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Pro-Ject Carbon - acrylic platter, or mat?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
I just got a Pro-Ject Carbon, haven't even installed the counter-weight yet, and of course I'm looking to upgrade it already.

Like others, I was disappointed by the stock felt mat.

Pro-Ject's acrylic replacement platter gets great reviews, but I'm having a hard time swallowing the fact that I just spend $400 on the turntable itself, and would spend another 1/3 of that for the platter.

I will admit also, I got the Piano Black version, and I feel that the white acrylic platter doesn't work for me aesthetically (although I know a lot of folks like it).

I was wondering what a good mat would do for me instead - I am specifically looking at Herbie's Mats, which, while not cheap, are a good deal less than the platter. And, they're black. rolleyes.gif

Any advice greatly appreciated.

- Mark
post #2 of 46
Live with it for a while before you start upgrading.
post #3 of 46
Suggest you post your question at www.vinylengine.com.

Lots of Pro-ject Carbon owners over there along with discussions on just platter mats - even how to make them yourself which is a cheap way to see if they make a difference or not in your rig. I would first install the counter weight and spin a few LP's though - you may find it sounds great with the stock mat. Hope this helps.
post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 
Well, I thought about all that, but I've been wanting a new TT "forever" and now that I have it, I feel why not get the best possible sound out of it from Day 1? Although I am sure it's going to sound great to me anyway.

The other thing is that, from what I have read, the stock felt mat has a tendency to stick to the vinyl and cause static - I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing...

Good idea about VinylEngine, don't know why I didn't think of that first.

Thanks.
post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chileboy View Post

Well, I thought about all that, but I've been wanting a new TT "forever" and now that I have it, I feel why not get the best possible sound out of it from Day 1? Although I am sure it's going to sound great to me anyway.
The other thing is that, from what I have read, the stock felt mat has a tendency to stick to the vinyl and cause static - I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing...
Good idea about VinylEngine, don't know why I didn't think of that first.
Thanks.

I've got a Debut III and am happy with the stock mat. My future upgrade path is Speedbox -> new cartridge (2M Blue) -> acryllic platter, but I'm not in a hurry to get any of these.
post #6 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

I've got a Debut III and am happy with the stock mat. My future upgrade path is Speedbox -> new cartridge (2M Blue) -> acryllic platter, but I'm not in a hurry to get any of these.
Cool, thanks for the input.
post #7 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chileboy View Post

Well, I thought about all that, but I've been wanting a new TT "forever" and now that I have it, I feel why not get the best possible sound out of it from Day 1? Although I am sure it's going to sound great to me anyway.
The other thing is that, from what I have read, the stock felt mat has a tendency to stick to the vinyl and cause static - I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing...
Good idea about VinylEngine, don't know why I didn't think of that first.
Thanks.

You're right - The stock mat will sometimes stick to vinyl due to static. I had it happen to me when I owned a 1.3 Genie. I replaced it with a Music Hall cork mat and that solved the problem. Whether it made a difference in LP sound quality is debatable. Now I have a 5.1 SE and use no mat as the platter already has a vinyl coating. Have fun with your new Carbon - its a very nice table for the money.
post #8 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chileboy View Post

Well, I thought about all that, but I've been wanting a new TT "forever" and now that I have it, I feel why not get the best possible sound out of it from Day 1? Although I am sure it's going to sound great to me anyway.
The other thing is that, from what I have read, the stock felt mat has a tendency to stick to the vinyl and cause static - I have a low tolerance for that sort of thing...
Good idea about VinylEngine, don't know why I didn't think of that first.
Thanks.
It's going to take some time for your cart to break in. Give it about 40-50 hrs before making any decisions. smile.gif
post #9 of 46
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses - will probably do what seems to be the common thread here and wait a bit before I do anything. Probably is a good idea to let the cartridge break in first, and for me to get used to the sound so I have a baseline for comparison, if nothing else.
post #10 of 46
I reviewed the Carbon along with the acrylic platter and the Speed Box II. The Speed Box II made a noticeable difference in accuracy, but the platter didn't add any measurable change. I like it just because you don't get the static cling that the felt mat often had, and if you're going to buy a new mat you can probably get the platter for not much more. That said, I'd get the Speed Box or a new cartridge first since they'll make a larger performance difference.
post #11 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smackrabbit View Post

