Thick Vinyl Records

tima

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Mar 3, 2014
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The date when it started is unclear -- the introduction of the 180 gram record. I tend to associate it with Hobson and the Classic Records line of reproductions but it could be earlier. JVC in Japan developed techniques for creating 180 gram and 200 gram LPs that MFSL had on offer..

Some may say thick vinyl records were a reaction to the end of the oil shortage of the 1970s. Some claim thick vinyl records are more durable and less prone to warpage. I think it was JVC who said their 180g and 200g records were flatter. Some claim that a thick record delivers protection from vibration coming through the platter and spindle.

From 140g through 200g, today record productions follow the amalgamation of IEC 98-1987, RIAA and DIN standards which also have standards for deviating from standards. To get into the weeds on record standards go here.

In terms of technical specifications, tecord weight has little to do with the quality of sound and music. Record thickness and weight have no bearing on how the groove is cut or its dimensions. To make a record groove dependent on vinyl thickness would require a whole new set of standards.

One line of thinking suggests the 180g 'audiophile record' is simply a marketing gimmick. It has no inherent goodness versus other record weights and it is not a solution to any significant problem. Audiophiles, especially those who started collecting in this century, are sold the idea that 180g records are higher quality; that they have greater value than lower weight, thinner records. Nonetheless the originals of all those 180g reproductions, the Deccas, Philips, RCAs and Mercury's -- often considered to yield higher quality sound -- were not pressed on 180g vinyl.

Some say that 180g records are a bad thing because they sound bad. The 180g record sounds dead by comparison to thinner records because thicker vinyl is too damped. To compensate, recording engineers boost the top and bottom frequencies. That yields hiss and noise when the top end is boosted which now has to be filtered out which leads to more deadness. In the end you have a lifeless plastic sound or a hi-fi sound. Of course there are always exceptions and some modern LPs sound quite good.

I suspect many will say "it is what it is" and pay no mind to whether the record is 180g. Someone will inevitably say "the quality of the vinyl itself has a greater impact." Perhaps, though there are more virgin vinyl 180g records than thinner virgin vinyl.

What do you think? Do you have a preference?
 
Great question Sir,

The answers are alluded to in the cited paper. However you cut it the work and proofs were finished by the seventies.

This does not change marketing spin and hyperbole permeating the buyers outcome.

Dullest regards,G.
 
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As OP stated I believe recording techniques and other technical specs other than thickness would have a greater influence on sound. One area that I think is promising is clear vinyl. Does eliminating that component actually reduce magnetic properties etc?

Beau
 
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I am weight-agnostic. The care with which the music is recorded, mixed, mastered and pressed are the determinants of good sound, not record thickness. I’d be very surprised if WBF members thought otherwise.
 
Maybe the increase in record thickness gives a more closed in, dead sound because we adjust VTA for thinner records, the thicker ones are always a little off in direct comparison. I have one tonearm set up for both and one for thin records, the "both" tonearm still slightly favors the thinner records. Newer thicker records seem more prone to warping during manufacturing , to many MoFi and other audiophile offerings have this problem. I always choose the thinner record when i have a choice. :)
 
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I am weight-agnostic. The care with which the music is recorded, mixed, mastered and pressed are the determinants of good sound, not record thickness. I’d be very surprised if WBF members thought otherwise.

Every time that I have compared a thick reissue to a thin original, I have preferred the latter. In some cases it is likely because of remastering. Perhaps this is really a question of original versus reissue, rather than thin versus thick vinyl, I do not really know. I do know that many of my records on thick vinyl sound a bit lifeless. I also know that warped records are no an issue on my turntable.

I use two identical tonearms and am thinking of setting up two samples of the same cartridge, one on each arm but with slightly different arm heights (but same VTA/SRA) to compensate for thick and thin records. I do think that 140 versus 180 thickness is enough affect VTA/SRA and be audible.
 
my most prized records are my Classic Records LZ 45 rpm Box Set, which are 200 gram. they are fantastic. and many of my early jazz mono's and earlier classical are a bit heavier than some others. i love many of my thin Philips classical, and lots of the best pressings of late 60's early 70's rock are thin.

my Classic Records reissues and APO 45's are 180 or 200 gram and many are amazing, not all.

not that big a deal i think. follow the music.

probably fair to say that we have to view reissues as a separate case from originals. more going on than the thickness....good and bad.

and also, many of the worst sounding reissues are on heavy vinyl, which tends to connect the two cases where that's not cause and effect necessarily.
 
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Beyond thin and thick the real culprit could be material hardness. When you hold on your hand old and thin records feel like made out of harder material while new and thick records feel softer in general. QRP and RTI pressings feel closer to old records though.
 
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it was proposed to me last year during the lecture at the ETF that thinner 120-140g records are better since the material flows better, keeps a more even temperature while pressing and cools quicker and more uniformly leading to more consistent results. The swiss copywriter that proposed this was cutting and mastering a fully analog release and played a lacquer, a dub plate and pressing stamped from a father of a fully analog project he was working on. The other interesting thing was that many lathes that work form tape machines without a preview heads have a digital delay so the analog signal feeds the pitch advance circuitry and then a 1.6ish second Digital delay is added to feed the cutting head for the next revolution. Let the litigation begin :)

dave
 
it was proposed to me last year during the lecture at the ETF that thinner 120-140g records are better since the material flows better, keeps a more even temperature while pressing and cools quicker and more uniformly leading to more consistent results.
This makes a lot of sense imho
 
I use two identical tonearms and am thinking of setting up two samples of the same cartridge, one on each arm but with slightly different arm heights (but same VTA/SRA) to compensate for thick and thin records. I do think that 140 versus 180 thickness is enough affect VTA/SRA and be audible.

I think Marty's solution is simpler: set VTA for your average thick record, and place an appropriate height-compensating mat on the platter for your average thin record.
 
I think Marty's solution is simpler: set VTA for your average thick record, and place an appropriate height-compensating mat on the platter for your average thin record.
That's only true when you assume mats don't alter the sound or don't have their sonic signature but they do. Mats have bigger sonic impact than small VTA change due to record thickness. IMHO using a mat to compensate VTA is a bad idea.
 
I think Marty's solution is simpler: set VTA for your average thick record, and place an appropriate height-compensating mat on the platter for your average thin record.

Maybe simpler but that is against what I want to do. Different mat thicknesses will likely sound different. I would never consider this unless I wanted two different presentations. No thank you.
 
Thick records warp and do not press into place for playing with clamp/weights. They are a total waste of material, I avoid them after years of thinking they were good.
 
For older LPs, I always try to get the original 140 gram LP. For new music, I always opt for the CD. Very often poor quality (warp, sharp edges that destroy the inner sleeve or cover). Sometimes there is still release agent( veil) left on the LP, which is very difficult to clean
for the price today they cost an outrage.

P.S
Since then I always buy in the record store not online, then I can take the LP out of the sleeve and put it on the turntable to see if a warp on this LP is.
 
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For older LPs, I always try to get the original 140 gram LP. For new music, I always opt for the CD. Very often poor quality (warp, sharp edges that destroy the inner sleeve or cover). Sometimes there is still release agent( veil) left on the LP, which is very difficult to clean
for the price today they cost an outrage.

Wrt to release agent or mold compound, a decent ultrsonic machine with decent surfactant can remove it -- of course there may be exceptions. I try to deal with that upfront and always clean any purchase, new or used, before playing it.

Nowadays with the elaborate, almost exotic, packaging we continue to see, I don't know how much the thicker 180g and 200g records, increase cost. I would rather see money spent on quality control than on packaging or thick vinyl for the sake of thick vinyl.
 

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