Hex Mat Eclipse & Molekula: excellent vinyl mat and record clamp!
Updated: Sep 26
Hello there, and welcome back to The Neighborhood! Today we’re looking at a couple of vinyl accessories the Hex Mat Eclipse vinyl record mat and Molekula Record Clamp. Do such things really make a difference in the audio experience with records? Let’s get inToit!
So, I’m guessing if you’ve clicked on this review, you already know what a record mat and record clamp are, but for the unknowing, let’s go over that first. A record mat is kind of what it sounds like it is a mat that goes under your record. More specifically, it goes in between your record and the platter of your turn table. Most turn tables need a record mat to operate, but some types of platters like acrylic ones for example don’t require one; but you still may want to use one as I do with my Gold Note Valore 425 Plus with an acrylic platter. It is generally thought that mats of differing materials affect the final output of sound.
Record clamps go on top of the record and accomplish a number of tasks. In addition to influencing the sound, they also flatten out the record, as they place pressure upon the record itself, and effectively sandwich the record between the clamp and the mat or platter. Aside from their wide-ranging acoustic effects, the general theory behind each of these products is to isolate excessive vibration and movement of the record itself so that the needle of your cartridge is only picking up the noise the record itself is intending to transmit through its grooves, and nothing else.
Both the Eclipse and the Molekula attempt to maximize dampening and isolation of your vinyl in order to provide those that listen with them the best audio experience possible. Each is composed of the same polymer material, and are cut into hexagons of different sizes. Raised spheres protrude from the surface of each, and this is the portion of each that makes contact with your record, making minimal contact, as if to have your record floating in the air in between them. Unwanted vibration is absorbed and phase distortion diminished. The sonic outcome is less noise due to more accurate groove tracking. According to Hex Mat, instrumental measurements prove that both volume and dynamics improve as well. Manufactured in Budapest, Hungary, the Eclise and Molekula is the culmination of 15 years of trials with a variety of materials and substrates. And after having lived with them for the past few months, I don’t know if I would ever want my record player to do without.
So, what have I observed from using them? Well, they pretty much just enhance the record playing experience on all levels. Sound stage is enhanced and dimension of sound is improved. Separation between instruments and imaging, in general, increases. All sounds just tend to come across cleaner and more distinct. There is not only a slight, but noticeable uptick in resolution and clarity, but also, as you listen, your brain just accepts the sounds as more life-like and real- as if the sounds of your system are coming from a live instrument rather than a recording. This is pleasing both to my ears and my mind, and I feel more at peace and calm when listening to records with the Hex Mat Eclipse than I do without it. In other words, when I close my eyes, and really listen, I am lulled into accepting that the music that is in front of me, which is produced by speakers, is alive and in motion like the real thing. In a number of ways, at times, I almost feel like I have visited a hypnotist or been Jedi mind tricked. Harshness and grittiness on some recordings just disappear. It's actually quite impressive, and, I should also note, that I’ve been using it with a pretty revealing system overall. At current, I’m using a Gold Note Valore 425 Plus Turntable, a Konus Audio MC1000 Current Driven Phono Stage, and Musical Paradise MP301 to drive Wolf Von Lagna Sons as the speaker. I also used a Konus Audio Integrale Integrated Amplifier during portions of my testing as well.
Furthermore, this is all in comparison to the stock felt mat that was included with my turntable, but as those that follow this channel know, I like to do comparisons with other products, so I may add to this review in the near future, and do some comparisons between other mats of differing materials that are available on the market as well.
In any case, it’s probably needless to say, that I adore the Hex Mat Eclipse and its matching Molekula record clamp. But this is a review, so let me offer a few notes or critiques.
Hex Mat claims that both the Molekula and the Eclipser are made of the same material but they don’t match each other visually other than their essential shape and basic design stylings. I would like the option for a black Molekula or a white Eclipse, but these options aren’t available at this time.
The teeth on the Molekula clamp that attach it to the upper spindle of the record player also isn’t a perfect design. It can get stuck on my spindle if I’m not paying attention to it when affix it to the rig after I place the record. What happens is that there is a hole in my particular spindle, and one of the teeth can get stuck in it if I’m not careful. Additionally, in general, the Molekula is a bit of a chore to take off and on when I’m only listening to a few songs on a particular record, as it is a rather tight fit. With that said, perhaps I just don’t have the proper technique down yet, but I’ve also used it a bunch at this point, still haven’t quite perfected its removal.
Further, the Molekula doesn’t seem to be as influencial as the Eclipse is to use by itself, that is in most cases. While there are some notable improvements when using the Molekula, the leap isn’t as large as just switching to the Eclipse. The only exception to this in the course of my testing was when a record was warped and needed to be flattened out by the Molekula, but I also suppose this is the primary purpose for using a device like this, so its hard to fault the Molekula for doing a great job at what it was intended to do either. Either that, or I’ll do a separate comparison review entirely. So, make sure that you’re subscribed with notifications enabled to make sure you get alerted when I upload that and other future HiFi-related content.
Lastly, the Eclipse and the Molekula are rather expensive for a record mat and clamp, and there are certainly other options that will give improvements as well. Like I’ve already said, I likely will amend this review and provide additional comparisons of some of those other options in the future. With that said, other options certainly can be cheaper or more expensive. I’ve seen some cork, leather, and deerskin products out there that are rather economically priced and seem appealing to compare with the Hex Mat, but I’ve also seen a piece of paper from Stien Music go for more than the Hex Mat and other mats go for thousands. So, despite what might seem to be an expensive price to some, given the amount of R &D that has gone into these things according to Hex Mat themselves, I actually think its worth every penny. They also offer a Yellow Bird version of their mat that comes in at half the cost of the Eclipse, which might be more appealing to those with more economically minded systems. MSRP of the vinyl set up that I used to test the Eclipse and Mokula comes in at over 25000 dollars, so 280 Euros is a drop in that bucket, but I can understand not wanting to spend needlessly. My guess is that in a less revealing, more affordable system, the difference between the two would certainly be more negligible. But to me, the Eclipse and Molekula come in at that sweet spot between cost and performance to justify their cost in a system like mine.
But to end on an even more positive note, I also wanted to point out that I do like that the Molekula comes with a magnetic wooden holder with a lid to keep it free of dust and debris when not in use. The Eclipse comes with something similar, but I tend to keep mine on the platter and use a dust cover between listenings, so it rarely comes off my spindle. In any case, I wanted to point out that I even appreciated the packaging, and how it can be used for storage in order to keep the products safe in the longer run. Additionally, with the Molekula, Hex Mat also provided their Alignment tool (a 55 Euro value) to help set up a turntable- an inclusion of which will likely be helpful for many to adjust their Azimuth Angle, VTA, and ONP.
In summary, both the Molekula and Eclipse are assuredly excellent products from Hex Mat that are the result of their unique design approach and large body of research and development taking place at their facility in Hungary. I appreciate that Hex Mat always seems to be striving to provide the best possible product to their customers, making thoughtful decisions before bringing a product to market. Their website even indicates that they potentially plan to release future iterations of these products; possibly even improving upon these already excellent designs!
Thanks to Hex Mat for sending the Eclipse and the Molekula into the channel for review! They have been a pleasure to listen to throughout the review process, and will likely remain a staple in the review system for some time to come.
*Thanks to Hex Mat for sending the Molekula (+ Alignment Tool) and Eclipse in for review!
All of their products can be found at: https://www.hexmat.net/