Techniques for isolating and comparing a component upgrade or change

Recently, I've changed my turntable mat from a leather mat to an acrylic mat.  I was wondering what techniques members try to compare sound of one item vs. another?  My approach is to minimize as much change as possible other than the item upgraded which entails same, components, same room, same music selection.  

Ideally a dual set up with an A/B switch between the two identical set ups might be nice, but not very practical for most situations.  In my case I'm playing the same music track with one mat; then switching mats and playing the same single track.  I then progress to playing a full album side and switching mats again.  

With a change so subtle I struggle to find real difference between the two; I think I hear more clarity with one and then I'm not sure. Is there another way to measure small changes that an alternative mat may produce?  An approach that might work for comparing other small changes like new cables or other components?

My system is detailed in my profile.  And yes, I've considered that there is no difference or that I'm overthinking this one 😉



There’s always a difference. I can use a sheet of paper under a record and hear the change! What you are doing is mostly fine. I use tracks that I know intimately. Listen for fine inner detail, speed of transients, blackness between notes, color of the music, does the music sound cohesive? Are the musicians playing together? Depth and power of bass, reverberation times, space, air, depth. You might even make a checklist on paper as you listen. Then move the list into your head as you get used to what to listen for. Always do an A-B-A test to check your findings. Always one change at a time.

HOW are you seeing member's virtual systems? I click on member's name, no link appears like it used to.