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What's the deal with 180-gram vinyl?

<p>After 100 Metro columns, perhaps it’s time to answer some reader email.</p>

After 100 Metro columns, perhaps it’s time to answer some reader email:

Why is new music always released on Tuesday?
— Ian, Vancouver.

Before the 1980s, a new album could end up in the stores on any day of the official week of release. Exactly what day it appeared on the shelves depended on when a particular store got its shipment from the record label. This, however, made keeping track of sales very difficult and inefficient. It was also unfair to stores and fans outside of large urban centres — those places far away from the warehouses, where you might wait a week or more for the shipment of that album to arrive.


Eventually, the labels got together and agreed that the supply chain would be coordinated so all new releases appeared in stores simultaneously on the same day of the week. Tuesdays are now known as the “street date.”


Things are slightly different in the U.K., where the street date is Monday. Before the Internet, this wasn’t so much of an issue. Now, however, it’s common for a North American artist to see their record on sale in the U.K. a full 24 hours before it appears in stores at home. And with file-sharing, you know what that means.


What is this “180 gram vinyl” I keep hearing about?
— Sadie, Toronto.

A good question for people who have rediscovered vinyl. Normal records are pressed from polyvinyl chloride. When spread out to album thickness, they can weigh anywhere from 100 to 120 grams. Audiophile-grade 180-gram vinyl weighs — you guessed it — 180 grams per square yard. This makes the record thicker, heavier and less prone to warping so that the tone arm tracking is more true, resulting in (theoretically) better sound.


Send any music questions to alan@exploremusic.com.


The Ongoing History Of New Music can be heard on stations across Canada. Read more
at ongoinghistory.com and exploremusic.com

 
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