I think we vinyl consumers are pretty much out on a limb with no where to turn when it comes to quality vinyl. Unless I'm mistaken, RTI is the only record pressing plant left in the USA. There's so much demand for their services, production schedules keep getting pushed back for new releases. Not a scenario that is likely to result in improvements. I've been very disappointed in the quality of new vinyl releases as well. Pretty much much every one I've bought over the last year from a variety of labels has at least one side that's unacceptably marred by tics, pops, and swooshes. I absolutely clean all new albums on my NItty Gritty before playing them.
I clean everything right out of the sleeve. The mold release stuff they use tends to latch onto little nasties which cause some of the ticks and pops. That being said, I too have found new pressings to be hit or miss. If you have a record cleaner...VPI, Clearaudio, Nitty Gritty, etc...it's sometimes better to buy used and scrub away before you play.
the problems inherent in new vinyl are always going to be there to a degree. i'm not suggesting you like with a faulty pressing.....just saying that everyone's idea of a quiet record is a bit different.
I notice the better cart the less these imperfectioins make it out of the speaker.....still there but less amplified.
I buy very little new vinyl and I'm very careful when I do: ie. I usually wait to hear from other listeners who have taken the plunge before me on reissues with respect to the quality of the vinyl or pressing. I have a few of the Music Matters Blue Notes on order because they seem to have a decent record so far with quality control (even though they're pressed at RTI) and I'll probably buy Speakers Corner (pressed in Europe) again because the few that I've ordered have been very good.
But I'm generally reluctant to buy new vinyl, particularly new North American vinyl, because of the horrendous quality control record it seems to have. I'm also not interested in buying new vinyl that's been digitally sourced or manipulated and that eliminates about 75% of the re-issues from what I can see.
I'd rather just buy old records that need to be cleaned. Generally better sounding and quieter pressings once run through the RCM. My success rate is very high with used vinyl and much of it is at bargain basement prices so if it doesn't work out I can simply toss the record without being upset. I'll also trade some of the used vinyl I buy to dealer(s) to fund purchases of new vinyl so, in the end, the new vinyl is really costing me considerably less.
... if they could make standard $7 records without pops, clicks, scratches, etc. 25-30 years ago there's no reason we shouldn't DEMAND at least the same quality from these "premium audiophile" pressings of today at $30+ each.
It's a damn shame that I can buy a used piece of vinyl, clean it up, and have it wipe the floor with a new audiophile pressing in terms of quietness.
I'm not asking for dead silent wax, but I am asking for playable vinyl which means no loud pops, crackles, etc. The ONLY ones who seem able to do this are the Japanese, the current MOFI stuff, and some European labels like Pure Pleasure (whos wax is dead dead dead silent...)
Back in the day albums were very automated vs today and were produced at higher speeds so I guess they didnt have as much time and labor to get dirty before landing in the sleeve?
I bought Thriller anniversary reissue double LP that was 180g and warped so badly my cart would not track.
I send it back and they send me less-warped record:)
Modern reissues are often garbage in quality. That is why i sore not to pay more than $15.00 for them.
I was in the retail record biz 30 years ago in what was one of the largest and most successful record/audio chains of the era. Trust me when I say that a large percentage of records were defective. Anyone who remembers otherwise is not remembering correctly. The never ending stream of returned records to the distributors and record companies along with uncontrollable pricing in the oil industry in the 1970s eventually led us to the digital age. By the way, those $7.00 records in the mid-70s were viewed as expensive and the same remarks regarding price/quality were voiced then as well.
If you are not cleaning your records before your initial first play, the ticks and pops cannot be improved upon. You must clean them.
After buying loads of records/reissues the last years, I nearly stopped it. It's too frustrating to spend so much money and getting such results.
EVERY 2. hand record with 80gr before Y2K is light years ahead from surface noise.
Reissues aren't bad in general, but those times, where you could get superior quality from CR (their first LSC with 180gr) or others are gone. CR was the best in general (mastering and sound), others have probably better vinyl, but their Mastering is nothing special (SC)... it is not easy to get the real stuff.
Probably "they" want to push the output, probably the good vinyl is no longer available ... good as analog is, that's not the way to go.
