Do 45 rpm 12" LPs really sound better than 33 rpm?

Increasingly, one can buy 12-inch 45 rpm LPs. Theoretically, they provide a wider dynamic and frequency range, but I come across a strange effect... Yes, the bass strings seem to be tightened stronger, but in general ... Imagine you have two cars with a power of 250 hp, but one is equipped with an honest atmospheric V6 or V8, and the second has 2 liters turbo. 

Tell me, is it just my impression? Or maybe I need to change the cartridge or settings (for example, impedance) of the phono preamp?

They do but I am not sure it is by the margin many think.  For me, I would rather sit back and listen to the full side instead of getting up to flip the side or put another record on every 10 minutes or so.
What is your question? The physics dictates that 45 rpm is superior, but you won’t always hear the difference if the source material is flawed. However 33 should not sound BETTER than 45. Possibly your turntable is having issues at 45 rpm. The auto engine analogy doesn’t help.
"NUANCES" sound better at 45;  it boils down to how intense a listener you are;  that's my take but I'm looking forward to other responses.
Classic Records have some single with 33 and 45 rpm cut on the same LP.. You can easily compare them both.. Like this Look of Love Single
I should disclose first that making a 12" at 45 rpm takes the LP feature away, which I don't care for.  More importantly, all else equal the faster the speed the more noise will be generated.  This can be significant for the stylus tracing the record groove.  Everything is a trade off.  Some of the gains are offset by the loss due to the inferior signal to noise ratio.  The extra vinyl muffin costs pennies and it is actually easier to master at the higher speed so it takes less studio time in most cases.  Time is money.  On balance it is a marketing ploy to pry more money out of the consumer for a more profitable product.  Sometimes 45 rpm records sound better, but not always. 
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So many factors go into it. 

I have mfsl pressings of the Jefferson Airplane’s Crown of Creation at 33 rpm and Volunteers at 45 rpm. Both originally mastered by the same guy, Wally Heider. 

The mfsl at 33 sounds decidedly better than my original press. The mfsl at 45 is at best a wash. 
Differences that favor the original 33 version over the re-issue 45 version could of course be related simply to the quality level of the respective manufacturing processes.  Those are variables we cannot control for, and the data are worthless for saying that 33 is superior to 45, as a general conclusion. Bill, can you amplify on your assertion that "the faster the speed, the more noise will be generated".  What kind of noise are you talking about, for one thing?  Are there some published data that support your contention?
Compare a 50-60's 33RPM album to a reissue 45.
I likely will hear the period press as more convincing. Typically any reissue-33 or 45 is a let down,IMO.

 Now, if that period album ALSO were pressed as a 45, that may be noticeable.
I'm  not aware  of a period 45 Kinda Blue or Time Out.

I have the 45 of Ella Fitzgerald's "Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!"
It sounds perfect like a CD. 

The 33rpm period mono, (1961) is more engaging. 

The discussion is degenerating into a series of inconclusive anecdotes. If you take the single master tape from a modern studio and from it create both a 33 and a 45, on the same lathe using the same source of vinyl on the same day and then play the two versions on the same turntable with same tonearm and cartridge, the physics say the 45 will sound “better”. In any single instance, for many reasons unrelated to rpm, the result can be otherwise. Period.
@billstevenson - " Some of the gains are offset by the loss due to the inferior signal to noise ratio."?? What, "inferior S/N ratio? I have both new(as of 2000) and old(bought in the 80’s), 45 RPM, 12" vinyls. I’ve always prized them ALL, for their excellent fidelity and lack of surface noise. Blanket statements, such as yours, are seldom substantiated . Got links/facts?

all other things being equal, a 12" 45rpm pressing will outperform a 33rpm pressing of the same recording. it will have clearly greater bandwidth and dynamic range, show more scale and authority, and have more detail. it will sound bigger and bolder. just the physics of the media.

and normally a 12" 45rpm pressing will be better mastered, since there is more room for wider grooves allowing for more dynamics, and to get paid the premium for the 45rpm process, greater care is typically taken with the whole process, thicker vinyl is typically used.

but there are variables involved, so only about 80% of the time does the 45rpm actually surpass all 33rpm choices. mostly the cases where the 33rpm is equal or better involve original pressings where the source master tape is fresh and optimal care was taken. many of those original pressing cost more to acquire (if you can find them) than the 45rpm versions.

