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Let me take you back to 1969. Looks groovy, huh? OK we smell sweaty, have badly conditioned hair and are wearing unpleasant large underpants, but on the upside no-one has heard of quinoa, starts sentences with the word "So...", or spends all their day looking at a phone. Oh and one other good thing, there are loads of record shops selling vinyl. Hurrah.
But wait. What's this floppy 12 inch thing? No, not that. The thing with the orange RCA label? It's a record? But surely, records are chunky circles of heavy vinyl? Not any more, dude. RCA have introduced something called Dynaflex and it makes the record almost floppy. Hold them up to the light and you can virtually see through them. They've even created a Dynaflex logo, so confident are they that people will love this new vinyl.
Punters were not so sure, though. How could it be any good when it was so insubstantial? Surely vinyl had to be heavy with deep grooves to get a good sound out of it?
These days, the so-called premium 180gm scam continues unabated, despite the fact that records pressed now sound quieter and less dynamic than they ever used to. But pick up a Dynaflex record and it is a little unnervingly insubstantial.
But RCA had a good reason to do this First, oil prices were going up and making vinyl more expensive. Secondly, they knew that if the vinyl they used was pure, it would sound as good or better than traditional vinyl, which was often made out of recycled unsold records and thus contained impurities.
Secondly, it meant they were lighter to transport, package and store. Dynaflex meant lower shipping costs, reduced storage space and less expenditure on resources. It also cut down on rejected records due to warping. I mean, you just couldn't warp something that was so flexible.
From 1969 to 1980, RCA churned out Dynaflex records. Not all releases were printed on it and how they decided which ones should be, I'm not sure. But there are millions of them out there, to this day. No other companies really followed suit but was that because it was rubbish?
I don't think so. I have the Ziggy Stardust record on Dynaflex and on more traditional heavier vinyl and I can't tell the difference. The Dynaflex certainly isn't inferior, in fact it might be a bit louder and crisper. The only reason it seems to have been largely discontinued in 1980 (though some of it kept leaking out until the late 80s as they used the 'biscuits' up) is because people kept being suspicious of it. It just didn't feel substantial enough, regardless of sound quality.
It did have its fans, some people collected Dynaflex records and loved it, others wouldn't take a copy if you paid them. Some said it lacked bass and had a lot of surface noise. Maybe it does on a high-end system, but I've never had one of those and wouldn't even want one because most of my records wouldn't play on it. I know that on every deck I've ever had, it's played great and sounds rich and with a lot of bass punch. Plus you can use one as a rudimentary fan, on a hot day.
It still feels weird, though and your instinct is to think it's a cheap thing which won't perform, but the truth is, I'd take it over a new 180gm vinyl pressing any day even if Dynaflex does sound like the name given to a brand of supportive underwear.