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September 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere!
Marigo Ultima Signature Mat
Making every digital disc sound great!
Review By Wayne Donnelly

 

  I don't think any audio accessory, no matter how unusual, has elicited as many "you've got to be kidding!" reactions at first sight as the Marigo CD/DVD damping mats. I owned an early version of this unique Marigo technology several years ago, and from the beginning virtually every visitor to my listening room had the same reaction to what appeared to be a flimsy cardboard-looking disc that nevertheless, when placed atop a CD, suddenly improved sonic focus, frequency response, imaging and overall musicality, making even early-generation CDs sound more “analog-like.” Unfortunately that early Marigo CD mat got lost in the shuffle of my move to Chicago, and I never got around to replacing it. But remembering how much I had liked the original Marigo CD mat, I was delighted when Ron Hedrich told me he had finally achieved what he considered the ultimate improvement in that technology. So I received a brand-new Ultima Signature Mat along with the RHX Mystery Feet reviewed elsewhere in this issue.

The first thing I noticed was how extraordinarily thin the new mat is. Ron says it is half the thickness of its predecessor. While it still superficially resembles very thin cardboard, this mat is fabricated from a highly sophisticated composite material incorporating carbon nanotubes. This lightweight device, according to the Marigo website, performs miraculously to damp out vibrations in a spinning disc. Rather than paraphrase the site’s statements, I urge the reader to read Marigo’s description. Some of the[r assertions are, frankly, technical points that as a layman in engineering and physics I simply don’t feel qualified to judge.

But I was able to assess one remarkable assertion. Marigo tells the user to orient the Ultima Mat so that its orientation is perpendicular to the printing on the disc's label. The Ultima Mat is translucent, so in a well lighted room the user can read the label printing through it. The Ultima Mat also has a blue line printed on its topside, with a triangular hole cut on that line to facilitate orientation to the disc. I admit to being skeptical about this instruction initially. But the proof was in the listening. On many different CDs in many musical genres, I compared the sound with and without taking care to properly orient the Ultimate Mat atop the CD. Occasionally I heard no perceptible differences, but on a great majority of CDs the proper orientation yielded more relaxed and musical sound. I also tried this difference in my Oppo DVD player. Similar results – e.g., the Blu-Ray DVD of "12 Years a Slave" had better color fidelity and contrast with proper orientation, discernible even with my impaired vision.

For the last few years I had been using the Millennium M-CD-Mat, a carbon fiber disc damper that performed very well on both CD and DVD. I expected a close contest between the Millennium and the Marigo disc dampers, but the Marigo Ultima Mat consistently came out on top.

Marigo Ultima Signature MatThe Marigo Ultima Signature Mat retails for $239. I guess if you judge audio value by pounds per dollar, which may seem extravagant. But if you want to hear and see the best from your digital discs, it strikes me as a great value.  My Modwright CD and Oppo DVD players are high-performance high-value components, but far from the multi-thousand-dollar digital rigs available in today's audio marketplace. I have spoken to colleagues who have heard the Marigo Ultima Signature Mat in megabuck state-of-the-art setups at audio shows – e.g., a $30,000 dcs system at the 2013 RMAF –and they report improvements from using the Ultima Mat similar to what I heard on my more modest equipment. The bottom line for me is that anyone with a lot of digital discs will be very happy with the Marigo Ultima Signature Mat.

There is not a lot of risk involved in trying the Ultima Signature Mat. Marigo offers a 30-day in-home trial with a money-back guarantee if the product is returned. They also provide a 5-year replacement warranty if the Ultima Mat is torn or damaged in use. I guess there is also not much risk for Marigo with this warranty. Ron Hedrich has advised me that no Marigo mat has ever been returned because of a tear. And I suspect that few listeners will want to return the Ultima Signature Mat after hearing and seeing what it can do. I purchased the review sample, and it is now integral to my CD and DVD use.  

 

Specifications
Type: Digital disc tweak
Ultima Signature Mat: $239

 

Company Information
Marigo Audio Lab
32711 SE 16th St.,
Washougal, WA 98671

Voice: (360) 835-9239
Fax: (360) 835-9249
E-mail: marigoaudio@frontier.com
Website: www.MarigoAudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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