I own most of the 12" 45rpm pressing released in the last 20 years, maybe 1500 titles, most with 2 discs per title. some box sets too. it's been a big part of my vinyl listening.

the most credible knock on 45rpm pressing is that they contain half the music a typical 33rpm pressing have so are more hassle to get up and change and disrupt the listening flow. that is for the individual to decide the priorities.

but there is no dispute that they normally sound quite a bit better.

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I'll have to go along with "mikelavigne" and here's why: When I was a young man doing my thing in the lounges where a state of the art jukebox contained all the top jazz plus R&B hits that were all on 45, I recalled how good the music sounded; it was not one bit antiseptic or bleached, like in top home audio, but those 45's engrossed you in the emotion and meaning of the music; it communicated. Even today, I'm not satisfied until I have reproduced the nuances I recall.

Agree with Mike L...if all else is equal, the 45rpm will typically sound better. However, is all else is not equal, then all bets are off! As an example, i own several excellent Music Matters Blue Note reissues on the 45 and the 33 label. The 33 in many instances sounds better than the 45! The reason, is that Music Matters changed their studio/recording cabling when they did the 33 reissues, and to my ears, this made a significant and beneficial difference! Therefore, in this instance and with these particular pressings, the 33 sounds better than the 45 issue.

Now that I recall, the sound of the jukebox 45 was "always" superior to the 33 of the same record in the 60's; now we are comparing apples to apples, and not apples to oranges.

While there are two factors involved: the superiority of the jukebox rig, as opposed to the average home audio rig playing the 33, I am accounting for that; plus, keep in mind we are talking about only one cut off the 33 LP that was specifically pressed for the jukebox.

I'm positive there were cuts off "Kind of Blue" that were 45's made for the jukebox.
Perhaps there's a valid comparison to tape machines operating at different speeds. Higher tape speed means more 'headroom', as in more length of tape to enscribe the same signal. Likewise on vinyl  higher speed rotation and more space between the grooves means better dynamics. This usually results in more output, which subjectively sounds better if you don't compensate the volume setting. But I'm not entirely sure this really does translate to better sound quality at the exact same volume level.

To escape more inconclusive anecdotes, it might be interesting to compare the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. Their first series were on 2x45rpm, their recent issues are back to 33.3rpm. It seems reasonable to assume they initially made this choice in order to get as close as possible to the huge dynamics that the originals were famous for. It makes you wonder why they went back to 33.3rpm, but this may have been just a way to reduce cost.

I have a few titles, but not the same titles on both speeds. So I haven't been able to make a direct comparison myself. But with use of the same master tapes and mastering engineers on both these series, the comparison might yield more conclusive results.

For what it's worth, to my ears the 2x45rpm titles I own do NOT sound more dynamic than the ones I have on 33.3rpm. In this respect nothing compares to RVG's originals.

@edgewear  You posted what you did seconds after my post, which i think addresses why MM did what they did. I don't think MM went back to 33 to reduce cost, but I do think they did this to allow for more people to buy the titles ( not everyone can playback at 45) and because the original LP's were all done at 33. With their new cable loom, it would be interesting to see and hear what the same album would sound like at 45. I suspect it would be even better than their original release. Problem is that they apparently have ceased all releases at this time. BTW, owning several of the original Deep Groove RVG Blue Note pressings, I don't think they are actually superior to the MM's. In one way, they are VERY inferior ( at least mine are..and I would bet yours are too) that is...they are far noisier than the new vinyl.
I was typing while you made your comments. So you did make the 2x45rpm versus 33.3rpm comparison of the MM reissues. Results are again inconclusive as they changed their hardware to master the 33.3 version. I didn't know this, so my suggested 'controlled comparison' was based on an illusion. My bad.

