Clear vinyl vs. regular black vinyl

I just got my second clear vinyl record yesterday, the Stones Hot Rocks on 180g, not from any special manufacturer like MFSL or Analogue Productions and the like. The first one was Donald Fagen Sunken Condos. These albums sound particularly good for not being pressed by a "special" audiophile label.

Is this just a coincidence or is it better, and if so, why aren't more records produced this way? I heard that eliminating the dye in the vinyl could improve the sound, but I was wondering if there is a consensus out there. 

I'm not talking about other dye colors or ones with pictures on them, just plain clear vinyl.

No idea but I would think the materials used by the pressing companies would be the cheapest material that got the job done correctly (i.e. black vinyl). On the other hand I'm sure there are better materials out there but they might be cost prohibitive for high output production.  
Natural pvc has no colour, pure, additives and black carbon strengthen the lp. That means in the long run black ones would last longer.
All that matters is the quality control at mastering and production.
Never followed up to find out if it was an old wives tale, but remember reading that the carbon black in the vinyl cut down static electricity.
Donald Fagen was a fanatic about the recording and production process and I seem to remember them saying there was some advantage to them producing Sunken Condos on clear vinyl. It is also a unique record in that it only has music on 3 sides, which is of course better as the music doesn't go as far into the center of each disc where the distortion is maximal from the angle change of the arm to the record. They could have squeezed it onto one record (barely) I belleve or cut a minute somewhere.

I doubt he made this record this way to cut costs. Any music/pressing people out there?
"Carbon has conductive properties, so adding it to the PVC increases the overall conductivity of the material, lessening the accumulation of static, and therefore, dust, on a record."

See: Furnace Record Pressing.
There ya go. I guess sometimes the simplest answers are the right one. Now I am going to have to get the multimeter out and see if it is true.
@cleeds -True that. If you read the papers from RCA back in the day, the carbon black also concealed what was referred to as "plate out" issues, which I took to mean various problems caused by compound under heat of pressing. I’m not sure there was enough carbon black in the records to really reduce static, but I prefer a standard black record for the reason @slaw cited- namely, I can see the record surface better. Yeah, I know the Clarity in theory doesn’t have the sonic compromises attributable to normal vinyl compounds, but having compared them on the same record, the difference, while noticeable, is not that significant to me. FWIW, the fellow who did a lot of work for RCA in the ’70s and whose name is on some the patents, is Khanna. (or the phonetic equivalent).
Some years ago M. Fremer tested a vinyl demagnetizer.  He found some sonic benefits in demagnetizing "regular" (black) LPs, but none with clear records.  His test results are interesting -but how many of us have a spare $2 or 3K to spend on such a device?

For those interested, here's a link:’t-demagnetize-vinyl-you-can-demagnetize-record—-furutec...
Clear vinyl makes it IMPOSSIBLE to see any pressing imperfections in the LP surface, as well as scratches and scuffs, and even dust. The same is true of lighter-colored PVC, just to a lesser extent.

On the other hand, the new(ish) Clarity vinyl---which is a translucent milky white color, not clear---makes possible the quietest LP's ever made. That's not so important with a lot of Rock music---which doesn't have extended periods of quiet passages---but IS with music that does.

The black color of traditional LP's is indeed a result of the carbon being added to the mix. Why not just add black dye to the PVC? Does black dye also contain carbon?
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I do not know what is true, the whale oil used, the hazardous environment for workers in production or lack of interest as they never licensed the formula to someone else.
@bdp24 - The clarity vinyl is what is being used on a new release of Kind of Blue marketed as a UHQR (although not the same as the UHQRs made by MFSL in the early 80s) they're selling for $100 as the best re wording of KoB ever. I won't bite though - I have it on a 45 from MFSL. Interestingly enough, this new one is 33 1/3. They'll probably release it on 45 next and charge $125....

My 2 clear records are just clear, not cloudy/milky, but they sound great.

@teo_audio - JVC vinyl was used by MFSL in the late 70s/early 80s. Not sure what they use now, but the newer releases sound great to me - especially the 45s.

Now to find come clarity vinyl LPs....
Cannonball Adderley - Something else, Classic Records on Blue Note, Clarity SVP II 45rpm.
@sokogear: I started a thread here about the Acoustic Sounds UHQR Kind Of Blue LP, and info about the panel discussion on YouTube related to that release. The video provides all the details one could want, the participants being Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds, Mike Hobson of Classic Records, mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, the AS LP production master (I forget his name), Michael Fremer, and the panel host Michael Ludwig, whose 45 RPM Audiophile YouTube "channel" is where the video may be viewed. 
@petg60 - great album. It is actually a Miles Davis album - same crew as Kind of Blue without Trane. There was an argument with the record label so they had to bill it as a Cannonball Adderly album.It's my second favorite Miles album.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I already have this on an excellent 180g pressing - not sure which label/pressing, so I wouldn't go for the 45. Now if I didn't already have it.....I'd probably spring for the extra $20-25 bucks or so. But then again I wouldn't have known how great it is and maybe would have just gotten the 180g Analogue Productions or Speakers Corner or whatever.

