jm, it is a crap shoot. I do not buy used LPs. Records are just to easy to damage. Record weight is a very poor indication of quality. Many records listed as "180 gm Audiophile Quality," suck. My suggestion is to buy your records from reputable dealers and buy the music you like. If you get a bum record, return it. I have had no issues with Elusive Disc and Acoustic Sounds. I suggest you do not buy records from Amazon. Their packaging is terrible and records come through with damaged covers and in warped condition.
For used records try discogs.com. I've received some NM in very good quality, some average. Always assume the seller is exaggerating about the condition, look for mint and near mint. Always message seller before a sale to confirm the record is the version you want.
Discogs is a great tool as well. It is a database listing every release, country of origin, etc.
I've bought used from Academy Records online (a NYC store). Good quality, return policy, but not cheap.
Local record store if you have one. They will usually price used records according to quality, because they want repeat customers. At least mine does. And they will order what they may not have in stock if you’re looking for new.
Discogs is specialized and peer reviewed. The sellar tells you what he's got and if wrong he gets bad marks.
Are the new remakes/repressed a "better" quality vinyl then the original released...if I understand the process correctly, back in the day, after the first 20-30k pressings from the master the quality drops? Some labels produced better quality vinyl? Is todays "new" vinyl a better quality - looks like the wt (180 gm) is not indicative of quality? Going thru a reputable online dealer with a return policy seems to be the way to go - unless buying new/repressed version....?
I buy new pressings from Music Direct. There are lots of people with strong opinions on which vendor. I probably buy six or eight audiophile pressings a year. I also buy from a local used record store here in Vancouver Washington. I lived in Tucson Arizona and purchased from a huge record store there… if you can look at the album before you buy it you can eliminate any scratched or warped records. A good cleaning machine, I had a VPI for about 25 years, now a German Nessie (way bettera0, and most albums sound pristine with no ticks and pops after cleaning. Of course that requires a great turntable, I now have a high end Linn LP12… my vinyl is a pleasure to listen to… whether a $5 used album from the late 1950’s or a newly pressed 200 gram audiophile album.
When the vinyl resurgence started and new vinyl was being pressed, results were not as good as original pressings. There was a learning curve and growing pains for the techs in the new pressing plants, but now new vinyl is worth buying. However, IMO, quality is inconsistent depending on record label and pressing plants. Forum members have reported the most common defect is warping. IMO again, quality control is poor, facilities have a backlog of orders and are trying to keep up.
One thing about new vinyl is that in most cases a remaster or reissue comes from a digital master. There has been an ongoing process by record labels to transfer analogue recordings to digital files. It makes for easier and safer storage and faster turnaround time to press an album. So, your favorite albums may have greater dynamics and no tape hiss, but may run the risk of too much compression compared to the original pressing.
Don’t get me wrong, there are excellent quality records being produced, usually they come from the specialty outlets like MOFI or Acoustic Sounds. Many of the bands and their producers have become more involved in the reissue process to produce a quality product. If you have a choice between new vinyl or a NM used original, often the original will have that magic sound you grew up with.
I had the same bad experience with Amazon, "sealed" records with scratches.
Never buy from them again
I purchase most of my new albums from Acoustic Sounds and Music Direct but before buying will look for reviews from their customers and will also look at Discogs for the label and pressing release date and their reviews.
I will also buy from eBay but will also do the research on the release and record company
I generally listen to 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s on vinyl.
I have received a number of very good new pressings but have to say that more than half the time I prefer the SQ of my early original pressings from that era. That’s not to say the new pressings don’t sound good but there is a difference.
I buy from a range of vendors all over the world. Much of what I enjoy is interesting jazz from the period right after the ’60s. There developed more spoken word (Gil Scott-Heron), soul jazz (The Visitors- a/k/a the Grubbs outta Philly) and so-called spiritual jazz. I buy mostly used records because many of these have not been reissued and/or I prefer an earlier pressing.
There is an initial huge learning curve, both in terms of fluency of the works of a given performer or composer, but then being exposed to different performances, some by the same artist, at different times. Layer on layer of knowledge if that intrigues you.
To me, the quest is always for more, interesting music that sounds good. I have lots of notable or rare pressings, but the quest is always for new to me things.
In terms of how best to buy, that’s a whole other subject.....
Thanks....the insight is appreciated.
I agree that some audiophile pressings are real stinkers. I started buying them a few decades ago I would get three or four good ones… and the a really bad one. I remember getting Who’s Next… probably my favorite album from my youth… and there was no treble and the bass was flat… no dynamics… simply terrible. If I had read reviews I could probably have avoided.
No, there is no universal rating system. The key is only buy from dealers that will take returns.
A useful tool for any music purchase is to know what you are looking for when it comes to who released it, where it was made and when it was released.
This site allows you to target certain albums or CDs to get the ones with the greatest dynamic range.
I call it analog hell. IF you get everything just right, you still have to find albums that are even available. Not all are. Then when you get them, it can be a real disappointment. Hey, just like some the digital hell we went through with CD. Almost forgot.
Now on the other hand, things may go your way and it is a beautiful thing.
Where to buy? Well, just like the first reply says, it's crap shoot.
I usually stock up at book fairs, but it's been slim pickings the last couple of years. Maybe once covid restrictions get lifted, selections might improve.
I've also selectively purchased from ebay with some good results. But availability is down and the prices are stupid.
So for the time being, I'm enjoying the records I have.
I like online vendors Music Direct, Elusive Disk and Acoustic Sounds, and a couple local record stores. Amazon has been hit & miss, I’ve had to return about half the LPs but if you’re near a UPS or Kohl’s returns are an easy drop off, unpackaged.
Original pressings usually sound better than reissues but surface noise can be an issue. Reissues from Analogue Productions, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MoFi), Sundazed, Acoustic Sounds and Blue Note labels are good. 45rpm’s are a pain (double albums, twice the chance of getting a defect) but can sound better than 33 1/3. As for weight, 180g and 200g are rarely warped but imo I don’t think a heavier record affects the sound.
Good luck, welcome back!
Support your local record store(s) where possible. Some of these have already been mentioned, but here are some suggestions.
Discogs is good overall , buy from sellers with or very near 100% positive feedback. If you get to 99.5% or less, you'll find that they over-grade, or have other common issues.
Discogs is also a good place to get an idea of the quality of the pressing you're looking at. Users grade records and often leave comments about the quality of pressings. Steve Hoffman forums are another good place to get information about the quality of specific pressings.
For "audiophile" and high quality pressings, Music Direct and Acoustic Sounds are great.
Some decent places to buy online are Plaid Room Records and Pop Market.
For rare and unique records, try rarerecords.net
yes, records are very expensive now. I almost always go with the early pressings and then you might have to buy a few copies before you get a decent one. It is what it is. cannot beat the sound when you have a good copy.