Edgewear, I'm talking about RVG originals that were on the jukebox at the same time as the LP; that were specifically pressed as 45's for the jukebox.   

We are talking about the same identical "master tape"  pressed on a 45 with higher speed and more room; it had to be better.

Here are 45's that are available, but unless they were the 45's off of jukeboxes, and had not been handled by human hands, I wouldn't want them.
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@orpheus10 please stop your analogy with jukebox in each post, the OP is talking about "12inch format, not "7 inch.

What you’re talking about is just a "7 inch SINGLE invented by RCA long before the first "12 inch single appeared on the market.

Every radiostation played singles (one song per side) back then, also every club deejay played singles. This is professional format to promote hits, but please keep in mind that many small independent record labels never released any LPs (just 45s), some of them are private press. It was just a handy format to sell music. Special Promo Singles also pressed prior to LPs (if they were any) to promote new music.

In Jamaica they pressed only "7 inch singles (45s) for example.

Jukebox is just a player in public places for already well known music.

But to make a hit they need a radio dj and promo 45s (singles) to break the record before it became a hit. Same about local discoteques back in the days (in the 70’s).

Music released on "7 inch single is often different version, different take of what they released later on LPs.

Later when "12 inch 45rpm single was invented that was extended version of the song, often different take, sometimes absolutelty unique version available only on single and not available on LP. There was a maxi single format as well with many different versions of the same tune.

This is a whole different culture, compared to what a typical modern audiophile pressing company is doing now. What they do is just a regular LP (originally pressed on 33rpm), but re-issued on 2 x 45rpm "12inch LPs for better quality. Sometimes re-mastered in half speed. But it’s the same music as on the regular LP.

The culture behind the "7 inch 45s and "12 inch 45rpm singles (or maxi singles) is a whole different story. This is not about speed or size, it’s about different version, extended version, different take or remix. This is what makes those records unique, not just different speed or rotation on turntable.

I'm glad most people agreed with Mike Lavigne, even though I said it first.  I don't care if Mike gets the credit; Mike is good company in a discussion of this sort, because he has heard more "stuff", both software and hardware, than most any of us amateurs.
More dynamics. Better by a large margin than LP. When I was heavily into vinyl I would only buy Japanese pressing and also any 12” 45 rpm versions or singles of my favourite hits. Living in Canada our vinyl quality was garbage. Imports is what most serious Canadian collectors bought. Germans may have fared better with local quality but Canadians got garbage quality vinyl. 
There has been a lot of discussion about the MM reissues (either in 2x45rpm or 33.3rpm) versus the RVG originals. The issue will never be resolved, because they are sonically so far removed it's almost like comparing different recordings.

I always seem to get the impression that the MM's are more faithful to what's actually on the master tape, although I obviously never heard or will ever hear what's on those tapes. The MM's sound incredibly clean and free of distortion, while still having realistic dynamic punch. This is often how people describe master tape sound and each time I hear one I think it can't get any better.

But all that sanity is thrown out the window the moment the needle hits an original. Yes, these records were cut 'hot'. They're very loud and can be a bit uncivilized, sometimes harsh and even shouty. I can imagine this being too much for a high efficiency horn based system. But in terms of sheer exitement nothing really compares.

Oh, and top grade NM copies of the originals are not really noisier than modern vinyl. But finding such copies has become almost impossible, unless you're prepared to pay a small fortune. Actually, in my experience even 'well used' copies can still sound quite good, try that with 'modern' vinyl. Thanks to the loud cut the music will easily overpower any surface noise.

Chakster, do you mean to tell me that one 45 RPM record sounds different from another? That the difference in the diameter of the record makes a difference in the sound?

I think you are uncomfortable with what I'm talking about because you don't know what I'm talking about; they evidently didn't have lounges with state of the art jukeboxes where you are. How about "Malt Shops", did they have them? Now you're going to tell me that the sound of one 45 RPM record is drastically different from another 45 RPM record. Is one 33 1/3 drastically different from another if the records are of a different diameter?

