Is heavy vinyl worth it?

I just got into vinyl and am starting to build a vinyl collection starting from zero records. I bought an OJC copy of Sonny Rollins' Way Out West and it sounds great even on just regular vinyl. I'm wondering if buying the heavy vinyl (180g, 200g) is worth it in general...they're upwards of $30 in some cases. Do they really sound better? What are the advantages? Is it a longevity issue? Do the heavy vinyl versions sometimes contain better remastering?

Heavy vinyl

Advantages: usually surface noise is less, less warpage, sometimes they are mastered from the original source tapes as opposed to 2nd or 3rd generation copies.

Longevity: usually higher quality vinyl that is longer lasting providing you keep your stylus and record surface clean.
How about Sonny Rollins "Way Out West" at 45 rpm? This limited edition vinyl record can be had for $50.

Check out this link:

Can one tell the difference? Yes.

Is it worth it? I know many in my audiophile group that have all twenty-five records in this edition.

Only you can decide whether it's worth it to you.
I've had mixed experiences with 180-200gm vinyl. Far too many discs were warped... some terribly so. I bought two Dylan LP sets on 180gm vinyl. I kept buying copies of "Highway 61 Revisited" because they were all so warped. I got tired of returning them and went back to an old mono version. "Live 66" is much better, but I think it is 150gm. Sibbilance can be an issue, too, with heavy vinyl, so adjusting your tonearm's VTA can be a hassle, esp. if you go from regular to heavy vinyl fairly frequently.

On the other hand, many of my heavy jazz LPs sound great, but on the whole, I won't spend the extra money.
I guess the answer must be, "it depends". For us the 180/200g issues are definitely worth it. At a minimum, classical reissues on heavy vinyl tend to have quieter surfaces and less warpage.
The quality of the vinyl is usually better which results in lower surface noise and less pops and clicks, but it only really makes sense to consistently go 180gm and greater if you're willing to adjust your VTA (and other settings) on your tonearm.
Heavy vinyl usually accumulates much more statics than regular. In case with 150g you can get away without VTA adjustments while 180...200g will likely need it.
I set my TT up using heavy/thick LP stock and add a second "slim" wool felt mat when playing thinner LP's.

I do not hear much of a difference between thick VS thin LP's as long as both are flat and in good condition. My TT is located outside the listening room, I use a non-clamping LP weight and I do not listen @ high volume levels (which may have something to do with this).

The only big step "up" for me (amongst recordings that are decent to start with) are the 45 RPM versions.
Complicated. The old problems were crappy vinyl, thin pressings and uncontrolled cooling or curing. The new problem is, can a re-issue be done to at least approximate the old stock (or even do much better, like fixing the wrong speed). I have late 70s early 80s that are so thin the sound bleeds from the other side. No wonder the CD people found ready targets. Most new is on 180-200, which can affect your tip attitude and sound less then it is. You may need to lift your arm a tad to lock back in. Course that is a problem for your regular LPs. My last comment is that it is the maker more than the thickness.

The special pressing with heavy vinyl are better for us. Matering from Dcc (vinyl) and others is even more important. But your mileage may vary. :)

IMO, the weight of the vinyl isn't much of a determining factor, and the extra-heavy audiophile pressings may be better because of their vinyl stock quality, and the mastering and pressing care that's taken, but the actual thickness of the record doesn't have much to do with it. I feel the extra weight is mostly a marketing tool, and can interfere with effective clamping, not to mention the inconvenience of readjusting VTA should you feel the need. Standard weight is fine by me.
Original German records are quite light but always sound great and almost as quiet as Japanese.Quality of the vinyl is most important.I don't buy reissues at all, so can't compare that.
It's only worth it if you can hear the difference!
On page 146 of issue 24 of HiFi+ there's a record review in which the reviewer states:

"Old Decca engineers have down the years been at pains to explain to me that the optimum vinyl weight is anywhere between 140g and 160g. Above this and the vinyl is tehcnically more difficult to work with."

Just something else to consider.
I have that fine Sonny Rollins album, as well. Original (cost a fortune), OJC (cost $6!!!), and the Analogue Productions reissue ($30). The orig sounds awesome, but is not in the best condition. With Jazz, the originals are too dang expensive, so I understand getting reissues. All of my OJCs sound completely awesome and I believe Fantasy used the original source tapes. The Analogue Productions sounds great, as well, but not at 5 times the price of the OJC.

