Mar 182010
 
The Ringmat products in for review, are the Ringmat 330 Anniversary package at a retail price of £150, which has a combined thickness of 3.0mm. This is made up of a spacer mat made of a rubber type material (very light and thin) a series of spacers (made of some type of plastic) comprising of 2 yellow base spacers, 1 clear base spacer, 2 slate top spacers, 1 blue top spacer and 2  green top spacers, 1 LP Statmat and 1 Ringcap. These are placed on the platter of your turntable (replacing any mat you/or it already uses) in a particular order (instructions included, thankfully).
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With the Statmat on the top of the other mats, just below the record and the ringcap on the top of the label; you are ready to go. Usefully a locater lug on the bottom mat allows you to easily orientate all the elements together (however a different base mat would be needed if you want to play with the number of spacers as the lug height with this product suits the number of spacers provided). Various slots and holes must be lined up and an arrow must point in the direction the record turns. It sounds complex and I guess it is, but once set up, its no harder to place a record on the plater and play a record than any other turntable set up I have used.  The ringcap however must have its holes lined up with those on the Statmat just below the record (on the side facing down). It is important to do this and as long as you use the record label’s writing or picture to do this, it is easy enough.
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Firstly it is possible to use any combination of the spacers and it is my understanding that you don’t have to use them all (it could be too much to do so), I did use them all, this may not have been ideal but shortage of time did not allow a more through exploration of combinations..this was a pity.
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System used…
The system used was my main one used for the Einstein Turntable’s Choice ( http://www.adventuresinhifiaudio.com/?p=164) and this review has more or less followed on directly after that one. The system was SME Model 20 Turntable, Graham Phantom B44 Arm, Ortofon MC 7500 Cartridge, Graham IC70 Tone Arm Cable, Bat VK 31 se pre-amplifier, Bat VK 75 power amplifier, Anthony Gallo Ref 3.1 speakers. Cabling was Atlas Marvos and Audience Au 24 both in RCA and XLR types and speaker cable. Isolation tables are Clearlight Audio, Base and String Suspension Concept designs. No mains filters or regenerators was used during the review. However both Audience, TCI Boa Constrictor and Analysis Plus power cables were used. I hooked the Einstein phonostage to the pre-amplifier with Atlas Marvos Rca to Rca cables and the main power cable was an Audience AU24. The unit sat on a String Concepts isolation table and Ringmat cork feet under the phonostage’s base.All units were warmed up well, and the cartridge was as well, having played several sides of a record before I did any listening.
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Music used

After the experience I had with this product recently at a friend’s house about four weeks ago I had high hopes. First up I had to adjust the height of the Graham, arm something which thanks to a calibrated adjuster tower is fairly easy to do. Once done with the right height right I placed Yello-One Second on the platter and waited for La Habanera to start. Ummmm..it was different than the night before. The soundstage was wide possibly a shade wider than the night before and the depth was also a little deeper. But despite the degree of focus and instrument separation being better there was something wrong.The drive of the track seemed lazy and the bass seemed to lack some definition. I also felt that the treble might be a tad rolled off. I readjusted the arm taking the Ringmat off and listened again. There was a slight lack of focus and separation compared to with the mat in place but the track had gained its drive. The bass was a tad leaner and overall the treble was more open…and I don’t mean bright or forward. Overall I felt the music was less sat on than it had been with the Ringmat mat in place.
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I played the same track again with the Ringmat back and no Ringcap sitting on the record…ummm. It was slightly more open less sat upon but still overall not right. I was puzzled. Replacing the Ringcap made things better in some ways, but not in terms of treble detail. Mr Sat On-rolled off was back.
I played Thomas Dolby next, and the exceptional bass from the previous days listening session was gone. Bass notes were fatter and less articulate. Once again while the music was better in some ways i.e soundstaging, separation and some detailing. This detail was in the mid-range the treble was once again rolled off and frankly the tracks Air Head and Hot Sauce had lost their boogy. The Prat factor was slightly off, things sounded slower and less snappy. As I sat thinking about the effects of the Ringmat it seemed increasingly obvious that in my set up it wasn’t right. Was it the SME turntable’s own well designed mat being circumvented. The lack of the screw down clamp…I wasn’t sure.
Finally I played Propaganda-A secret Wish and it sounded at first very good and then the penny dropped, the forward, lean, slightly bright sound was gone but so to was the snap and drive and aggression in this slice of electronic German Art Punk music. Frankly it is this drive that makes it brilliant. Robbed of this it was very good in a soft rose tinted way, but it was only when playing the track with out the Ringmat that this music came alive. The trade off was the removal of the civilizing effect the Ringmat mat had on the poor pressing. After a few with and without comparisons I favored the sound without the mat, despite the rough and ready forwardness.
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So where does this leave us…well out of time. I suspect that removing some of the spacers may have changed the sound. The positives were good and were similar to what I heard in my friends set up but not to the same magnitude, although the effects of Ringcap on or off was audible, as it as it been there. However the lack of drive, softness in the bass and openness in the treble robbed all the music I listened to, of, well its overall purpose. The Ringmat mat civilized the sound to much (in my system). Some may say that this is a benefit of the removal of static and vibrations in the playback chain, and it may well be the case; but, and this is interesting the Ringmat mat altered sound, reminded me of what some mains filters/conditioners etc can do to a system. Clean it up, soften it, and rob it of drive.
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Alas I ran out of time, and this leaves me frustrated as I don’t feel I was fully able to asses the pluses and negatives and whether I had a system/turntable incompatibility, or was it that I was just using to much of the Ringmat system. The answer will have to wait…the jury is out. However the positive results I heard with this item in another system (and the success I have had with other Ringmat items….see here) makes me strongly say that you should try it/them out in your own set up and see whether it suits or not. You will never know if you don’t try.
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I want to revisit these products again, as I am far from happy with the results I obtained.  With more time I feel I can solve the Issues I had during this test, but alas this time round I ran out of time, as the products had to go back to their owner.
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Neil
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Look out for a future Adventures in High Fidelity Audio Ringmat revisited review.
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Source of Review Products Loan…… end user owner
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Ringmat’s Website http://www.ringmat.com/



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