the swift syllabus

Here’s How to Play a Vinyl Record at 45 RPM

Photo: Taylor Swift/YouTube

When Taylor Swift said she’d be the man, she didn’t mean it quite like that. Over the past few days, as Swifties have gotten their $49.99 four-disc vinyl sets of Red (Taylor’s Version), there has been a bit of confusion over the sound of the records. Just take a peek at the one-star reviews of the Target exclusive: “Why is there a man singing every track?!?” reads one. “A man is singing it :(” says another. And a third notes that “the sound is really scary; it’s like Taylor’s voice from beyond the grave … is this a disgusting joke about Halloween? Not sure.” Nope! As other fans in those Target reviews, along with those on Twitter and TikTok, have pointed out, Swift pressed the records at 45 rotations per minute, so it sounds slowed down when played at 33 1/3 rpm, the typical speed on a turntable. If you’re a Swiftie who still doesn’t know what that means, we at Vulture are here to help. Here’s how to play your Red (Taylor’s Version) vinyl records properly.

(1) Find the speed switch on your turntable. It should be marked with the numbers 33 and 45 (and maybe even 78, but don’t worry about that one).
(2) Move the switch from 33 to 45.
(3) Play your record as usual!

Yep, it’s that simple! It’s worth noting that fans playing the record at a different speed is a bit of an unforced error on Swift’s part. For one, most 12-inch LPs play at 33 1/3 rpm. When pressed to be played at 45 rpm, a record holds less music per side, so pressing Red (Taylor’s Version) at 45 rpm might have helped stretch the 30-song set out across four vinyl discs. But more important, if you look at photos of the records on social media, they don’t appear to be labeled “45 rpm”! To be fair, not all record jackets note the speed, but come on, Taylor: Help your fans out. Let’s hope Adele’s 30 vinyls play at 33 rpm so we don’t have to go through this all again in a few days.

Here’s How to Play a Vinyl Record at 45 RPM