It all boils down to the fact that you can not relate to what I'm talking about, so you think that others don't know what I'm talking about, but I believe they do and can relate to what I'm talking about, and understand the relevance.

Chakster this is the same "Sidewinder" that was on the 33 1/3 LP that was on the juke box. I could go on all day long with 45's that were on LP's as well as 45's on jukeboxes; what more do you want?
Ok from my research on the net 12"45 rpm records produce better highs and midrange. 12" 33 rpm records have better has response. I just jumped in and didn't read all the posts like I always do.
@orpheus10 I did not checked all your posts here, but no matter what you’re talking about, you always refer to the jukeboxes, i remember that from the cartridge thread, now again you’re about jukeboxes, lol

I like original vintage 45s (7s) from the ’50s, ’60s, 70’s and even early ’80s. Some of them are superb, some of them are very bad souding even in mint- condition. It’s all depends on the engineering, mastering, pressing, since the key word about 45s (7’ inchers) is "independent label", major lables could make a proper mastering, but many independent labels recorded their artist (often themselfs) in a garage and pressed only 500 copies.

Why do you think all 45s made for jukeboxes ? I have no idea what do you mean, those records made for all record players with adapter (middle). You don’t need jukebox to play them.

If you like jukeboxes that’s fine. Jukebox is only one way to play them, but normal people could not afford a jukebox back in the days. They could buy a record player and 45s.

45s are not always better than LPs, there are many bad LPs and bad 45s too.

I think "12 inch single is better then "7 inch single in theory.

Also i’m pretty sure it make sense to use special aligment for "7 inch records, because the music is closer to the spindle and the record is smaller.

But anyway the OP is asking about LPs recorded on 45 rpm, not about "7 icnhers !

To him i would say that 45 rpm LP is NOT awalys better, just because it's on 45 

Chakster, "Music Direct" offers Charles Mingus "Mingus Ah Um" as a 180g 45RPM 2 LP set; other than a different diameter, are we still talking about 45 RPM records?
I also have noticed a lot of DJ dance single mixes are 33 rpm. Maybe for better bass or so the DJ doesn't have work as hard. Just me thinking a slower turning record would be easier to produce a bass signal. Please don't knock me. I'm no engineering wit.

Chakster, all record players played both 45, and 33; the same 45 that was on the jukebox; it's just that jukeboxes produced state of the art sound while most record players were below "midfi"; have you ever seen a 1 box record player.

Since jukeboxes relate to another time that you and younger enthusiast can not relate to, I will refrain from mentioning them; will that make you comfortable?

But jukeboxes relate to 45's that sound better than 33 1/3 LP's, and I hope to find some in mint condition.
Yes, we’re

But this is a NEW trend to offer re-issues on double LPs recorded on 45s. First of all those records are re-issues, not the originals.

The original LP is on 33 1/3 rpm

I can’t remember any LPs from the golden era pressed that way and they are all fine, some of them are better than those modern 45 rpm re-issues on LPs.

What is definitelly better is a classic 12’inch singles with one track per side, from the golden era. From the fresh mastertape to the stamper, deep grooves. Those singles are fantastic in terms of fidelity on regular vinyl (not 180g).

When modern labels like Analogue Productions working on a re-issues it’s all about restoration, since the tapes are old, so they want to make the best possible to re-issue 40 years old music today. In this case they need all those vignin vinyl formula, 45 rpm pressing, 200g vinyl, half speed mastering etc. The price for their re-issues also very high.

P.S. I have thousands of rare original 45s and LPs, i don’t care about re-issues much, but i have some of those from Analogue Productions. Most of the modern re-issues on 7 inch 45s are crap comapred to the originals. 

I think it's not correct to say that 45 rpm is better, it depends on each particular record and the source (digital or analog master, cutting engineer etc). 