I reviewed the Carbon along with the acrylic platter and the Speed Box II. The Speed Box II made a noticeable difference in accuracy, but the platter didn't add any measurable change. I like it just because you don't get the static cling that the felt mat often had, and if you're going to buy a new mat you can probably get the platter for not much more. That said, I'd get the Speed Box or a new cartridge first since they'll make a larger performance difference.
Chris, I went and read your review, very interesting. But regarding the acrylic platter, you say "Moving between the two different upgrades, the Speed Box II makes more of a difference as the boost to speed accuracy is clearly noticeable, but the benefits of the Acryl-It are strong as well" and "is less resonant". Then on the graphs it shows the THD+N is actually marginally worse than the stock platter with felt - which makes me think I'd be better off just replacing the felt with a Herbie's Mat, or Music Hall cork or something.

After seeing your results, the Speed Box II is definitely on the wish list...

Also, just before purchasing the Carbon, I had bought a Sumiko Pearl for my previous TT, before I realized its problems were worse than just the cartridge. So I only used it a couple of times. Do you think its performance would be noticeably better than the Ortofone 2M Red? I'm not going to swap it out at all for the time being, just curious.

Thanks Chris,

- Mark
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chileboy View Post

Chris, I went and read your review, very interesting. But regarding the acrylic platter, you say "Moving between the two different upgrades, the Speed Box II makes more of a difference as the boost to speed accuracy is clearly noticeable, but the benefits of the Acryl-It are strong as well" and "is less resonant". Then on the graphs it shows the THD+N is actually marginally worse than the stock platter with felt - which makes me think I'd be better off just replacing the felt with a Herbie's Mat, or Music Hall cork or something.
After seeing your results, the Speed Box II is definitely on the wish list...
Also, just before purchasing the Carbon, I had bought a Sumiko Pearl for my previous TT, before I realized its problems were worse than just the cartridge. So I only used it a couple of times. Do you think its performance would be noticeably better than the Ortofone 2M Red? I'm not going to swap it out at all for the time being, just curious.
Thanks Chris,
- Mark

I have the Pearl and it sounds noticeably better than the Ortofon OM5E that came with my Debut III, but I haven't compared it to the Red. The consensus seems to be that the Pearl is roughly on par with the Red, if not slightly inferior. Worth comparing if you have time to fiddle and swap them out, but you're probably not missing out on anything.
post #13 of 46
Yes, do compare the two chileboy. I had the Pearl in a 1.3 Genie that I once owned and found it to be a great soudning MM cartridge for the money. Very balanced with good top to bottom dynamics. I was very impressed with it and now have a Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 that is a MC. I am even more impressed with this Sumiko offering. They make very nice sounding cartridges at their price points . I think popping in the Pearl and giving it a listen is worth the time. Good luck.
post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paraneer View Post

Yes, do compare the two chileboy. I had the Pearl in a 1.3 Genie that I once owned and found it to be a great soudning MM cartridge for the money. Very balanced with good top to bottom dynamics. I was very impressed with it and now have a Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 that is a MC. I am even more impressed with this Sumiko offering. They make very nice sounding cartridges at their price points . I think popping in the Pearl and giving it a listen is worth the time. Good luck.

Good to hear. My OM5E went bad not long after I got the TT, and Crutchfield replaced it with the Pearl because they didn't carry the OM5E as a standalone. I didn't complain smile.gif

If I was spending my own money, I probably would have gotten the Red based on the comparos at the time, but your review makes me glad I ended up with the Pearl.
post #15 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JD NC View Post

I have the Pearl and it sounds noticeably better than the Ortofon OM5E that came with my Debut III, but I haven't compared it to the Red. The consensus seems to be that the Pearl is roughly on par with the Red, if not slightly inferior. Worth comparing if you have time to fiddle and swap them out, but you're probably not missing out on anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paraneer View Post

Yes, do compare the two chileboy. I had the Pearl in a 1.3 Genie that I once owned and found it to be a great soudning MM cartridge for the money. Very balanced with good top to bottom dynamics. I was very impressed with it and now have a Sumiko Blue Point No. 2 that is a MC. I am even more impressed with this Sumiko offering. They make very nice sounding cartridges at their price points . I think popping in the Pearl and giving it a listen is worth the time. Good luck.

