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Topic: 33 1/3 vs 45 (Read 9863 times) previous topic - next topic
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33 1/3 vs 45

I just got my first record player and 12" record as a gift from my girlfriend.  Nothing crazy expensive, an Audio Technica LP60 USB and "Opus Eponymous" by Ghost, which is a single 33 1/3 LP.  I do not want to start any kind of quality war but compared to my FLAC files that are on my computer (being played through the same receiver and speakers as record player), I do feel the record sounds much more rich and alive (the best way I can explain it).  I also just like the idea of buying a record and playing it, I have a little old-school in me.  So I was looking into some other records that I would like have, some of my favorite albums like Metallica's "Master of Puppets".  Amazon has 2 versions, a single 33 1/3 LP or 2 45 LP's.  Would the 2 45 LP version be worth the additional ~$15 or would I really be splitting hairs at that point?  I don't have any specific information on the 33 but 45s include the following information (if it's helpful in anyway):

"features two 45 rpm 180g vinyl discs pressed at RTI in
Stoughton gatefold jacket with universal Louder Faster
Heavier branded bellyband. The pressing was half-speed
mastered from the original analog tapes at Mobile Fidelity
for the ultimate audiophile listening experience."

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #1
I also just like the idea of buying a record and playing it, I have a little old-school in me.

So, you'd like twice as much buying and playing two records rather than one!

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #3
I'm glad you understood the "wink" in my reply.  When you opt for vinyl over digital, you're doing so because you enjoy the experience more or because you are hoping to get a different master or one that isn't compressed and/or over-amplified as are many contemporary CDs/digital downloads.  If the 45RPM version is otherwise the same pedigree as the 33.3RPM, I don't think you'll hear a difference but only you can say for sure.

The physics dictate that the faster rotational speed -- and corresponding increase in space allocated to the recorded waveform -- should lead to wider frequency response and lower noise.  However, given the limitations of typical equipment (human and electronic) in a typical listening environment, hearing a consistent "clear benefit" is unlikely.

There is another consideration: the quality of the turntable itself.  Your LP60 is at best an "entry level" TT.  (No offense to your GF who was sweet enough to gift it to you.)  The stresses placed upon a TT by the higher rotational speed -- both in terms of speed stability and vibration control -- are real.  A solid, heavy wood or metal TT chassis can take these stresses in stride while a lightweight, plastic unit like yours may not.  You may in fact get better performance sticking with 33.3.

Remember, from the stylus's point-of-view any vibration it receives is "music".  Along with the intended groove modulations this includes unintended vibrations from the TT itself, from you typing on your PC at the same desk where the TT is located, from others dancing or walking on the floor, even from the airborne vibration of the sound waves created by the speakers as the LP plays!  (Even worse is the mechanical vibration transmitted from the speakers if they are on the same desktop as the turntable!) Using materials that minimize and control this vibrational feedback is one of the things that makes turntables expensive.  Using common sense to avoid as many of these pitfalls as possible is within your control, however.

Welcome to the world of black circle spinning!

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #4
If I could choose between a 33 1/3 and a 45 version of the same record I would probably always pick the 45 because of a lot less inner groove distortion. I can't stand too much of that.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #5
Thank you for the in-depth response.  I am glad she got me this unit because as you said, it's an entry level unit but i'm an entry level listener haha.  Maybe down the road i'll invest in a better unit but for now, this will suit me.  That being said, all things considered, it probably would be not a great idea to invest in more expensive records right now.  Metallica, for example, offer those same records (half speed pressings from the original analog tapes) in 33's as well, those should be fine for me.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #6
There are some discussions on the versions of the first few Metallica releases. One is the 'Direct metal' mastering (i.e., engraved to copper plate) - mention 'DMM' in certain forums, and you may start a religious war. Another is the length - they are all > 51 minutes except RTL (and the $5.98 EP), and that is somewhat stretching the comfort zone of two LP sides. (Myself I have the picture discs of the three first ones ... never bought for the sound quality.)
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #7
Although there are theoretical advantages to higher speed, I don't know if 45 RPM is better in the real world.  I certainly wouldn't choose the 45 for sound quality reasons.    If we didn't have digital, I probably would pay more and put-up the additional inconvenience.  But, since you'll never acheive "CD quality", I don't see the point in chasing small analog improvements...  Especially if the small improvements are costly. 

Back in the "vinyl days", the manufacturing quality of 45's was poor (poor quality & recycled vinyl, I think), and the LP album version usually sounded better.    But, I'm sure that's not true with modern vinyl.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #8
Back in the "vinyl days", the manufacturing quality of 45's was poor (poor quality & recycled vinyl, I think), and the LP album version usually sounded better.    But, I'm sure that's not true with modern vinyl.

I think you are talking about "a 45", as in, a 45 RPM 7" vinyl single?

The OP is asking about an LP recently released as a set of 45 RPM 12" vinyl records. I would assume each of these is like a 12" single/EP,  which can have better dynamic range and SNR since it hasn't got much music crammed onto each side; the master can be cut "loud" as compared to a regular LP with 20-30 minutes a side. That said, it's not guaranteed to be a noticeable difference; it depends on the material, listening level, playback equipment, and your own hearing sensitivities.

