How to Get Better Sound with a Turntable Mat
Posted at 9:39 AM • August 26 2021 • Ryan Popoff
There’s an undeniable magic to playing music on vinyl. Record players are an old technology that just won’t quit. In fact, music lovers of every generation find themselves drawn to vinyl.
While digital music technologies involve endless editing and file compression, vinyl brings a pure and authentic sound. There’s a warmth and a truth to the mellow tones put forth by a spinning record.
The rituals involved in playing vinyl—flipping through records in the music shop, lowering the needle, flipping the record—certainly play a part too.
If you own a record player, you’ve probably allowed yourself to become lost in the magic. If so, you’ve no doubt explored the tips and tools that will help your machine produce its best possible sound quality.
To that end, turntable mats, also known as platter mats, are key accessories.
Love it! Very high-quality leather with a tight grain, so the record sits flat on the mat. Dampens vibrations and couples the record to the platter.
- Faisal A., Verified Buyer
Platter mats can be made from several types of material. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of choosing a leather turntable mat by Popov Leather.
Let’s have a look at how turntable mats work, and how a leather mat helps to elevate your vinyl music experience.
Table of Contents
How Do Turntable Mats Work?
You probably already know all this, so we’ll keep our record player anatomy lesson brief. Let’s just quickly review what the platter is so that we can then discuss platter mats.
The part of a record player that the record is placed onto is called the platter. This platform is also referred to as the turntable, but that term can also be used to refer to the larger system at work. The platter rotates, with the record atop it, allowing the needle to trace the record’s grooves and transmit the music.
Platters can be made from a variety of materials. These include acrylic, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), aluminum, glass, plastic, or steel.
Each platter material has its own aesthetic and sonic characteristics. Some materials aren’t designed to make direct contact with the record. Others can safely touch the vinyl but still benefit from a layer of material between the two surfaces.
That brings us to turntable platter mats, also just called turntable mats or platter mats. These simple discs are placed on top of the platter. Records are then laid onto the mat, rather than directly onto the platter.
Finding Your Desired Sound
A spinning record creates sound in the form of vibrations. Those are converted into electric signals. The signals are transmitted and amplified.
The contact between the needle and the record sets in motion the movement of music from the record’s grooves, to the speakers, to your ears.
It’s a very direct process that plays out right in front of our eyes. Unlike the unfathomable technological workings behind digital music.
To avoid getting more and more technical, let’s just say this: for the record to sound nice, you need a successful connection between the needle and the record.
Adding a mat on the platter aids this connection.
Platter mats form a contact point between the record and the platter to improve sound quality. They establish a buffer between the record and the mechanized activity occurring under the platter.
Without this buffer, the sound transmitted through the system can pick up sound and vibration from the motor and the friction of moving parts.
Thus, establishing this in-between layer helps to isolate the sound of the record itself. Your music comes through more clearly. This contributes to the pleasant, warmer sound that vinyl listeners look for.
Improving your record player’s sound is the top objective. But, here are a few more secondary benefits provided by turntable mats:
- Prevent slippage of the needle on the record by providing grip
- Contribute to the aesthetics of your sound system
- Provide a surface that’s easy to remove and clean while keeping the underlying platter area clean
The most common materials for platter mats are felt, rubber, acrylic, cork, carbon fiber… and, of course, leather.
Leather Turntable Platter Mats and Sound Quality
Choosing a preferred platter mat material comes down to personal taste. The differences in sound quality are subtle… of course, if you weren’t a sucker for subtle sound quality differences, you wouldn’t be a vinyl enthusiast in the first place.
So, what’s special about a leather mat? More so than other mat materials, leather contributes to bass tones. You’ll enjoy a deeper, richer sound from the broadened bass, with less residual noise.
Leather doesn’t build up static charges. Therefore, a leather platter mat reduces the clicks and pops that sometimes get in the way of a vinyl listening experience.
Really like the mat. Very well made. Looks great and fits perfectly. Very obvious decrease in static cling.
- Anonymous, Verified Buyer
Unlike with rubber and cork, dust and lint don’t stick to leather. It’s an easy-to-clean surface. Leather is also non-slip and non-scratch, providing a firm but gentle surface for your records. The record will be held firmly, but the vinyl and leather won’t stick together.
Leather and Vinyl: Perfect Together
And finally, some of us just love leather. There’s a rugged elegance carried in the look and feel of this timeless material.
Leather and vinyl go together like Simon and Garfunkel. Or Hall and Oates. Or whoever you kids are listening to these days.
I purchased this turntable mat for my eighteen-year-old nephew for his birthday. He is a vinyl lover and I thought this would be an unexpected gift for him. He says his vinyl sounded great using it and that it is "really cool." Seriously -- this is high praise, indeed, Popov! Usually I only get affectionate grunts ;) Craftsmanship was amazing as always -- it's a beautiful round of leather. Another great product!
- Rebecca D., Verified Buyer
The distinguished character of leather fits right in with the stylish, vintage atmosphere evoked in the world of vinyl. The unassuming earth tones of leather aren’t loud or showy. They’re smooth and cool, like the music that you play.
If you opt for leather, know that not all leather is equal.
At Popov Leather, all of our goods are crafted from USA Horween full grain leather. Now, let’s take a closer look at this exquisite material.
Choosing a Horween Leather Platter Mat
Popov Leather sources from the Horween Leather Company. Our leather is full grain. That means that it’s never been sanded or buffed to remove imperfections. Instead, the leather retains its natural character as well as its durability and strength.
Every item that comes from our workshop, including our turntable mats, is handcrafted. We sew by hand because this careful process creates a beautiful look. It also weaves superior strength and durability into each product—mass production techniques can’t do this.
Here are the complete product details for our leather platter mats:
Popov Leather Platter Mat: Product Details
USA Horween full grain leather
Black, English Tan, Heritage Brown, Natural
If you’re a vinyl lover who also appreciates the look and feel of leather, then a Popov Leather platter mat will provide the perfect finishing touch for your vinyl home sound system.
True vinyl warmth. I finally had a chance to listen to some albums riding on this turntable mat and it seems like I’m getting a warmer tone than before! Looks and sounds absolutely gorgeous and fits like a glove. Another great product from Popov Leather!
- Cody M., Verified Buyer