RINGMAT BASE PLATTER MAT & RINGMAT SPACERS

 

RINGMAT SPACERS
Although originally conceived as a means by which the record’s cutting angle can be replicated on playback, the design of the Ringmat Spacers has evolved to provide massive improvements in analogue sound reproduction in their own right. This is because the Base Platter Mat and the other Spacers provide a much better interface between the low-mass Ringmat (whichever model) and the relatively high-mass platter.

The original concept of having the ability to fine-tune the stylus rake angle and obtain the correct VTA (however described – different people use different terminology) is still crucial in accurately reproducing sound from LP’s. A correctly angled stylus axis is essential for correct tracking of the groove walls.

Ringmat Spacers comprise:

  • A Base Platter Mat that has a special low resonance pattern cut out on the inside of the latex disc. The 0.75mm thick latex Base Platter Mat is to be used directly on the bare platter – any platter, provided it is flat (not concave and without ribs), including the common two-part platters that have an inner hub and outer platter, such as those used by Linn, Thorens, AR and many others. Ringmats used directly on top of a Base Platter Mat provide a much fuller sound, with excellent bass performance. It is not possible to provide this sort of performance by using a Ringmat on its own and it is not possible to construct a mat that achieves such a result other than in a two-part construction such as exists with the Ringmat Base Platter Mat and a Ringmat. The nature of the latex used in the Platter Mat is such that it adheres to the platter, preventing slippage. It also effectively dampens any ringing of the platter below. The low resonance pattern makes it far more effective than any other rubber-based mat.

The original version of the Ringmat Base Platter Mat is called a Ringmat Spacer Mat and this has a stud at the outer edge to enable the other Spacers (see below) to lock in and not move round whilst records are being played. Apart from the stud on the outer edge, the Ringmat Spacer mat and Base Platter Mat are identical. As with the Base Platter Mat, the Ringmat Spacer Mat is placed on the bare platter. Also, it is possible to add a stud to a Ringmat Base Platter Mat to convert it into a Ringmat Spacer Mat to use with the plastic Ringmat Spacers.

 

A range of coloured plastic Spacers, each a different thickness, that are placed on top of the Spacer Mat and which lock into it using the stud on the outer edge of the Spacer Mat. Using the Spacers in various combinations enables the user to adjust the height of the record above the platter in steps of 25 microns. Ringmat Spacers enable the stylus rake angle to be easily and accurately set for each side of an LP (the 2 sides of an LP are always different – see below) without having to adjust the height of the tonearm or the stylus pressure and without losing a reference point at which to return. A standard set of 8 Spacers, as supplied with the full Ringmat Support System, would comprise:


Top Spacers

2 Green

0.075mm think

1 Blue

0.100mm thick

2 Slate

0.125mm thick

 

Base Spacers

1 Clear

0.250mm think

2 Yellow

0.500mm thick

 

With any combination of Spacers, at least one base Spacer (Yellow or Clear) is placed on the Spacer Mat first. All the others are placed so that the thinnest is on top and the others are in descending order of thickness. It is very important that a Spacer is not placed on top of another that is thinner.

All Spacers, including the Base Platter Mat or Spacer Mat, have the proprietary anti-resonance cut-outs found in so many of the Ringmat and Statmat products.

 

PURPOSE & PERFORMANCE SUMMARY
Ringmat Spacers improve LP sound reproduction by overcoming the following engineering and alignment shortcomings inherent with all turntable reproduction systems, irrespective of price:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • LPs of different thickness. Differences in vinyl thickness have always existed, but the advent of an increasing number of 180g audiophile pressings makes the current problem far greater.

  • Different angles at which records are cut. This problem is every bit as prevalent as vinyl thickness and the effects can be just as great.

  • The adoption of platter diameters smaller than that that is ideal from an engineering aspect.

  • The unequal mass of a record and the platter, which needs to be graduated.

  • Unwanted resonances, which feed up through the turntable and are inherent in all platters. Untreated, these resonances will deflect stylus tracking and compress dynamics.

  • The "ringing" of some platter materials, which needs to be damped.

The sonic advantages are a much wider and deeper soundstage, fuller sound, greater and sharper dynamics and energy, improved tonal reproduction, deeper bass response, and the retrieval of far more detail. Above all, the way the timing of the music, and the setting of the music within the ambience of the venue, clicks into place.

It may be considered that a Spacer adjustment of 25microns (0.025mm) is too small to make much difference, but in a highly tuned system using a non-spherical stylus, such as that used by Ringmat for design and development purposes, as well as many other vinyl lovers, a difference of 25microns can immediately rob the sound of the true magic of the recording. In the right situation, the effect of the difference is not something that requires focus and attention – it just hits you hard between the eyes.

If the ability to adjust height is not critical (such as where the stylus tip is spherical), then the Spacers used with the MRA version of the Ringmat Support System should be considered. Whilst this version has only a Spacer Mat and two Spacers (1 Clear and 1 Slate) instead of the Spacer Mat and the standard eight Spacers of the full System, the range of adjustment provided enables many records to be played without any great difficulty and with excellent reproduction whilst retaining the advantages listed in 3 to 6 above and at a much lower cost. The MRA version does not include the booklet ‘How to Set Up and Fine Tune a Turntable’, which is then available separately.

USER TIPS
When seeking the correct Spacer height (i.e. choosing the right combination of Spacers), or stylus pressure even, such as when fine-tuning without Spacers, users may encounter what might be regarded as the correct height and alignment but which is nevertheless a false setting. As the height (or stylus pressure) changes, it can seem to be "right" every 375/400microns (0.375/0.400mm) in the manner of an octave, but only one such setting is really the correct one. A false setting usually has something about the sound that is not quite right, such as being a bit thin (too much height), ragged at the soundstage extremes (left and right) or closed in, or bland, non-involving and possibly over dynamic (height too low). In a good system, such false settings can still be beguiling and there can be the temptation to think any shortcomings that may seem to be there is a fault with the recording or pressing, whereas it really is just a matter of not accurately aligning the stylus within the groove. (Well, some recordings and pressings may be at fault!). The treasures awaiting discovery in those grooves will not be found without a full set of Ringmat Spacers, or a continually adjustable tonearm height regulator (often very expensive), or otherwise adjusting the stylus pressure for each record, or record side even - which method of adjustment would you prefer?

As just mentioned, one side of a record requires a different height to the other, by around 75microns (0.075mm). This appears to be due to the different polarity of the material in the LP and the effect that this has when stamping it out. Sometimes it is the ‘A’ side that needs the extra 75microns (a Green Spacer); sometimes it is the ‘B’ side - this uncertainty can arise even within a boxed set of records.

The material polarity of an LP can also directly affect the sound, where one side of the record will always sound better then the other. The adverse effects on the less good side of the record can be corrected to some extent using the LP Blue Statmat and Statcap in the manner described in the instructions, as well as increasing the height by some 75microns.

 

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