Are you Playing 45s? Here's some info you should know about Styrene vs. Vinyl

If you've never heard of Styrene or Vinyl, then let me break it down to you.

Styrene, also known as etenylbenzene, vinylbenzene, and phenylethene, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2. This derivative of benzene is a colorless oily liquid that evaporates easily and has sweet smell, although high concentrations have a less pleasant odor. Approximately 25 million pounds of styrene were produced in 2010.

Vinyl, a synthetic resin or plastic consisting of polyvinyl chloride or a related polymer, used especially for wallpapers and other covering materials and for phonogragh records. Chemistry of or denoting the unsaturated hydrocarbon radical ---- CH=CH2, derived from ethylene by removal of a hydrogen atom: a vinyl group

How can I tell the difference between styrene and vinyl?

I want you to go through your collection of 45s and grab a hand full. Now I want you to run your finger tip around the label. Can you raise the label? or does it feel like the label is pressed into the record? Well if you were able to raise the label, your 45 is styrene. If you were not able to, its vinyl. Tricky? No, there are no tricks to the value. It's the quality of choosing your 45s.

Styrene is:

-- lighter than vinyl

-- Labels are glued on, not pressed into the record

-- has a flat outer edge instead of a sharp edge

-- styrene does not warp as much in heat like vinyl, but breaks easier and has a brittle feeling

-- styrene doesn't have a shine but matte look

If you know the difference between the two, I'm sure you have noticed styrene records wear out much faster than vinyl records. If you play a styrene record over and over, it will start to make noises throughout the record and you will develop slip-cueing or cue burning. You may also find it hard to back cue when you're cueing your record. If you know your record is already styrene and if it's one of your gems, my suggestion is try not to give it much play. If you're playing records with elliptical and micro-line styluses which are better for vinyl because it gives a better sound, they may not be good on styrene. You may find them wearing your records down faster than the vinyl.

Don't get nervous when you're out shopping for 45s. Most of your daddy's collection given to you thirty years ago

Styrene (top image)  Vinyl (bottom image)

may be your styrene treasure! Just know what you're buying and know the difference. Hey, I didn't always know until a friend reached out to me. So don't feel alone, I'm sharing the info! You may find it hard to avoid buying styrene in the US, most pressing plants here in the US only use styrene. However, if you buy much of your 45s from Canada and the UK you're getting vinyl pressed on a higher grade. Don't let this information deter you from buying your favorite tunes on 45s. Just be cautious and know what you're paying for. Cheers! and happy record shopping. May the force be with you!

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