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Les Adams
10-29-2007, 07:38 AM
When the salesman in my regular store suggested that I should try a Ringmat 330 MKII XLR on my Garrard 401 I was, to say the least, sceptical. In fact it was only because of his offer to let me take one home and try it on a sale or return basis that I entertained the idea. After all, what possible difference could a piece of paper with a few rings of cork on it make? I normally use the original rubber Garrard mat and a clamp. I have previously tried a felt mat but it made no appreciable difference.

So, with all my predjudices and the thought that I would NEVER pay 50 for a piece of paper, it set off home to experiment, convinced that I would be retuning it to the shop the next day with the money still in the bank!

Armed with a handfull of familar vinyl, I sat and listened intensely, first without the Ringmat,then with it. To be honest I really didn't want it to work, but the damn thing actually does make a difference..and not just a small one! I didn't even have to listen that hard,it was just an obvious improvement that was apparent straight away. I could not believe my ears, litterally. So I did the tests again. I even gota friend round to listen and to test me blind by alternating mats without me looking and I made notes. We did 20 comparisons in all and I got it right 18 times out of 20! This was enough to convince me that I had to have one.

The bass is deeper and more defined as is midange detail and clarity. Soundstage is also more focussed.

The trouble is, now that I have the mat itself, I am wondering how much difference the rest of the "Ringmat system" would make. They do "spacers" and all kinds of things... I could end up paying almost 200 for bits of plastic & paper!

So help me out here guys. Does anybody here have the whole shooting match and how much difference do the extra bits make over the standard 330 mat?

Bernd
10-29-2007, 07:44 AM
.....the Anniversary Ringmat. Used it on all my previous TTs, but feel no need on my present one.
I found the same as you regarding improvements, and I know that JM also uses one. I also believe that the less damped TT designs benefit more than the big heavy weights.
Have never tried the spacers etc. as I don't think there is enough evidence. But why don't you just try'em out and report back here.
Have fun.

Peace

:16:

Les Adams
10-29-2007, 08:53 AM
.....But why don't you just try'em out and report back here.
Have fun.

Peace

:16:


A good suggestion and one that I will put to my dealer! I would still like to hear from someone who has tried them. I am wondering if my Garrard / SME / Shure V15Vxmr warrants the extra layout, but then I didn't think the 330 XLR was going to make a difference! I guess the only way to find out is as you say to try it.

My goodness, I will be experimenting with porcelaine speaker cable supports next! Somebody stop me!

Bernd
10-29-2007, 09:05 AM
My goodness, I will be experimenting with porcelaine speaker cable supports next! Somebody stop me!

That could happen. It is indeed a slippery slope and can creep up on you. But fear not, it does not hurt.

Peace

:16:

bobsticks
10-29-2007, 10:04 AM
When I'm placing chinaware teacups under my ICs does it matter what grade of kaolin and petuntse is used in the cup? Is a thicker glaze of porcelain desirable?

hehehehehe


Seriously, Les, congrats on finding a solution that made a difference. I believe that every environment will be conducive to different tweaks and always like hearing success stories...I just couldn't help myself. :biggrin5:

Les Adams
10-29-2007, 12:50 PM
When I'm placing chinaware teacups under my ICs does it matter what grade of kaolin and petuntse is used in the cup? Is a thicker glaze of porcelain desirable?

hehehehehe


Seriously, Les, congrats on finding a solution that made a difference. I believe that every environment will be conducive to different tweaks and always like hearing success stories...I just couldn't help myself. :biggrin5:

Well Bob, I recon a person knows when they are becoming a true "audiophile" when friends and family just don't understand and take the mickey!

My closest pal, who likes to have the bass and treble controls turned almost full up on his home system because he likes it that way (and he has a fairly decent setup with some B&W floorstanders...AND a SUBWOOFER!) really laughed when he heard I paid 50 for the Ringmat! ...and that is a guy who just bought a Ferrari for 32,000 off Ebay!!! Who's mad?!!

Now, I wonder what type of chinaware that tea service was I got as a wedding gift all those years ago?.......... to be continued! ...............

JohnMichael
10-29-2007, 02:00 PM
Les, Bernd is correct, I to love the Ringmat mat. I use mine on a modified Rega Planar 2. It really tightens up the bass and focusss the sound as you have found. I have not tried anything else in the line.