I guess I was just phenomenally lucky in the 1970's / 80's - I can count on one hand the number of defective records I had to return in those days among thousands of purchases.
>>I guess i was just phenomenally lucky in the 1970's / 80's<<
I have a hard time with Elinor's claim. I bought well in excess of 4,000 albums during the 70's/80's and can't recall returning even a couple due to excessive noise and/or warpage.
That's not luck folks.
My experience as well in a lesser volume I really only remember returning one or two with the exception of I went through about 4 copies of Wish Your Were Here that all had bad lead-in grooves. But these 180-200gram pressings all seem to have problems. I am gald to hear it isn't just me. Hopefully someone from Classic, Rhino etc is reading this thread.
Vinyl is and as always been a crap shoot. Of the three brand new LPs I bought yesterday the one with the best music has lousy surfaces (Cleanhead Vinson on Muse), the one I had the most hope for is a lousy recording and the pressing dismal, the hole is undersize and the surfaces are atrocious (Otis Rush on Delmark)and the one I paid $7.99 for, for which I had the lowest expectations, turns out to be quite good musically, the recording is all right and the pressing quality good (Lucky Peterson on Alligator).
So one out of three ain't good.
Unfortunately it's par for the course.
And if you think that expensive heavy vinyl means all that much better, think again.
Just happy the most expensive album of the three only cost me $14.99 + taxes
It was mentioned to me over the phone speaking with Kevin at KAB, that vinyl pre 80s and before was the best in terms of quality at the pressing level. Back then he said, the pressing machines were run 24 hours a day - allowing for more consistent production runs resulting in much higher quality pressings. These days pressings are an 'event' and every time they start from scratch.
When demand for records deteriorated from CD sales, demand went down, volume of productions went down, thus quality went down.
I remember when I started buying records in 1978, my own rather than my father's collection. Records were around 7 dollars, as a kid with a part time job, I always managed to save for a weekly addition to my collection. Getting a warped record was very rare, and the record store would always take it back with out question and give me a new one. But that was rare.
I think it must depend somewhat on what one buys. I mostly buy classical, and have had very good luck with the European pressings from Speakers Corner. Out of about 30, I sent two back. My luck was not as good with Classic Records--out of about 20 I sent about 4 back. On the jazz side, with both Speakers Corner, Classic Records, and Cisco, I've bought fewer, but I've sent none back.
On the 2nd hand side, I've gotten to where I just expect some minor surface noise and a short scratch here or there. Given that we're dealing with vinyl discs made mostly 25 or more years ago, to expect more is unrealistic, it seems to me.
I clean almost all of my records before play, with VPI and MoFi fluids.
Wow. as I read this thread, I am listening to Brian Wilson Smile. not a reissue but a new 180g pressing on rhino. Bought it "used" but looked mint to me. ran it through the vpi 16.5 before playing it the first time. terrible! pops and clicks throughout. ran it through the vpi again. better but not good. ran it through the vpi a third time, with a 15 minute soak per side on the enzyme step. better but still not great. don't get me wrong, this is a fantastic piece of music, recored extremely well. I bought the cd when it first came out and was floored by how it sounded. I thought the lp would really take it over the top, and it does . . . but . . .
seriously. I have bought records at salvation army that are 70s/80s vintage and not very clean. with a little effort many clean up and sound great. this album should be "audiophile" all the way but the pressing does not do it justice. I don't know what causes these pops but if 3 cleanings doesn't get it off, I think it ain't coming off. it's embedded in the vinyl somewhere, imho. not just one spot but throughout 3 sides. eh, for 20 bucks what can you expect these days I guess.
Pbb's assertion that vinyl is a crap shoot doesn't ring completely true.
Regarding current releases, I totally agree. As a matter of fact I stopped buying new albums and reissues. Occasionally you'll get a record that is not warped and sounds decent but for the most part, they stink. At $30, $40, $50, and more per pop, it's downright silly not to seek out nice pre-owned original copies.
However, it is disingenuous to lump all vinyl under the "crap shoot" umbrella. In days gone by, the golden ear of vinyl if you will, there were very few quality problems.
At least in my experience spanning back to the late 50's.
I never really gave this much thought until I read your posting Theo.
Over the past ten years I have bought close to 700 new and reissues recordings, mostly Jazz.
