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    The Best Vinyl: 180g and 200g Virgin Vinyl…

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    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.

    Just for fun, I am currently listening the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack in my car, Miles Davis' "On The Corner" on my iPod, and The Beatles' White Album on my turntable.

    Enjoy the music!
    -Alan

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    Topics: Sound Quality | 9 Comments »

    9 Responses to “The Best Vinyl: 180g and 200g Virgin Vinyl…”

    1. Kevin Says:
      January 26th, 2010 at 5:58 am

      A few years back Blue Note Records released a series of albums that were virgin vinyl 180g using copper presses, these are some of the best sounding albums i own

    2. Jack Says:
      April 27th, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      Which company is producing 200 grams vinyl record now?

    3. Alan Says:
      April 28th, 2010 at 8:53 am

      Lots of companies produce 200 gram records, but they are hard to find. In general, you’ll find mostly classic jazz and classic rock, and maybe a few modern classics pressed on 200 gram vinyl.

    4. Ray Says:
      June 13th, 2010 at 10:26 pm

      Not strictly true,in fact far from it.Some if not all of the best recordings are UK first pressings.

      A lot of the thicker re-presses sound too warm,shut in with no soundstage,the Yes Album for one.

    5. Alan Says:
      June 14th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      Yeah, as with everything, there are plenty of examples of things that don’t follow the rules. Obviously, records pressed with care are going to sound better than those that have been pressed poorly, even if they are on heavier vinyl.

    6. Ken McGuire Says:
      July 13th, 2010 at 8:26 am

      I have a slight correction to make regarding this discussion but it has to do with the comment “in the old days” and not the views of the writer. Having now reached the senior stage of life I realize that the “olden days” for me has a different context than that of younger folks.

      In the old days (e.g., before 1970s) vinyl records were often made with heavy, pure vinyl and had very little surface noise. You can test this by purchasing a NM example of an early Decca, Mercury, etc. It was only later that record manufacturers, to reduce costs, started to create thin records – for example RCA Dynaflex – with recycled materials.

    7. karl the karguy Says:
      July 30th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      Ray is right: MOST music sonds more natural on well-made vinyl than on seedies. A good friend and I used to have about 3,000 LP’s; and when I’d visit him to spin records on his Linn LP12 (and fine electronics/speakers), the goosebumps and grins were quite a thrill!! Boy, were those the days. Take excellent care of a high-quality pressing, and pure magic can be coaxed from the grooves. I’ve listened to a $60k ‘table at Andy Payor’s place in Maine–an engineering marvel bordering on the miraculous! And my buddy’s $9k system generally sounds more musically satisfying than an $80k rig with a digital front end.

    8. juan Says:
      June 1st, 2011 at 9:04 am

      hi! i want to know where can i buy virgin vinyls, ready for recording, i found a great vinyl machine in my grandfather┬┤s house and i would like to prove it.!!

    9. Alan Says:
      June 1st, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Hmmm, don’t know the answer to this…I would imagine you would have to buy in bulk. Maybe do a Google search….

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