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How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Search was not working this morning, so I was unable to search this topic.

As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?

  • cliveb
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #1
As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?
Of course in an absolute sense a vinyl LP will deteriorate with every play. But if the turntable is is good order and correctly aligned, an LP can survive dozens of plays without much audible degradation. On the other hand, one single play on a badly set up turntable can wreck an LP through extreme mistracking. And there's no way to tell via a visual inspection. So buying used LPs is a bit of a lottery.

That said, the damage done may well be at a different height on the groove wall to where your own stylus will track. Cheap and nasty turntables tend to have spherical stylii with fairly large radii, which means the damage will sit fairly high on the groove wall. If you use a small elliptical stylus it will tend to sit a bit lower and may play an undamaged part of the groove wall.

My advice is to only buy used LPs if they are cheap, or if the seller is prepared to take them back if they prove to be damaged.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #2
This is more a curiosity than anything else.  I will admit that I am a complete and total digital snob.  For very subjective reasons, I was extremely happy to leave my albums behind, and switch to CDs.  The list is long and not in line with this thread.  But anyway...

There is a used CD store near me that is now split in half and the other half is now all used vinyl.  I was always curious how much of a crap shoot used vinyl was.

Assuming you have good equipment that is properly aligned, what is the life of vinyl?  Obviously leaving it in a hot car is a horribly bad idea.  I've dealt with a few warped records in my time.

  • greynol
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #3
Ask the moron who carpet-bombed the vinyl myths wiki with baseless claims including being able to play vinyl over 1000 times without audible degradation.  Oh, he(?) isn't a member of the community and has never taken part in a discussion here.

...never mind.
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • 2tec
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #4
Are used albums a bad idea?
Wear is certainly an issue that affects used vinyl. Indeed, the marketplace grades and values vinyl based on the condition which includes wear. Generally, mint condition unworn (rarer) vinyl commands the highest prices. If wear is an issue for you, then you can just spend more and buy only used near-mint condition or new vinyl. Of course, listening to used vinyl is not an issue if you're not listening critically. A lot of enjoyment can be had from music on used vinyl as is evident from the fact that the records were worn by playing them.

From hanging around Discogs, I get the impression that many collectors either play their material sparingly or not at all. Personally, I play my collectible vinyl only once or twice, in order to make a digital copy. of course, this is no different from how I treat collectible Cds as well. ;~)
  • Last Edit: 29 June, 2017, 10:46:51 AM by 2tec
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

  • Jakob1863
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #5
Ask the moron who carpet-bombed the vinyl myths wiki with baseless claims including being able to play vinyl over 1000 times without audible degradation.  Oh, he(?) isn't a member of the community and has never taken part in a discussion here.

...never mind.

Loescher & Hirsch did an experiment back in the 1970s (and presented the results at an AES convention and in the JAES as well) on the durability of pickups and records when played wet. They found some evidence that indeed 1000 - 2000 plays are possible wihout audible degradation under those conditions.
They provided photographs of the grooves and pickups and additional A/B comparision via tape recordings.

Loescher was afair the inventor of the Lenco-System while Hirsch was associated to Thorens.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #6
Ask the moron who carpet-bombed the vinyl myths wiki with baseless claims including being able to play vinyl over 1000 times without audible degradation.  Oh, he(?) isn't a member of the community and has never taken part in a discussion here.

...never mind.

I read that article and noticed some rather far-fetched claims in it.  Hence why I posted this.  1000 plays seems a bit much.

  • 4season
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #7
According to the makers of LAST record preservative, "200 plays without discernable wear"is possible (with the aid of their product of course):
http://thelastfactory.com/vinyl-record-care-preservation/

LAST was a favorite from my audiophile days, and I recently picked up a fresh bottle of the stuff and figured I'd put it to the ABX test. So far have only made made recordings before and after treatment but haven't ABX'd (maybe this weekend?)

I used to buy a lot of secondhand vinyl, and when buying from shops which specialize in it, condition tended to be pretty decent. But most of those were probably from the late 1960s onwards when stylus tracking forces tended to be measured in grams, not ounces!
In general, if the record jacket and the disk itself appear to be in pretty good shape, they probably are.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #8
You can't always be confident with the look of a second-hand LP. I was talking with a guy who runs a second-hand record shop, and one of the dodges that unscrupulous sellers have is to use T-Cut (or a similar polish) to make a disc look lovely and clean. It buggers the sounds quality, and may well do the same to your stylus, but it looks nice.

When I buy second-hand vinyl, I go to a decent shop (usually Alan's in Finchley, North London) and don't buy the pricey discs. While I do occasionally get a record that's beyond salvation, they are usually playable (and digitisable, if I want to keep it).

