I give up on new vinyl


After getting burned yet again by "audiophile quality" vinyl that sounds like 180 grams of paper getting crinkled next to a mic, I am done. My re-issued Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd albums sound especially bad. Do the record companies buy re-tread vinyl, melt it down, and think that adding weight will make it sound new? The only consistently dependable new vinyl IMO is Rhino and the Beatles Apple re-issues. I would say, for everything else you're better off buying the old, classic pressings. 
mysteriousmrm
I have plenty of success with both old original vinyl and newly remastered reissues, but I am collecting almost entirely classical and jazz.

With that said, it’s like everything else. Vinyl reissues run the gamut. Some come from nefarious outfits using CDs as mastering source and crappy, noisy pressings. Some are outstanding, using 1st gen master tapes and taking care to produce a top notch product on quality vinyl (e.g. Music Matters Jazz for Blue Note, Analogue Productions Prestige and RCA Living Stereo).

I am listening now to DG Classics’ reissue of Bernstein’s Beethoven symphony cycle from 1980, half-speed mastered by Emil Berliner Studios in Germany on 180 gr. vinyl and presented beautifully in a box with individual sleeves for each symphony. Surface noise is almost non-existent and the music (and SQ) is sublime.

YMMV, but vetting reissues can be hard.
I’m not into vinyl but have had two opposite experiences with new vinyl purchases recently.

#1: Astral Weeks - Van Morrison. Warner Brothers. 180g. Clear vinyl...not sure why. Sound quality is fine but there is a repeating pop during one of the songs. I should have returned it but waited too late. It has not been cleaned but I don’t think that is going to help.

#2: My Generation - The Who. Geffen. No special indications about weight or pressing. It is in mono like the original. It feels thicker and heavier than the Van Morrison album. No clicks, no pops, no hiss and SQ is great....for mono.

I don’t buy records often but this experience makes me wary. Is it okay to open and play a record and then return it?
Are some of these recordings mastered in digital?
I don’t think it has to do with digital mastering but the quality of the pressings. A friend who is a distributor was going to market with a new album that was in demand; it was pressed at United for the States and Optimal for EU. He chose the Optimal pressings to sell based on his experience.
I don’t buy much new vinyl and what I do buy comes from a variety of sources- from audiophile labels like MoFi and Speakers Corner- as well as a lot of non-audiophile music that can be pressed almost anywhere. Quality does vary and I have gotten a few defective discs, but I suspect that’s the norm. I’ve gotten clean playing records from GZ, Record Industry and others that aren’t necessarily considered top tier because they use digital sources for the most part.
Old records are great but condition is the devil- most sellers overgrade-
Recently, I’ve been finding dead stock of records-- I guess you could called them ’sealed’ but its just old inventory that was never played. Some going back to the early ’70s. Some even on really thin vinyl that sounds great.
I think you have to avoid the hype of 180 gram "from the analog masters" (which is meaningless- it could be a digital master taken from some tape copy). For Zep, I thought those reissues done what- 2014 or so-- were generally pretty good. (I bought three of them just to see what they were about and got rid of them in favor of preferred old copies but don’t remember having any QC problems).
If you are buying new, it makes sense to buy from a source that enables a return (and possibly reimburses you for return shipping or provides a prepaid mailing label). For out of print, that may not be possible.
The crinkle sound could also be static- something pretty common in the winter with central heating.
And cleaning of course. I don't buy into the 'mold release' issue but a lot of inner liners shed, and just handling and exposing a record to a normal non-clean room environment (when it wasn't made in a clean room to begin with) means there are little dust nits and particles that collect on the surface, especially if the record suffers a static charge. Look at the surface in good light. 
Read this thread that started a while back to better understand this issue....
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/new-vinyl-2
Matt
Just posted this in response to another forum question:

I am lucky enough to own all the MFSL 1 Step Ultradisc, they are all outstanding. Personal favorite is Bill Evans Trio - Sunday Night At The Village Vanguard. I am transported to the venue and the sound of Bill Evan playing live when I listen to this LP. At a more affordable price the Rob Wasserman - Duets LP is extremely good sonically and music wise, very enjoyable. Finally one more LP that will convince you just how good vinyl playback has become; Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest. beautiful music and an amazing recording/pressing.

