Heavy Vinyl & Playback Speed

Manual Vinyl Pressing machine

There are a lot of myths surrounding heavy vinyl. Better sound, better durability and higher quality…, yet how much of it is the result of more material and how much is in the skill of the mastering engineers? The truth, as with many things, is not as clear cut.

When a record is mastered for heavy vinyl, you can achieve extra groove depth, which is said to make a difference especially for dynamic and volume rich sound. The thicker material is also said to be more robust and stable on your record deck. So what is really going on?

All records are mastered to a standard, and this is the same for lighter and heavier vinyl. When you cut into thicker material you still need to be within the standard, and that is pretty much the same for any weight of 100g plus on a 12″. However, the 180g 12″ and 70g 7″ is less prone to warping and more stable during playback, so many of our clients prefer the thicker, weightier feel of heavy vinyl.

What is most important for the sound is the quality of the source material and the skills of the mastering engineer. A badly cut record from CD quality digital files will always sound bad, regardless of the weight. A 45rpm at 12″ will sound better than a 7″ at 33 ⅓rpm. A skilled engineer will optimise the sound for the target medium, advise on the technical limitations and get the most out of the source files for the best sound performance. For further and interesting reading we recommend the article published by the vnylst.