In the last few decades, the internet and the rise of smartphones damaged my other entertainment industries greatly, and vinyl records the analog technology of music are not any exception at all, but thanks to the rising trends it is getting popular again.
And its growing interest in people also reveals issues related to vinyl records.
If you have been collecting vinyl records for a while now, then at some point, you must have come up with the question and wondered how long vinyl records last,
And do they have any shelf life or expiration date, and even if so, when do these records expire?
To get answer all these questions, you have to go through the following parts.
Now, let’s dive deep and find out how long do vinyl records last.
What’s a vinyl record made out of?
Modern vinyl suitcase record players are made of plastic, or to be specific, the main ingredient of modern vinyl records is polyvinyl chloride.
And it also uses a combination that consists of plasticizes, heat stabilizers, lubricants and filters, and colorants.
And this combination of different materials comes in the form of pallets before those half-complete disks are heated and pressed to make a disc shape, and the disk shape is the empty vinyl records.
The main ingredient used to make vinyl records are also known as PVC.
This synthetic plastic polymer is one of the most durable and widely used plastic polymers, and it has uses outside of music.
Refined oil is used to make this PVC, and these PVC pallets are used to make vinyl recording disk. The recording disk made of PVC lasted for more than hundreds of years.
But the long-lasting vinyl disk is not the outcome and the next task is to add music to the blank vinyl records disks. And for placing prerecorded music on the empty discs, groves are etched on the empty disks.
Why do vinyl records get damaged and deteriorate?
The vinyl records are made of PVC or polyvinyl chloride, which can stay intact for hundreds of years without damage if proper care is taken.
Moreover, this polyvinyl chloride is a synthetic plastic which indicates that it will take thousands of your for this thing to decompose.
Without proper care, it might take long thousands of years for vinyl records to decompose but it won’t take long before they get damaged and stop working at all.
So it is important to know how to take proper care of vinyl records and how to save the vinyl records from getting any physical damage and deterioration.
Now let’s see the reasons for the deterioration of vinyl records get that happen under your nose. There are three ways a vinyl record can get damaged these are
Lack of care
There are some specific lack of care that causes the vinyl records to get damaged to make sure your records last longer and don’t get damaged, make sure the following cares
- Keep a record of Dust, Dirt, and fingerprint less
Records get damaged and work improperly when it comes in contact with dust, dirt, or fingerprint because these things can leave sharp marks on the surface of the records.
So next time you are playing a record, don’t forget to avoid leaving a fingerprint on the records and also always make sure to keep the records in a place where dust or dirt cannot enter
To make sure your records are dust free, you also have to clean them properly from time to time.
To keep your records clean you can use wet solutions or acquire a record brush or can have a cleaning kit specially made for this purpose.
You can also keep your records in an air-conditioned environment that has low humidity.
Because vinyl records hate humid environments and it gets damaged in humid environments swiftly.
So to increase the longevity of your records, you have to ensure an air-conditioned environment.
Issues of production
- Weight and thickness
There is no defined standard of how thick a vinyl record should be, but the usual weight of any record stays near 120 grams, and in some specific special types of records, weight goes up to 180 grams.
In some cases, it is seen that some companies use a very thin layer of PVC to make vinyl records just to cut the cost of production, but this act makes the records also last for a very short life span.
- The material quality of your record
Some manufacturers use recalled vinyl records to make new records out of it ,and to do that, they usually melt down the old records and mix some new PVC with them to make new records usually ,records made out of recycled records do not last for a long time although it might sound like eco-friendly.
Records that are made of recycled material give lower quality sound in the turntable.
- The problem of production lot
The problem of vinyl records sometimes arises due to the inadequacy of the production plant, it is a very common phenomenon that some companies make hurry to finish the production just in time, and to do that they compromise the quality of the product and it is true for vinyl records too.
And such quality compromised vinyl records do not last long.
Natural deterioration (player)
- Equipment used to play the records
One of the major factors that contribute to the longevity of any vinyl record is the equipment you are using to play the record on.
And by the equipment, we especially mean the turntable you are using to play the record.
Some turntable uses cruiser-type suitcase record player ,which can seriously damage the vinyl record.
If you would not like that ,so it is better to use higher quality turntables like Audio Technical, Project Debut Carbon ,or you can also use U-turn orbit.
These higher-quality turntables will ensure that the records you are playing are not getting any damage from the suitcase record player.
