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Practically-Priced Tools for the LP Lover

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Nerve Audio Vagus Silver Litz and Copper Litz Headshell leads

Although my main tonearm has flying leads, Nerve Audio’s leads have saved the day on more than one occasion during my review process of the Ortofon TA-110 tonearm and in small repair projects I’ve done for friends around town. Once again, these guys are local, are dedicated to Audio and LP’s and offer these cool very high quality products at down to earth prices. The Vagus silver litz’s are $59.99 for a set of 4 and the Copper litz’s are $31.99 for a set of 4.

GEM Dandy R.C.C. Turntable Mat

The VPI Scoutmaster turntable has the extra thick acrylic platter. Yes despite that, the Merrill rubber and Cork mat yielded significant improvements.

GEM Dandy R.C.C. Turntable Mat

Firstly let me get this bit of information out of the way. GEM Dandy is the OEM name of famed turntable designer and builder George E. Merrill. I guess he likes acronyms!

The R.C.C.  Turntable Mat is essentially the same mat that is utilized in the Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101 turntable. Back in the early days, George was well known for designing the lead-based mat that was used in the Heirloom and AR mods. This rubber-cork mat is not only less toxic, but is also more effective at getting the isolation job done.  I have two associates in my audio society that will be forever grateful for turning them on to this mat. When placed on VPI acrylic platters the improvements in tonality, upper bass clarity, and isolation are nothing short of stunning. I have achieved similar results on a couple of Rega turntable that I have had the opportunity to rehab for a local school. This mat is the best platter-to-vinyl interface I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. At $59.99 MSRP, this is another clear no-brainer. That is, unless you are the proud owner of a Merrill-Williams R.E.A.L. 101.

The proper maintenance of Styli and LP’s is another area where I have come across some great new products that do the job nicely and also still find myself using certain products that have been around for many years. Newcomers to vinyl playback may never have been exposed to these as a result.


Mobile Fidelity LP#9 (formerly Record Research Labs LP9) Stylus Cleaner

A lot is said and written regarding the proper maintenance of a stylus. There are manufacturers that even come out and state what method they prefer you use, wet or dry.  I’m one of those guys that has always preferred the wet cleaning method with a dense carbon fiber stylus brush.

As such, I use LP#9 from Mobile Fidelity. I have been using it since it first was developed by the guys at Record Research Labs. It gets the job done and leaves the stylus pristine no matter what kind of alien funk or twisted dust bunny ends up on a tip! A half-ounce bottle with carbon fiber brush is $24.99 MSRP and it lasts me a few years of heavy use.

3 Responses to Practically-Priced Tools for the LP Lover

  1. Carter Asbill says:

    Hi George, I am sorry that I have not been able to respond to your reply to my earlier email but I have been so busy that I simply could not get to it.
    I really would like to get one of your Gem-Dandy turntable mats but I have a question. My table is a restored Technics SL 1200 MK 5 with an aluminum platter. How well will the Gem Dandy Mat absorb any harshness or other bad things that the platter may produce?
    I appreciate your comments.
    Thanks very much

    • George Merrill says:

      Hi Carter, It will make a difference by isolating noise input from the platter into the record and also help damp resonance as the stylus traces the groove. Thank You George

  2. james s adkins says:

    Hi I just bought the GEM dandy turntable mat for my Linn LP12. There is a thickness difference,do I need to do anything?

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