Levin Design Solingen from Germany have brought to us vinyl-phile some serious anti static record and phono cartridge stylus brushes of natural animal hairs. Many among us agreed the necessity in having and using an anti static record brush (for obvious reasons). However, not many believe that after a brush or two, the sound quality of your playing vinyl records actually improves. I would not hesitate to testify that the Levin Design Brushes really worked for me; the soundstage turned darker and quieter, the images improved with higher definition, better palpability and density, the separation got wider and the details got clearer (not an exhaustive list).
This time around, the same company bring us their Turntable Platter Mat (starting at €225-00)of three (3) layers sandwiched in different materials; the top side where the vinyl record is supposed to be sat is of (a) high quality ‘Nappa leather‘, the middle is of (b) an undisclosed resonance-minimizing material and the underside is of (c) an anti-static ‘High Tech’ material (again, undisclosed).

As expected, I placed the Levin Design Solingen Turntable Mat (hereinafter referred to as the Mat) on the platter of the Kronos Pro Limited Turntable(to start off the review…I will try the Mat on other turntables in my possession; Sperling L-1, Clearaudio Statement, Technic SP-10R, Lenco L75 and Thomas Schick Garrard 301). I adjusted the Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) at the Black Beauty 12″ Tonearm to accommodate the difference in height / thickness of the platter (surface).

Straightaway (as) expect(ed) the background to be darker, quieter and more importantly, stable. I got that hint from the background ‘hiss’ which was more stable, softer and its volume maintained throughout the entire track and/or side.

It was obvious when I spun Anne Bisson Trio “Four Seasons In Jazz” Live At Bernie’s (Brilliance Music & Studios BMS-DD 101-45), that that stability brought about clear or ‘rock solid’ positioning of artist and musicians within the soundstage of the recording. In addition, there was certain vividness to the expression and vocalization of Ms.Bisson.

Similar result of vividness in the emotional vocalization of Ms.Masako Kunisada in her rendition of “Snow Flakes” in “The Dancing Girl From Izu” (RHYMOI MUSIC RMLP–041)that quite literally melted my heart. Here, I wished to add that even the piano notes (by Simon Cosgrove) were given that same treatment; there was more presence, strength and ‘oomph’ for each piano note, and differentiation in value of the above depending on the note played.

When it came to Musik Wie Von Einem Anderson Stern (Manger LP), at the track “Walking On The Moon” by The Yuri Honing Trio, I found the lead saxophone was treated with audible airiness within and throughout the conical bore. There was more authority in the lower registrythus differentiated the different notes played by the saxophonist.

In the same album but at a different track, “Jazz Variants” by The O-zone Percussion Group, it was more obvious to me the depth at each tone, and with that a slight highlight to its ‘dimensionality’. In turn, that ‘dimensionality’, to a certain extent, highlighted the micro detail and the separation between the macro and micro detailing.

Here, the lower to lowest registry (or bass) was ‘darker‘ (in color,…not to be mistaken as ‘damped’) as it seemed to break out from an origin that was further and/or deeper end (than my usual) of the instrument and/or the soundstage. Therefore, I realized that there was a greater distance for the lower frequencies to travel. However, surprisingly, the coherency throughout the frequency bandwidth and bass transient have improved slightly.
My initial impression alone convinced me that the Mat worked (!) for me as it presented a different and improved depth to my musicwith better background quietness, stability, separation, imaging, detailing, dimensionality, transparency, frequencies coherency, bass transient…
…And it worth it’s asking price in my case!