Whether you’re part of the great vinyl revival or you never stopped listening to them in the first place, then you’ve likely encountered some frustrating static electricity and vibration interference.
Most turntable platters are made from metal, acrylic, or high-density fiberboard that doesn’t prevent this interference.
Audiophiles differ on a great many things, and turntable preference is just one of many. Another one is turntable mats. Mats are used to keep the record from slipping while on the platter, reduce vibration, and reduce static electricity.
Turntable mats are often made from felt, cork, rubber, leather, or acrylic. Price, personal taste, and quality typically determine which type of mat people prefer. If you’re in the market for a turntable mat, this guide will help you determine which one suits you (and your records) best.
In this guide, we’ll review 5 of the best cork mats available from different brands, along with pros, cons, and other important considerations. My favorite is the Turntable Toys TC-1 Cork Turntable Mat because it’s made with grade A cork! Check it out at Amazon.
- 1 Best Overall
- 2 Best Budget Cork Turntable Mat
- 3 Best Runner Up
- 4 Best Cork Turntable Mat Under $15
- 5 Best Alternative Cork Turntable Mat
- 6 Things to Know Before You Buy
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
This cork turntable mat by Pro-Spin is perfect for 33 and 45 RPM records. These mats are designed to better match the LP surface grooves, which leads to better definition in mid and lower frequencies.
It also reduces pop and static through smooth sound dampening and natural absorption. The advanced dampening ability of the 3mm thickness nearly eliminates all popping, cracking, and humming due to static or vibration.
What We Like
- The record label recess is a wonderful touch, allowing the album to sit flush with the mat (even with a thicker label).
- The 3mm thickness eliminates nearly all noise from static and vibrations.
- With no label or other writing, the clean look of the cork makes it fit in with any LP player.
What We Don’t Like
- It is one of the most expensive cork mats on the market.
- The 3mm thickness, while perfect for dampening, might be just a little too thick for certain record players that aren’t equipped with adjustable tonearms (VTAs).
While a few dollars more than any competitor, the high-quality and impact on the Pro-Spin Cork Turntable Mat performance for Vinyl LP Record Players will be a perfect addition to any audiophile’s collection.
You will definitely notice the increased audio quality and the miraculous decrease of record slippage with this mat. This is by far the best option for anyone willing to pay a few dollars more for superb quality.
Best Budget Cork Turntable Mat
The new TC-1 Cork Turntable Mat by Turntable Toys is a simple and affordable cork mat that looks great and does its job.
Made with fine grain A-grade cork, these mats create sharper, more focused sound by dampening platter rumble, bearing noises, and vibrations. The ¼-inch thick mat tightens mid and low bass for a better punch that you can feel while cutting down on static noise.
What We Like
- The number one thing you’ll hear from buyers is that this company provides excellent customer service. They provide custom mats for the same price, and they will bend over backward to make sure your mat is exactly the way you want it.
- The quality of these mats rivals any higher-priced competitors. They come solid and flat, which is exactly what you want from a cork mat.
- The clean, bright cork also makes your player look better.
What We Don’t Like
- No record label recess is available, making for a looser fit for records with thicker labels.
- The thickness may again cause some problems for players without an adjustable tonearm (VTA), though the company will custom fit any mat if this is an issue.
If you’re looking for an affordable and quality-made cork mat, this may be the best fit for you. Turntable Toys will ensure that you get just the mat that you need if the ¼-inch TC-1 is too big for you. This mat will improve the sound quality of your records and look great doing it.
Best Runner Up
The CORKery Cork-n-Rubber Turntable Platter Mat by Hudson Hi-Fi is made from a proprietary blend of cork and rubber, hence the name.
This 1/16-inch slipmat is suitable for all turntables, and it absorbs vibrations to allow improved contact between the stylus and grooves on the record. It also effectively decreases the effect of static electricity.
What We Like
- A cork and rubber mix look is very appealing as it’s both darker than cork and lighter than rubber.
- The 1/16-inch thickness is the thinnest we’ve come across, which means it will fit without any problems (with or without an adjustable VTA).
- Hudson Hi-Fi designs and produces its products in New York City to RIAA specifications and provides a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like their slipmat for any reason, you can return it with no questions asked.
What We Don’t Like
- There’s no label recess with this slipmat, which could cause problems with thicker labels.
- The thin design guarantees a fit with any player, but it provides less dampening than thicker mats; thus, the audio quality improvement is marginal.
Hudson Hi-Fi’s CORKery Cork-n-Rubber Turntable Platter mat is a mid-range (though still on the lower end) slipmat that does its job and looks cool in the process.
The ultra-thin 1/16-inch thickness is perfect for any record player and will reduce static and improve sound quality.
If you want an affordable cork and rubber mat that looks stylish and will stop record slippage, check this one out. If you’re not satisfied, you can easily return it.
Best Cork Turntable Mat Under $15
The Turntable Slipmat Anti-Static Cork Mat by Record Happy is a mid-range cork mat that reduces vibration noise with its ⅛-inch thickness.
A label recess provides smooth fitting with all your records, and the 2-year satisfaction guarantee means you can return it if you don’t like it.
