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45 RPM double disc albums

There seems to be a new trend in "audiophile" circles, releasing albums in a double disc 45 RPM, with the claims that it's much better quality.  This raises a lot of red flags to me.  Is there any objective reason a 45 RPM vinyl is better than a 33⅓?

Hoping to do an actual "apples-to-apples" comparison of 33⅓ and 45 RPM, I emailed Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab and asked them if their 45 RPM vinyl releases are made with the exact same master as their 33⅓ RPM releases.  After a number of very vague emails, they finally told me that they go back to "the original master tapes" and create a unique remaster for the 45 RPM release that is "optimized for the format."  So, there is no "apples-to-apples" comparison possible.

This led me to Google to do some homework.  And here is some bullet points of what I discovered.  I'm not claiming it's true.  Just what I found out:

  • You can't compare a 45 RPM single to a 33⅓ release to hear the increase in quality.  You need to compare a 45 album and a 33⅓  album.  Why, I have no idea.
  • One site says the difference will only be obvious on "mid-fi" gear, because low end gear (Crosley Cruisers, etc) don't have enough fidelity to pick on the differences.  And supposedly high end turntables ($5000+ in price) can get 45 RPM sound out of a 33⅓/
  • Anothe site claims only ultra-high end turntables and gear will benefit from the format.
  • Another sites claims there will be an improvement, but to realized it's full potential, you should wait for special 45 RPM styluses to be released
  • Most sites discuss things that are objectively unmeasurable such as "clarity", "detail", and other famous audiophile buzzwords to jusify a price tag.

I'm hoping someone here can shed some light on the matter in a more objective fashion.

Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #1
When you say "double disc", I am assuming that you mean that all the songs of the album cannot fit in a single disc, and there are more than one disc.
If that is true, then it's not something new or strange. Even in the 90s, there were albums (compilations and similar) that could have up to 6 or 7 vinyl discs.

Now on to 45 and 33 +1/3.

Of course there are physical aspects why, given enough quality on the processing and playback, a 45 RPM vinyl can have higher quality than its 33 +1/3 counterpart.  It's just as trivial as to why a 48Khz 24bit Wav file can have higher quality than a 32Khz 16bit counterpart. (I am not making a direct comparison, just explaining what I pretend to say)

A vinyl cut at 45RPM generally has one or two songs on each side. Maybe three if the songs are short.  On the other hand a 33 1/3 RPM disc has 5 or 6 songs per side. 
This is a consequence of the disc spinning faster as well as the intentional increase of volume that is usually related to 45RPM discs.
The increase of speed improves the bandwidth and the increase of volume improves the SNR  but it has to be performed in a way that doesn't make the needle go out of the groove.

As for your points:
- Well, definitely a single will surely be mastered in its own way, different than the whole album, since the latter has to take all songs into account when equalizing and volume leveling. Also, back in the days, singles could even be produced before an actual album was made.

- lo-fi, mid-fi, hi-fi: I can't comment with enough scientific evidence, but you should read those with a critical eye. Money is not everything, and not all hardware improvements are audible.

- You say that in 2019, a site claims that a new 45RPM stylus needs to be produced when 45 RPM vinyls have existed since more than 30 years (and sure I am way short in that number)


And some closing words:
Just like sound chips and materials have increased in quality since the 90s, it would probably be possible to cut vinyls of higher quality than those that were cut back then, and for turntables and needles to be more precise.  But in the end, it will ends in a vinyl disc, a physical, damageable vinyl disc.


Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #3
Quote
It's just as trivial as to why a 48Khz 24bit Wav file can have higher quality than a 32Khz 16bit counterpart. (I am not making a direct comparison, just explaining what I pretend to say)
I'm feeling like 45 RPM is probably better on paper.  But "better on paper" doesn't equate to "sounds better to the human ear."

Quote
But in the end, it will ends in a vinyl disc, a physical, damageable vinyl disc.

One of the comments I made when discussing this with some people online was, that, if you want to escape the limitations of 33 ⅓ rpm vinyl records, then you should buy a CD instead.  Seems I committed audiophile sacriledge.


 

Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #4
One of the comments I made when discussing this with some people online was, that, if you want to escape the limitations of 33 ⅓ rpm vinyl records, then you should buy a CD instead.  Seems I committed audiophile sacriledge.

"You must not question analog audio" must be one of audiophile's commandments, which beats TOS8 any day.

Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #5
It's still analog vinyl.  ;)

Anecdotally, back in the vinyl days, 45 RPM singles had worse sound than albums.   The rumor was they were cut hotter (more compressed/limited) and they sometimes used "regrind" vinyl.

Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #6
It's still analog vinyl.  ;)

Anecdotally, back in the vinyl days, 45 RPM singles had worse sound than albums.   The rumor was they were cut hotter (more compressed/limited) and they sometimes used "regrind" vinyl.

They also seem to be a lot thinner.

Re: 45 RPM double disc albums

Reply #7
45 RPM does not necessarily mean singles-size disk (but of course it was popular for singles).
Many LP-size vinyls were also made at 45RPM. Especially those used by DJs (or sometimes, one side at 45RPM and another at 33RPM)

 
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