@bdp24 - I saw that video when I got the email from Acoustic Sounds pushing for preorders. I am sure it is great, but I have that on the MFSL 45, which sounds great and has a photo mini-book and a UHQR like box. I don't think the UHQRs at $100 are moving as fast as they expected, as now they're saying you can buy 3 copies. Originally I think it was one, then 2, to prevent the resellers from scalping them. I think anyone who wants a great recording of this has one, but there are the people (collector types) who will buy 5-6 different issues of the same album and compare them and keep them all. Not sure of the point of it - why not just play the best one all the time? I am not a collector - I am a player. Just like cars - I am a driver, not a collector.

They're making 25K pressings, which is quite a lot. Back in the day UHQRs were limited to 5000 and they numbered them on certificates inside the box. I have them all except the classical one and Tea for the Tillerman. They cost $50 list I think back in the day, which adjusted for inflation after 40 years or so is a bargain at $100, but back then you could easily get them discounted. I think I paid $35-40 a pop, which is about right for inflation at $100, maybe the $100 is a slight bargain.
it is a great great album, Classic Records have released it in QUIEX -SVP also.
The clear 45 version is 4 single sided LP's box set. 

Re “Somethin’ Else”:

There’s always been a lot of speculation and myth surrounding the question of who the leader of the date was with little definitive proof one way or another. IMO, the most plausible reasons for Miles’ prominence on the recording are that Cannonball, being a sideman in Miles’ Quintet at the time as well as a newcomer on the scene, and Miles already an established giant with a huge ego caused “leader” Cannonball to defer to Miles on matters like tune choices and amount of solo space. A correction: the personnel on the record is not at all the same as in KOB. Only Cannonball appears on KOB. Great records both.
@petg60 - is that still available? My brother in law has a 4 sided 45 of KOB but it’s black vinyl. That’s worth big $$ unopened.

@frogman - My mistake. I thought PC and the others were on it. The records sound similar, but it was Miles’ record, but he couldn’t release it on his existing label. Think of it, if Cannonball was a newcomer, why would Miles play on his album? Maybe he couldn’t use the rest of his quintet because it would be too obvious to the label that it was his album, not Cannonball’s. He didn’t play on any of Trane’s albums.
Well, to expound on my previous comments and to address your question “why would Miles play on a newcomer’s record?”:

Not uncommon at all. Cannonball was a rising star, not to mention member of Miles’ own band and was being heavily promoted. By some accounts it was Cannonball who received the invitation from Bluenote to record an album and that it was Cannon who then picked the band. It is not unusual for a high profile leader to play on a solo effort by one of his sidemen. Moreover, Miles was under contract with Columbia and Cannon was not under contract with any label. Why wouldn’t Columbia simply release another Miles record? Why wouldn’t Miles use his working sextet and why would he record with a different rhythm section and ask only one member of his band to play? Seems like bad politics. Leonard Feather points out that the title tune “Somethin Else” which was written by Miles is an expression of praise for Cannonball.

“He didn’t play on any of Trane’a records”

Probably because, unlike Cannonball, Trane didn’t ask him. Trane and Miles didn’t have a great personal relationship. In fact. Miles fired Trane at one point.

Lastly and probably most importantly and telling, to me, SE sounds nothing like KOB. Constantly changing musical chameleon that he was, Miles had moved to a modal style by then. KOB is the groundbreaking and best example of modal Jazz, while the material on SE is much more traditional with most of the tunes being standards which is a style much closer to home for Cannonball.

I guess we’ll never know for sure, but interesting to speculate; but that is where I put my money.  No matter how the record really came about, we’re lucky that it did.  


Btw. in my previous post I mistakenly referred to Miles’ band as a quintet. Obviously, it was a sextet.
@frogman - you know a lot more about this than topic than I do. I had always heard it was a label contract issue. Your explanation/theory makes sense, but I am still keeping it in my Miles albums alphabetically and his rotation, and even though the songs are a different style, it still sounds unmistakably like a Miles album. And we are lucky it happened. I can’t find it currently available on 45 with clarity vinyl or regular vinyl. I really like 45s- they definitely sound better (all things being equal). I’m sure it was sold out.
And Miles’ band for the excellent group of records recorded in the prolific session which produced Relaxin’, Cookin’, Steamin’ & Workin’ were all with the Miles Davis Quintet (those were the titles)  so you were correct. Only KOB was the sextet with 2 guys on sax. I think his other hard bop albums were all quintets as well.
Have a few clear albums for collecting!

