Origin Live Platter Mat and Gravity One Record Weight REVIEW
This is a review written by Steve Crowe June 2023.
A long, long time ago (1976) in a place far, far away (Warrington), I was directed, by a colleague, who knew of my interest in music, to go and see a friend of his who was dabbling in selling HiFi. That friend was Chris Brooks who, at the time was working out of his bedroom in his parents house. I recall it was a bright sunny day and his bedroom window opened onto a fountain in the garden below. Chris later turned his business into Chris Brooks Audio in Gaskell Street, Stockton Heath, from where, I believe, he stills purveys audio equipment to this day.
I wanted to upgrade my Goldring GL75 which I had butchered by putting holes in the head shell because I really wanted the GL78. Chris demonstrated this newly released all-in-one turntable from Rega, the Rega Planar 3 and it sounded superb. It came complete with glass platter, felt mat, tonearm and cartridge. I took it home that day and it sat happily in my system for several years, until I bought an LP12, also from Chris. Chris advised that you had to be careful not to stretch the drive belt and to switch the motor on and off as little as possible. He suggest that I simply lift the record off the spinning platter, and this will become relevant later, and keep the turntable running during each listening session. He also advised against using heavy playing weights as the Rega wasn’t designed for them. I lost touch with Chris when I moved south but bumped into him at a HiFi show a few years ago, and we still recognised each other. Thanks Chris.
Based in Southampton, the company was founded in 1986 by audio enthusiast Mark Baker who had a solid-core cable to market, although it didn’t take the name Origin Live until the following year. They are now world renowned designers and manufacturers of Turntables, Tonearms, Amplifiers, Loudspeakers, Cables, and Support Stands.
The Award Winning Platter Mat and Gravity One Record Weight
‘Award Winning’ is Origin Live’s phrase on the rather flimsy sleeve that the mat arrives in. It appears to be a very thin felt mat infused with a damping material which may be rubber, but I’m not certain. Asking Origin Live about this they confirmed there is actually no felt in the mat at all and its made from what they call a flexible composite, the specifics of the material recipe they are understandably keeping to themselves. It weighs in at 48 grams, compared with the Rega mat’s 17 grams. It is slightly thinner than the Rega mat but does not appear to be enough to upset the VTA. When I first set it spinning I noticed that the hole for the spindle is off-centre by about a millimetre. Quite obvious with a black mat on a white platter. Being slightly irritated by this I tried the white Rega mat which was even further out! Hey ho.
I was intrigued when I was asked to review the platter mat and record weight as I had tried very few accessories on the Rega RP10, I had purchased a few years ago as a replacement for my LP12. I still use the original white felt mat. I recently bought a Hexmat Molekula record clamp, which gives good results but, unfortunately broke the long-ago-learned golden rule of keeping the platter spinning. The Molekula has to be pressed on to the turntable spindle and then prised off after each side, which means frequent stops and starts. I’m going to do a separate review on the Molekula as it is quite an interesting package.
I was pleased to see that the Gravity One was quite light, at 71 grams and wouldn’t break the ‘weight’ rule. In fact, it can be easily and safely taken on and off with the platter spinning. I’m not sure why it’s called a ‘weight’ as ‘puck’ would be a more accurate description.
The weight is difficult to describe. It appears to be a series of plastic and wooden rings which are loosely held together and move side to side slightly when handled. Inside is a disc made from English Oak with a triangular composite material foot which sits on the record. It’s all quite loose and it rattles when shaken. Origin Live say that the design is based on ‘Shun Mook’ principles. Shun Mook is an esoteric Japanese brand who have a series of components which are meant to promote sympathetic resonances and resonate harmoniously with the music. The weight has a fairly low profile and looks quite stylish. It sits inside the record label.
I spent a good while listening to several LPs just using the Rega mat so that I had a good baseline for comparison. I also played at a relatively high volume as I knew this would accentuate any differences. Keb’ Mo’s album ‘The Door’ was sweet and detailed but occasionally had a slight edge on some of the vocals. This album has a good soundstage but can be a touch light in overall balance. I made sure to retain the same volume level throughout.
My first test was to simply use the Gravity One with the Rega mat. I immediately noticed that vocals had subtly improved, there was a better separation of instruments and it felt more ‘live’. Bass was slightly better defined and a little bit deeper and there was a noticeable reduction in surface noise. The overall balance was very similar to what I achieve with the Molekula.
I then replaced the Rega mat with the Origin Live but, initially, didn’t use the Gravity One. Surprisingly the mat alone exceeded the Rega/Gravity One combination. The solidity of the sound was more evident, the vocals were excellent and there was an exceptional clarity. The ‘smile’ factor was very much in evidence.
Combining the Gravity One with the Origin Live mat was just ‘wow’. The music was very expressive, wonderfully solid and appeared to sound louder. There was increased realism and surface noise all but disappears. I definitely hit a sweet spot with this combination. On the Keb’ Mo’ album the track ‘It Hurts Me To’ has a menacing rumble as the band comes in and ‘Come On Back’ sounded particularly beautiful. I played the whole of the second side of Laura Marling’s ‘Song For Our Daughter’ which has a superbly natural acoustic and it sounded phenomenal. ‘Pneuma’ by Tool is a very complex piece of music moving, as it does from delicate sounds to powerful, visceral chords and drumming. I noticed singing in the mix I don’t recall hearing previously. I finished off with ‘Convergence’ from the Malia and Boris Blank album of the same name. The deep bass notes, which characterise this track, came through beautifully.
At £210 the Gravity One Record Weight is not cheap. However, the platter mat at £46 is much more accessible. For £256 combined they make a terrific combination which will enhance many a record deck. I have no hesitation in recommending them.
Rega RP10 with RB2000 arm and Apheta 2 cartridge
PS Audio Stellar Phono Stage
Atlas Ascent Ultra phono cables
Bryston BP17 3 Pre-amp
Townshend F1 Fractal XLRs
Bryston BP4 3 stereo power amplifier
Townshend F1 Fractal speaker cable
Vienna Acoustics Klimt Series ‘The Kiss’ standmount speakers on Townshend Podiums
The Origin Live Platter Mat can be purchased here.
The Origin Live Gravity One Record Weight can be purchased here.
An Essential Audition Award is granted in recognition of a products high performance but with a certain uniqueness that makes auditioning even more essential.
For the full specification of the Origin Live Platter Mat and Gravity One Playing Weight, please see their website linked here.