Origin Live Strata Turntable Mat Review

Posted on 29th February, 2024

Origin Live Strata Turntable Mat Review

David Price tries an interesting turntable upgrade in the shape of this new anti-resonance platter mat…

Origin Live

Strata Turntable Mat

£295

Origin Live Strata Review

Vinyl fans started to think carefully about platter mats in the mid-nineteen seventies. Before that, such things were more about fashion than function – often having strips of chrome inset or heavily ribbed surfaces that resembled enlarged record grooves. But by the mid-seventies, UK manufacturers such as Linn and Rega had started fitting felt mats, while Japanese companies such as Sony and Technics were coming out with sculpted rubber mats that better supported the LP record.

By the end of that decade, there were a number of upgrade platter mats on sale that promised all manner of improvements. Glass discs proved very popular for a while but caused more problems than they solved. More recently, we've seen a new generation of aftermarket mats appear focused on being acoustically inert. Ten years or so ago, Origin Live launched its Upgrade Platter Mat to great acclaim – as it did precisely this for the price of a round of drinks in a pub. The new Strata you see here is significantly more expensive, but designer Mark Baker says this because it is far more sophisticated.

Origin Live Strata Review

Origin Live's Research Results

Just for a moment, let's get back to the first principles of vinyl replay. The job of a platter mat is to decouple the vinyl disc from the platter. Traditionally, the latter were made of Mazak, a light alloy of aluminium, magnesium, zinc and copper – and rang like a bell when you tapped them with your fingernail. The aim here is to minimise resonances from the platter and to sink them from the stylus as it wiggles excitedly through the record groove. Nowadays, many more turntable platters tend to be acrylic – i.e. Perspex – but some are still glass, which is not exactly famous for its resistance to ringing…

Turntable mats – be they rubber, felt, cork, glass, vinyl, copper or acrylic – only tend to damp down one reasonably narrow frequency band, which is why they often have quite different subjective effects. Origin Live claims that the Strata works across a much more comprehensive range of frequencies, effectively subduing resonances across a broader frequency band. Mark Baker says this is achieved by combining specially chosen materials in multiple layers. Obviously, for commercial reasons, precise construction details are not disclosed, but he adds that this new mat has taken many years of research.

Origin Live Strata Review

In the hand, the Strata feels quite distinctive; it's far lighter than most and thus less likely to retain energy – indeed, it has an almost 'black hole-like' quality when you tap it with your fingernail. It's a little thicker than some mats – such as the Linn LP12 felt mat, for example – but at 4mm, it isn't prohibitively so. Most mats are 2 to 3mm thick anyway, so it shouldn't be a major change or challenge for your tonearm's VTA.

SOUND QUALITY

To my ears, this is a highly effective turntable mat – although the subjective improvements you hear will depend on your current choice of turntable and what platter mat you're using on it. I tried a variety of decks but got a pretty consistent improvement in sound quality, with some showing more significant improvements than others. In all cases, though, there was a general smoothing out of the sound, and it seemed to firm things up and add detail and dimensionality.

Origin Live Strata Review

On my Technics SP-15/SME Series V, the stock thick rubber mat was removed, and the OL mat was installed. There's a slightly 'well-lit' quality to this turntable that smoothed out; it seemed to have less glare and yet greater actual information. It's already a very fast-sounding turntable, but to my surprise, this aspect further improved – transients were blisteringly quick. On my Marantz TT-1000/Audio-Technica AT-1010, which has a stock glass mat, the tonality became smoother still, with a more organic sound in its place. I was surprised that this made the deck seem even more incisive, though, as it's already a fountain of detail. My more modern Michell GyroDec with its acrylic platter was also significantly enhanced, although the difference wasn't quite so 'night and day'. It sounded cleaner and more nuanced, and its already superb soundstaging was further augmented.

THE VERDICT

If you're looking for a serious upgrade to your standard platter mat, then this is an essential audition. The Strata provides a highly inert contact point for your prized vinyl LPs and better lets the stylus, cantilever, and cartridge do their jobs. It's not cheap, but the sonic improvement it delivers still makes it very good value for money. Better still, if you're not impressed, Origin Live will refund you in full within one month of purchase. Can't say fairer than that!

Visit Origin Live for more information

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      David Price's avatar

      David Price

      David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.

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      Tags: origin live 

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