I have Eva Cassidy's Nightbird on 33 and 45 rpm.. I did a comparison with 4 of my friends some time back.. all of us agreed the 45 rpm had more details and a bit more dynamic.. However 1 of my friend said he preferred the 33 rpm version .. as he felt it sounds more natural.. So all things being equal... most will prefer the 45 version .. but there will be some who prefer the 33 rpm version.
I’ve got about 100 of the 12" cut at 45 speed and a dozen or so of the single sided Classic Records 45 speed box sets. They pretty much all sound quite good and it would seem to my personal experience on my table/arm/cart to be more dynamic, detailed, and power of scale.
Some pressings from the era that many of them were originally cut and pressed make near mint copies almost non existent and the better condition ones are very, very pricey. Still a gamble on the records not being played properly by the original owner with a stack of quarters taped to the arm and what resembles a rusty nail for a stylus. Till its played to be graded, its just an old record . Even though I took advantage of the late 80’s purge everyone else was doing with vinyl and have many very good originals from the era, I am very appreciative that some are taking and making such great efforts to get the best tapes they can and pressing the best records they can with those tapes, now.
I think, generally, people fuss  too much , and never see the positives of a lot of things lately.... This site has a few guys who post nothing but negative topic views about anything it seems they cant get for nothing. (not a reference to the OP here either, the usual suspects know whom I refer to ).
I’d rather have vinyl pressed this decade and the next and with choices of which speed is a bonus, vs. no options for much of the older recordings while the tapes are still usable. Forced to digital renderings from the golden years of analog would be more to complain about, IMO.....
For what it is worth: I have a number of 12” - 45 RPM “Radio station promotional” disks provided to the stations to support introduction of a new release, along with many of the same recorded pressings in standard 33 RPM.  The 45’s were some of the first pressings of the new material.  Most of these have the exact same recording on both sides.  No question to my ears that the 45’s are superior:  more detail, more dynamic.  Aside from the hassle of a more rapid record change (single cut), IMHO they are much better.
@newf27 definitely, those 12 inch 45 rpm promotional singles from the golden era of analog are the best, made for radiostations and deejays, and you’re right that these are the first that comes from the stampers. In my opinion they are unbeatable by any 180g or even 200g reissues on the modern days.

I am a huge fan of Analogue Productions 200gram reissues. I have most of the Verve reissues remastered by George Marino and these are only available in 45rpm and are some of my favorites, they sound spectacular. But I also gave a decent number of their 33rpm 200gram reissues and when given the choice (like Pet Sounds or Time Out) that are available at both speeds I choose the 33rpm every time. They sound unbelievable and if the 45s are that much better it is hard for me to hear and I would rather not do all the flipping. I have the Son House and Muddy Waters Folk Singer in 33 and both are offered in 45 and I was fairly convinced I liked the 33s more.
That being said, the Mofi One Step of Bridge Over Troubled Water is 45 and I am not sure if that helps make it so incredibly good or if it the pressing and remastering that makes it so awesome? 
All being equal the 45 might be slightly better but I'll get up once per album rather than 3 times given the choice 
It’s a compromise between dynamic range versus playing time.
When a record mastering engineer cuts the the stamping master, he has to limit lateral cutter stylus movement while maintaining adequate groove spacing which in turn affects the amount of play time on the record.
The RIAA equalization curve was originally invented to reduce the bass frequency amplitudes during mastering  (and emphasize the treble frequencies) exactly for this reason so that on playback with the reverse equalization you get "rumble" noise and almost non-existent hiss noise.)
Dynamic range compression is often applied in order to fit more music onto a side of the record.
If the engineer can cut the record with less playing time per side (i.e. a 12 inch record with only 3 songs instead of 5) then he can afford to allow greater lateral cutting stylus movement and thus greater dynamic range but only up to a limit before it can potentially skip on some record players (hence the evolution towards high-compliance light tracking force needles).
A great example of this was Led Zeppelin II LP there is a now rare and highly-sought after commercial "hot" print with very high dynamic range but it skipped on some record players and got recalled and was remastered with lower dynamic range and better trackability at the expense of sound quality.
At the opposite extreme were those 1980s K-tel compilations records where they could fit 8 to 10 songs per side but they sounded flat like AM radio due to extreme dynamic range limiting to maximize playing time.
The 45 rpm speed will minimize the phenomenon of "inner groove distortion" since the groove speed as seen by the needle slows down as the record plays from outside to inside. It’s caused by the cutting needle physically deforming the track behind it because the groove speed is too slow and has been a known problem since the 33 RPM LP was first invented and one of the reasons the first records were cut at 78 RPM.
Spinning the record at 45 PM practically eliminates inner groove distortion and on a 12" disc it’s mostly using the outermost track area with the highest available groove speed.
Of course the down side is that you have to flip the record over more often which *IS* distracting.
Personally I happen to think those 45 PM 2 disc 12 inch re-releases don’t’ make sense!
For my money if I really cared about maximizing sound quality I’d just buy the CD release - no need to deal with limited dynamic range, surface noise or the need to interrupt the listening experience to flip or change the record - just pure music enjoyment.
Besides many vinyl records are cut from digital master tapes now unless they say specifically that it was cut from the original analog 30 IPS studio master tapes.
I have done a number of 3 way tests on 45 vs 78 vs quality CD recordings. The 45s always come in last. In fact on my system, a top end system, they just sound "bad" when compared to the 33 LP.  To me it is just a gimmick to sell records. 

