Garrard 301 platter upgrade.

Does the platter matter?

I would like to share my experience of upgrading the platter on my turntable.

In 2008 I took delivery of a Garrard 301 with a customized plinth designed by Steve Dobbins of Xact audio. When I had first taken delivery the Garrard was fitted with the stock platter that originally came with the table. After several months I modified the platter by adhering a thin copper plate to the top and then binding a Boston Audio Design Graphite mat on top of that. This modification yielded a much cleaner presentation, better bass and faster transient response. I surmised that the change probably dampened some unwanted resonance that interfered with signal transfer.

I had been informed of a new platter Steve had designed for the Garrard 301 in 2011 but was disinclined to do anything as I was very satisfied with the sound produced by my own platter modification.

In the last couple of months I wanted to try the Dynavector 17d3 and purchased one from Tom Port at Better records. I mounted the 17d3 on a Triplanar tonearm. I really liked this needles performance and saw some great potential in it provided a sufficient amount of playtime was given for break in. However after two days the body was dragging on the record surface. The cartridge was returned and replaced, but after two days the same problem occurred. Mike Pranka the US distributor for Dynavector had me take a magnet and test to see if my platter responded. It did but with very slight pull. He felt the problem lay with the platter and not the cartridge.

Since I really wanted this cartridge to work I called Steve and inquired about his customized 301 platter. I had him take a powerful magnet and test if there was any attraction whatsoever. He did this while I was on the phone with him and reported that there was absolutely no magnetic attraction. I ordered this platter on the spot with the only expectation that the Dynavector, a third one which Tom Port graciously provided after two did not work, would not collapse as had the previous two.

The new platter is a beauty to behold unlike the old skool look of the Garrard. The top surface has a beautiful copper finish which added an esthetically pleasing look to the turntable. It is substantially heavier than the original platter, making the previous one feel like a toy.

I listened to a couple of records before swapping the platters keeping the volume level set for comparison. As soon as the stylus touched the record I knew something big was about to happen because it was like the volume had just been turned up a couple of notches. I was not prepared for what followed. The sound was big and bold. The bass response was phenomenal; it was deep tight and resonant. It had punch and crunch. A noteworthy benefit was the separation of instruments and a dramatic drop in the noise floor. The clarity and cleanness of presentation was scintillatingly exciting. Percussion instruments and cymbals had that beautiful snap, ring and long decay that makes home audio so rewarding. I was over the top with this upgrade.

In addition after several weeks of play the Dynavector has not collapsed and continues after several weeks of play to sound quite good.
So to answer the question, does the platter matter? You bet it does!

I've been using a Dynavector XX2MKII on my Garrard 401 for a couple of years now, with the stock platter. It has always sounded excellent, and even better with its recent Soundsmith retip.

Either the 301 platter has ferrous metal in it, and the 401's doesn't, or the 17D3 has a much stronger magnet, I don't know which. Someone out there may know.

Happy to hear the new platter is working well for you but surprised that magnetic attraction was not addressed in the previous one.
I too purchased a Steve Dobbins platter for the Garrard 301 and I had the sense that it made the table come alive. I have since switched to a Technics SP10II and based on the Dobbins platter experience, ordered an upgraded copper topped platter. I can't say that it has made as big a difference, but I do think it has helped. But for the Garrard 301 I would highly recommend the Steve Dobbins copper topped platter.