I also think 180-gram vinyl is overkill, but I guess in theory, SNR should also be helped by 180g virgin vinyl. But even regular-quality 12" vinyl is unlikely to be recycled or of poor quality, coming from a major label in a major market. Of course, good mastering and high-quality vinyl might not matter if your particular copy was made from a worn-out stamper plate.

I've ripped a lot of 12" EPs from the '80s and have found that RPM really doesn't seem to be a very good predictor of the level or character of the noise of vinyl rushing by the stylus. I have noisy and quiet examples at both speeds. Usually the music masks this noise anyway.

For stuff like Metallica, none of this really matters, IMHO. I wouldn't worry about it. Get the 33 or the 45, whatever's a better value to you. If you really want to know if there's a noticeable difference, you'd have to get both and do some ABX testing anyway.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #9
One is the 'Direct metal' mastering (i.e., engraved to copper plate) - mention 'DMM' in certain forums, and you may start a religious war.

Nothing new: I have a couple of record boxes with DMM logo on them, bought in early eighties (Teldec was the label). The technology should be even older.
... I live by long distance.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #10
Thanks for the additional replies.  I actually found a brand new, sealed 2 45 LP set of "Master of Puppets" for $20 on Amazon, ended up getting it for $12 total after gift card.  So, when I can get that for less than the regular price of the 33, I might as well take it.  But overall, you guys I'm sure are correct and I will not spend a considerable amount more for 45's.  A couple bucks is one thing, or in this case, a seemingly great deal I could not turn down.  Appreciate the input.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #11
If you're still interested in "test-driving" another 45 RPM-speed 12" LP, you could check out the latest Prong album "Carved Into Stone." It's a double LP with the CD included as a bonus. Mine never stated on its packaging that it was 45 RPM so I had to find out the hard way

This example also has a strikingly different "mastering" than its digital counterpart. It's currently listed for $26.49 on Amazon, but I suggest shopping around if you're interested. My local record store still has a new copy for less than twenty. I think mine was 18.

...but regarding the actual topic, I'm not too convinced that it makes a huge difference. A good pressing should sound great at either speed IMO. It's also my experience and subjective opinion that the Metallica albums you are referring to sound just as good on the original-issue CDs as they could on vinyl. Perhaps more so though I"m not inclined to take the Pepsi Challenge  I had Master of Puppets on cassette when it came out so vinyl or CD would be a big step up from that
The Loudness War is over. Now it's a hopeless occupation.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #12
45 rpm will generally give better bass, and less inner groove distortion.  The best modern pressings are 45rpm.  Whether or not your setup is good enough to take advantage of it all, I doubt it.  But if you're enjoying it, then that's all that matters.


33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #14
When played at 45rpm the bass will sound subjectively 'better' because, all else equal, it will be louder.

It's simple physics. Faster equals more energy which in turn means more current generated. If you have a TT with pitch control you can prove it to yourself.

12" singles or EPs are generally designed for promotional use and/or playing in clubs and discos. So they tend to be cut louder anyway. Standard run time for a 33rpm vinyl album is up to 20 mins a side.  12" singles usually contain about 12 mins music. At 45rpm it's around 7 mins. That's not simply because they cut a deeper groove but also they use less of the surface.

You often find 12" vinyl singles with 2 tracks on one side at 33rpm and the one they hope is the blockbuster on it's own at 45rpm on a complete side to itself. It might not be technically the best from everyone's standpoint but it will be the tune they have taken the most trouble with to make it stand out.

Sorry. Forgot to address the OP.

I'd stump up the extra and get the 12" singles mate.

If you just wanted to listen to the tune you could get a download or rip much cheaper. If you are going to go down the vinyl route you might as well do it in style. If it's physical it might as well be beautiful. Probably retains more residual value as well. If it makes you feel good your music will sound good too. For not much money really.

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #15
45RPM discs are usually of short duration (Usually one song or one and two songs per side), which in turn allows the groove to have more distance between passes and possibly be cut deeper into the layer.
These two factors allow the song be mastered with less emphasis on avoiding bass peaks.

Also, generally, 45 RPM discs are cut at a higher volume, which might incorrectly be perceived as sounding with more bass.

In general, I wouldn't doubt that 45RPM is preffered for fidelity versus 33RPM, just like 44Khz is preffered to 32Khz. The reason in both cases to choose one over the other is size.

(I am not implying that 33RPM is like having a lower samplerate. I only mention the factor of size).

33 1/3 vs 45

Reply #16
All other things being equal, the 45RPM version split over more sides will sound better (or equally good, if the 33RPM version was already good), but the "value for money" option is to figure out how to make your CD/digital playback more pleasing to you, and avoid vinyl altogether.

The only downside to 45RPM is that any "whooshing" vinyl noise (i.e. the sound of the virgin vinyl going past the needle) is likely to be louder. It shouldn't be an issue on high quality pressings, but its an issue on a typical 1980s/1990s 45RPM 12" single.


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