Is 180 Gram Vinyl Really Better?

August 15, 2017

 

180-gram vinyl. You see it a lot more lately and some people consider it to be better. But why? I'm about to drop some knowledge about 180 gram vinyl that some of you may feel to be somewhat enlightening. 

 

Here's the deal with 180-gram vinyl, you ready? It's a thicker record. That's IT! 

 

Some think that a thicker record means deeper grooves to hold more info and that's what makes it "audiophile" - but, nope! The grooves are the same depth as a standard weight record (these days around 140-gram). They use the same type of lacquers and stampers for standard-weight and 180-gram, there is no "deeper groove" - that is a myth that is flat out untrue. 

 

So, if the grooves aren't deeper then why do 180-gram records sound "better"? The reason for this is the thickness. A thicker record can absorb more vibration, which in-turn gives better fidelity during playback. BUT, you can get that with a standard-weight vinyl record as well! There is something you can get called a "record weight". You place the record weight over the record and it reduces vibration and adds clarity. The funny thing, though...is if you place a record weight on a 180-gram record it doesn't really improve the sound all that much, not that I've found. But the difference when putting a record weight on a standard weight record (especially older, thinner, 120-gram records) is much more noticeable, because a thinner record can't absorb as much vibration. So, essentially, a record weight can turn any standard-weight vinyl record into a 180-gram vinyl record, in terms of a sound upgrade. Which is the main benefit of 180-gram records, the potential for better sound. 

 

There is one other, albeit minor, advantage to having a thicker record. That is more durability as it will be less prone to warps. But one may argue that since many take care of their records these days, warping isn't that much of an issue and not enough to warrant the extra spend (if given the option). If one has a good record weight, then the appeal for 180-gram records usually goes away after a while.

 

There is also a drawback to 180-gram records as well. They are prone to skipping for no reason on lower-end turntables. So, perhaps one reason they are marketed as being "audiophile" is because you almost need an "audiophile" turntable to play them without issue. Amazon is loaded with reviews from people complaining about skips on various 180-gram releases, most of which have what I like to call "toytables". 

 

In short, the need for a 180-gram record should be minimal if one has a good record weight.

 

 

 

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