Bobsticks I use my great grandmothers Haviland Limoge cups from France but I do not know their composition. I just know they sound better than my other dishes which are stoneware.

bobsticks
10-29-2007, 02:18 PM
JM, you're too much. I love it.

Word on the street is that the Haviland Limoge is a great choice, far better than the more modern Huali stuff coming out of the Fengyi Industrial District. Frankly, I've found that if you can get your hands on any of the Jeanette Glass CO. product circa 1930-39 they have the best electromagnetic dampening properties...they'll tame that static off the carpet with a brightly detailed pattern to boot.

Hey Les that's potentially a good deal for your buddy if everything pans out. You never know with the bay. If yer boy ever comes across one of those Lambo American series for a good price (and on US soil) give me a holla. Remember those things, the precursor to the Hummer by about ten years? Big-ass ugly thing with a wet bar and a gun turret and about 8 miles to the gallon. Yeah, that'd be fun for a summer. Seriously though.

Les Adams
10-29-2007, 03:40 PM
JM, you're too much. I love it.

Hey Les that's potentially a good deal for your buddy if everything pans out. You never know with the bay. If yer boy ever comes across one of those Lambo American series for a good price (and on US soil) give me a holla. Remember those things, the precursor to the Hummer by about ten years? Big-ass ugly thing with a wet bar and a gun turret and about 8 miles to the gallon. Yeah, that'd be fun for a summer. Seriously though.

Hi JM, we are in agreement on the Ringmat then. I just spent all evening listening to vinyl and I am hearing things in the mix that I haven't heard before and others with far greater clarity. Listening to a Dianne Schuur album right now..that piano never sounded so real..I can hear the hammers hitting the strings!

Bob, Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Ebay and I have bought loads of good stuff from hoover bags to hi-fi. I got my Arcam Alpha 8SE for 220 and it is like new. I buy most of my music there too, I listen to the albums on Napster, then look for them on Ebay. My pal's Ferrari is very, very nice and I am sure it is fine,I just think I would want some kind of warranty from a dealer if I bought one.

I don't know the Lambo you refer to but it sounds like a mean machine, I have a BMW 2.8 Z3 Roadster 2-seater convertible, I call it my mid life chrisis car! Only trouble is it is so hard to get a good sound system in it. I had an ICE specialist fit a Kenwood head unit with CD/mp3 and replaced all the speakers with American Audio ones in the cabin, behind the seats and in the footwells - and the boot (what there is of it) is now full with amps and a JL sub, Trouble is it all sounds a bit "boom and tiz". Better than the standard system which was pretty awful, but just can't get a good mid sound. Maybe some bone china placed in strategic places might help? Whadda ya think guys?

Les Adams
10-29-2007, 05:15 PM
3034

My 401 complete with Ringmat !

JohnMichael
10-30-2007, 12:09 PM
3034

My 401 complete with Ringmat !



Looks very nice. I have never had the chance to hear a Garrard 401 but I know they have quite a following. The only idler driven table I have heard was a Dual many years ago and not in the class of your Garrard. Nice tonearm.


Oh Bobsticks I am going to try my Heisey glassware cups. Made right here in the old home town many years ago. They might bring the soundstage a little closer.

jrhymeammo
10-30-2007, 07:06 PM
Hey Les,

Congrats on your succesful experiment.

One questions though, did you adjust your VTA with a new mat? Also the other mats you are talking about, do they have the same thickness as your RingMat?

I'm sure that you are aware of the effects of different VTA, but I could tell from your above posts whether the improvement you hear was just based on the thickness of your new mat.

Whatever the case, it's always nice to hear someone is happily spinning wax.

Regards,

Les Adams
10-31-2007, 12:04 AM
Hi JM and jrhymeammo.

JM:

I am very happy with the Garrard and the SME/V15Vxmr compliment each other very well. I just wish the Garrard wasn't BROWN! There certainly seems to be a following for these decks, I picked mine up mounted in a very dogy old 60's style plywood plinth about 4 years ago in the second hand corner of my local hi-fi store. I paid 120 for it complete with a mk1 SME 3009. I sold the arm on Ebay (for 160!) and replaced it with the 3009S2imp which I already had on a Thorens TD125 I owned from new. The plinth was custom built by a chap in the UK who makes them by hand and sells them on Ebay, it works very well.

jrhymeammo:

Yes the VTA was adjusted, but not when doing the fast A/B comparisons. The person swapping mats was not somebody I would trust to do that.

