With vinyl coming back into the mainstream, a common question that arises for collectors is “what is the difference in vinyl gram weights?”
Vinyl records typically weigh between 80-200 grams, with the smaller weights typically avoiding the ‘rumble’ of the heavier ones. This article will take you through the most common vinyl weights, giving a particular focus on 180-gram vinyl records.
Vinyl Weights Explained
The majority of 12-inch records pressed in the 20th century will weigh between 120 and 140 grams. These are the most common records in circulation today and likely make up the bulk of your collection.
7-inch records are also somewhat popular, often known as 45’s because they require a playback of 45 RPM. These will typically weigh around 80 grams and are relatively easy to store. Records are considered audiophile as long as they weigh 50 grams or more, meaning there is definite variation in this number.
That said, there has been a movement toward even heavier (180 gram) records in recent years. 180-gram vinyl is significantly thicker and stronger, becoming known as ‘audiophile grade’. This has become an increasingly popular choice among savvy collectors looking to enhance their listening experience.
Heavy duty records have evolved beyond this 180-gram level, with some new releases coming in as heavy as 200 grams. These tend to be more durable than the smaller options but will likely come with a higher price point and take up more space.
Does Vinyl Gram Weight Matter?
You’ll typically hear that weight matters because of the deeper and more refined grooves you may find on heavier records. This is essentially a myth, as all record needles require the same grooves to function properly, regardless of the grade.
That said, heavier records do offer a few distinct advantages over their lighter counterparts. We’ll analyze each of these now:
Bigger records like the 180-gram ones typically last much longer than smaller ones. They are more durable and resistant to breakage, often giving their owners much more use. You won’t need to replace bigger records all that often and you’ll spend less on maintaining them.
Better Warp Resistance
As they are much bigger and stronger, larger vinyl records will also do a better job of resisting warping. This means that you’ll experience the highest quality sound for a longer period and get the most out of your record. Warped records provide the user with a significantly worse listening experience that is much more common on conventionally sized records.
More Stable Platform
Heavier vinyl provides a much more stable platform for stylus and cantilever suspension. This helps prevent unwanted vibration that can damage the sound quality over time.
While there are a few more benefits to choosing heavier vinyl (180-200 grams), there’s nothing wrong with standard 120-140 gram vinyl. That isn’t to say you can’t enjoy a record as light as 80 grams — it’s all about personal preference.