As for looking at the jacket, I once went into my then-local shop, to find the owner swearing like a docker. A bloke had come in with some really great-looking records (Beatles first pressings, that sort of stuff) and the jackets/inner sleeves were pristine. Then he looked at the discs... which looked like they'd been used as flooring by people in muddy boots. Not even worth putting in the bargain bins.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #9
I wonder if any stores have turntables in them that will let you try an album out before you buy it.

I really like the size and thinness of the album packaging,  Though I do like CD packaging, the small size just isn't as impressive.

  • 4season
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #10
I wonder if any stores have turntables in them that will let you try an album out before you buy it.

I really like the size and thinness of the album packaging,  Though I do like CD packaging, the small size just isn't as impressive.

My local stores generally have a turntable that customers can use. Otherwise, it would be a great excuse to pick up one of these Numark portable turntables:

https://www.numark.com/product/pt01-scratch

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #11
My local shop has a couple of decks, if there's a disc you want to try before you buy.

  • cliveb
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #12
Loescher & Hirsch did an experiment back in the 1970s (and presented the results at an AES convention and in the JAES as well) on the durability of pickups and records when played wet. They found some evidence that indeed 1000 - 2000 plays are possible wihout audible degradation under those conditions.
On the other hand I've seen reports (I think from Ortofon) that wet playing can actually damage the grooves. The theory is that the instantaneous high temperatures created at the point of contact between stylus and groove should not be quenched by a liquid.

FWIW, when I experimented with Lencoclean playing it did seem to reduce some of the surface noise, but subsequent dry playing was a crackle-fest - presumably because the dirt lifted out of the bottom of the groove by the wet solvent got deposited back on the side walls.

Loescher was afair the inventor of the Lenco-System ...
OK, so no vested interest there, then   ;)

  • cliveb
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #13
My local stores generally have a turntable that customers can use. Otherwise, it would be a great excuse to pick up one of these Numark portable turntables:
https://www.numark.com/product/pt01-scratch
Crikey. If I ran a used LP store and a customer turned up wanting to try a record on one of those, he'd be politely asked to shove it where the sun don't shine.

  • KozmoNaut
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #14
As for looking at the jacket, I once went into my then-local shop, to find the owner swearing like a docker. A bloke had come in with some really great-looking records (Beatles first pressings, that sort of stuff) and the jackets/inner sleeves were pristine. Then he looked at the discs... which looked like they'd been used as flooring by people in muddy boots. Not even worth putting in the bargain bins.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I was looking through the bargain bin ($3 each) at a local store a while ago, and happened upon Ace of Spades by Motörhead. I was a little bit surprised, but it made sense to be there, as the jacket was badly worn and the inner sleeve was missing. The disc itself had some dust and fingerprints on it, but no scratches, so I figured I would give it a shot for $3.

Got it home, cleaned it up (dish soap, lukewarm water and paintbrush, dry with microfiber towel) and it plays perfectly, no discernible loss of sound quality that I could detect. Plus, it's a UK Bronze Records first pressing. Not too bad, if I say so myself :-)

  • Porcus
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #15
Search was not working this morning, so I was unable to search this topic.

As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?

I dug after something like that in this thread: https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,113365.msg940580.html#msg940580 . In brief:
Bad: a bad stylus can wear down the vinyl quite quickly.
Good: According to that former AES Sweden president, there are styli that will hardly wear the vinyl in thousands of spins.


@KozmoNaut:
Good that it wasn't this LP that had its jacket ruined: https://www.discogs.com/Motörhead-No-Remorse/release/1313603

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #16
Search was not working this morning, so I was unable to search this topic.

As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?

Has the world been spoilt by perfect digital reproduction? Perfect the first time, perfect every time.

apastuszak, this is not what buying second-hand LPs is about. Its about stuff like finding an album you always wanted, getting it at a price you can afford, all the mystique of handling that properly-printed, decent size physical object, sometimes buying it even though it may may be far from perfect.

We have a thread on what people like about vinyl. Not about how it sounds, how many Hz it can accommodate or whatever, but the sheer, personal experience of the thing.

You have a store. There are used records there. Go find out!

Disclosure: Vinyl (and even shellac before it) was, for me, so so long, the stuff that music was made of that it still causes certain feelings, passions, even. In practice, however, my modest collection of LPs, some of which I have had for fifty years (unplayable, but won't throw away) remains in the cupboard, and, these days, even the turntable is there with them.

There's an old generation that gets it. There's a new generation that thinks there is something to get, and wants it.  If you are part of the former, I don't think you would be asking the question. If you are thinking of joining the latter, I personally advise against it.

