This blog will answer the question, “Do different weighted records actually sound better and can you notice the difference between the weights?”
I was asked this question by readers and I really wanted to know this answer myself but with limited knowledge on the subject, I reached out to several pressing companies for the answer.
Is this a myth or is there merit to the claim?
I know over the years I have gone into record stores and have been told both yes and no. Well, when it comes down to who knows best I figured who better to ask than the people who make the records and who are industry experts?
I was really surprised and thankful for how many people replied with an answer and offered to help me answer this question!
Let’s take a look at some answers from some vinyl pressing plants around the world:
Furnace MFG, President, CEO and founder Eric Astor wrote;
“There is virtually no quality difference between the new “standard” weight vinyl (140-150g) and 180g-200g records. The same cut and plates are used to press both. A heavier pressed record will resist some of the micro movements created by a stylus surfing through the grooves but most people can’t hear the difference if there is one at all.”
Eric went on to add some advice to buyers writing, “Instead, the buyer should pay close attention to whether it was pressed on black or color vinyl with black almost always sounding superior. Unlike CDs, vinyl quality differs from plant to plant. We are proud of making very high quality records and we spend the money required to keep the quality standards high. It costs more to do this but in the end, we only produce what we’d be happy spending our hard earned money on at the local record store.”
Eric states; “It takes a village to produce a great quality record so if any of the following processes are lacking, you can hear it in the playback:
- Lacquer cut / mastering
- Plating / galvanic
- Quality of PVC
- Quality and consistency of the press and the operator running said press
- Physical and audible plant quality control
- Type of sleeve the record goes in (paper sleeves scuff records)
- Quality of turntable and stylus
- Quality of playback gear - receiver, amps, speakers, etc”
Furnace MFG Kelly Sadler Sales wrote, “Mechanically, there are advantages to heavy weight records, in that the additional weight provides a more stable platform for your turntable's stylus and cantilever which provides for better isolation from unwanted vibration. I really don't see much of any difference between 180G and 200G weight records however.”
Hand Drawn Pressing, founder Dustin Blocker wrote;
“The difference between 200/180G vs. standard (typically 120G and up depending on MFG); is going to be in their resistance to warping, not in their audio.” Dustin went on to state; “The master and stamper (which is the audio) is the same regardless of weight. What makes a great sounding record is that stamper.”
Groove House Records, President, CEO and founder Bryan Kelley
Woodland Hills, CA
“Records pressed on 180 or 200 grams don't necessarily sound better. It really depends on the content though. If the content is bass heavy like rap, then a heavier weight record can be helpful. The length of the record also is a factor. Shorter records are best - i.e. a record that is under 18 minutes per side will always provide you with most optimal sound quality. Most of the time, we find that pressing a record on 140 or 150 gram vinyl sounds best. We will often times make a cleaner sounding record by lightening up on the weight. This little trick can take away some of the surface noise and little ticks that are found on most vinyl records.”
24mastering, Founder/owner and mastering/cutting engineer Misjah Van Der Heiden wrote:
Even though 24 Mastering is not a pressing plant, his knowledge is one that goes with this topic. 24 Mastering is a professional mastering and disc cutting facility and wrote;
“If the conditions are the same (same mastering, same pressing plant, same plating, same vinyl used etc) then there is no sonic difference between 180 or heavier pressings.”
Precision Record Pressing, Vice President of Sales Paul Miller stated;
Burlington Ontario, Canada
“It’s true that 180 or 200 gram records do not sound better than standard weight records. The amount of vinyl compound used on press has no relation to the cutting or plating process, which are arguably the most critical factors in determining sound quality.”
Paul didn’t want to give the wrong impression that 180g were no good he also stated; “I would however consider 180 gram vinyl to be a great packaging feature – it’s almost human instinct to hold a heavyweight record in your hand and associate that product with quality. It really “feels like a record”. Since people enjoy it so much, I consider it an appealing frill much like a unique looking record jacket, or a lock groove on the cut.”
Polysom, Consultant João Augusto wrote;
“Probably my message will hurt some people that believe that heavier vinyls have better sound. Technically, this is very far from the truth. The grooves for any weight are the same, so the sound is the same as well. Records with 180 or 200 grams are believed to be better due to its solid appearance, but this does not change the sound."
Canada Boy Vinyl, Chief Operations Officer Dean Reid wrote:
Calgary AB, Canada
“In my personal opinion, there is no difference in sound quality between a standard weight record and heavyweight. One could argue that the thicker record is more durable and less likely to warp, which I believe to be true.”
“At the end of the day, the truth is in the grooves. If a standard weight record is pressed properly it should sound the same as a heavyweight. If each of the records was pressed flat, then they should sound the same.”
“I personally dig heavyweight records as they are nice and chunky and look cool. Do I think they sound better than standard weight? Not at all.”
Vinilificio, Cristian Adamo Founder/owner wrote;
"The weight of the vinyl just influence the stability of the vinyl on the turntable.
The groove deepness is exactly the same between a 140 gr. and 180 gr.
The 180 gr. can avoid the wowing on the long playing vinyl records with long notes as in the classical music or ambient music.
If you have a precise turntable and music with long notes it could be better to have a 180 gr. vinyl record.... but if you have a music with some rhythmic/beat it's nearly impossible to listen the difference between 140 and 180 gr."
In summary, it is clearly well stated by many pressing companies that the sound is not going to change when it comes to the weight. Regardless of what people may believe I think a heavier record is nice, it feels great in my hands and I feel like I spent my money on a sturdy product. Additionally, in my opinion a heavier weighted record sits better on my platter.