No doubt that the heavy vinyl improves playback performance and longevity. However, what rides in the grooves matters, too. As the source tapes age, some fidelity is lost. I think everyone agrees there. If you are collecting Jazz, stay with the OJCs. You will be able to afford a lot more of these great recordings.

Good luck,

I you listen to the Who's Who's Next on MCA heavy vinyl
you will hear a clear improvement. Any Groove Note direct to disc pressing such as the one by Roy Gaines tribute to T-Bone Walker. Any Analogue Productions pressings, and of course my favorite the orange and black Excello pressings.
These are all pressed on a thicker piece of vinyl.
Of course one can argue thin or "flimsly" vinyl sound excellent, Nonsuch classical, the German Wolf pressings,
Isabel French pressings. A large part goes to the engineer
and technique to press the vinll.
Another thought. I noticed my rig is sensitive to the thickness of heavy vinyl. It has to do with the how high the arm sits on the pivot shaft. I did not get full benefit until I compensated for the teensy little bit more it needed to be raised.
Bought my first 180 gram album (Miles Davis "My Funny Valentine"). Turns out the damn thing is warped! Nothing, it seems, has changed in vinyl in twenty years. I honestly believed that making them thicker was insurance against warpage. Well, I guess I'm wrong. Shopkeeper tells me he will exchange it once another copy is in store. So history keeps repeating itself. Bought some NOS albums. Some b=noisy, some ok. Is vinyl a game of chance?
Vinyl is like tube components, they're not for everyone. Only you can determine if vinyl is worth the hassles.
My favourite are the ordinary German vinyls 70g. Most of them in my collection are as quiet as CDs especially if listened through speakers. A-bit of noise is through headphones. When I sell vinyl I play it through headphone to give a precise condition.
Although flimzy vinyl is more vulnerable to the wether conditions i.e. humidity, temperature.
Agreed. Real tough to beat those german pressings. The other thing they do is to last. I've never thought the UK pressings or especially the japaneese pressings held up as well when you've played them for a lot of years & you just seem to develop more surface noise than the german counterparts.
Onhwy61, do you actually think that warped records are a positive side of vinyl? I have heard of the hairshirt sect of audio, but your answer, posed as a sort of challenge to the worthy, is arrogant and ill conceived.
Pbb, where did I say warped records were a positive aspect of vinyl? You said you had problems with a warped record purchase and I said you have to determine if the hassle is worth it. Clearly I'm saying that warped records are a hassle. It has been my experience that when buying new you will run across alot more defective vinyl purchases than CDs. It's just the way it is with vinyl. It's a hassle. Is it worth it to you?
Not necessarily. Generally, the best recording I have are originals pressed on normal vinyl, not the heavy weight reissues. While some quality reissue companies do use heavy vinyl, often heavy vinyl is just a gimmick to attract audiophile purchasers. I find that the majority of the heavy records I get are warped, probably because the pressing cycle duration was not increased as it should be for thicker records. I particularly hate 180-220 gm records since they require VTA adjustment to be played optimally. Easy if you have a Wheaton or a VPI arm, not too bad if you have a Graham, a real pain with the Vector (which I have) and impossible for some.

Best records, in terms of pressing quality, that I have are Japanese or German in origin, and they are all quite thin, but meticulously pressed.
Like Larry, I too have bought an inordinate number of warped heavy vinyl LPs. The only company that seems to be able to produce warp-free heavy vinyl is Blue Note (e.g., heavy vinyl reissue of Kenny Dorham's "Whistle Stop" is excellent). Never had one problem with BN. That being said, I don't consistently find an audible improvement, so I simply buy the cleanest LPs I can find, regardless.
Like I said before, I doubt that any improvements audible with heavy pressings are actually attributable to the vinyl weight itself, which I regard as mostly a marketing hook.

However, I'm inclined agree (from limited experience) with those implying that heavy vinyl may actually *cause* a higher incidence of warps in new records. Whether this is due to greater difficulty of the manufacturing process or is the result of heavy pressings being less able to flex and recover well afterwards I don't know. I've even speculated that thicker records will suffer more from a side-to-side temperature differential when subjected to heat or sunlight that could promote warping vs. a thinner record.

Whatever the reason, when it comes to extra-heavy pressings it's indisputable that once warped they're tougher for clamping-out the warp on the platter, so even if the incidence of new warpage were the same for all weights of vinyl, it would still be more problematic with the heavyweight disks.

