MMM (Malachi’s Mat Mishegas) Felt Mat File Identities Revealed

The file identities of "MMM"are as follows:

“File 1” is Audio-Technica’s stock mat ($20).

“File 2” is Pro-Ject’s felt mat, priced at $18. To me, of the three tested, this produced the most natural sound (and I know that many of you agree). While it’s not nearly as good as Stein Music’s $599 The Perfect Interface Carbon Signature mat, it holds its own for the affordable price tag.

“File 3” is Rega’s wool mat. Priced at $30 for black ($35 for other colors), this one, in my opinion, sounds absolutely horrible. Compared to Pro-Ject’s mat, it’s hard, artificial, and bright. If you have a Rega turntable like I do, an easy, affordable, and significant upgrade would be to change your mat!

That’s it for today. Thanks to everybody who has shown their preference in the comments section!

Anton D's picture

Was VTA adjusted to compensate for the varying thicknesses of the mats?

If not, for which mat was the original VTA set for?

Michael Fremer's picture
VTA/SRA differences between those mats would be negligible to non-existent.
Anton D's picture

Our local club can be so nerdy that we have had meetings comparing ‘arm height’ comparisons with one guy’s VPI table and arm that has 1/1000 inch increments on its arm height adjuster. Then, we argue about the differences! (Then the wine kicks in...:-D)

He even has a master book he keeps for the proper ‘arm height’/VTA for different records or different labels.

Now, this leaves me new ponderings for how nerdy to go!

Cheers! Thanks for the reply.

AnalogJ's picture

While the differences between mats may be negligible, differences between 200gm and 100gm LPs can be significant, particularly since initial cutting angles can differ as well. Raising or lowering the tracking angle as little as 1/8" can be sonically subtle but significant. More than that and the changes aren't subtle.

I don't tend to do a whole lot of changing myself, but if I have a particularly thick or thin record, and the record sounds too dull or too bright, I'll fiddle with the VTA and it often helps.

Michael Fremer's picture
To change SRA by 1 degree requires the arm post to be moved 4mm. That's a great deal! I really don't think mat thickness or even 100g to 200g record is changing SRA by anything close to 1 degree. So I think if you start at certified 92 or 93 degrees (adding a degree for "dynamic SRA" that changes due to stylus drag), you really aren't going to hear that difference due to SRA. I'm sticking with that assessment though of course others may differ. It's true that cutting lathe cutter head styi SRAs vary from 91 to 94 degrees, but if you read the "More than one VTA" piece downloadable on this site and look at the IM distortion measurements relative to SRA, you'll see that these tiny SRA shifts really don't profoundly affect IM distortion, which is what we hear when SRA is "off".
AnalogJ's picture

The proof of the pudding is in the actual tasting, as the saying goes, right? When VTA is too low, perceived air is lacking and bass gets sluggish. If it's too high, bass gets thin and the top end too bright. It's quite audible, and it's repeatable. There's a sweet spot in-between the two. I wouldn't call it intermodulation distortion, would you? And certain records, at the extremes, are worth adjusting for.

volvic's picture

Good morning, will the tonearm results be announced anytime soon, or did I miss it?

Michael Fremer's picture
Will be posted later today, Sunday October 14th