   I usually buy the black as well,to listen to and record to cd!

  I’ve found the colored records, and pic discs sound horrible, and are meant for collecting, not “listening” to


"Donald Fagen was a fanatic about the recording and production process"

Donald is alive and well.  It is 9 years since he released a record but his fans live in hope.

Clear vinyl started off as a gimmick.  Does anyone have evidence that its make-up confers advantage over the black recipe with carbon?  The few I have don't sound better.
Sokogear, always good to trade thoughts and opinions with another lover of the music. You make a great point when you say it sounds like a Miles record. I think that’s a testament to the greatness of Miles and what an incredibly powerful and individualistic voice he was. One of those players that after only a couple of notes, sometimes just one, we know its Miles. 

Some interesting reading:

A couple more favorite Cannonball records.

i found out that both black and clear can be found nearly same period in mono as well, still from Classic records.
So many releases in few years period.
Mine is 2008.
And sure prices are high.
If MoFi one steps were clear, you would see 80% reduction in quality complaints on the forums outside audible defects and warps.

@clearthinker - I didn’t mean to imply Donald Fagen is no longer with us. He is the man.

As I mentioned, I have his 9 year old album, Sunken Condos, which came on clear vinyl (not sure if it is clarity vinyl) but it sure sounds great. I have The Nightfly on a Japanese pressing, and it is one my best sounding records, and a favorite.

I don’t think he makes much $$ with records, but has been touring more in recent years, at least once a year, and hopefully he’ll be around soon. Too bad it will never be billed as Donald Fagen since it sells less tickets which means we don’t get to hear his solo stuff. One of his best concerts was when he toured Morph the Cat (which I wish I could get on vinyl without paying a king’s ransom, just like Kamikiriad) and played What I do (the Ray Charles song) and the H Gang....

Dukes of September tours were great too, except when they played a casino, which was the worst concert of his I’ve ever been at, which was still great.
It is normally all in how much care was taken when the vinyl is mastered and pressed that determines the quality of the pressing not the color of the vinyl i have great recordings of all colors and types of music it is all based on the care taken in the chain.
Hi Sokogear
We heard the revived Steely Dan in the Sporting Club Monaco, a very intimate venue, some 15?? years ago.  It was a great concert.

My wife flew to London the next morning and the Dan were in the lounge.  Fagen was sitting with the girl singers and my wife went over and thanked him for the concert.  He was very outgoing and they talked for some minutes.  It is well known he and Becker had fallen out bigtime a long while before.  Presumably the concerts were just a commercial thing.  Becker spent the whole time sitting in a corner by himself with his coffee.  Pity.
@clearthinker - It was revived a while before that, but of course the smaller the venue, the better.

I went to Fagen's book signing (interesting book) a few years back and he wasn't the warmest and fuzziest when he was leaving. I asked him if he'd take a quick photo and he just shook his head to walk towards a car waiting for him. No manager, entourage or even assistant. He just acted like a regular Joe.

In his interview, he complained about how he's been ripped off so many times, which may have to do with the lack or reissues on Royal Scam and Pretzel Logic. 

Becker had a pretty tough life and got into drugs big time in the nineties. He had a hot and cold relationship with Donald, but they continued as business partners, and I believe had involvement with some of each others solo projects.

2020 was the first year I didn't see him at least once in quite a while. Hopefully he wants to get back on stage soon, and luckily I am not too far from NY where he lives, so he can play a gig (usually does 2 or 3) down here in Philly ASAP.
@Clearthinker said: "Clear vinyl started off as a gimmick. Does anyone have evidence that its make-up confers advantage over the black recipe with carbon? The few I have don’t sound better."

I have various "audiophile" records from the ’60s that used clear vinyl. When Classic Records was still in operation, there was a fair amount of written material M. Hobson posted claiming that the conductive properties of carbon black interfered with the sound, and that the Clarity compound eliminated that as a factor. This was at a time when Classic was having trouble pressing 200 g records at RTI and moved to that Finebuilt press. Most of that material disappeared from the web a year or two after Classic folded.
I could hear a difference between the Quiex and the Clarity, but not something that would be determinative for me. I have records from the low point in vinyl in the U.S.- thin pressings on Segue Records for example, of Nathan Davis after his return to the States--that sound marvelous.
I think it is real tough to determine what role the compound itself plays in the final product, but we have almost no control over that- occasionally, with new-ish records, you can opt for a non-US pressing over a U.S. one that comes from a iffy plant, but for older records, you are pretty much at the mercy of whatever they did back in the day. Most of the older records I listen to were never marketed as "audiophile" and many of them sound superb-- you can hear the ambience of the room where recorded, and surface noise is minimal. Obviously, the big variable, apart from mastering and pressing quality, is condition.