HexMat Molekula Record Clamp REVIEW
This is a review written by Steve Crowe June 2023.
In late February this year I visited the Bristol HiFi Show, along with many others whose first show it was after the enforced isolation of the Covid years. It was good to meet up with old friends and make some new acquaintances.
My journey around the exhibits inevitably took me to the MCRU (Mains Cables R’Us) stand where I caught up with my old friend David Brook. I’ve purchased much from him in the past, including some of my larger HiFi components, mains cables etc. We exchanged the usual insults and, seeing an array of turntable accessories, I asked him about playing weights suitable for my Rega. He pulled out a slim, non-descript cardboard box (completely devoid of any hint as to what was inside) and said, “try this – send me the money if you want to keep it”. This approach is typical of David as he knows I will probably buy it anyway. In order to save time down the line I paid for it straight away. David was busy with customers, so I had a quick look and left.
Inside the aforementioned non-descript box were two inner boxes made of wood with magnetic fastenings. One, hexagonal, contained a record clamp, described as a HexMat Molekula – ‘handmade in Hungary since 2019’ so not a vintage product. In the other box, this time oblong, was a two-part Perspex alignment protractor with the notation, VTA – AZIMUTH – ONP. After extensive searching and pulling out what little hair I have left, I asked on the HexMat chat facility what is ‘ONP’? I very quickly received a reply telling me that ‘the ONP is the Optimal null point where the distortion caused by the cartridge angle is the smallest between the beginning and the end of the record’.
The company, based in Budapest, Hungary, was founded by Zsolt Fajt, a sound engineer who had been trying to resolve the feedback loop of sound from the speakers making it back into the turntable. For the past fifteen years he has been seeking ways to minimise the vibrations and increase the dynamics coming from a vinyl source. Part of this journey led him to design hexagonal record mats (hence the company name) with low contact spheres between platter and record. His website is available here. In addition, he designed the Molekula also with low-contact spheres to dampen the harmful resonances and frequencies and, in addition, efficiently transfer the torque.
The Molekula clamp is a white hexagonal shape made of the same blended material as the platter mats. Its dimensions vary between 7.6cm and 8.4cm with 7mm translucent, “specially coated” spheres at each point. In the centre is a grip for the spindle, requiring the clamp to be carefully pressed on to the record and, with similar caution, removing it after playing. It weighs a miserly 17grams so unlikely to overload delicate bearings or damage records.
I recently reviewed the Origin Live Gravity One Record Weight. I mention this as I found both the Gravity One and the Molekula, whilst completely different in operation, provided remarkably similar sonic results. For listening I only used the Molekula in combination with the included with the RP10 Rega mat. HexMat list the benefits of using the Molekula as follows: solid soundstage, relaxed/pleasant sound, improved dynamics, calmer atmosphere, and clean transparency. All these attributes were evident when playing my usual test tracks – the edge on Joni Michell’s voice on the track ‘Blue’ from the album of the same name, was well controlled. Keb’ Mo’s album ‘The Door’ remained natural sounding, and Tool’s ‘Pneuma’ was powerful and dynamic. All with a clear improvement with the Molekula in place. Most surprising was the perceived reduction in surface noise.
At £120 from MCRU the Molekula is good value, especially as the alignment tool comes in the package for free. I’ve described this in more detail below.
My only hesitation in giving the device my wholehearted recommendation is that it is very fiddly to get on and off. I always feel like I’m going to have to be careful, or I’ll damage something. I’m also concerned about putting too much pressure on the bearings of my Rega RP10 or catching the arm when it finally snaps away from the spindle. Also, my preferred method of using my Rega is to place and remove the record with my turntable spinning, so as to limit stretching of the belts.
I tried the Molekula on a friend’s modified Technics 1200 and the solidity of this turntable made the installation and removal much easier to handle. Fortunately, the sonic benefits proved to be the same, it beat his own record clamp hands down.
If you are confident in your own dexterity, then at the price the Molekula is a no-brainer and certainly worth a try.
HexMat VTA-Azimuth-ONP Alignment Tool
This was the surprise part of the package. There are a lot of good alignment protractors around for setting up arms and cartridges, but this is the only one I know with a vertical alignment aspect to it. I’m not experienced in having to make these alignments but am told by those who are that the vertical element will be very useful to have. Try as I might, I could find no instructions on using the tool, but I assume that those who know about these things will find using it to be straightforward. You can buy it on its own for £55 from MCRU.
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An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential.