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CD mat comparison: Millenium vs. Super Black Hole

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 


I did an initial comparison of these CD mats.

The Super Black Hole (SBH) is a small carbon fiber mat, only a couple inches in diameter, with a sticky silicone layer. It does NOT cover the entire CD, an important aspect of its design. It costs about $32.

The Millennium is a carbon fiber mat exactly the same size as a CD. It has no sticky layer, but a very smooth surface. It costs about $100.

How and why do mats help playback? I'm not sure, perhaps multiple theories apply. Vibration control, electrical field control, others? No doubt the effect is relative to the model of CD player and its relative faults and merits.

My CD player is the Naim CD5X plus FlatCap external power supply, about $3900 in 2006. Loading mechanism is magnetic puck. Naim claims vibration considerations went into the puck design, but it's not as advanced as their higher models.

I used the K1000 headphone.

Amp was the Audio Note P2SE, a class A amp based on the 6L6 output tube.

I've been using the Super Black Hole for many listening hours now, and gotten used to that sound. So the first thing I did was grab Sheffield Lab's Dave Grusin album, replace the SBH with the Millennium, and just see what struck me first.

The sound was impressive at first. But when the drums and bass got loud, they seemed very punchy, to an exaggerated degree.

I put the SBH back and listened to the same track. Right away I noticed the top end "air," delicate highs and subtle dynamic changes in the cymbals and bells. The Millennium was killing those things!

With the SBH, when the drums got loud, they seemed natural---plenty punchy and tight (thanks to the good work of Sheffield!) but completely natural. It seems the Millennium was in fact exaggerating the punch.

Next I listened to a piano recording: James Boyk playing Prokofiev's sixth sonata. On this recording are dynamics ranging from pppp to ffff. It's the most natural presentation of piano attack I've ever heard.

Again I compared the Millennium and the SBH. Again I noticed the Millennium seemed to exaggerate the attack. In the ffff sections, Boyk's playing sounded raucous, not a flattering effect in this piece. The same section with the SBH was powerful, and not out-of-control. There is a quiet section in this sonata, early in the first movement, which I love: a sudden peacefulness emerging from the early storm---at least that's how it sounds with the SBH. With the Millennium, the piano attacks were too distinct.. the legato (smooth) effect was ruined.

At this point, I conclude the Millennium would appeal to people who like "punch" and perhaps have a system that is tuned on the "loose" side to start with.

But it is no competitor to the SBH, in my system. The SBH improves everything without any downside (I've discovered yet). At $32 it must be the most extreme ROI of any tweak I've tried.


post #2 of 11

I have the Marigo Audio Signature 3-D Mat Which cost me more then £120. I don't think I've heard a difference in SQ but I do use it every time in my CA 840c.

post #3 of 11

Can I suggest the following. Take a CD with no mat, record a 1 minute segment onto your PC, preferably using a digital to digital recording. Add one of the mats and repeat. repeat again with the other mat. Trim the 3 samples to start at exactly the same place and be the same lngth. Post the samples here and I will run them through a spectrum analyzer, I think this would be interesting to get a handle on the the extent to which mats alter sound.


I will happily lend you my USB sound recorder which has an optical digital input, just drop me a PM.

Edited by nick_charles - 8/5/10 at 11:55am
post #4 of 11

I personally prefer a mat. It makes a big difference, especially with bass on my rig. Using silver cables so do appreciate all the bass I can get. Using a Sid Disc at the moment.

post #5 of 11
Originally Posted by BIG POPPA View Post

I personally prefer a mat. It makes a big difference, especially with bass on my rig. Using silver cables so do appreciate all the bass I can get. Using a Sid Disc at the moment.

If I bought a SID Disc (at my own expense) and tested it objectively in terms of the measured in-system frequency reponses (with musical samples not test tones) compared to no mat, would you accept my results ?


You say that the SID boosts bass frequencies, I can test this and measure the extent of this change either from the digital stream or the analog stream or even from the headphone output if required, alternatively I can create recordings with and without mats and provide them for others to evaluate ?