To reiterate: perfection is not the point of second-hand LPs, although it is a great treat when you find it. Which you might.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #17
When I buy second-hand vinyl, I go to a decent shop (usually Alan's in Finchley, North London) and don't buy the pricey discs. While I do occasionally get a record that's beyond salvation, they are usually playable (and digitisable, if I want to keep it).
Do you remember Reckless Records in Islington? I have a copy of Steven Stills Manasas that looks as if all four sides have been sanded, and was priced accordingly. I still listen to the digitization of that set in preference to the brand new CD.
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #18
Search was not working this morning, so I was unable to search this topic.

As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?

Has the world been spoilt by perfect digital reproduction? Perfect the first time, perfect every time.

apastuszak, this is not what buying second-hand LPs is about. Its about stuff like finding an album you always wanted, getting it at a price you can afford, all the mystique of handling that properly-printed, decent size physical object, sometimes buying it even though it may may be far from perfect.

We have a thread on what people like about vinyl. Not about how it sounds, how many Hz it can accommodate or whatever, but the sheer, personal experience of the thing.

You have a store. There are used records there. Go find out!

Disclosure: Vinyl (and even shellac before it) was, for me, so so long, the stuff that music was made of that it still causes certain feelings, passions, even. In practice, however, my modest collection of LPs, some of which I have had for fifty years (unplayable, but won't throw away) remains in the cupboard, and, these days, even the turntable is there with them.

There's an old generation that gets it. There's a new generation that thinks there is something to get, and wants it.  If you are part of the former, I don't think you would be asking the question. If you are thinking of joining the latter, I personally advise against it.

To reiterate: perfection is not the point of second-hand LPs, although it is a great treat when you find it. Which you might.


I grew up with vinyl.  My parents had a very large record collection from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  I bough vinyl in the early 80s through 1989 as my exclusive pre-recorded format of choice,  I would copy my albums to cassette to listen to on my Walkman or in my car.

I understand what people like about vinyl.  I also know that it's quite possible to hunt for some long lost album, find it in a used record store, bring it home, and have it sound pretty bad.

I've bought used CDs, popped them in my CD player and had them not play.  That can be quite a frustrating experience.  I would think that the same could happen with vinyl.  I'm just wondering if there is a point where a record will deteriorate to the point where you'd prefer not to listen to it.

As I said in my original post, I am a complete digital snob.  I bought my first CD player in 1989 and immediately started to buy CDs and left my vinyl behind.  I gave it all away about 2 years ago to a coworker.  Since then, I've moved on to an iPod, then a smartphone.

But I recently bought a used CD player and fixed it up, and have been buying a lot of used CDs.  And I was curious about used albums.  I'm not looking to get into used albums,  I was just curious how they hold up over time.  Albums have a number of very subjective limitations for me that keeps me away from them.

Someday, I may buy a turntable for those few releases I want that never came out digitally.  But for now, I'm content.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #19
When I buy second-hand vinyl, I go to a decent shop (usually Alan's in Finchley, North London) and don't buy the pricey discs. While I do occasionally get a record that's beyond salvation, they are usually playable (and digitisable, if I want to keep it).
Do you remember Reckless Records in Islington? I have a copy of Steven Stills Manasas that looks as if all four sides have been sanded, and was priced accordingly. I still listen to the digitization of that set in preference to the brand new CD.

Never went to Reckless, but knew of it. I bought a Lamont Dozier album from Flashback in Islington, and some nerk had stuck a label across the actual playing surface.

Most of my hard-earned money that should have gone on food, rent and other inessential things was spent at Golden Grooves (near the Barbican, but since closed down) and Retrobloke (the shop was in Hendon, but he's now on-line only).

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #20
Some of the stuff in Reckless was expensive. I sold them some albums once... they paid peanuts. I worked in Islington 1974-1990. I guess my Reckless years were in there somewhere.

My other second-hand-LP shop was in Soho. The guy would always say he didn't have the record I wanted, but I often found it
Search was not working this morning, so I was unable to search this topic.

As an analog medium , I would think vinyl would wear out over time, just from friction alone.  But how long does that take?  Are used albums a bad idea?

Has the world been spoilt by perfect digital reproduction? Perfect the first time, perfect every time.

apastuszak, this is not what buying second-hand LPs is about. Its about stuff like finding an album you always wanted, getting it at a price you can afford, all the mystique of handling that properly-printed, decent size physical object, sometimes buying it even though it may may be far from perfect.

We have a thread on what people like about vinyl. Not about how it sounds, how many Hz it can accommodate or whatever, but the sheer, personal experience of the thing.

You have a store. There are used records there. Go find out!

Disclosure: Vinyl (and even shellac before it) was, for me, so so long, the stuff that music was made of that it still causes certain feelings, passions, even. In practice, however, my modest collection of LPs, some of which I have had for fifty years (unplayable, but won't throw away) remains in the cupboard, and, these days, even the turntable is there with them.

There's an old generation that gets it. There's a new generation that thinks there is something to get, and wants it.  If you are part of the former, I don't think you would be asking the question. If you are thinking of joining the latter, I personally advise against it.

