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Slipmats aren’t to be confused with the rubber mats that usually come with your turntables and sit on top of the platters.
Those type of mats are there to insulate from vibrations when playing, preventing the record and needle from jumping and skipping. They’re not meant to do the job of a slipmat though, as any resistance or pressure put on top of those will slow or stop the tables from turning. Trying to scratch with just rubber mats can also damage the underside of your record, leaving marks and skips. So if you’re going to be using your turntable for DJing, it’s best to go for a good slipmat.
What Are the Best DJ Slipmats?
The best slipmats are a piece of material that you put between your turntable and the record, allowing you to move the record while the turntable is still rotating and keeping a consistent speed underneath. If a turntable is slowed down or fully stopped, it takes a few seconds for the platter to get going again, which can completely disrupt your sets and studio recordings. Slowing down from whatever your current speed is set at, just isn’t an option when scratching and mixing.
“Slipmats serve so many purposes,” says Mat the Alien, an LA-based DJ and owner of slipmat company Mat’s Mats, “but basic ones will protect the vinyl from the metal turntable, allowing you to hold the record and spin it back when cueing.”
“There are some with holes cut out so they don’t stick to the platter,” he explains, “[And] for scratchy guys, there are special coatings that make them extra slippery, and you can cut a thin piece of plastic to make it more slippy underneath. Then for the old guys that play 45s, there are small ones [and] even ones with the adaptor built in. They can also have some cool art to support your fave labels too,” he says.
What to Look For When Buying a DJ Slipmat
A felt slipmat leaves minimal resistance between the record and the turntable, and for mixing and scratching, a medium thickness is generally a good way to go. While a little bit of stiffness is necessary, and allows the mat to slide underneath the record as it’s being pressed on, if a pad is too thick, you’ll get more resistance and it’ll slow your record down. Too thin of a texture, and it can drag the table’s speed down too, and not provide adequate absorption of vibrations and noises (as well as sticking to the record when switching them out). Too rigid, and the stiffness of the pad can actually lift the record if it’s a little warped, creating skips and bounces during your set.
You can also double-up. “I personally like to use two slipmats on each turntable, but a very specific combo of what’s available on the market,” says touring DJ/producer Qdup. “The main slipmat [is] somewhere in the middle of the ridged thin style and a more thick felt material, so that it’s heavy enough not to come off when you take the record off – which can happen with the super thin type and is a real pain in a dark club scenario,” he says. “The second slip mat is the very thin slippery kind, and goes underneath the heavier mat to really make the turntables respond quickly with less drag when moving the record back and forth. These thin style slipmats can be used on their own as well,” he explains, “but I like the feel when used in conjunction with the second one on top.”
Adding a piece of plastic under the mat is optional but optimal, and helps the record slide just a bit more easily, adding to the slickness no matter the thickness of the pad. Some companies have even started crafting mats with a built-in plastic on the underside, and a synthetic material on top with almost no resistance. The downside to plastic, however, is that it can create an annoying whooshing, windy sound sometimes.
“The old school trick was to take take that plastic inner record sleeve you find on some albums and cut around the shape of the record, cutting a hole in the middle for the spindle, and using that underneath your slip mat to reduce drag,” says Qdup. “I’ve also seen DJs use wax paper for this. That’s the budget way to do it, but the pro products for these thin style mats will be machine-cut, more accurate, and made of a combination of different materials that may be more soft and cloth-like on one side and slick plastic on the other side for superior performance.”
They’ll all get the job done in different ways, but the best slipmat for you depends on your style, genre, and how much you’ll be playing and performing. We’ve selected these three to get you started spinning and scratching smoothly.
1. Serato DJ Slipmat
These slick slipmats were designed by DJ Q-Bert’s Thud Rumble lifestyle brand, and for people looking for a paper thin option specifically for cutting and mixing, these will do the job nicely. At 1.5 ounces, they are extremely lightweight too.
The slipmats come in a two-pack, and both black and white are available. For even more slickness and slippability, add a layer of wax paper underneath so nothing can slow down your set.
Great aesthetic, and a good amount of slip for an all-purpose mat.
2. Turntable Lab: Spacemat Record Slipmat
SpaceMat’s mats are a medium weight (5.6 ounces) and made of felt, which is perfect for DJing, or just kicking back and listening to records.
The nicely designed spacey “star-field” print is a smooth combination of soft and dense, providing a level surface for your favorite LPs.
These are also gentle on your vinyls, and less likely to scratch them up while playing. A solid choice for everyday use, and perfect for light scratching and sampling, slip-cueing and mixing.
3. CoRkErY Decoupled Cork N Rubber Turntable Mat
Unlike felt mats, a big advantage of using cork is that it doesn’t create as much static, and dampens resonance from metal tables. And while it’s impossible to completely eliminate static, these mats help reduce it greatly (a static brush can help too).
A cork mat also doesn’t attract as much dust, can have an improved grip on your records, and is altogether gentler on your vinyl.
Two version of this are offered: the recessed, which lets your record sit directly on the mat, and the decoupled, which raises it up a little. It’s a matter of personal preference, but some DJs find that since the decoupled version isolates the record from the platter, the result is bigger sound, a sharpened beat, and more focused bass.