Collaro Mat Description and philosophy for reviewers
Thanks for taking the time to review the Collaro Audio Precision Cloth Mat. These are individually hand made in England* using a specially produced woven and treated cloth made with pure new wool. The cloth resembles a traditional felt, but unlike felt, which is compressed fibres, the Collaro incorporates a weave for stability and better circularity. In addition, it is woven to a uniform thickness and density.
The mats were developed initially for the Linn LP12 turntable. We observed that the original Linn mat was variable in thickness, density, flexibility, roundness and uniformity from one sample to the next. We also discovered that the sides of the Linn mat varied in texture, and produced a different result when used one or the other way up. For a turntable that could cost many thousands of pounds, we felt that was unacceptable, so we engineered the randomness out of our product, whilst retaining the same basic material, wool.
Wool is a natural fibre that is a superb sound insulator. It works because the fibres possess microscopic barbs, which when rubbed against one another convert mechanical energy (vibration perceived as noise) into heat via friction. We would guess that in the early days of Linn production the hard rubber mat which was provided as a branded primary product sounded demonstrably worse than the secondary felt mat which was included in case you wanted to use your LP12 as a broadcast deck – which of course nobody did. The black felt not only worked better, it gave the deck an extra touch of style, so Linn abandoned the rubber version.
A chapter in the Rega book “A Vibration Measuring Machine” outlines Roy Gandy's ideal mat. He states that 'The chosen material must be neutral and 'dead', supporting the disc adequately across as much of the surface as possible... the disc must be supported by a material that deforms with a slow memory that avoids any inherent 'springiness' from within the mat material itself” He continues by stating that the ideal material should ideally be wool fibres of differing types. Basically he describes the essence of what we have accomplished with the Precision Cloth Mat.
In tests we compared our design with cork, acrylic, synthetic fibre, glass and leather. We feel that our mat produces the best results, and seems according to our users to be slightly less static prone than traditional felt, although we make no claim for this ourselves.
The Collaro mat is available in two basic types: the Precision Mat, available in two colours, the traditional Collaro Red, and black. The thicker Tempest mat is designed for idler drive decks which may possibly produce more inherent noise than belt or direct drives.
On most turntables we recommend the Collaro mat is simply used in place of the supplied mat. In the case of the original mat being felt, no other adjustment is necessary. If replacing a thick rubber mat, we advise correction of VTA because the Precision cloth is a relatively thin material. We find that the Collaro mat can be a worthwhile addition to a Technics DD turntable, and produce a grey variant, the PRO200 with Technics-friendly graphics. The material is again identical to the Precision Mat. On a Technics, we recommend inverting the rubber mat, and placing the Collaro on top of the inverted mat. In the case of these decks, the advantage is simply one of better support rather than noise suppression, the ribbed rubber being less than ideal. We have found this improved our own SL1200G's performance.
We invite experimentation in use, and welcome any thoughts and suggestions.
The Collaro team
* EU clients ordering from us will receive a mat hand-made in France by our own Collaro staff from the same English cloth.