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Marigo Aida CD Mat. A Brief and (very) Unscientific Review


lemarquis
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Purchased the Marigo Aida CD mat on a whim this week. $330 for a CD mat? Would it be a gimmick or a worthwhile tweak? I'm not usually prone to investing in these kinds of things but there is a 30 day money back guarantee and some good reviews. If it doesn't do anything (or enough to justify the price) then back it goes. If, on the other hand, it does what it promises then $300 is similar to upgrading cables so why not?

 

Those looking to poo poo the 'science' (for which I make no claim or comment) or those looking for DBT and the like are asked to please avert their eyes as the following material may offend :oops:

First a little background on the listening set up. Halcro CDP and Osborn Eos Reference speakers. Top shelf player and speakers capable of revealing what's there or what's not. So far this has been a great combo for CD duties. 

 

Now on to the listening :popcorn:

 

I started by playing a few reference CDs that I am very familiar with. Al Stewart Year of the Cat, Beethoven piano concertos (Kempff DG) and some others, mostly classical orchestral or concertos. Big sound, big sound stage, lots of dynamics, lots of detail.... First I listened to a track or two without the mat, then again with the mat in place. That was the extent of the A/B testing. Now the Halcro is the best player I've heard so far and CDs sound great. To the extent that I have days when the Gross Dac doesn't get a listen as I absorb myself in the Halcro experience..

 

I'll get straight to the point. The mat makes a significant improvement. Not chalk and cheese given the starting point but not subtle either. What I found was that with the mat in place there is a lessening of what I can only describe as a slight 'çongestion' in complex passages, a more cohesive presentation, better noise floor allowing micro dynamics to reveal themselves which in turn lets more micro detail through - the music breathes and seems to flow more naturally. Piano concertos seem to all be live recordings, that sense of excitement and presence.. sound stage seems slightly deeper, piano chords more resonant, a lessening of a slight digital 'glare' which I didn't know was there.. string sections in orchestra sound less dry, more smooth, highs sweeter with no loss of detail..

 

I went back and did some A/B ing again a few times but then gave up and just inserted the mat for every disc. I have to say that until I heard it I wouldn't have said I was missing anything with the Halcro sans mat. It's like hearing something like a tube roll or change of cables. Didn't know what was there but now you can't un hear it. Listening to Beethoven's 4th piano concerto was scary. I've listened to this hundreds of times over the last 30 years and the work and Kempff's performance would sound great on a sound bar.. but here I was involved in a listening experience that made me afraid that if it gets any better I'm going to lose it.. Just an electrifying experience. Without the mat it sounds great. With the mat in place it just really comes alive.

 

Of course some will suggest I have expectation bias.. but really I was willing to give it a try and prepared to be underwhelmed and send it back for a refund. It only took me a few spins to realise I had something great in the system now.  As I said above, it's like rolling the stock tube with an exotic NOS. Wow factor.

 

I don't think it will improve a poorly recorded CD or necessarily make an ordinary transport suddenly high end. But if you have a reasonably decent set up it's a very worthwhile upgrade. Of course as always YMMV but with a 30 day money back guarantee what's to lose? 

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I tried the Herbies Audiolab Super Blackhole cd mat some years ago when I had a Bryston BCD-1.

It was more miss than hit. I could definitely detect  when it negatively impacted sq with a cd and any postive sq result was tinged with uncertainty. So I was a "meh" on that one.

My methods were similarly unscientific although I did briefly engage another set of ears (music lover but not into the gear) and he mostly didn't detect any difference (blind test).

Nowhere near as expensive as the Marigo though, $35usd.

 

 

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6 minutes ago, deanB said:

I tried the Herbies Audiolab Super Blackhole cd mat some years ago when I had a Bryston BCD-1.

It was more miss than hit.

I had heard similar things about the Herbie. I can only say that the Marigo works its magic on all the CDs I've spun so far. Certainly no degredation in SQ to date. The effect is so noticeable. If I had reservations or maybe it's better, or better on this one but undecided on that one etc. I'd send it back. 

 

When you hear a very familiar work for the first time in such an alive and scintillating way like never before, that's a win for me :)

Edited by lemarquis
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Guest Muon N'

So this thing must be addressing vibrations in the tray?

 

The Disk is not on the mat when spinning I'd imagine.

 

Edit: hang on, this sits on top of the CD?

Edited by Muon N'
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56 minutes ago, Muon N' said:

So this thing must be addressing vibrations in the tray?

 

The Disk is not on the mat when spinning I'd imagine.

 

Edit: hang on, this sits on top of the CD?

Yes on top of the CD. Not sure of the science but maybe it's dealing with laser and light refractiions. As I said, I'm not commenting on all that, just the results in my system. Check their website for info.

 

All I know is that it makes a significant improvement to an already excellent transport and laser which is the Halcro. Just listening to Ray La Montagne Trouble CD. Awesome sound stage,

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Guest Muon N'

Yes, looked at the site.

 

I'm not questioning whether it works or not, was just curious about how, anyway......... doesn't fit with my budget constraints, but that applies to many things in this hobby for me.

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Yes, it's not an insignificant investment but at this point I'm fairly sorted so the only things I have left to tweak are 12ax7 tubes to roll.

 

That said, it's around what you might spend on upgrading interconnects or speaker wires and if someone told me I could get such an improvement with cables for the same price I'd snap them up, no question.

Edited by lemarquis
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  • 9 months later...
On 19/01/2020 at 5:40 PM, lemarquis said:

I had heard similar things about the Herbie. I can only say that the Marigo works its magic on all the CDs I've spun so far. Certainly no degredation in SQ to date. The effect is so noticeable. If I had reservations or maybe it's better, or better on this one but undecided on that one etc. I'd send it back. 

 

When you hear a very familiar work for the first time in such an alive and scintillating way like never before, that's a win for me :)


Agreed the Aida mat improved the sq with my Droplet CDP far more than its purchase price, one of the best tweaks I have purchased beyond a doubt, the improvement is not small at all.

 

cheers,

Terry

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Does it get stuck in front loaders?  Top loaders no problem, but I've always founds that front loaders are a bit hit and miss with mats depending on their thickness.  I had an earlier Marigo and had to let it go for this reason.

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Back in the late 80's, I purchased something similar. It had a sticky disc that you placed around the center hole of a disc, and then placed a mat on top of the disc. Purchased at Encel Stereo... 

It didn't cost $300, and was said to reduce vibration. 

It was around the time of the GREEN pen. 

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On 24/10/2020 at 7:31 PM, Bronal said:

Does it get stuck in front loaders?  Top loaders no problem, but I've always founds that front loaders are a bit hit and miss with mats depending on their thickness.  I had an earlier Marigo and had to let it go for this reason.


hi Al, It didn’t get stuck in my Oppo 205 nor did it get stuck in a CD burner, so shouldn’t be an issue in general.
 

cheers,

Terry

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