Considering turntable mats or slipmats? Top 9 Mats reviewed

The search for the perfect turntable mat may require more work than finding the perfect turntable. For example, you have a wide array of materials to select for your mat, ranging from cork to felt. In addition, you must consider if you want a slip mat or a turntable mat. Turntable mats come in a variety of materials that will each affect the sound of your records differently, which makes your search for the ideal mat even more complicated. In such a situation, which is the best?

As always, the answer is, “it depends.” This post condenses what you need to know about turntable mats and slip mats as well as list the best turntable mats and slip mats for everyday use.

Why get a Turntable Mat?

Feature

The turntable mat is a critical interface between your vinyl records and the turntable you play them on. By using a mat will bring a positive difference to every aspect of your record’s music. Your music will become better integrated and far more natural. The bass performance will no longer be muddy. In fact, your record’s timing will improve alongside increased clarity in the midband.

When it comes to deciding on the ideal turntable mat for your music needs, you should opt for experimenting with different turntable mats to explore the sonic differences that each turntable mat produces.

Does your Mat meet the Big 3 Criteria?

A fantastic turntable mat has three functions worth considering:

  1. A turntable mat must decouple the record from vibrations entering it via the turntable. This includes bearing noise, transmitted motor noise through the drive system and cartridge feedback.
  2. Additionally, a turntable mat must absorb and transmit resonance out of the record itself. This is because a stylus vibrating in a record groove sets the vinyl resonating in a way that will feed back into the stylus if it is not highly controlled. If so, this will cause a blurring of the signal and overlay other parts to the point that they will not be heard. A good turntable mat can go a long way in eliminating these problems.
  3. Lastly, your turntable mat must transmit the drive to the record without elasticity or slip. The surface that the record sits on responds very slightly to the amount of drag on the record. A momentary elastic movement backwards is enough to slightly deaden the impact of a bass note drum strike. In a worst-case scenario, it will cause the record to slip backwards, in this case you will hear wow occurring.

Top 9 Mats for your Records

1. Pro-Ject Cork-it: Suitable for all turntables, affordable, effectively reduces dust and static

Cork-It Mat

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The Pro-Ject Cork-it mat is suitable for all turntables as it avoids static load and produces less noise. The cork mat is an excellent substitute for a felt mat. One of the benefits of using a cork mat is the damping of resonances from metal turntable platters as well as less noise. Cork mats are also cheaper and thus perfect if you have a budget to follow.

Common felt mats give a smooth contact between record and platter but this has the disadvantage with static. This means that felt mats often collect a lot of dust which can be then transferred to the record. Common felt mats typically do not perform well with metal platters as damping ability is very limited. Thick rubber mats can also be problematic as they overdamp the record and have an isolation effect which leaves the static on the record and hearable noise clicks.

With a cork mat, resonances are damped more effectively than felt, they keep dust away and they have also enough contact to avoid static. Additionally, the Pro-Ject Cork-it mat is thin as it is close to 1/8-inch. This is ideal as it does not change the position of the record over a felt or other than mat very much which keeps things where they should be. Certainly, the Pro-Ject Cork-it mat is a very cost-effective way to improve the sound and have less noise by static and dust. You can hear the difference!

What was good:

  • Suitable for all turntables
  • Affordable
  • Effectively reduces dust and static

What could have been improved:

  • Dynamic range is not as enhanced as promised
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2. Hudson Hi-Fi Swiss Leather Mat: Better playback surface, effectively dampens resonances and lowers noise and static, improves dynamic range

Hudson-Hi-Fi-Swiss-Leather-Turntable-Mat

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The Hudson Hi-Fi Swiss leather turntable mat is designed to enhance the sound of your turntable. It sits comfortably on a 12-inch platter, the mat offers a better playback surface than felt or cork alternatives. This mat provides an upgrade to standard felt mats and improves the sound of records by dampening resonance and lowering overall noise and static. Leather is an excellent option to upgrade sound quality as resonances, especially from metal turntables, are dampened more effectively than felt mats, and leather mats also keep dust away while avoiding static.

This premium precision crafted leather construction also improves dynamic range. However, you should note that the leather mat can only fit on turntables with a 12-inch platter. Fortunately, the leather mat is compatible with any turntable of this size, even popular brands like Rega, Music Hall, Pro-Ject, Audio-Technica, Crosley and Thorens. Overall, Hudson Hi-Fi leather mats provide a cost-effective way of improving sound while reducing noise, static and dust.

