How many times can a vinyl record be played before it's time to buy it again new?

I play vinyl records alot. Some of my records have been played several times over and over again.

How many plays would you say I could get out of a single record(on a properly set-up and tracked TT) before it’s time to simply buy the record again?

Surely the answer depends on the cartridge/arm combination being used at the correct tracking weight (the arm needs to be of an appropriate effective mass). In the old days, ubiquitous cartridges such as a Shure V15 III (or an ADC 10E IV) in an SME3009 improved would not damage records (the ADC cartridge used to track at 0.75 grams!), however using a low compliance cartridge and running it too heavy will damage records. Modern cartridges often track higher than years ago and have lower compliances but still manage to track very well (modern tip shapes can help with good tracking but need to be set up more carefully than older designs). So, in summary, as long as everything is set up correctly you should be able to play a record hundreds of times (set up incorrectly and one play could damage the record). I love the sound of Decca cartridges but, with low vertical compliance, the stylus needs to be in good condition and the arm appropriate for the cartridge.

[Update - sorry, didn’t read your question properly. As you’ve said everything is properly set up I’d say 100s of times]

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I started buying LPs in the late 60s and really became involved in building an LP collection from the mid 70s onwards. My go to cartridge at the time was a Shure M75ED, it was the standard recommendation for the Pioneer PL12D record deck, even though they were not ideal partners in a theoretical sense – the M75ED has a high-compliance stylus, preferring a low-mass tonearm, while the PL12D has a medium-mass arm. M75ED also worked well in my Sansui SR212 deck. Ah, Memories!

Anyway, as you so succinctly put it – it’s all down to setup. The OP said his deck/arm/cartridge is properly set up so the records should last a lifetime if treated properly. Many of my 50 year old albums still sound good considering how many times they’ve been played.


I realised after I’d hit send that he’d stated that his TT was correctly set up. It’s interesting how things have changed. I’m still using a 301 with 3012 and have recently bought the latest version of the Audio Technica OC9 - the sxl has a line contact stylus - fancy stuff) which seems to work ok - you presumably know that, I’m sure you read all my posts avidly - ):- (I do read yours, honest).

Anyway, if ever you’re down south it’d be great to see you, someone who’s prepared to play with the equipment.

Regards, Dan.


The PL12D/M75ED2 combination is so 70’s! :slight_smile:


I’d say it mainly depends how hard it is partly at a general tracking limit or the tracking limit of your cartridge.

An uncritical record in tracking demand can be played several hundreds of times without noticeable damage I’d say.

Hi danofesherintheuk,

About a year ago I was looking at new cartridges and was surprised by the higher tracking
lower compliance of modern cartridges…especially considering the much lower tracking
weight of the old schoolcarts like the Shure super track V15 III …

It just seems that the modern carts have in the tracking weight specified have gone backwards
not forward in this regards. I don’t understand why…

Would you please shed some light on this…To me it seems new and improved may not be improved at all where tracking grams is concerned…

Thanks in advance!

Yes, Dan. It goes without saying that I read all your posts. Damn fine read. Great setup you have. You will have to be quick reading some of my posts - before they’re redacted and/or I remove them…“all of my own doing, typing before thinking” !!!

Yes, Chris. I bought them from Comet Warehouse in Dundee. Do remember Comet.? They had the first proper dem room I’d seen…!

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Back in the '60s, '70s and '80s the big store to go to was Lasky’s in Tottenham Court Road (that’s London, England). I bought two pairs of Leak 2075s. I worked near there and one day bought a couple of Nad 2200PE power amps. I got them bagged with string as handles and thought I could get them back home with no problem. Well the walk back to the office was killing and then I still had to get home on the tube and the big train!


davida, you’re quite right that the ultra low tracking weight of MMs has certainly gone up a bit ans i suspect that arms are slightly massier (BTW, I’m no expert on the progress of cartridges and arms). I’ve still got a V15 III in a Thorens arm, the Shure tracks at 1.25 grams, very well. A few years ago I bought a more modern MM, a Goldring 1012GX - that sounds very good and gives the cartridges of the '70s a good run for their money - it tracks at 1.75g. The AT-OC9XSL is an MC and tracks at 2g. A lot of the MCs track around that weight - friends of mine have much fancier cartridges such as expensive or very expensive Lyras in Linn or Origin Live arms (gone are the days of the old SMEs being popular (or cheap). Hopefully others who are more up with vinyl than I am will shed further light on all of this.


Yes. I remember back in the day going down Tottenham Court Road, …it was synonymous for hi-fi…

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With the added tracking weight …I would think that the stylus tracking strong hf transient while trying to trace very Lf groove pattern…would miss track damaging the the groove at that point and beyond that until it recovers and continues tracing.

Back in the day the competition among cart mfg Shure, Pickering, Stanton, Empire, Goldring…
USA guys were the one I knew of then…I’m almost certin that Ortofon, and Audio Technica
were striving to see how light a tracking they could come up with for better “trackability” (Sure’s terminology)…

What would those engineers of old do with new tech available today…wow…teach these new
upstart whiffer snaffers a thing or to about engineering… :grinning:

The engineers from back then could have come up with different stylus profiles and boron cantilevers but often elliptical and aluminium were the flavour of the day.


Very well indeed. Although I had the ubiquitous M75ED2, I felt that the Garrard 86SB was a very underrated turntable and used that instead of the Pioneer. I believe I bought it from Comet.

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I stayed with the Pioneer and flirted with the idea of buying a Garrard deck! I saved up my student funding and bought an LP12 fitted with Acos S shaped arm, as used on early model Rega Planar decks, from HiFi Corner in Edinburgh… First generation Linn LP12s had a red rocker power switch and plastic stay to hold the lid open! Cost me £93 all in for the package!! Wish I had kept hold of it and left in original condition for sentimental reasons. I’ve owned a fair few LP12s over the years.


I’m not a vinyl guy any longer, but as y’all were talking about tracks, weights, and compliance, this line from the OP stood out to me.

Back when I DID play vinyl, part of standard practice was not to play an album over and over. The theory was that the first play warmed up the vinyl enough that it became more fragile, and subsequent plays would cause excessive damage. We’d play something once, then put it away.

Might be complete BS in today’s world. There was a lot we didn’t know back then.


i remember being cautioned, back then, that one should wait about 24 hrs between replaying an album…or the groves would not “recover” and be permanently deformed…from the heat/friction…

i wonder whether the vinyl composition these days has improved enough so that waiting to replay is negated?..

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I have heard of similar but not 24hrs though…

When you start to hear ffffT, ffffffT, pshhhhh, puh,puh,puh,puh, or maybe even some of both sides at the same time.