Sure, setting up a TT and keeping it running properly is hard work. Bit of a PITA occasionally. Similarly looking after LPs and avoiding damage is challenging. But, when all is well and the stars are properly aligned, sheer bliss. Enjoy the hobby/music!
I gave up on local Vinyl over 35 years ago. Mostly garbage.

Since then and for 35 years, I buy only Japanese pressings.....

It's always a crap shoot to some degree, but I've generally found new vinyl sounds excellent.  If I wasn't get a high ratio of good condition/sound to stinkers, I certainly wouldn't be amassing the amount of vinyl I currently do.


I just cracked open my Police box set collection and the quality is jaw dropping.  Pristine, silent wax and incredible sound quality.
I think even though the vinyl is new as Whart says, it may not be as clean as you think or hope it to be.

I now clean any new vinyl before playing with same regime as older used records I purchase.

Cannot say as I have really suffered any pops or clicks etc but a couple have been just poor SQ in general.

However the vast majority I have purchased new have been more than satisfactory to my ears.
Yep, some, or a lot of new pressings are a crap shoot. Was playing Sade Promise LP I bought in the PX in the 80’s, and sounds wonderful. Wife asked if it was an audiophile pressing, said nope, only a $6.95 PX special back then. She was shocked. I have purchased some Barnes and Nobles specials, Chris Isaak and Queen, , for example, and they sound great too. Not special, but a B&N special,,,hmm, is B&N sourcing records from top notch manufacturers and distribution and rebranding? On the other hand, some Audiophile new pressings, like Santana and his new duet with someone, you can tell I forgot that one fast because the recording sucks, was just awful. It’s sounds tinny, screatchy, and compressed, like the audio from Sirius XM in my Shelby, outside the exhaust of course. 

I am reluctant to jump on current Audiophile box sets until an early adopter gets one and posts reviews for others to hear about. Hmmm, LED Zeppelin Mothership was another hyped Audiophile pressing mess, only played once. You immediately get a sense of the recording if it is good or not after dropping the needle and hearing the first voice. 

Pops are inherent to vinyl; however, can be mitigated by ultrasonic or wet cleaning record and using anti static brush, and that zappy anti static tool. The better the tonearm and cartridge combination, the better it is at damping some clicks. I know we all use MOFI antistatic sleaves after cleaning our records too, right. 
@shadorne Do you find japanese pressings consistently good? Or even then you need to research the source/production? I haven’t ventured into japanese pressings yet as I focus my few purchases on jazz mono 1st pressings mainly on BlueNote but I’m definitely curious enough to start acquiring some.
I bought an all analog, all tube amplified audiophile release from an Agon contributor. While the music is fine, and the vinyl silent, the sound quality is quite poor. It is dull, lacks any dynamics, and sounds veiled. Did they not use a Red Columbia or Mercury recording from the 60/70s as a reference?
@three_easy_payments  

Never disappointed. Japan simply makes vinyl to a much higher standard. The pressing and the quality of the vinyl and often the master are to the highest standards.
It's all over the map.  In recent experience, the Fagen Cheap Xmas box is flawless, and I find no fault in the Pink Floyd reissues.
I'm disappointed with around 60% of new LP purchases. 
Arte you guys wet cleaning your new vinyl with a vacuum RCM?
Agreed, some new pressings are a bit noisy but overall I do not have a lot of issues...
The zep’s are not “audiophile “. Classic released some 10 years ago or so. They are good too. But there is nothing wrong with the nether Page remasters whatsoever! I have the first 6 Deluxe sets through Physical Graffiti as well as all the CDs and not a single issue. And no, generally vinyl is final sale as the record companies rarely accept returns from the dealers. Unless it’s legitimately 
 damaged, pops and clicks don’t qualify. Scratches may but it’s hard to prove they came that way. It’s not try to buy. Sorry.

I think even though the vinyl is new as Whart says, it may not be as clean as you think or hope it to be....

What's up boss? Looks like were back in business my man. The burning man.

From what I was let do believe in the old days, the main issues with vinyl, besides the recording process, is the manufacturing process.  Typically, the cheaper vinyl is thinner and, most importantly, is stamped quickly and not let to set before removing from the stamping machine.  Evidently, stamping is a variable process that results in quality differences.