Great input, thanks. As I said, I intend to let things be for the time being and get comfortable with the setup, but like all of us, I will begin tinkering at some point. Probably sooner rather than later...can't just let things be for too long! rolleyes.gif
post #16 of 46
I haven't heard the Pearl so I can't comment on it. I'm going to move my Shure M97xe over to the Carbon and test it to see how it does soon as it's been suggested that it should out-perform the Red. I'll see how it does soon enough. I might have to purchase the full Feickert Adjust+ toolkit to get better test results than I do now to be sure.
post #17 of 46
I have the Debute III and replaced the stock cartridge with the Pearl, IMO the dynamics have been much better with the new cartridge.
post #18 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by callas01 View Post

I have the Debute III and replaced the stock cartridge with the Pearl, IMO the dynamics have been much better with the new cartridge.

Thanks. seems to be the consensus...unfortunately my experimentation has been delayed...there was an issue with my Carbon and I had to ship it back for an exchange frown.gif
post #19 of 46
FWIW, I have a Debut III that I have upgraded with an Ortofon 2M Blue, Speed Box II, and a Herbie's Way Excellent mat... in that order.

I waited WAY too long to buy the mat. As you have mentioned, the never ending battle with that cheap piece of sh!t mat and static was getting very frustrating. The Herbie's mat is pretty slick, it is made out of a rubbery foam of sorts. What is interesting is as long as it isn't a tight fit, I can remove records while the platter is spinning for a quick A to B flip, yet the records seem to have great grip against the mat. Although I still have some static issues with my setup, I have never had the mat cling to a record.

Although $60 isn't exactly cheap for the Pro-Ject sized mat (another plus, seeing as the Debut has a 11" platter), it is still cheaper than the acrylic Pro-Ject mat. Herbie's Lab isn't exactly well known (I actually can't recall where I first heard of them), but I had no issues ordering from them and don't regret my purchase.


Just my $0.02 smile.gif
post #20 of 46
Thread Starter 
Great input, aquaphile - good to hear such positive feedback about Herbie's, I will probably just go ahead and order one.

What did you think of the Speed Box upgrade? Could you hear a difference immediately?
post #21 of 46
My experience with the Speed Box was a little less.... enthusiastic than a few reviews I have read; the improvements I noticed were pretty minimal, if at all. I listen to a lot of punk rock, and have a ever-growing collection of 7" singles, and even a fancy audiophile 45RPM issue or two. I got the Speed Box purely to change speed (and to add another box into my system smile.gif ), any sound improvement was just a bonus. I also can't say that I really noticed any sonic differences with the TT mat. I did however, hear a significant change/improvement when swapping out cartridges.

FWIW, I have a rather "noisy" listening environment; I'm in a small apartment and am just a short, mostly unobstructed distance from my dishwasher, aquarium, AC unit, and laundry stack. Were I in a dedicated/treated room, I may have had different thoughts on the sonics after adding the mat and other "tweaks" I have added to my system.

I do have one odd gripe with my Speed Box. As mentioned before, I do still have issues with static. My apartment gets rather dry in the winter, and it seems like I can hear pops and shocks just about every time I use my TT. On occasion, when the static hits the table, my Speed Box will change speeds. Also, sometimes if I remove a static-heavy record with the SB off, the current sent through the TT will turn it on. Although this is not a huge deal (really just an annoyance), it is still slightly frustrating that I shelled out $160 for a feature that the majority of TT's have standard. Taking that into account, I feel as though the device should behave perfectly every time without issue, and I can't say that is the case. I haven't heard any chatter on the internet regarding other owners with similar problems, but I also haven't really looked. I guess I'm kind of just ranting here................

If the Speed Box gets updated with the new S series boxes, I may upgrade. I have been eyeing the new Pro-Ject phono pre-amps, and I would love to have my Pro-Ject boxes be from the same series wink.gif hopefully the static effects will be corrected if the device gets updated, although I'm not holding my breath.
Edited by aquaphile - 12/13/12 at 9:32am
post #22 of 46
Thread Starter 
Well aquaphile, that's all very interesting about the Speed Box. I felt as you did, that I'd rather they provided a "decent" power supply (even if I still had to move the belt to change speed) and charge me an extra $50 or whatever, rather than charging another $130 later on for a premium PS. Same with the felt mat vs. acrylic platter - I can't believe there isn't some happy medium that would add minimally to the cost.