What We Like
- The label recess is always appreciated, especially for those thicker labels.
- Shipping is fast, product packaging is perfect, and it comes exactly as described.
- This mat has the Record Happy logo to one side, but it’s small and well designed, unlike many mat designs.
What We Don’t Like
- This is a one-size-fits-all mat that may be too large for some, making it difficult to separate the records from it after use.
- While the price point is mid-range, the quality tends to be hit or miss. Some buyers have complained of cork fragments left on their records after use.
The Record Happy Turntable Slipmat Anti-Static Cork Mat is an easily affordable mat that will hold onto your records tight, preventing any slippage. It also reduces vibration and static noise, though some buyers have complained of poor quality.
Its size may not fit some players, and its diameter can cause problems when removing records from it. However, the 2-year satisfaction guarantee allows for any dysfunctional mats to be returned.
Best Alternative Cork Turntable Mat
The Cork and Rubber Turntable Slipmat by Unihom is a unique combination of cork and rubber granules. It dampens unwanted vibrations and improves sound characteristics.
It is eco-friendly, comes at a meager price, and looks amazing on any record player. According to Unihom, it even smells nice!
What We Like
- The cork and rubber are mixed to aesthetic perfection.
- It comes at a phenomenal price point.
- At 3mm thickness, this mat will dampen any unwanted vibrations and produce a tight bass response.
- The hefty weight of the cork and rubber will provide extra grip to your turntable platter without negatively affecting the turntable.
What We Don’t Like
- Without a record label recess, it may pose problems for thickly labeled records.
- The 3mm thickness may not be great for players without adjustable tonearms.
- Though advertised as non-adhesive, it does at times stick to the turntable platter and the records.
The Unihom Cork and Rubber Turntable Slipmat is a stylish and effective combination of cork and rubber that dampens vibrations and static noise. The price is lower than most in this range.
The 3mm thickness gets the job done extremely well, though it may be too thick for players without adjustable tonearms. This mat is best for those with VTAs that can be adjusted to account for the thickness.
Things to Know Before You Buy
The Difference Between Cork, Rubber, and Leather
When choosing a turntable slipmat, remember that different types of materials suit different needs. Most turntables come with a felt mat with minimal protection against vibration and static noise. The most common alternatives are rubber, leather, and cork.
As the second-most lightweight material next to felt, rubber mats offer grip and durability. They produce a deep warm sound that many audiophiles love. However, they’re less effective against static buildup and noise interference than cork and leather mats.
Leather is one of the heaviest, densest materials, providing an extra layer of dampening that can enhance bass response and create a deeper sound. Leather also effectively battles static.
Cork turntable mats are more lightweight than leather but denser than rubber or felt. Cork is a natural and inexpensive material that provides varying vibration dampening depending on its thickness.
Cork is a beautiful material that enhances the aesthetic quality of the player, and cork and rubber combination mats look even better while providing enhanced dampening and improved sound quality.
Most audiophiles agree that one of these three materials makes for the most popular turntable mats.
Do You Have an Adjustable VTA?
The Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) is the angle where the tonearm and stylus meet the record. The standard VTA for most turntables is around 20 degrees.
Before choosing a slipmat, first, find out if you have an adjustable VTA. The level of thickness of the mat will affect the VTA, which will affect the vinyl record’s sound.
If you have an adjustable tonearm, you can choose a mat based on quality and forget about thickness. The thicker the mat, the more dampening it provides.
If you don’t have an adjustable tonearm, the thickness of the mat will be critical. A thick mat can make the VTA so high that it changes the sound quality (if the record will even fit). If the mat is too thin, you can expect a tinny sound.
Knowing whether you have an adjustable tonearm will make all the difference in choosing your new slipmat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cork is inexpensive and has a honeycomb-like structure consisting largely of empty space.
Unlike honeycombs, cork consists of irregularly shaped and spaced cells, giving it a microscopic bubble wrap quality for an exceptional cushioning effect. This makes for insulation for both temperature and noise.
Is a Turntable Mat Necessary?
The short answer is “yes.” If you appreciate the high-quality sound of vinyl, a turntable mat will eliminate (or at least decrease) interfering noise from vibrations and static electricity.
A dampening tool is necessary to help your music shine, and the turntable mat is the perfect solution.
Turntable mats come in many different materials with varying effectiveness. Depending on your personal experience, budget, and type of record player, the cork turntable mats we’ve reviewed here represent the best options available.
The Pro-Spin Cork Turntable Mat is the best for players with adjustable tonearms due to its thickness, though it is more expensive than some alternatives.
If the cork and rubber combination is more to your liking, both Hudson Hi-Fi’s CORKery Cork-n-Rubber Turntable Platter Mat and the Unihom Cork and Rubber Turntable Slipmat are affordable effective mats that look great and improve sound quality.
If you’re looking for a cheap, simple option, the Record Happy Turntable Slipmat Anti-Static Cork Mat will get the job done, though it may not provide optimal dampening.
With these 5 great options, you’ll be experiencing quality audio in no time. Let us know which one you picked in the comments!