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Audio Solutions Question of the Week: Can I Use a Different Platter Mat on My Turntable?

Question: Can I use a different platter mat on my turntable?

Answer: The majority of Audio-Technica turntables come with a platter mat. Its purpose is to soak up any unwanted vibrations that may affect the sound quality and potentially cause distortion. DJs have the additional requirement that the platter continue spinning as they hold the record in place to start a mix or spin it backwards to find the correct starting point. So, DJs typically use felt mats, as other materials won’t allow the platter to move freely beneath the record.

For general use there are mats available made from a variety of materials, including felt, cork, rubber, leather, and acrylic, and they affect the sound in different ways. Which mat you choose depends on personal preference, as vinyl enthusiasts have different opinions about what sounds best on their system. You may need to try a few before you find your preferred sound.

The felt mat that comes with Audio-Technica turntables has a thickness of 2.5 mm. The rubber mat that comes with the AT-LPW models is 3 mm, the AT-LP3’s rubber mat is 4.5 mm, and the AT-LP5X’s is 5 mm. They are manufactured to these specific thicknesses to keep the tonearm parallel to the vinyl when a record is playing, although there will be acceptable variance depending on the weight and thickness of the vinyl.

If you want to change your platter mat, it is advisable to source one that is the same thickness as your original mat, unless your tonearm has a vertical tracking adjustment (VTA) like that on the AT-LP140XP. If your turntable has VTA you can choose a mat of any thickness within the tolerance of the VTA. If you switch between mats of different thicknesses, make sure that you adjust the height of the tonearm so it remains parallel to the vinyl during playback. This will ensure that the stylus sits in the groove at the correct angle.

If you have any further questions about platter mats, please contact the Audio Solutions Department.