If you are up for this I will start a new thread in the science forum. I am tied up tll late August (Nephew's wedding and start of term so teaching materials to update) but I will have some time to set aside for this after the 28th.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

I doubt a mat changes the digital data. It probably makes small changes that are difficult to measure.


Please don't tell me "we can measure everything." That discussion belongs in the Sound Science forum, not here. nick_charles, it sounds like your only interest is doing some measurements. As the one who started this thread, I am politely requesting you to drop that topic from this thread and take it to Sound Science.


I want this thread to be a discussion of these particular CD mats.


Thank you.

post #7 of 11

Hey nick, never said SID "Boosts Bass Frequencies". That is you my friend. A SID disc is a very inexpensive tweak. If you like it great! If not, it was not much lost.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

big poppa, what other cd mats have you tried? how much is the sid?



post #9 of 11

Hey Mike, the Sid is about 40 bucks, also tried the Madrigo Labs. They are better but a lot more money.

post #10 of 11

I've used several mats, starting with the CD Absolver (about 20 years ago, released by the Mod Squad--I think--a short lived product), CD Backlight (also no longer available), De Mat, amongst others (I have not tried the SID), and finally settled on the Marigo Audio Signature 3-D Mat. I don't believe the effects of CD mats are "measurable" using traditional scope, AP analyzers, etc. 


EDIT: Hi Big Poppa, Marigo is in our neck of the woods the Seattle/Portland metro area. PM me if you'd like additional info. The Marigo is one of the more expensive, but none of my discs spin without it! 

Edited by Rdr. Seraphim - 8/11/10 at 1:10pm
post #11 of 11

 I am late it only took me a couple of years to comment on the millennium cd damper. A friend had bought one after his brother had recommended it to him. He had a Marantz cd player(the base model he was using as a transport) to his dac I had heard it and it did make a definite improvement with the basic Marantz units transport. I initially bought one and tried it with my denon 3930CI player which I use as a transport. I was not impressed with its effect on the denons sound. It had somewhat of a dampening effect on the sound I found too subtractive. Of course the denon unit of mine was much more robustly built than the basic Marantz unit as it should be by the price of each unit. Apparently the denon deals with vibration effects much better than the basic Marantz unit.

 I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.

  I have since bought a onkyo 5svl sacd/cd player and was happy with the sound especially on sacd discs. It seemed to do a better job than my aging denon on sacd discs.

I made some changes on my desk top set up. I have a teac ud-501 I have been using with emotiva airmotiv 5 speakers on my desk top set up. I had been using it largely in single ended fashion.

 I saw a special close out price on nordost heimdall version 1 interconnects for half price at music direct. So I thought I would try a balanced xlr with the teac dac. Wow what a difference it made on my desk top the sound was way better than it was in single ended fashion.

  I am getting away from the original point. But I was so ecstatic about the sound that I just kept looking for ways to improve the sound even more. I was browsing head fi and came across a blog about cd damper mats. I thought about it and remembered that I had one in moth balls which I was not using so I thought what the hell why not give it a shot.

  So I located it and dusted it off(just kidding) . I played a disc and while the sound was pretty good there was a bit of brightness that I was hearing. I inserted the millennium cd damper on top of the cd and replayed the disc. I immediately perceived a better more focused sound and the brightness and hash seemed to be eliminated. So I tried it with another cd and the results were similar with that recording as well. So the disc does work at least with my onkyo 5csvl sacd/cd player which I have been using as a cd transport on my computer desk top with the teac ud-501. I use the emotivas airmotiv 5 active  monitors volume controls to control the volume from the dac. I have to say that maybe I underestimated the effect this damper can have on other cd players. It certainly works well with my onkyo 5csvl transport.

  So I may be late to the game but I have discovered a cd damper that I probably initially rebuffed when I had first tried it.

 I will using it with my onkyo as long as I use it as a transport on my computer desk top.

Edited by buson160man - 3/14/14 at 2:29pm
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