On occasion I buy select first issue, mostly 1950s Jazz.
Going on for 25 years I have always cleaned and vacuumed before play.
The few I returned with problems over the years were mainly do to a bad warp.
Recently one that stands out was Classics superb reissue 45 rpm box set of Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, all but 2 were warped.
No problem, the dealer Diamond Groove flattened my copy in one of those LP cooker flatting things.
The few times I was in their store, there was always a stack of LPs waiting to be flattened. A time consuming process thats for sure.
A record cleaning machine is a must if you collect vintage vinyl and buy new releases.
For the past year I have been using Walkers active enzyme method of cleaning with par excellent results.
I'm sure there are other methods that are equally effective, however this is what I use.
Pops and ticks are very few and far between, actually this has never really been an issue with the majority of new and pristine used Lps that I have bought.
Zargoz, I have a copy of Brian Wilsons Smile, Iv'e only played it a couple of times and first out of the sleeve it was very quiet and an exceptionally good recording I found.
It makes me wonder what the previous owner of your copy put on the Lp to clean it.
Quality control no doubt varies. I have found Speakers Corner to be consistent especially with no humps.
There have always been quality problems with pressings. I am soon to be 57 and remember very well the days when vinyl was all there was and having to bring back something like every third or fourth album because of bad surfaces or warps or a combination of both. Do you remember when LPs were shrink wrapped whuile still warm and the plastic wrap would twist the vinyl as it shrank and the record cooles? European and Japanese pressings were normally the exception, everything pressed in North America was prone to all manner of defects.
I think to we are used to the silence of CD's too which just seems to amplify the the ticks pops and crackles. Sorry I won't by New Vinyl until they change the return policy which is if i want a cash refund I get it and not another sob story from the seller.
There are a few inexpensive record player combination that will play vinyl with absolute minimal snap crackle and pops straight out of the sleeve.
If you properly clean that same Lp, for sure you will enjoy the music that much more.
Moving on up vinyl play back, there are many combinations that really start to do vinyl justice with near to dead silent back grounds on well cared for Lps, new and vintage.
Then there are other combination ,table ,arm and cartridges that equal the dark silents of digital play back on most Lps were a tick or pop is rare.
Including zero surface noise
I might add a few of these record players are not the price of a new car.
Vinyl play back is frustrating and too much for some.
For others its an intoxicating pleasure....
Stiltskin makes a good point.
Perhaps the system, not the vinyl, is the problem for those who complain about poor quality.
In this particular case, it appears to be a real possibility.
What do you mean:
"Perhaps the system, not the vinyl, is the problem for those who complain about poor quality.
In this particular case, it appears to be a real possibility."?
I didn't see anything in this thread about the posters' systems. I don't think one needs a multi kilobuck system to enjoy vinyl. I started out with a very humble front end and yet I found a number of nice records that sounded better than their counterpart on cd. If your comment is based on prior knowledge of the poster(s)' system(s) then disregard.
I completely agree with you on the quality of the recording. No question there. One of the best sounding things to come out in recent years. I also wonder what the previous owner may have done to it that would not come off with several cleanings. I couldn't think of anything. maybe their setup was so bad it actually damaged the vinyl, but I've never really seen that happen. I've been looking for an excuse to try steaming. . . so perhaps this is it.
I can't speak for Audiofeil, but I think there is truth in his and Stiltskin's general point that one's system can make a real difference to enjoyment of vinyl or any other medium. The hobby generally seems to embrace that notion.
For me, the quality of results I obtain from the vinyl medium improves with upgrades to my analog front-end. Granted, a new cable or tonearm will not heal a scratch or remove dirt but, as my system improves I continue to be amazed at the amount of information (versus noise) there is to be discovered in the grooves. Records actually become quieter and sound better as my system evolves. I notice that some cartridges, turntables, phono stages and preamps can cause surface noise to be less noticeable - whether this results from shifting that noise to a different part of the frequency spectrum, or draining it away, or what, I don't know. I'm sure electronics don't know the difference between a B-flat and fly-spot on a record, but I've noticed certain analog components can yield more and certain others can yield less surface noise - or at least alter my subjective sense of annoyance or enjoyment resulting from a record that sounds noisy or quiet. Overall, system improvements have tended to improve my record collection.