To reiterate: perfection is not the point of second-hand LPs, although it is a great treat when you find it. Which you might.


I grew up with vinyl.  My parents had a very large record collection from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  I bough vinyl in the early 80s through 1989 as my exclusive pre-recorded format of choice,  I would copy my albums to cassette to listen to on my Walkman or in my car.

I understand what people like about vinyl.  I also know that it's quite possible to hunt for some long lost album, find it in a used record store, bring it home, and have it sound pretty bad.

I've bought used CDs, popped them in my CD player and had them not play.  That can be quite a frustrating experience.  I would think that the same could happen with vinyl.  I'm just wondering if there is a point where a record will deteriorate to the point where you'd prefer not to listen to it.

As I said in my original post, I am a complete digital snob.  I bought my first CD player in 1989 and immediately started to buy CDs and left my vinyl behind.  I gave it all away about 2 years ago to a coworker.  Since then, I've moved on to an iPod, then a smartphone.

But I recently bought a used CD player and fixed it up, and have been buying a lot of used CDs.  And I was curious about used albums.  I'm not looking to get into used albums,  I was just curious how they hold up over time.  Albums have a number of very subjective limitations for me that keeps me away from them.

Someday, I may buy a turntable for those few releases I want that never came out digitally.  But for now, I'm content.
Well, I guess I made a big mistake about your background! We are not so far apart in history and current situation, except I have shed quite a lot of snobbery along with my HF hearing.

But with a background in vinyl, you should know already how a record can get clicks and ticks when you're not even handling it, and how something that looks good can have horrible problems.

Let me readjust my bottom-line advice: if you do not even currently have a working turntable, don't even think about that used-vinyl side of the store!
The most important audio cables are the ones in the brain

  • KozmoNaut
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #21
@KozmoNaut:
Good that it wasn't this LP that had its jacket ruined: https://www.discogs.com/Motörhead-No-Remorse/release/1313603

That would have been absolutely heartbreaking, truly.

  • 2tec
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Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #22
On the other hand I've seen reports (I think from Ortofon) that wet playing can actually damage the grooves. The theory is that the instantaneous high temperatures created at the point of contact between stylus and groove should not be quenched by a liquid.

FWIW, when I experimented with Lencoclean playing it did seem to reduce some of the surface noise, but subsequent dry playing was a crackle-fest - presumably because the dirt lifted out of the bottom of the groove by the wet solvent got deposited back on the side walls.

An interesting video of wet playing LPs ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGgiCwWsktk
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #23
On the other hand I've seen reports (I think from Ortofon) that wet playing can actually damage the grooves. The theory is that the instantaneous high temperatures created at the point of contact between stylus and groove should not be quenched by a liquid.

FWIW, when I experimented with Lencoclean playing it did seem to reduce some of the surface noise, but subsequent dry playing was a crackle-fest - presumably because the dirt lifted out of the bottom of the groove by the wet solvent got deposited back on the side walls.

An interesting video of wet playing LPs ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGgiCwWsktk

Discarded in the day because it was said to be good for one playing, and then the LP was became excessively noisy forever.

There was so much relevant science that made its way into the pages of the two or three mainstream audio magazines of the that seems to have gone missing. It may be in the pages of Audio, High Fidelity, and Stereo Review over at http://www.americanradiohistory.com.

Re: How many plays before a record shows enough deterioration to be noticeable?
Reply #24
On the other hand I've seen reports (I think from Ortofon) that wet playing can actually damage the grooves. The theory is that the instantaneous high temperatures created at the point of contact between stylus and groove should not be quenched by a liquid.

FWIW, when I experimented with Lencoclean playing it did seem to reduce some of the surface noise, but subsequent dry playing was a crackle-fest - presumably because the dirt lifted out of the bottom of the groove by the wet solvent got deposited back on the side walls.

An interesting video of wet playing LPs ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGgiCwWsktk

Discarded in the day because it was said to be good for one playing, and then the LP was became excessively noisy forever.

There was so much relevant science that made its way into the pages of the two or three mainstream audio magazines of the that seems to have gone missing. It may be in the pages of Audio, High Fidelity, and Stereo Review over at http://www.americanradiohistory.com.


Anecdotal, I know but...

Whenever I have an old noisy record, I 'wet play' it with some cleaning solution. This tends to collect a huge amount of material on the stylus that is not present during the dry play. I clean the stylus 2-3 times per side (depending on how dirty it gets), and after this point the record plays much more quietly. I would suggest  that the type and shape of stylus likely plays an important role. I also fully dismiss the "temperature/heat" arguments.

I can see no way in which wet paying can damage the vinyl. The turntable and stylus on the other hand...
  • Last Edit: 13 July, 2017, 10:03:33 AM by Funkstar De Luxe