We spoke Chance Bulger, Pro-Spin CEO, about the company’s new cork turntable mat for vinyl LP record players. Bulger took time to explain how this new product works, and why it’s an essential item for anyone wanting to get the best possible sound out of their record collection.
@skopemag – In layman’s terms, how does a cork turntable mat help reduce pops when playing records?
Chance Bulger: First, the record sits on our mat, the cork keeps the LP from slipping around, which will happen with some cheaper materials like felt. The mat works to absorb the excess noise like static, feedback and pops. The thickness of the mat ensures sound dampening, which adds a slight bass boost that will make your records sound fuller.
@skopemag – How does cork help to repel static?
Bulger: Cork reduces sound and noise vibration by trapping it in its cell structure. Its air-pocketed cellular structure, the low water content and the lack of conductivity of its components allows it to effectively function as an insulator. This allows cork the capacity to prevent the transfer of electricity, especially static bursts.
@skopemag – Is there any particular style of music with which this mat works best?
Bulger: You will notice a tighter bass response and additional clarity in the midrange and top end of songs. Modern rock albums, along with albums that rely on heavy bass like hip-hop seem to have the largest benefit.
@skopemag – Why is cork material the best composition for these mats?
Bulger: Less oils, more grip, smooth top and as mentioned before, the cork reduces sound and noise vibration by trapping it in its cell structure.
@skopemag – What’s the story behind the discovery of cork for turntable mats?
Bulger: For us, we noticed that there were other cork mats on the market, but none of them actually performed to what they could. We made adjustments to the cuts, thickness and used stronger, more dense cork material mix to make it the best on the market. It has held the bestseller badge on Amazon for a while now, so the customers seem to agree.
@skopemag – Are these mats only good for people that already have high quality turntables, or will they improve even budget models? If yes, how?
Bulger: The most affordable way to boost the sound of your machine is through upgrading your plater mat. Most modern machines come with a cheap felt or cloth mat that has huge static vibration and slipping, some are even so jagged that they scratch the record. You can turn a cheaper model turntable into a much higher quality sounding machine with a small investment in a new slipmat.
@skopemag – Do you have personal experience with these mats? If so, which music have you found sounds best?
Bulger: I have tried many of these mats. It somewhat depends on what you are looking for if you are an extreme audiophile. Each material (leather, plastic, felt, cork) has its benefits with different pitches, stability and noise reduction. Though I might be biased, I believe our Pro – Spin Cork mat is the best sounding. It has the best sound dampening and bass boost that I have heard.
@skopemag – Won’t cork eventually breakup over time? How long can a consumer expect this mat to last?
Bulger: We have been commercially selling this mat for over two and a half years and have heard no complaints about this. I have personally been using mine for over 4 years since we started beta testing it, and it is still in proper shape. We want to give the customer a great, long term solution for their LP sound improvement. If anybody does have any issues with this, please contact our support team, and we will be happy to send a replacement.
@skopemag – Won’t a cork mat upset the balance and calibration of the turntable needle? If not, why not?
Bulger: The answer can be yes and no. Our cork mat sits at 3mm in height so if your mat is of that size, there won’t need to be a difference in needle adjustment. Most of the time, the mat is not too much thicker than the original stock mat that you would have to worry about this. If you notice some strain on the needle, I suggest looking your turntable model up online to see how to adjust the needle arm to make sure it sits properly. Some newer machines also have an automatic adjustment.
@skopemag – Have there been other mat materials tried in the past?
Bulger: Yes, we currently have another offering of a PU leather turntable mat. At 1.8mm in thickness, this is a good option for those that need a smaller mat to fit their setup. We chose to make the mat out of a plastic leather because there is less oils, less likely to dry up and a much cheaper price to the customer. It also looks classy on your record player setup. You can check that out here:
CEO, Pro – Spin
Buy – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07912DZK7