What turntable mat are you using and why ?
When replacing my LP12, the objective was to achieve a sound that was at least equal to what I previously enjoyed. Any improvement in any area would be a bonus. The fact that I took so long to replace it shows how irreplaceable a Linn is.
Up to this point in the optimisation of the new T/T, there were elements of the sound I was still unhappy with. Although the bass for example had the necessary depth, weight and slam, in my opinion it lacked texture. Below were my main criticisms of the Raven compared with the LP12 and things that needed optimisation to improve :
1. Tunefulness/loss of the musical "message".
2. Bass/ lower midrange texture.
3. Live "feel" or realism (rather than recorded feel)
4. Recessed backing vocals and instruments i.e. exaggerated soundstage depth with the Raven.
(Strongly influential on item 1)
Since trying everything under the Sun - VTA, downforce adjustment etc I was beginning to think either the tonearm was shot or the cart wasn't a good match after all.
Now the original plan had been to use the Raven mat-less. If a turntable is dependent on the quality of the "closed loop" then this surely afforded maximum rigidity throughout the loop and minimal error? (....or so I thought....)
Enter the Ringmat.
I began to think a compromise was in order. Thus far, the only setup difference between Raven and Linn, apart from the supporting table, was the MAT. Fortunately I hadn't sold my Ringmat, which was still nestling in it's sleeve in dust-free storage.
Without further ado, arm height was adjusted by 3mm and the mat applied. To say there was a massive transformation was putting it mildly. Instantly recognisable, all of the benefits that the Ringmat conferred on the Linn were now being realised on the Raven. Suddenly we were seeing a different turntable. All the tunefulness and bass texture I remembered enjoying was back with a vengeance. Rechecking the HFN/RR tracking suggested a 10 milligram increase in downforce.
Before and after renditions of Al di Meola's "Elegant Gypsy" were most revealing. One of my killer tracks is "Meditteranean Sundance". Basically this is a Spanish guitar "shoot-out" between Al de Meola and Paco de Lucia. Without the Ringmat all the emotion and sheer richness and texture of the sound were lost. Pace and drive were not a problem, but peaks had a definite "reproduced" feel to them. Too much energy coming off the stylus and reflecting off the solid platter?
My first guess at VTA seemed a good one given it's criticality with the Music Maker III. During "Midnight Tango", an aggressively loud and complex soundstage still allowed the subtlety of percussion to be heard loudly/continuously at the stage front with perfect tracking (in the channel which has the worst tracking ability of the two...) If the VTA was off this would never have worked so well.
What came across overall was the sheer coherence and amount of detail which was emerging from the background. The noise floor was lowered and hidden things were now coming out of the mix you never knew existed before.
I'm convinced that the Ringmat has a "generic sound". Regardless of what platform you use, it effectively "insulates" against what's underneath and adds it's own interpretation. In the case of the Linn, it might even minimise the influence of the deadly ringing of the chassis. While hesitating to use the words "silk purse out of a sow's ear" (with budget tables), that's exactly what it does.
Tweaking is over.....I'm happy now.
(Although one should never say never..... )