What was good:

  • Better playback surface than felt or cork alternatives
  • Effectively dampens resonances and lowers noise and static
  • Improves dynamic range

What could have been improved:

  • Only fits on turntables with a 12-inch platter
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3. Turntable Lab’s Cork Record Mat: Absorbs resonances and vibrations, tighter bass response, less slippage and better grip

Turntable Lab Record Mat

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The Cork Record Mat by Turntable Lab improves turntable sound quality with its dampening characteristics of cork and rubber. The mat is constructed of compressed cork and rubber which is a composite layer that absorbs resonances and vibrations. The Cork & Rubber mat is also an affordable, composite mat that is a pleasant alternative to a felt or leather mat. Turntable Lab has managed to combine the best characteristics of cork mats and rubber mats. It has more grip, less slippage as well as more accurate timing than standard felt mats.

The cork record mat is more static resistant than standard felt record mats and lessens vibrations. This cork record mat is thicker than standard cork mats and it works well with all turntables especially on metal platters. Unlike platter mats which hold the record firmly, slip mats are designed to let the record slip over the rotating platter for cueing and scratching and to allow a DJ to manipulate the record without damaging it.

However, this mat is not recommended for DJ use. If you plan on DJing, you need slip mats to cue and scratch, but if you are just listening, you should use a platter mat instead. In terms of sound quality, the cork and rubber turntable mat will provide overall sonic improvement. This means cleaner and sharper imaging, improved dynamic range and tighter bass response.

What was good:

  • Absorbs resonances and vibrations
  • Improved dynamic range
  • Tighter bass response
  • Less slippage and better grip

What could have been improved:

  • Not recommended for DJ use
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4. Deer Hide Turntable Mat: Resistant to static and dust, effective sound dampening, durable

Deer Hide

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The Premium Leather Deer Hide Turntable Mat is an innovation created by Jake’s Turntable Mats. Unlike most mats, this is made of deer hide which is marketed as very supple and soft. The material is resistant to static and dust and helps reduce vibrations which enhances the overall sound quality. Users praised the bass response as well as the additional sound dampening from the motor.

The mat is meticulously hand cut which creates a uniform and defect free mat. Additionally, the centre hole is cut slightly smaller which prevents any mat slippage. The manufacturer advises users to use the leather grain side up. This creates the best possible sound.

One issue with this mat is that it can be pricier than other leather mats. The use of deer hide is costly because it is twice as expensive per square foot than the leather used for some other cheaper turntable mats.

Nevertheless, as this mat is made from high-quality leather and suede, it is far more durable, designed for regular use as well as aesthetically pleasing. You also have the added convenience of this mat being compatible with all 12-inch platters. When you first use the premium leather deer hide turntable mat, you will immediately notice the significant difference in sound along with warmth and clarity that was previously lacking.

What was good:

  • Resistant to static and dust
  • Effective sound dampening
  • Compatible with all 12-inch platters
  • Durable

What could have been improved:

  • Pricier than other leather mats
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5. Music Hall MAT Decoupling Cork Mat: Improved stylus tracking, clear vocals and richer sound, eliminates unwanted vibrations

Music Hall

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The Music Hall MAT Decoupling Cork Turntable Platter Mat is a thin, lightweight cork construction that does not require a VTA adjustment. The mat is naturally non-static and non-adhesive which makes the mat perfectly safe for use on all platters and it will certainly protect your records. The cork mat also grips the record better than a felt mat which results in less record slippage and fewer timing errors.

One unique feature of this mat is the 12 isolation discs surrounding the outside of the mat and the single larger disc for the centre label. The discs lift and support the record while floating it above and decoupling it from the platter. This lowers the record vibration and reduces acoustic feedback. At the same time, stylus tracking is improved and record wear is reduced.

In terms of sound quality, instruments pop to life and crackle is reduced. Vocals are much clearer and more dramatic while the background is quieter. The soundstage is also wider and deeper while the mat leaves behind a rich, clear, dynamic sound. The mat’s cork construction is also the perfect material as it sucks up unwanted vibrations and boosts the energy of the music. Within your first use, you can immediately hear the difference.

What was good:

  • Improved stylus tracking
  • Clear vocals and richer sound
  • Eliminates unwanted vibrations
  • Less record slippage
  • Resistant to static and unwanted adhesion

What could have been improved:

  • Slightly too thin
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6. Hudson Hi-Fi OrangeLine Acrylic Mat: Tighter bass response and improved mid-range, exceptionally smooth surface, fresh modern look

OrangelIne

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The OrangeLine Acrylic Turntable Mat from Hudson Hi-Fi promises a significant improvement to your records’ sound quality. One of the mat’s promising features is its ability to absorb vibrational energy. This allows your stylus to make better contact with the grooves on your records and produce an accurate and clear sound. Hudson Hi-Fi’s Acrylic Mat provides a neutral ‘see-through’ sound quality with improved dynamics.

