on a 8.04 inch diameter circle. SpotMat puts lots of air under the record. This is very obvious when viewed close up at platter level while the record is playing. The idea is for minimum support contact between mat and record.
SpotMat does not employ any cork pads between the platter surface and the paper mat. Clearly, there is no intent for the paper to act as a conductive medium for resonant energy. At least not in the same way as Ringmat where specific area placement of the over and under cork rings set up tuned drumheads out of the paper substrate for resonant energy to make a path into. Malcolm did say that he tried using cork underneath but preferred the sound of SpotMat in the configuration we see here.
One visual distraction with the SpotMat in this application comes from the cast-in holes of the Thorens outer platter. The SpotMat leaves these three holes partially exposed. This to me seems unattractive.
Listening evaluation: SpotMat
Equipment in test:
A Thorens TD160 C with Shure V15VxMR cartridge. (with dynamic stabilizer deployed) is the test mule turntable for this review.
Note also that this particular table has been the recipient of numerous damping mods carried out in other areas of this website. Prior to this test, the table's basic state of tune has been re-evaluated with fine tuning applied to the suspension and tonearm alignment. Methods of tuning can be seen at this link.
The other mats Spotmat is compared to in this test:
Test Format: Play the same track using three different mats at the same volume setting and describe what's different.
Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, side 1 track 1, Kodachrome:
What's different...? What's different is the third mat I tried, Spotmat. There is an obvious increase in weight of the lower frequencies. At the same time, bass notes seem tight and well textured. Midrange details are more apparent. Cymbals shimmer and hang in the air where before they seemed less defined, muted. Other stick-on-wood percussion strokes are now more fully described and therefore more noticeable. Background silence is quieter. Less residual noise. Another positive observation in SpotMat's favor is the lack of any static while handling records. Fortunately, static doesn't seem to happen around cork. In this comparison, on this table, SpotMat is the clear and obvious winner.
Does this mean the other mats aren't good...? No, but the SpotMat sounds better to my ears. Perhaps twenty-eight years of age have hardened the Thorens rubber mat. There was more residual noise with this mat. If a new Thorens rubber mat could have been used for this comparison, perhaps a different conclusion could have been reached. The intent of the Thorens mat is apparently to damp bearing rumble before it reaches the record on the one side while decoupling the record on the other. Not entirely successful at either, I think.
Why did not the DIY None-Felt come closer in sonic performance to the SpotMat....? First off there was a quieter background apparent when comparing None-Felt to the Thorens rubber mat. A better damper. However what is physically different between SpotMat and None-Felt is the amount of air under the record. Not nearly as much air as with SpotMat. The DIY None-Felt mat will be given greater consideration on a page of it's own here at The Analog Dept. Link Here.
Malcolm can be reached via email at: [email protected]