P.S. - Pbb, when one is out trolling, methinks it unseemly for a mere mortal to attempt the creation of one's own fish. It's much better to wait to exagerate until one has returned safely to the dock.
Zaikesman, just read your post and your P.S.: I have no idea what you are talking about in that P.S. of yours. Someone once walked this earth, multiplied fishes, and talked in parables. Seems he made a lot more sense than what I can make out of what I take as being some kind of garbled insinuations. Speak up my man. Use plain language. Thanks.
Plain language: It seems to me as if you were trying to 'get a rise' among the vinyl crowd with your first post (commonly called 'trolling' - and this is a subject area in which you've been known to enjoy ruffling some feathers before), and when none was forthcoming, you manufactured one that didn't exist. Where the heck did you come up with that unprovoked attack on Onhwy61? Your response to his answer to your original post seemingly bears no relation to his actual words or perceived intent, IMO. I thought he handled it like a gentleman though. Let me be clear, I have no problem with your original post (despite what I see as your intent more to provoke than to illuminate), just your uncalled-for and out-of-left-field followup. As I've said in the past, I actually value your playing the devil's advocate around here (a custom I practice myself), but to do so effectively, something stronger and more relevant than what was offered this time is required. Or maybe your history of inviting audiophile fire has left you a bit too thin-skinned for your own rhetorical good? Whatever, I hope you recover your fair combative touch my man, because we need a few worthwhile naysayers in our midst.
OBVIOUSLY some recording sound better than others, however, years ago, using the best Linn LP 12, then the Sota, with the Zeta Arm and a Koetsu cartridge; in a one to one listening session of Ella, new, and an old (three times heavier pressing) it was shocking. The heavier sounded much better; to the point of almost being a different mix, though it wasn't.
It was at that time that I concluded that the energy put onto the vinyl, by the cartridge, (friction etc) was absorbed, and lessened with the heavier piece of vinyl. Shortly thereafter, vacuum tables, which sucked the vinyl on to the surface of the 11 lb platter of the Sota, became very popular. These are similar, though seemingly different things. Greater mass, with coupling of the vinyl to the platter, or simply more vinyl for energy dissipation.
Go heavy.
Zaikesman, in a bolt of counter-intuitive energy I recently purchased (and I am repeating myself here, so people who know this tale can go and do something else) a Rega P-9 with RB 1000 arm and an Ortofon Kontrapunkt B cartridge and, this week, got a used Audio Research PH 3. For me it is a considerable expense. That I did this on what is for me a tangent makes it even more of a challenge. There is one store that I know of here in Montreal where new vinyl can be purchased. Over the last little while I bought 13 new albums and have had many surprises (both good and bad) but, unfortunately, the bad ones seem to weigh more heavily. The initial question was on the value of spending on heavier vinyl. One of the albums I bought was a reissue of Mile Davis' “My Funny Valentine” on 180-gram vinyl. Before hearing it and just by a visual examination I even said that it looked nice and flat, this based on my belief that these pressings were "audiophile" grade. Well to my surprise and consternation the damn thing was so warped I couldn't even cue it. The store was nice enough to exchange it, that is not the problem (although I fear that if I bring back every record that I find is wanting insofar as pressing and surfaces go, that I will be told (probably politely) to take a hike or, as Hwy 61 so nicely put, that if I can't accept the trial and tribulations of vinyl on the road to superior analog sound I need not bother joining the club). I could run down the list of what I bought, but why bother. Suffice it to say that the replacement 180-gram album Miles Davis "Seven Steps to Heaven" is flat and as noise free as analog probably gets. The "ordinary" pressings are a mixed bag. The worst I got by far is a reissue of Roland Kirk's "The Inflated Tear" that is so noisy, that has a surface scratch and an edge warp. At nearly twenty bucks it is good for the garbage. Another one in the same vein is Lee Morgan's "Candy". On the positive side, two, for want of a better expression, NOS, Pablo albums of Zoot Sims are good pressings and the music is great. So, based on this limited sampling, I don’t think that heavier vinyl is a guarantee of anything, except a steeper price. When analog sounds good, it is really nice, but when you just spent forty bucks on two albums that are unplayable are you wrong to conclude that, insofar as the quality of pressings, nothing has changed in over twenty years? The next purchase is some form of record cleaning machine. I will then be able to put to the test the myriad suggestions I have gotten that the noise is usually the result of dirty grooves. Hell, a fellow even opined that edge warps don't cause any audible problems that it's the dirt in the hard to reach warped areas that is the culprit! I guess I will be able to test firsthand this proposition. Another step I want to take is going over the cart set-up, possibly by purchasing a Wallytractor. I still have a bunch of test discs from years gone by (Omnidisc, two Shure test records and one from McGill University issued by Sound & Vision many moons ago). I am still uncertain that I have the patience and dexterity to go through this process though, and may decide to find a technician knowledgeable in such things. So don't read too much or too little in what I write and don't beat a man for trying. Insofar as the clubbish attitude that vinyl is only for the courageous, the well heeled or the one's in the know, spare me. Good day.
Pbb, didn't you once state that too much bacon was bad for your chlorestoral?
Yes, Muncy and guess what? CD/SACD still does silence better than vinyl. Silence being an integral part of music, I guess one is better served by having many sources and using the medium that gives the best result for whatever particular piece or performance you want to hear. BTW, what do you usually listen to?
Pbb, Unless you're quite committed to vinyl in general and your present TT/arm/cartridge in particular, a $150USD WallyTractor might be of dubious value. The Wally may be the best protractor around, but it's custom-made for one particular setup. Changing TT, arm or cartridge normally renders it useless.