We did it like this. First we made fast A/B comparisons without VTA adjustment, it was set to the correct height for the Garrard mat. Then I set it for the Ringmat and repeated the tests. In both settings, the Ringmat sounded better, although when the VTA was adjusted correctly for the Ringmat, the difference was more apparent. The difference in thickness between the two mats is slight but enough to require adjustment of VTA.

Now that it is correctly set for the Ringmat I have done several hours of listening to familiar recordings and I am hearing a greater degree of clarity and space in them and the bass is deeper and more defined than before.

On the subject of VTA, is there a more accurate way of setting it rather than by sight alone? At the moment, I turn the turntable round so that the arm is at the front and adjust the VTA so that the arm tube looks parallel to the record surface when playing.

Also, is it ever worth trying different settings or is it always best to get it perfectly level?

JohnMichael
10-31-2007, 07:07 AM
Hey Les,

Congrats on your succesful experiment.

One questions though, did you adjust your VTA with a new mat? Also the other mats you are talking about, do they have the same thickness as your RingMat?

I'm sure that you are aware of the effects of different VTA, but I could tell from your above posts whether the improvement you hear was just based on the thickness of your new mat.

Whatever the case, it's always nice to hear someone is happily spinning wax.

Regards,



JRA since you did not ask I thought I would tell you. The Ringmat is the same thickness as the felt mat on my Rega. No VTA adjustment needed.

Bernd
10-31-2007, 07:28 AM
Hi JM and jrhymeammo.

On the subject of VTA, is there a more accurate way of setting it rather than by sight alone? At the moment, I turn the turntable round so that the arm is at the front and adjust the VTA so that the arm tube looks parallel to the record surface when playing.

Also, is it ever worth trying different settings or is it always best to get it perfectly level?

With a new cartridge I will start off level and check after about 100 or so hours. Very often you will find that the suspension has become less stiff and VTA needs to be re-dialled in.
I also found that most of the cartridges I have used prefer to be slightly tail down. But that could be just how I like the music to be presented.
As a rule of thumb. Tail down - less harsh a little warmer. Tail up the opposite. But thats not all, as the raking angle should also be considered,ie at what angle was the record cut, and does that correspond with how your stylus sits in the groove. A lot of info can be lost if not set correctly.Some people only use this and leave VTA alone. These two are not the same. In the end I level my tonearm and dial in the cartidge after it is run in by ear. And without fail it ends up at tail down when checked.

Peace

:16:

jrhymeammo
10-31-2007, 07:57 PM
JRA since you did not ask I thought I would tell you. The Ringmat is the same thickness as the felt mat on my Rega. No VTA adjustment needed.


BUHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!
You crack me up JM.

Les,

As for this so called perfect VTA, it just can't be achieved due to numours issues, such as LP thickness, and non-standarized cutting angles of LP.

If anything, you should just trust your ears and hear what sounds the best to you. If you wanna get crazy, I guess you should find a VTA that sounds best to you with a batch of your LP with medium thickness.
Then get a mat that is 1mm thicker than your current mat for your thins(dynaflex and such), and a 1mm thinner mat for your 180 and 200g wax.

As Bernd mentioned, you should adjust to the age of your cantilever. If it's loosend up, then bring your tail down just a smedge.

With analog setup, you can never get it 100% right. But as you know, it sounds pretty damn sweet when you get it close enough.

Regards,

Les Adams
11-01-2007, 12:37 AM
Thank you guys for your help and suggetions. It seems then that VTA is a bit subjective and there are no absolute rules, so I will play around a bit and use my ears. I have definitely learned some stuff from you guys. I admit that till now I had only considered VTA as something that might affect record and stylus wear and / or distortion due to mis-tracking. I suppose fundamentaly this is true, but I never considered it as a way to tune the system or the effect it has on tonal balance.

I think my next experiment is going to be with the room acoustics . It is a very "hard" room at the moment with two leather sofa's, a fairly thin pile carpet and rug being the only sound deadening items. There are definitely some reflections - if I clap my hands when the room is silent, I can hear a "twang" coming back. Some tact needed here though... I have to convince my girlfriend that a tapestry on the rear wall would look lovely... and maybe some more cushions... just in case we invite some guests round!

I really feel as though I am getting somewhere with this system now, it constantly makes me smile when I listen to it and it is giving me such great enjoyment. I play familiar recordings and hear new things within them, even if it is only a bell sound I hadn't noticed before, or to hear that there are THREE backing vocalists not TWO doing those harmonies!

I love this hobby!