We found that the direct-to-disc recordings of Lincoln Mayorga were the best vinyl we every  heard.  Today, I see on the internets that  The Berliner Direct To Disc Recordings are being sold.  I would suggest these and these http://www.elusivedisc.com/Direct-To-Disk/products/2297/
for those who are disappointed by their current purchases.  

I have no idea if these are as good as the Mayorga albums, but they stand a much better chance of sounding accurate than others you may have purchased.  Try them and post and let us see what you think.

Cheers!
Can someone suggest a good online source to help us Vinyl fans sort between weak pressings, and the true quality pressings from good analog source material?  I would appreciate that.  Thanks in advance.
Check out the Steve Hoffman forums, lots of discussions about "best" vinyl pressings, cd versions, etc.
Most of the really good recording engineers and vinyl transfer technicians are retired or dead. The ones that are left are pretty darn busy.
Even new records need a good quality cleaning.
Please see the information posted below for the benefits of clean records.
Thanks,

Benefits of Proper Vinyl Record Cleaning

This web site has been an excellent source of information and knowledge sharing for audiophile’s worldwide. This analog thread has been created as a product testimonial and instructional guideline based upon my personal experience in cleaning vinyl. I started researching this subject approximately a year ago. Please keep in mind this thread is for the budget minded, and requires a time commitment as well as patience. I ultimately purchased a record cleaning system called “The Disc Doctor” ([email protected]), along with a manual operated vacuum machine called “The Record Doctor II” from Audio Advisor. The instructions for both products are easy to follow and understand. Do not utilize the needle bearing provided with the vacuum machine, it does not function as advertised. Following is the procedure I followed/developed for cleaning my collection of vinyl. Patience is required. It took me 16 hours to clean 105 albums, or 210 sides.

Materials required: Card table, one gallon distilled water, two stainless steel cereal sized bowls with folded over lip, two white terry cloth bath towels with no fabric softener used during laundering, cleaning solution, vacuum machine, new rice paper anti-static record sleeves.

Process sequence: Place one towel onto table. Place vacuum machine on towel on the right side. Fill one stainless bowl half way with distilled water. Add four ounces of cleaning solution to two ounces of distilled water into other bowl. Place both bowls in front of vacuum machine. Place both cleaning pads in front of bowls. Place record on towel, to the left. Dip one pad into cleaning solution; gently scrap on lip of bowl to remove excess. Place pad onto record, and under its own weight, make one revolution. Then in an arc, following the radius of the record, gently sweep the cleaning pad back and forth in approx. 90-degree increments. Perform the “scrubbing” procedure for three revolutions. Place cleaning pad in cleaning solution bowl. Place second towel on record and pat dry only. Dip second cleaning pad into bowl of distilled water, and gently scrap off excess on bowl lip. Follow same procedure as cleaning. Place pad into water bowl. Place record onto vacuum machine, wet side down, per instructions. Four slow revolutions are sufficient to remove all spent solution. Repeat procedure to the other side. Once completed, place record into a new sleeve, and return to its cover. After about 15 to 20 record cleanings, replace both spent solutions with fresh solutions. Its best to call it a day after 30/40 record cleanings.

Results: You will be astounded by the results! Over 95% of ticks and pops will be removed. All frequency ranges will drastically improve. You will be shocked at the new sound quality and very, very pleased. It is well worth your time and effort to perform this cleaning procedure. Note: This procedure will not repair damaged vinyl. Manufacturing defects will not be erased. Good news: This is a one shot process. Future cleaning is not required. Just gently brush record one revolution with dry carbon fiber brush; Hunt makes a nice one.

Back in the day, 1971, I used to buy records and then immediately record them on reel to reel at 7 1/2 ips.

The thought being that records degrade over time and while the tape could have an issue, I always had a vinyl master with one pkaying to record again.

I used this process for casesttes later when they became popular.

My rig was decent for the day, AKAI R2R with crossfied heads, Dual 1229 turntable with V15 Type3 cartridge.

Vinyl will always have a bit of inherent fussiness, but good vinyl tops digital IMHO.