- Avoid temperature exposure:
Rooms that have a very low temperature can make your vinyl records much more fragile ,and short-lasting and rooms that have a high temperature also make the room more humid ,making the surface of the vinyl records fast deteriorate.
So what is the optimum temperature to keep your records? It is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit or between 18 – 21 degrees Celsius.
How long do vinyl records last?
The vinyl records are made of polyvinyl chloride, which is a type of plastic that lasts for 100 years and does not decompose for 1000 years if proper care is taken and the records are kept in a good air-conditioned environment, then the vinyl records can stay playable for more than a century.
But while storing the records in your collection, make sure to store the vinyl records on shelves.
Shelving is the best way of keeping records. But make sure to store them upright instead of on the side way.
It will decrease the contact pressure of multiple vinyl records and will eventually increase the lifespan of the vinyl records.
How many times can a vinyl record be played in its lifetime?
As mentioned, vinyl records can last for over 100 years if proper care is taken but the real question is how many times can a vinyl record be played before it ultimately becomes unplayable?
The answer is a well-cared vinyl record can be played more than 100 times without losing any sound quality.
But having a vinyl record up to this mark for so long requires proper care and proper storing.
And after playing hundreds of times, the sound quality may drop slightly because of the record player of the turn table.
The suitcase record player continuously stays in touch with the record surface while the record is rotating. When the process is repeated hundreds of times, it degrades the audio quality of the record.
So it is recommended to use a good quality turntable and avoid cruiser-type turn table.
With proper care, a vinyl record can stay playable for more than many hundreds of times before it ultimately becomes unplayable.
An experiment by Swiss scientists F.A Loescher and F.M Hirsch in early 1970 was conducted it was to find out how many times can a record be played with proper care.
And with proper care, they managed to play their vinyl record for over thousands of times and reached 1200 times without any sound quality drop.
And they only cleaned their records after five hundred times play and one thousand times play.
So if you are concerned about your favorite songs will be lost in oblivion along with your vinyl records, then there is nothing to worry about if you know how to take care of your vinyl records properly.
How long can a vinyl record be?
Now let’s be realistic; we are not going to use the vinyl records for experiment purposes, nor are we going to listen to a record over a thousand times. Even we do not have any non-humid lab as they had.
So how many times can you actually play? The answer is if you clean your vinyl records regularly and pay close attention while putting the record on the turntable.
It is possible to get flawless quality of your favorite music over one hundred times to two hundred times.
And this is more than what an average music lover plays a soundtrack.
How fragile are vinyl records?
Usually, vinyl records do not break easily, but any scratch or fingerprint on the surface of the vinyl records can be enough to damage the vinyl records.
A little issue in the vinyl records surface can totally stop the records from playing.
But if we talk about the fragility of the disk, it is much easier for a vinyl record to survive a fall and stay playable.
Vinyl records are thick enough to withstand the pressure of falling from your hand to the ground, but the impact of the fall has to be on the edge of the vinyl records.
Because the edges of the records are much more shock absorbent than the surface, the edges of the records will not get any scratches too.
FAQ on How long do vinyl records last :
What can you not do with your vinyl records?
There are certain things everyone should remember while dealing with vinyl records. Basically, these are some things to avoid doing with your vinyl records.
- Touching the surface of the record with bare hands
- Stacking all the vinyl records in one place in an unorganized manner
- Leaving the records out in the open air
- Carelessly packing the record into its cover
- Poor attention while cleaning the vinyl records.
- Cueing up multiple records in one hand
- Removing the record from the record platter before the record platter stops.
Do vinyl records last forever?
Vinyl records do not last forever; just like every other device it also has a lifespan and a perfectly cared vinyl record can last for over a century before it gets damaged and unplayable.
Does heat ruin vinyl records?
Yes, heat does ruin vinyl records. Vinyl records are made of PVC plastics, and if not taken care of properly and not stored in a less humid environment, a vinyl record can get damaged by heat and humidity.
Even low temperate can also make the vinyl records more fragile and can damage the records.
How do I know if my vinyl records are damaged?
You can know if your vinyl record is damaged or not by checking the surface of the record.
If there are any scratches or fingerprints or any kind of spot, that usually means the vinyl records are getting damaged. And the damage may increase if not cleaned properly.
All these answers to the questions regarding vinyl records might have given you a clear perception of how long vinyl records last with and without care.