45's sound better than 33's except when the 45 has mud on it. 45's sound better than 33's except when the listener get reverse 'audioitis'; that's when he can't tell his left ear from his right ear, and good sounds bad.

Anytime I see my favorite music offered at 45 RPM, I am going to buy it.
Dear friends, thank you all so much for the response, and special thanks to anthonymaw, 6t5-gto, chakster, edgewear, shadorne, mikelavigne.... In general, as I got it, with a small margin, the opinion wins that, ceteris paribus, 45 rpm is better. Although, of course, there are a lot of factors ... As for me, the last straw before putting my question on the table was the purchase of Ed Sheran’s Divide - 45 rpm Double LP. The piquancy of the situation was that I wanted to show my 19-year-old son (of course, nihilist with an iPhone headphones), how one of his favourite artists can sound like. The expected triumph was blurred ... I do not think that there is any reason to blame my set up for not being able to reveal all the charms of 45 rpm... Just in case, this is Michel GyroDec, SME 309, Benz Micro SL, Benz Micro phono preamp, Audio Research Gsi 75 and Sonus Faber Serafino. By the way, as a sign of gratitude to all who answered my question, I promise to buy some more 45 rpm 12’’ LPs - with the same content that I already have at 33 rpm - and make a detailed report here. True, I’ll have to wait: I have just ordered these records in the USA, but I live in Russia, in Moscow - and delivery can take several weeks.
Along the way, another question, but to those who have a real experience listening to a Benz Micro SL cartridge (or its heir, Benz Micro Z ). In my country house I have a simpler set (Thorens 350 with Thorens tonearm 92) - and now I choose a cartridge for it that sounds no worse than Benz Micro, but maybe a little sharper (this house allows to listen loudly, sometimes). Can you advise something within $ 3.5 k? Once again, thanks everyone!
I used to produce dance music, and I can tell you that it makes a huge difference in club/DJ music, especially if the final mixdown was to 1/2" 30ips. Not even close, using the same high quality Studer gear (before everything went digital). Thrilling low end, much better headroom. The bottleneck then became mastering, which is so easy to mess up.

It's entirely possible that something in your system, choice of musical genres, or system (or all the above) could make these discs less or more appealing, but personally I cherish my old 45 12s.
There is a Dusty Springfield 12 33/45 you can get. I have it. The Look of Love. One side 33 and the other side 45. I like the 45 side better. 180 gram
Pursuant to chakster’s comments about 7” and 12” being different animals owing to culture etc there is this:

The guy who mastered all the early Byrds singles would ask an LA DJ with the midnight to 6:00AM slot to play demos while he drove around the hills around LA in his convertible GTO to hear what it sounded like, and then make what he felt were the appropriate adjustments for the way the song he felt was most often heard: played by a radio jock and listened to on the car radio, or a portable transistor radio. 

I would not not be surprised that most if not all recording engineers of the late 50s / 60s / early 70s made these kinds of adjustments.