Sonic Bliss Audiophile Turntable Mat
I was intrigued by the listing, and though there are many mats out there, most DJ slip types, this one looked interesting. Its technological hook seemed to be a crochet-like pattern that exposed at least as much air between the LP and platter as rubber, an integral part of the design of the RingMat I have used for close to 20 years. By providing this space, vinyl/stylus resonances and platter/motor noise are dissipated in the air, while the record is firmly supported.
I contacted designer/manufacturer Kevin Yoder for some background, and received this email in return: “Thanks for your kind words on the mat! I have been a diehard music and audio junkie since I was 14 years old, and at 42 now I am having more fun than ever at this hobby. I have a great passion for vinyl and spend a lot of time restoring, upgrading, and building custom turntables and vintage electronics!”
“I have spent countless hours with custom tweaks with turntables and speakers, and have found many very good ones. I really enjoy taking an average t-t and making it great!! About a year ago I purchased a mat very similar to this one for a crazy price, and decided to try different materials and see what I could come up with for my own use. I have a good friend that is a machinist and [he] made me the dies for cutting mats. There are many versions of this material that look the same, but this one’s sonics are far superior, and drive the stylus in the groove very well!”
“I gave a few to audiophile friends and to the owner and employees of my favorite high end audio store, and they all use them on their personal tables A few people told me to sell them on eBay, and so I listed a few and waited for the responses, and they were all good! To date I have sold around 100 of them in the last 5 months with great results!”
“The tables I tested them on were a Thorens TD-316 with an Infinity Black Widow arm, Luxman PD-277, Microseiki BL-51, Rega Planar 2, Systemdeck with Linn Basic Plus arm, modified Technics SL-2000, Dual CS-505-2, and a CS-5000. These are a a few tables from my personal collection of 76 tables!”
Kevin sounds like an extreme collector to me, and even if he’s not quite a pHD in mechanical and materials engineering, but there’s no denying that this mat works as claimed. We cannot quell the tinkerer/inventor even in today’s society, the Sonic Bliss living up to its name on my Heybrook TT2/SAEC 407/23 table, and a little more practical and attractive than the RingMat it replaced. The latter seemed to always come off with the LP in drier seasons, while this one, if you don’t grab the mat’s edge, stays put. It does seem to have anti-static properties.
It also exhibits the same characteristics of purer sound, lower noise, and a neutrality that really lets the resolution and musicality of vinyl shine. Its thickness seems identical to most mats, including its predecessor in my system. And it won’t dry our like the RingMat, which has a tendency to shed its rings when the glue dries out completely. I’ve kept a glue stick handy to repair mine over the years.
The Sonic Bliss is also quite attractive, especially with silver or coloured platters, letting these attributes show through the mat. According to the eBay listing, it’s “available in 1/16″ thick in 11.5′’DIA and 11.75DIA, [and] also available in 11″DIA for Music Hall, Dual, Project and others with 11″ platter”.
At $14.95, it’s an utter steal! We used to sell the RingMat for $79.95, a very fair price for a British import, and then it was taken over by a Canadian distributor, who immediately doubled the price. The Sonic Bliss is better made, simpler and more elegant in design/construction, more durable, and vastly better looking. My advice is, buy one before the price goes up. Bob Oxley now has a Sonic Bliss on his Kenwood, and initial reports are as glowing as mine. He will report in presently.
High End Disc Stabilizer
HRS Analog Disk Record Clamp
Both of these disc clamps are beautifully made of machined aluminum, the Canadian HEDS one resplendent silver, the HRS a sleek polished black, with rubber base. Both fit snugly over the spindle, each having a rubber contact surface inside. The former weighs .8 lb, while the latter is a little less massive at .6 lb.
Their purpose is to add rotational mass to the playing system, while also vertically damping and better coupling the record to the mat or platter. These are best used with fixed-suspension turntables rather than suspended ones like my Heybrook, since leveling, and possibly speed, will be affected by the lowering of the platter. Belt-drive is also a factor to consider. As well, some mats will not be especially disc-stabilizer friendly.
The HRS Analog Disk “is a highly innovative design…manufactured from a proprietary polymer and billet-machined black anodized aircraft aluminum bonded together using a precision transfer mold with less than one thousandth of an inch tolerance for perfect alignment and balance.”
I used both on the TT2 with good effect, though I felt them unnecessary with the Sonic Bliss mat. They did work as advertised, adding mass and smoothing rotation, but also slowed speed slightly, this expected on some belt drives. This latter effect will depend on such characteristics as motor torque, whether there’s servo speed control, and other possible factors. And have you wondered until now what happens to all those de-commissioned 747 s? Part of one of them could end up on your turntable. But, then, maybe they use NEW aluminum blocks!
Prime candidates for either of these products’ use are budget turntables without suspension, or direct drive types, especially those with lighter platters. Names that come to mind are Rega and Pro-Ject, with dozens of others also candidates. You will hopefully now know if your turntable is in the running.
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