May 212015
 

I received the SPEC AP-UD1 Analog Disc Sheet (turntable mat) from Mr. Yazaki-san of SPEC while I was finishing up the Garrard Project 2015 article for Positive Feedback Online (and mentioned it in the article). I’ve been too busy to write the AP-UD1 up until now, so this is a bit of a belated ‘Today’s Fresh Catch’ post.

SPEC AP-UD1

The AP-UD1 is a very thin aluminum plate with a ‘special surface treatment’ that is the same diameter as a record, and you put on the platter in place of a record mat. Mr. Yazaki-san uses the AP-UD1 on his gorgeous SPEC GMP-70 turntable to get the highest possible performance from it.

VPI nude

Normally I’m not keen on record mats, and on my VPI Classic turntable every record mat I tried I thought degraded the sound quality, so I used it with a ‘nude’ platter to get the best sound.

1 The Garrard Project 2015 front view

On the Garrard Project 2015 I tried stock rubber Garrard-style mat (above), as well as a cork mat (below), and I was less than enthusiastic about both (although I have to say the cork mat looked great from a visual standpoint).

Garrard Projet 2015

I was prepared to go with the ‘nude’ platter approach on the Garrard too, and then Mr. Yazaki-san sent me his SPEC AP-UD1 Analog Disc Sheet to try.

SPEC AP-UD1 on CTC Classic

The AP-UD1 is a tremendous improvement over the stock turntable mat that came with the Classic 301, as well as the cork mat that I bought a while back to try. The AP-UD1 is the first record mat that I’ve tried that I thought sounded better than a nude platter, and a lot better at that, preserving every last little bit of texture and nuance that my softer mats seemed to rob from an album. I really like it.

The SPEC AP-UD1 Analog Disc Sheet is $350 USD and is available from Jonathan Halpern at Tone Imports in North America.

 Posted by at 12:09 pm

  9 Responses to “Today’s Fresh Catch: The SPEC AP-UD1 Analog Disc Sheet”

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Can you elaborate on what improvements you hear with the SPEC Analog Disc Sheet over the mats and bare platter you’ve tried? On my restored and modified Kenwood Trio PC-400U belt-idler wheel drive turntable, I use a two layer mat consisting of a foamed polymer bottom layer and a treated deer hide top layer. It sounds unusual, but the mat does a wonderful job of isolating the disc from the turntable’s drive system and platter while preserving the life and detail of what’s in the grooves. It is also effective in grounding static. I’m always open to improving the performance of my turntable and mats are a critical component in getting the most out of the grooves-especially micro detail that allows one to hear fine timbral detail, the ambiance of a recording venue and the attack and decay of notes. I’ve tried cork mats and rubber mats, and I agree that they don’t do much for great sonics.

    • Sorry, Rich, I’ve been too busy on the day job to respond to your question with the attention it deserves. I almost always like not using a mat over using a mat on a turntable, I just think you loose too much information when using a mat.

      The SPEC mat actually preserves (enhances?) the amount of information, yet sounds very natural while doing it. That leads to an enhanced sense of timbral realism, tone color, spaciousness, and musicality to my ears.

      I had my friends Leo & Ron over and we listened to all the mats extensively (as well as no mat), and I’ll let them describe what they heard (assuming they see this). My take on it was that the rubber & cork mats were significantly worse than no mat, and I liked the SPEC mat better than no mat. I did notice that it tended to depend a little on the records played: the better the record the more the SPEC mat improved things, but on so-so records it was hard to tell the difference between no mat and the SPEC mat. Overall, I like having the SPEC mat the best, and it will remain in place on my turntable for the foreseeable future.

      I hope that helps.

      Best,

      Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff. Wondering if you still feel the same way about this mat after all this time or like something better. I’m specifically interested in how open sounding it is in the upper mids/lower highs compared to no mat and whether it constrains the dynamics in any way. Thanks!!! Barry

    • Hi Barry,

      I have stayed with the Spec mat ever since I first tried it.

      Garrard with Spec mat November 2017
      It’s very open sounding, and not at all muted sounding like the cork or polymer mats I’ve tried.

      I’ve had no desire to do anything different since trying it, which is perhaps the greatest compliment of all!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Jeff: Wanted to thank you for the SPEC TT Disc mat recommendation. I bought one for my TW Acustic Raven and really like it. It’s not overdamped and even better than the TW mat that came with it.

        Congrats on retirement. Have a blast!!!

        Happy New Year, Barry

        • Thanks, Barry, I appreciate the kind words!

          I’m pleased to hear you like the SPEC mat as much as I do – it’s a great mat!

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

  3. Hello Jeff,

    I am interested to the SPEC mat for my Garrard 401. On pictures of your 301, the SPEC mat looks rigid and with no recess area for record label. Does it mean that records are supported only by the label area and by the outer lip on the vinyl (grooves area floating)?

    The Garrard 401 platter has a rising lip (about 1mm) on the edge. Do you think the SPEC mat could be a good match with such a platter? I have contacted SPEC and Tone Import directly but they respond not having experience with the 401 platter.

    Always instructive and interesting reading your evaluations.

    Thank you!

    Rejean

    • Hi Rejean,

      The spec mat is rigid and flat. Having said that, a record lays perfectly flat on it and the entire record is in contact with the surface of the mat.

      I’m not familiar enough with the stock 401 platter to answer your question as whether the mat will fit, sorry about that.

      For example, with my 301 I use the 20mm oversize platter from Classic Turntable Company, and Classic makes one for the 401 as well.

      The Spec mat extends beyond the edge of the platter a small amount, so it would hang over a stock platter even a little more.

      I hope that helps.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  4. Hi Jeff!

    I’m in an interior designer in Houston and our client loves this turntable. I’m having a hard time finding a reasonable way to purchase one. Any advice?

    Thanks,

    Sari

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