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Thread: 16 RPM Vinyl Albums

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    16 RPM Vinyl Albums

    Anyone ever heard of 16 rpm albums before? I ran across one today while researching baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams:


    This was news to me. I'd never seen one before, and not too many tables would play one. But it turns out there are more of them than I would've thought:
    http://www.16rpm.com/

    i guess it was a marketing gimmick ("Get 1-1/2 hours on an LP!") that never caught on. The sound was probably pretty bad, and very few people could even play them.

    Incidentally, side one of the Pepper Adams album above was reissued as "Dakar" under John Coltrane's name, and side two as "Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes With French Horns." Funny that none of the original session leaders are even mentioned.
    Last edited by rcarlberg; 3 Weeks Ago at 08:28 PM.

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    My parents' console TV/record player when I was a kid had a 16 rpm setting, but I never saw any of the records. I've always heard that the format was intended primarily for spoken word recordings.
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    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    Yep we had one of those big consoles from the late 50s or early 60s that had 4 speeds (manual shift) I always did wonder about that 16 rpm thing. so thanks.
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  4. #4
    My parents’ record player had a 16 RPM speed as well. I never found one, but I understand that there was a kind of “in dash” automotive record player that played special records (that you could only buy at the dealership) that played at 16. I guess the 16 speed was so you could play these records on your home record player.

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    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    As I recall, a large number of turntables I saw when growing up had the 16 rpm option, especially on those big console units. Never once do I recall actually seeing such an LP, though.

    From Wikipedia:

    "Some recordings, such as books for the blind, were pressed for playing at ​16 2⁄3 rpm. Prestige Records released jazz records in this format in the late 1950s; for example, two of their Miles Davis albums were paired together in this format. Peter Goldmark, the man who developed the ​33 1⁄3 rpm record, developed the Highway Hi-Fi ​16 2⁄3 rpm record to be played in Chrysler automobiles, but poor performance of the system and weak implementation by Chrysler and Columbia led to the demise of the ​16 2⁄3 rpm records. Subsequently, the ​16 2⁄3 rpm speed was used for narrated publications for the blind and visually impaired, and was never widely commercially available, although it was common to see new turntable models with a 16 rpm speed setting produced as late as the 1970s.

    The Seeburg Corporation introduced the Seeburg Background Music System in 1959, using a ​16 2⁄3 rpm 9-inch record with 2-inch center hole. Each record held 40 minutes of music per side, recorded at 420 grooves per inch.[45]"

    That last bit gets me. Strictly speaking, there's actually only one groove per side since vinyl is cut in one continuous operation.

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    ^^ It was always my understanding that 16 PM was usually for spoken words recordings.
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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koreabruce View Post
    That last bit gets me. Strictly speaking, there's actually only one groove per side since vinyl is cut in one continuous operation.
    True. But then what do you call those things that there are 420 of per inch?
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    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Yeah, you pretty much have to say "grooves" there even though it's not actually the case. It's really one long tightly-wound spiral, but the appearance is of many tiny furrows side-by-side. I recall being asked, "On average, how many grooves are there on a typical LP?" The correct answer is two: one per side.

    I did see a 16 rpm disc once when I was a child, and it was indeed for spoken-word. Pretty weird to see it spinning so slowly. Weren't those used primarily at radio stations? Anyway, I shudder to think what music would sound like played back on one of those! Has anyone heard the Miles Davis releases in that format?

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    I have those recordings in better presentations.

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    I remember hearing that back in the day, what a lot of guitarists did was, they'd put a 33 and a third LP on, and put it on at 16rpm, and it would make easier to discern was being played. That's how self taught players learned to play the hot licks of the day, before those fancy transcription books started to pop up in the late 80's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Koreabruce View Post
    That last bit gets me. Strictly speaking, there's actually only one groove per side since vinyl is cut in one continuous operation.
    Unless you're Monty Python.

    Or Wilhelm Furtwängler:

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    cunning linguist 3LockBox's Avatar
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    I remember a phono player in grade school that had a 16rpm setting. It was for story discs and educational discs. It was on one of those rolling rack carts like the overhead projectors were. Some of the folk song discs were on 16rpm too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    Unless you're Monty Python.]
    I had the Monty Python 3 sided record and it was always a challenge trying to get the needle to land in the groove I wanted to hear. It always ended up playing the same side I just heard 10 times first before it would land on the other groove.


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    The Beethoven - Furtwängler CD shown above does the same thing, sorta. The first 1:12:12 of "Fidelio" is in the left channel. The second half is in the right. It's a mono recording.

    Because of this of course there could be no track markers.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    I had the Monty Python 3 sided record and it was always a challenge trying to get the needle to land in the groove I wanted to hear. It always ended up playing the same side I just heard 10 times first before it would land on the other groove.


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    I remember back in the late 70's, Mad Magazine had one of those flexible records packaged with one issue that had three different endings on it.

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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Just a hunch: One reason 16rpm records never caught on may be due to excessive wow and flutter, given the technology at the time. They didn't have DC Servo motors at the time. The main reason the original Gramophone records spun at a whopping 78rpm was for that very reason. The faster a disk rotates, the less pronounced the wow and flutter will be.
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    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    Just a hunch: One reason 16rpm records never caught on may be due to excessive wow and flutter, given the technology at the time. They didn't have DC Servo motors at the time. The main reason the original Gramophone records spun at a whopping 78rpm was for that very reason. The faster a disk rotates, the less pronounced the wow and flutter will be.
    Wow


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    Quote Originally Posted by rcarlberg View Post
    The Beethoven - Furtwängler CD shown above does the same thing, sorta. The first 1:12:12 of "Fidelio" is in the left channel. The second half is in the right. It's a mono recording.

    Because of this of course there could be no track markers.
    There was a release of Wagner’s ring cycle done t like that back years ago which came with a jack to play each track in mono of course through both speakers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fracktured View Post
    Wow
    That was excessive

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