Check out the generic protractor at It's a very good product, next best thing to a Wally and just $20USD + freight.
Yes Pbb, I agree that the 'vinyl club' mentality is just too too precious and deserves a roll of the eyes. (BTW, nice album choices.)

I make no pretense of my reasons for loving records: 1) the availability of a galaxy of used product, much of it never released in any other form; 2) the sensual aspects of old records as collectable, time-capsule-worthy objects de art, and the love for the hunt. The fact that my collection of thousands and thousands of recordings is biased at over 90% towards vinyl has absolutely nothing to do with: 1) any audiophile or sonic considerations, though of course there are instances where the original LP does sound better than any subsequent digital reissue (but plenty of instances of the reverse too); 2) any romantic notions regarding the physical 'ritual' of cleaning or playing records, turntable set-up, etc (which is not to say that I don't sometimes enjoy these aspects - though just as often they're a pain - but only that they don't figure into my purchasing decisions).

Since I buy hardly any brand-new vinyl (and none of what I do buy is geared toward the 'audiophile' market) - and also don't often go in for buying valuable used items at collector prices (I prefer to dig stuff up on my own for cheap) - I'm much less concerned than you with questions of pristine sonic purity related to condition (never mind recording quality - I listen to a lot of stuff that would make most audiophiles run from the room). But I certainly acknowledge that if I were buying new 'audiophile' heavy vinyl disks at $20-$30 a pop, I would be pissed off if they weren't immaculate pressings.

I'm glad to hear that you've decided to reinvestigate vinyl for yourself and put your money where your mouth is. Maybe, like me, you'll come to the conclusion that there's nothing 'magical' about the sound of records vs. good digital. The closest I come to adopting that position is in actually enjoying the 'atmosphere' generated by playing scratchy old 45's and 78's, but not in obsessing about the fidelity of the music itself, which I find can be decently - though not absolutely - served by either medium. Frankly, I wish I could have random access at the push of a button from my listening seat with vinyl as I do with CD's, or listen to extended works without enduring forced side breaks. And I am fully appreciative of the fact that the digital revolution granted music listeners the luxury of enjoying a flood of new reissues, including much insanely rare stuff that we'd never otherwise find or be able to afford. So I am no analog-reactionary with an axe to grind.

But I do tend to snicker a bit at audiophiles - and please pardon me if this catagory includes yourself - who start plunking down again for brand new analog rigs and software motivated purely out of propaganda concerning sonics. Absent any interest in buying used vinyl, or already possessing a sizeable record collection that ain't going nowhere, I find this trend bemusing at best, futilely typical of our breed at worst. For me, the only everriding reason to get into vinyl is in being able to listen to *more music*. I hold no truck with the audio-weenie mentality that leads to analog diletantism wherein a 'record collection' can be described as 200 brand-new audiophile pressings of only audiophile-approved music. Yuck.

Yes my Cannuck friend, welcome back to The Club (wink wink, nudge nudge)! At least now you have renewed your right to bitch... :-)

P.S. - Lrsky: There are always other possibilities besides the heavy vinyl itself why the vintage pressing sounded best in your anecdote. And routine record-clamping takes care of the vinyl resonance issue for normal-weight pressings.