Audiofeil takes great delight in being a curmudegeon about gear he deems subar. That's ok, it's part of his charm. However, I think he's deviating from a sensible viewpoint if he really believes what he says. Sure, better cartridges and tables reduce the intrusive nature of surface noise. However, if you tell me I've got to buy specific tables and cartidges to be able to enjoy vinyl, it seems we've reached a point where we're blaming the victim. Like some of you, I've been buying vinyl for 40 years, so I have a pretty good perspective of what quality of vinyl one can or should expect. When I'm spending what new vinyl costs these days, pardon me if I'd like to get quality pressings. From my experience buying thousands of lps over my life, I'd say there was a period at the end of vinyl era just prior to the cd when lp quality was a problem. Otherwise, the recent crop of releases I've bought exhibit more frequent issues than at any time in the past.
I was the original Quality Manager at RTI, from when they started in 1973 until I left in 1986. Yes there are other domestic pressing plants still operating. RTI had a much better rep when I was there, but then again I took the time to make certain everyone knew what they were doing. This included the matrix (plating) department. Can't say much for the place now, though.
I buy a lot of New Release vinyl and frankly the pressing quality from the US sucks. The new Portishead double LP is a prime example. Dishing or warps in the vinyl seem to my biggest problem and the US copy of portishead is no different.
I have now swapped it for a UK pressing and that is a lot flatter.
Generally I find that the Euro or UK pressings are a LOT better than their US couterparts, thou the US pressings are cheaper.
I am a bit like Tim, the better your system the less I hear a lot of these pops and click's.
Still you need to have a RCM and clean your LP's before playing and that gets rid of all or most of any annoying pops or clicks. One will never get the same quiet back grounds like CD.
With vinyl you either get it or you don't, and once you have enjoyed the great musical results you can get, it is hard to go back to CD.
Anyway, I am now buying a LP flattener direct from Japan which should fix any issues I have with dished or warped LP's from the USA.
I'm glad that someone started this thread. Apparently I'm not the only one that has problems with new vinyl. I am a complete newbie to the analog world. I spent about $5.5k buying my first analog rig just over a month ago, and spent between $30 to $50 buying new records, so far, I am not impressed with the noise levels of these new records. I cleaned all my new records with LAST Factory Power cleaner and Preservative. One of the worst records I have found is Diana Krall's "The Best of Diana Krall" - I think I paid $35 for it, and the poppings are unbearable.
Very disappointing for a starter.
Sorry Viper but I can't resist.
" best of Diana Krall" is an oxymoron if there ever was one :-))
I just bought the Analog Productions 45RPM Bill Evans How MY Heart Sings, and although it is a fantastic mastering and sound quality, there are some terribly loud ticks happening on the first play. Perhaps it will get a bit better, but i never heard these kinds of hits on any other LP.
Viper- be careful of last on LP's - I have heard of people very unhappy years later with LP's that were treated.
Last record treatment and stylus treatment is a major NO NO.
Simply keep your vinyl and stylus clean.
Nothing more is needed.
Audiofeil ... what do you recommend doing to keep the stylus clean?
The Magic Eraser per Doug Deacon.
Everything else is second place.
The Zerodust is a pretender.
I totaly agree with most of the above posts about bad quality of new reissues.
This can be avoided if you buy the record in a record shop where you can LISTEN to it before buying, like in old days. The problem is that a vast majority of us are buying through internet virtual shops, without auditioning, this is a shame, because the few record shops remaining alive will not survive. The resurgence of the vinyl software is a reality, and all of us buying internet should sometime go shopping in a REAL record shop, and as a record collector , I can tell you it is more than half of the fun, plus the good advises for music you have from the shopkeeper, auditionning records to be sure you like them, not to mention new discoveries. It is like discovering new cultures . Record fairs are goldmines.Beeing too virtual has backsides, so we must react and move our asses to streetrecordshops and fairs.
When traveling abroad, why not visiting the local recordshops when our wives are in fashionshopping?
There are a few inexpensive record player combination that will play vinyl with absolute minimal snap crackle and pops straight out of the sleeve.
Stiltskin, can you give a few examples of these "inexpensive" record player combo that minimizes surface noises?