I reviewed an earlier incarnation of Soundeck’s unique platter mat a few years ago, and I was so impressed it became one of my go-to platter mats. Having released a new and improved model, is the Soundeck still king?
On first glance, a turntable platter mat made from metal sounds like a terrible idea. After all, metal platters are notorious for resonance issues, calling on all manner of materials from rubber to felt (and even acrylic) to control their otherwise bell-like characteristics.
But this isn’t just any old metal; this is Sound Damped Steel.
In a nutshell, the Soundeck platter mat (model number PM295) is a sandwich of two plates of metal (steel and aluminum) bonded together with a polymer. When the metal plates receive vibrations, they work to stretch and contract the polymer, which transfers the energy into negligible amounts of heat.
For an example of how this works in practice, check out this demonstration video. The vibration reduction performance, I think you’ll agree, is pretty remarkable!
Controlling Stylus Playback Resonance
The Soundeck Platter Mat isn’t just about controlling unwanted resonance from external sources, such as your speakers. According to Soundeck, the Sound Damped Steel technology is also effective at controlling vibrations caused by the stylus tracking your records.
The theory is that as the stylus tracks a record, it forces vibrations back into the record, which, if not absorbed elsewhere, will end up being picked up by your cartridge and ultimately clouding the clarity of your sound.
In their own words, “Soundeck PM removes this noise so the system can process pure music without all the background mush, this results in cleaner bass, and instruments which were hidden are suddenly clear.”
New and Improved Soundeck PM295
The latest release of the Soundeck platter mat is thicker for extra dampening. Previous models measured between 2.2mm and 3mm thick; the new model measures a nice solid 4mm. With this in mind, it’s advisable to adjust the VTA of your tonearm for the best results.
Also new are the three musical notes cut into the outside edge, which Soundeck says are partly decorative but also aid in the power finishing process as they make the platter mats easier to hang.
Lastly, new Soundeck PM295s are machined rather than laser cut, which the company claims prevents any burning back of the polymer around the perimeter.
Does the Soundeck PM really work?
In my opinion, yes, – but I would stress this is an optimization of sound and not a revolutionary change.
Ultimately, anything that vibrates or causes resonance will affect the sound in a vinyl playback system. Personally, I would get your choice of cartridge dialed in first and then look to products like this to isolate it and squeeze out every last drop of performance.
I consider this the best platter mat on the market for my Technics turntable. I’ve tried several turntable platter mats over the years, including the Funk Firm Achromat. While I liked the Achromat, I found it somewhat susceptible to warping because of its construction material.
The other platter mats I like very much are the Hexmat series, which are nice on top of an acrylic, glass, or other solid platter surface, but simply don’t look very attractive placed on a metal platter.
One of these days, I’d love to try a vibration test shootout similar to the Sound Damped Steel demonstration to see how the Soundeck performs compared to, say, acrylic mats, a Hexmat, and an Achromat. I suspect the Soundeck PM would perform very well indeed!