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If you are new to cork or especially if you have tried other cork options, there is a lot to take in. Seems a bit extreme for something as simple as a piece of cork for a platter mat. However, we are still bombarded by tons of info and it can be daunting to sort through it all. During all our work here at Analog Restorations we really started to see as to why most manufactures aren’t giving a better piece of cork a ton of time an attention. The reasoning was very simple, but that very same reason was presenting a very difficult solution.
A lot of manufactures chose a cheap piece of cork because a lot of times that’s how the consumer looks at it. Not that the consumer intends to have a cheap piece of cork, rather they are looking at cork as “just cork”. As we explained in another section that there isn’t really much being done to show the consumer that not all cork is created equal. Using cork as an upgrade on a platter mat is only being viewed against other possible materials. Unfortunately, a lot of companies know this and figure its best to just have a piece of cork as long as it’s…..well…..cork. The reason this happens is simple. It is a lot easier for most companies to go with the general consensus. This means, and especially given on how we get our “info” these days, that its easier to go along with how people are making decisions. To change this or to bring light to this notion that not only do we have different materials to decide, we now have differences within each material to think about. Why stir the pot or initiate a lot of conversation when the consumer is just looking for cork? We do not think this is acceptable and we also think it takes away from the experience of listening to music. At the end of the day we don’t want to get hung up on equipment and choices, rather just listen to music and have the experience we set out to have.
Well, we are stirring the pot. The act of even having the conversation when we could just sell you another piece of cork makes things more complex sounding. So, the answer is to just produce a better piece of cork right? While that is what we did, we did not want to take away from being able to customize each platter mat. This is where the additional difficulty arose. When we produced our DC2 compound it was truly refined with such a decrease in natural blemishes. The finish is super smooth and clean. We chose to dye the image into the surface as to keep the area touching your record perfectly abrasion free, this included small inconsistencies that can even cause the smallest of micro-abrasions. When you chose to dye into a surface that is natural like cork, it almost acts like a sponge. This leads to a couple concerns. The first is that the dye is bound to fade, reducing the vibrancy and clarity of the image. This is something that some manufactures will overcome by using more ink, higher temperatures, and excessive pressure. The problem with that is it will surely destroy a very high-quality piece of cork, so you are trading one thing for another. That makes an approach like such more of a problem. With a lower quality cork the dye will actually get absorbed more and will not always fade or require such pressure, heat, or large quantities of ink. So if you are out to get a great and lasting image, you have to use a lower quality piece of cork. However, that isn't always the case as a lot of manufactures that went to save money on the cork also looked to save money on the process in which the image is applied. This means that you get not only a cheap piece of cork but a poor image too, both leading to a huge decrease in longevity of the mat. Of course some dyes are better than others but everyone is bound to fade quickly due to the inherent nature of cork. The other issue with having such a perfect surface on a higher grade cork is that some ink will sit on top. This means that it will come off on your fingers and the oils in your hands will actually alter, distort, fade, and discolor the image. Obviously, that is a separate problem. With both these factors we can easily see why other manufactures just use a lower quality mat. Frankly it’s easier because as we have learned that a higher quality cork is more expensive, requires additional conversations, and doesn’t take an image as well. It is almost like the conclusion to use a cheap piece of cork comes from the mentality of “why bother”. That’s not really fair to the consumer but it is easier and certainly more profitable.
When we developed DC2 we new we had the right piece of cork. We struggled with image application, but we knew the cork answered all the concerns that most people had about cheap cork. We knew we fixed that, so now was time to get the image right. We knew that while it was one reason a lot of companies stayed away from high quality cork mats that there still had to be a solution.
Specifically for our DC2 mats we developed a process and a formula for our proprietary Hydro CS Processing. This post image process will molecularity bond the ink to itself and its location within the cork. This special formula is atomized and absorbed directly into the cork and the dye, locking the color and clarity in its place. This water-based formula leaves no residue and any excess during the application process is quick to evaporate. This means the surface stays the same and has no difference in texture or feel. More importantly this means that we can use far less heat, far less pressure, and far less time that the cork is vulnerable. In doing so we can eliminate any adverse effect on the cork. More importantly our Hydro CS Processing contains special UV binding agents to protect the image for the life of the mat as well as the process adds moisture back into the cork. This keeps the mat super soft and supple. The Hydro CS Processing coupled with the DC2 cork makes the most refined cork mat on the market, solving any customers original concerns with cork while preserving, and even increasing, the integrity of the cork. All this means that you can get to what you meant to be doing, listening to your music, enjoying the experience, and moving forward in your audio journey.