Top Ten Vinyl Record Myths

by Sophia Hernandez

MYTH # 10

Only old music sells on vinyl

False.
In 2009, Radiohead was the #1 selling artist on vinyl.

(Source: Soundscan 2009)

MYTH # 9

Vinyl is dead

Not even close.
Vinyl is the only physical music medium that is increasing in sales. In
2009, more than 2.5 million vinyl records were sold in the United States.
Best Buy, the third largest music retailer, now has 50 stores that carry
vinyl albums. Check out these articles on the rebirth of vinyl:

Vinyl Records and Turntables Are Gaining Sales
– New York Times

In a
digital age, vinyl’s making a comeback
– Los Angeles Times

Vinyl Gets Its Groove Back
– Time Magazine
In 2009

MYTH # 8

New vinyl manufacturing equipment is currently being manufactured

False.
There’s no doubt that pressing machinery is in high demand with the
incredible resurgence of vinyl records. However, very little new manufacturing equipment is being made today. For example, the last cutting lathes were manufactured in the 1980s, and can only be found through independent service consultants and cutting room service departments.

MYTH # 7

7″ vinyl cut at 33rpm sounds as good as 12″ vinyl cut at 33rpm

False.
It’s never a good idea to cut a 7″ at 33 rotations per minute, it generally
sounds bad. 7″ records are smaller, so naturally the grooves are more
compressed. As the grooves get closer to the center of a record the groove
width is reduced. Therefore, at the slower speed of 33rpm, distortion can be highly noticeable and cause an unattractive sound. With the circumference of 12″ records, there is more surface area to experiment with. It is more manageable to engrave the outside of the disc where there is better frequency response and minimal tracing distortion. If you have your heart set on putting out a 7″ record, remember that it is highly recommended to record at the speed of 45rpm.

MYTH # 6

7″ vinyl always comes with a big spindle hole

False.
Back in the 1950s, 7″ records were made with large spindle holes for one
main reason: it allows easier handling by jukeboxes. You can still find
them, and Record Pressing can still make them with both large and small
spindle holes.

MYTH # 5

Gold records are made of gold

False.
If this were true, I would have tried getting my hands on one a long time ago. When an artist goes “gold” or “platinum” it refers to the number of albums that were sold. Initially, trimmed and plated metal masters, mothers, or stampers were used to make the awards. Most gold and platinum records are actual vinyl records dipped in metallic paint. Sorry metal detector aficionados.

MYTH # 4

You can NOT play a lacquer master on a record player

False.
Yes you can! If you have a turntable or lathe that accommodates a 14 inch disc, the size of lacquer masters, you can play it. You can even play the mother, a metal version of the record. The only thing you cannot play on a record player is a stamper itself because these are created as the negatives meaning that the grooves are reversed.

MYTH # 3

Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) sounds better than lacquer mastering

False.
There is a difference between the two processes, but there is a consensus that lacquer mastering simply has a better, warmer sound. DMM works well with long LPs – there is better pitch control in the system (for those that have not been back-converted to lacquer as most have), which is better for longer lengths (albums etc.). There is also higher frequency response and, because of this, grooves cannot be cut as deep and there is sometimes a tin-type sound to DMM. For warmer, deeper sound and better base response, lacquer mastering is the way to go. Lacquers can also be significantly louder on EP’s or singles than DMM. Have you ever wondered where dubstep gets that explosive bass that shakes your entire body? That’s lacquer mastering at its finest.

MYTH # 2

Record labels are glued on

False.
In the vinyl manufacturing process, special paper is used and baked to remove all moisture that makes adhesion possible. There is no glue used in the manufacturing process. Instead, special PVC melted into rubber patties, called “biscuits,” are placed between two record labels in a press. A metal stamper is used to apply pressure at a very hot temperature to melt and mold the biscuit and labels together to create the vinyl record.
Check out this YouTube video to see the process:

YouTube Preview Image

MYTH # 1

You can cut deeper grooves in a 180 gram record than in a thinner record

False.
A record press can only produce grooves that are as deep as the cuts in the lacquer master. This depth is far shallower than any record thickness. Consequently, the thickness or thinness of the record has no impact on the depth of the grooves. Considering this, there has yet to be a record made where the two sides of the grooves meet in the middle meaning a thicker record is not necessarily advantageous. However, some artists, producers and consumers prefer the benefits of a thicker record which include reduced warp, less breakage, longer lasting quality, and that the weight of the records make them nicer to hold.