In terms of sound quality, you can expect a tighter bass response, improved mid-range and a less splashy sound. The mat also provides a fresh modern look and a reflecting orange edge which is aesthetically pleasing. In terms of convenience, this mat is suitable for all turntables with a 12-inch platter. The rigid mat is 3mm thick, so there is minimal adjustment to vertical tracking angle. The playing surface is exceptionally smooth and the label recess enables perfect record support as it helps ensure that the records stay flat on the mat. The flip side is as smooth as the top face, and is brilliant for setting arm bias or the anti-skate force.

You simply place the stylus on it and adjust until the arm sits in the same place and does not move toward the centre or the edge. This will not damage the stylus and is arguably the most accurate way of setting the bias on your tonearm. Users were also impressed by the protective removable film shipped with the slip mat as it helped prevent scratches.

What was good:

  • Absorbs unwanted vibrations
  • Tighter bass response and improved mid-range
  • Exceptionally smooth surface
  • Fresh modern look

What could have been improved:

  • Can be pricey
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7. Turntable Lab’s PH Slip mats: Suitable for both DJing and everyday listening, extra smooth surface, good protection and cushioning

PH Slipmat

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This is a high-quality slip mat that is suitable for both DJing and everyday listening. The is dye-sublimated printed with an extra-smooth surface. This extra-smooth surface offers even better performance as there is less friction for back spinning and with less dust coming off the mat. This mat is also very aesthetically pleasing.

In terms of visual effects, the grid pattern has a very cool op-art effect when the turntable platter spins. This mat is highly recommended if you enjoy a stunning array of colours. The medium weight felt mat offers good protection and cushioning for your beloved records, you need not worry about playing your favourite vinyl records.

In terms of sound quality, you can enjoy added quietness and increased needle stability. When it comes to improving sound, there is no consensus as users heavily debate over the mat’s ability to add to the low end. Sound quality aside, you will feel comfort from knowing that your records will be well-taken care of.

What was good:

  • Suitable for both DJing and everyday listening
  • Extra smooth surface
  • Good protection and cushioning
  • Increased needle stability

What could have been improved:

  • Improvement to sound quality is inconclusive
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8. Purest Audio’s ST-PT-89 Strobe Disc: Provides accurate adjustment, enables accurate cartridge alignment, durable

Scrobe Disc

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The ST-PT-89 acrylic turntable Strobe Disc from Purest Audio allows you to accurately adjust the speed of your turntable to 33-1/3, 45 and 78rpm as well as easily align your cartridge. You just need to place the disc on your platter, turn on your light and then adjust your turntable’s speed control until the pattern on the disc does not move. This disc is also designed for use in artificial light so that you can note when the disc’s pattern appears static. This means that the turntable’s speed is correct.

This disc is more than just for checking turntable speed as the flip side of Strobe provides a diagram for easy cartridge alignment. This diagram provides easy cartridge alignment. However, this product cannot be used as a general slip mat as it is made of rigid plastic.

Although you could place a record on it, it is not an appropriate slip mat. This is a sturdy plastic disc that will not provide cushion or vibration isolation which could hurt the sound quality of your records. Some users also remarked that they were unclear how to assemble the Strobe disc as there were no instructions available in the product. Nevertheless, the ST-PT-89 is an especially useful tool for cartridge alignment and you should consider looking into one.

What was good:

  • Provides accurate adjustment for your turntable’s speed
  • Enables accurate cartridge alignment

What could have been improved:

  • Not appropriate as a slip mat
  • Unclear instructions when it comes to assembly
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9. Pro-Ject Leather-It: Dampens resonance from metal turntables, fluid record rotation with minimal slip, reduces static and adhesion

Leather It

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The Leather-It Platter Mat from Pro-Ject is a leather construction that improves sound, offers special sound characteristics. The platter mat is designed to offer a better playback surface than other felt or cork alternatives. The Leather-It dampens resonance from metal turntables and improves sound quality as there is less noise. The mat improves performance by reducing vibration transfer to the playing surface, allowing your cartridge to deliver a more stable high-fidelity performance.

When it comes with the standard metal platters, there is a great deal of static when using cork and felt mats. In some cases, felt and cork mats would stick and lift off with the record when flipping sides. The high-friction but smooth surface also allows for fluid record rotation with minimal slip.

The leather platter mat can be used on any turntable and has the added benefit of keeping your records clean and dust-free. This platter mat will fit nicely over the centre spindle and will sit comfortably on a 12-inch platter. One drawback is that these leather platter mats are slightly more expensive. Nevertheless, this platter mat offers a cost-effective substitute for felt mats.

What was good:

  • Dampens resonance from metal turntables and improves sound quality
  • Fluid record rotation with minimal slip
  • Reduces static and adhesion

What could have been improved:

  • Leather material makes it slightly more expensive
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