OTOH, I realize they were trying to hit a certain price point, and the rest of the TT is certainly killer for the price, especially since they now include the Ortofon 2M Red, no slouch for an entry-level cartridge. So in that sense I certainly have no buyer's remorse at all. I guess it's that I only just got the Carbon, was really planning on spending $400, but in pretty short order I'll probably be out $600 or $650 instead.

As far as that static, I think you ought to try and address that. If the SB is getting zapped to the point of turning on/off and changing speeds, I could imagine some internal component getting fried. Have you thought about an anti-static floor mat or something? Just my .02.
Quote:
I got the Speed Box purely to change speed (and to add another box into my system )

Yeah, why is that?? wink.gif

- Mark
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by chileboy View Post

if the SB is getting zapped to the point of turning on/off and changing speeds, I could imagine some internal component getting fried. Have you thought about an anti-static floor mat or something? Just my .02

I guess I didn't think of that... I may have to look into something along those lines
post #24 of 46
I found a website where the author measured thd+n with the stock platter and the acrylic platter both with the standard power supply and the speed box II. The best measurements were with the stock platter and the speed box. It was pretty interesting. I have the acrylic platter and still felt the need for a mat. Lowes/Home Depot sells cork matting in rolls and you can get cork gasket material from tractor/farm supply stores that might work. Making your own cork mat is a lot cheaper than buying one. Cork is much nicer to live with than felt.

I'll try to see if I cant dig that site up.
post #25 of 46
Thread Starter 
^I think you're referring to this, written by Chris Heinonen (Smackrabbit), who posted above...I saw the same thing, very interesting. Not sure why that's the case regarding the THD+N.

Not a bad idea about the homemade cork mat, BTW.
post #26 of 46
^^ That is exactly it. Thank you! I suspect it might have to do with the greater mass of the steel platter. I have heard people postulate that the steel platter could have negative interactions with moving magnet cartridges, but it was only supposition with no data. That talk, however, is what drove me initially to get the acrylic platter. Interesting test by hometheaterhifi.com. Already have my acrylic platter now though, I'll live with my increased THD+N in order to have the good looks. Who knows if my modern manufacture IEEE 681 will be able to reveal a .04% increase in distortion anyway?
post #27 of 46
With regards to an entry level turntable, such ss a Pro-Ject Debut III, or a similar $400 dollar turntable from someone else, do most of you guys feel that the platter is always the first thing that should be upgraded when starting to tweak/add/upgrade these turntables?
post #28 of 46
Quote:
With regards to an entry level turntable, such ss a Pro-Ject Debut III, or a similar $400 dollar turntable from someone else, do most of you guys feel that the platter is always the first thing that should be upgraded when starting to tweak/add/upgrade these turntables?
My response would be that these tables are not worth tweaking, but if you're going to do anything, upgrade the cartridge.
post #29 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

My response would be that these tables are not worth tweaking, but if you're going to do anything, upgrade the cartridge.

I'm not sure I agree with that 100%...the Carbon for instance is a an exceptional TT for the money by most accounts, but to keep the cost reasonable, sacrifices were made. That's partly what made it so attractive to me - I get a great out-of-the-box experience, but I can upgrade it as funds and time allow to improve it, the end result (hopefully) being an outstanding turntable for what I've invested.

I realize the argument would be "well, you could just get a $700 TT in the first place", but I believe that with an exceptional starting point, I'll end up with something better than what I'd get for the same money off-the-shelf, partly due the DIY nature of the improvements.

Besides, no matter how much I spent on the original TT, I'd still tinker with it. That's our nature, isn't it? The journey is half the fun...

- Mark
post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

my response would be that these tables are not worth tweaking, but if you're going to do anything, upgrade the cartridge

debatable..... although I have since upgraded a few things on my Debut III, that felt mat is pure garbage and should really be the first thing to go, regardless of other plans/dollars intended to spend on any upgrades.
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