Post By: Alan
All vinyl records are not created equal. It turns out that the type of vinyl used to make the actual record, as well as the weight of that vinyl have a huge impact on the ultimate sound of that record.
Let's back up.
In the old days, many vinyl records that were released were made on cheaper, low quality vinyl that was often recycled and usually contains impurities. These impurities make it more difficult for the sound to be accurately transferred to the record. For example, if 95% of the record is made of pure vinyl, 5% of the record is made of impurities. These impurities could be metals or plastics, or something else that does not have the exact chemical properties of vinyl. When the record is pressed (the process in which the grooves are imprinted onto the record), these impurities can interfere with the pressing, resulting in a record that contains bits of distortion and less precise musical data.
Also in the old days, many LPs were pressed onto thinner, lightweight vinyl. Thinner, lightweight vinyl was cheaper to manufacture, and it allowed music to remain more affordable for the masses. However, as you can imagine, thinner vinyl records are more fragile, get damaged easier, and wear out sooner. It is also true that thinner vinyl records produce a sound that is less pure.
So...what to do? Well, fortunately due to the re-emergence of vinyl as a serious medium in which to play music back, most of the vinyl that is released today is pressed on heavier records made of "virgin" vinyl. Virgin vinyl simply means that the vinyl used to make the record is pure vinyl, and virtually free of impurities. The lack of impurities creates a more pure pressing of the vinyl, resulting in a better sound.
In addition to the high-quality, virgin vinyl used, many records are pressed on heavier platters of vinyl. Usually this is advertised on the packaging as a "180g" or "200g" pressing. The 180g or 200g is just the weight of the record in grams. So, a 180g record weighs 180 grams. These heavier records are noticeably heavier, thicker and stiffer than lightweight records. As you can imagine, the grooves retain their shape better, even with repeated plays. Some even claim that the stiffer vinyl produces a more realistic sound with less distortion than a standard record.
Most so-called "audiophile" records are pressed on heavy, virgin vinyl, and the experts pretty much agree: These records truly do sound better than the standard, lightweight records of yesteryear. Plenty of jazz, classical and rock selections are available in this heavier format, and it is always recommended that you seek these out when shopping for vinyl.
Enjoy the music!
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