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I bought an LP record from a local library and back home turned it on to hear it. And I get very funny voice like somebody is on helium.

I thought I had it on 45 and wanted to switch to 33, but it was on 33. After some fiddling with my player thinking something is wrong with it, I still hear the fast speaking. Then I look at the label it says 16⅔. I have never heard of such a thing!

Is there any way one can still play this record on a turntable that only has 33 and 45 speeds, or should I try to find something even more ancient that also has 16⅔? I thought my equipment was tyrannosaurus-age, but there is clearly something that predates that!

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    I am old and I have seen many record players over the years but I have only once seen one which offered 16 2/3. They might have been common in some specialist areas but not in the general population. My brother sometimes played 33 1/3 records at 16 2/3 to practice guitar riffs as it neatly an octave down.
    – badjohn
    Feb 12, 2023 at 7:15
  • @badjohn Interesting!
    – Rado
    Feb 13, 2023 at 3:22
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    When I was (much!) younger my sister and I had a cheap (as in, enclosure made of heavy cardboard+contact paper) portable record player with a 16-2/3 speed. I think we had one record that played at that speed, but I mostly used it to make funny noises. Anyway, this speed was available on at least some mass market consumer grade devices in the 1960s. Feb 13, 2023 at 17:11
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    I had a lovely radiogram that had the record player able to spin at 16 2/3, 33, 45 and 78. It was a relatively common make of radiogram back in the late 60s, early 70s. Wish I still had it - the radio and amp sections were wonderful.
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:50

5 Answers 5

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While 16⅔ RPM might be rare, some DJ turntables have a pitch adjustment going as low as -50% (also known as ultrapitch). Note that "33" is really 33⅓, so 16⅔ is exactly half of it. A turntable set to "33" with pitch -50% would play the record correctly. But that might be an expensive way just to play one record.

Consider playing back the record at 33 speed, recording it on a computer, and slowing it down by 50%. You can do it using a free editor such as Audacity.

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  • Record the sound/music as .wav, or .mp3 file with 33 rpm, and then use timestretch to adjust the either the pace, or the pitch, or pace and pitch without installation from your web browser works well enough (e.g., training touch typing) for this successor of playitslowly, too. It equally has an optional export to .mp3 of the processed data.
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 14, 2023 at 10:47
  • @Buttonwood If you're going to manipulate a sound file, and have the choice, always start with a lossless format (e.g. WAV or FLAC). MP3 (and other common formats like Vorbis, AAC, etc) works by approximating the recorded sound, discarding information which you're unlikely to notice when playing it back. If you then time-stretch that approximation, the differences between the real sound and the approximation may become more obvious. (The same rule applies to images - always keep a lossless copy if possible, and only export to JPEG after you're finished editing.)
    – IMSoP
    Feb 14, 2023 at 12:54
  • @IMSoP I agree .wav is the the better option than .mp3, and timestretch in the instance on the web equally accepts the former format (just successfully checked again with a commercial audio CD pressed by polydor in 2002). As for digital photos, it would be an interesting separate question how many individual .jpg are required to obtain a better signal/noise ratio by arithmetical mean vs median stacking, or lucky imaging.
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 14, 2023 at 16:06
  • in astro photography (the later obviously is much more than only computing a mean value per pixel, de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_Imaging).
    – Buttonwood
    Feb 14, 2023 at 16:07
17

You need something more ancient or actually, more specialist.

To give longer playback times, spoken word was often cut at 16 2/3, or even 8 1/3. Radio stations used to use them for pre-recorded shows. Even back in the 50s/60s most record players weren't capable of those speeds [33, 45, 78 would be common].

Refs: Wikipedia - Phonograph Record
& BloggerRhythms - Slower Than Slow: 16 RPM Records

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    As I wrote in a comment, DJ equipment with 33 speed and -50% pitch range is available (but might be relatively expensive), and that would cover 16 2/3. But 8 1/3 would be indeed rare! Feb 11, 2023 at 19:16
  • WOW! I've learned something new!
    – Rado
    Feb 11, 2023 at 19:28
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    Apparently they were also for car stereos! Feb 11, 2023 at 19:39
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    Back in the '60s, my neighbour had a radiogram which I used, to learn numbers from, as they played near enough half speed for 33rpm LPs. So slow enough to decipher what was going on.
    – Tim
    Feb 12, 2023 at 8:30
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    More ancient, perhaps, but not really "specialized". The first two turntables I ever owned--acquired used in the early 1970s--both used vacuum tubes for amplification, and offered four-way 16/33/45/78 selections. One was a folding changer unit, I think by Sears, and the other was a non-changer unit, but both seemed like mass-market consumer units. From what I recall of the designs, the only cost difference for having four speeds instead of three would be a need to machine a fourth diameter on the motor spindle where the rubber wheel would press against it. The biggest...
    – supercat
    Feb 13, 2023 at 17:22
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If you have access to a manual or some online resources for your record player, you should be able to find a speed adjustment screw somewhere on the unit. I'm sure it differs greatly from unit to unit, but on mine, it requires a fairly precision flathead screwdriver to turn it. Turning the screw clockwise should raise the speed on all settings, and counterclockwise should slow it down.

You can use a strobe or turntable rpm app to fine-tune it to run at 16 2/3 when set at 33. The purpose of the screw is to correct the rpm in cases of it becoming off, so I wouldn't fiddle around with it too much outside of its designed purpose.

Hope this helps.

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    More than half of the vinyl players are simply locked to the grid frequency (50 Hz or 60 Hz) and no adjustment is possible.
    – fraxinus
    Feb 12, 2023 at 15:17
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Play it at 33 1/3 to your PC, record it as a WAV file or similar.

Then use Audacity or other sound editor to replay that at half speed.

Probably a lot easier than trying to find a Goldring-Lenco GL75 or other turntable with a 16 2/3 rpm speed setting.

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Every turntable that used a synchronous AC drive motor (that is, almost every one made until about 1975) would be line-locked for speed to the mains frequency. Speed changing was done by means of a simple transmission between the platter and the motor and the default turntable transmission all the way up to about 1970 was a four-speed with a 16 2/3 RPM "granny gear", mechanically selected with a little lever.

At the point where mass-market synchronous AC platter drives with mechanical transmissions were replaced by DC servo drives (beginning in about 1976), the 16 2/3 and 78 RPM formats were obsolete for mass market vinyl and turntable manufacturers began omitting them in favor of two-speed (33 1/3 and 45 RPM) drives.

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  • Thanks for this useful info!
    – Rado
    Feb 16, 2023 at 4:17

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