New Vinyl Defects

I'd like a little input from you vinylphiles out there.

My buying recently shifted back to almost exclusively vinyl rather than CD. I'm buying mostly "pre-owned", but recently purchased an armload of new and 180 gram pressings. A recent order of 4 LPs, 2 of them were defective. One is unplayable - it had label glue on the last track, and (this is the really odd part) the grooves were off-center, so much I could see the tonearm oscillating back and forth, and the sound was also oscillating. The other one wasn't so bad, or unusual, the first track had near-constant "scratching" sound for nearly the whole song. I recall this as being pretty common in "my before cd" days, but assumed with 180 gram LP's that the QC may be better.

Here's the questions:
1) is the above unusual? That is, is 50% defective - common, or anomaly?
2) What's the likelyhood that if I send back the second LP (Johnny Cash "American V: A Hundred Highways") for a replacement, that I'll get a good copy? I like it and will tolerate the first track if they're all bad.
Sounds like my experience mirrors yours however, not as bad:
No, it's not unusual. Provided you have the ability to clean vinyl effectively, stick predominantly to buying used vinyl, preferably recorded in full analog pre-early 80's at thrifts or garage sales for $1.00 or less. Focus on condition and you can buy 15-20 albums and throw away, trade to dealers (and very often end up with superb music in good condition), or recycle half of them before you hit the wall of diminishing returns. Then spend the big bucks on new vinyl very discriminately and you won't be disappointed.
I've purchased about 100 LP's this year and a recent newcomer to my weekly music night music sessions (last Tuesday) thought I had the "most amazing" sounding CD player he had ever heard.

It's true the display on my CD was showing a disc in play, but the tonearm was also tracking a new 180-Gram release on LP, which was what was making music at that moment.

When I told him it was the LP (and proved it by cueing up) he was dumbstruck. Comments followed like "I didn't think LP's could be as quiet as CD" (and similar). This continued all night, we played LP's from the '60's through new single sided 45 RPM bought last week.

It ALL DEPENDS on the turntable, arm, cartridge and set up. The phono stage is critical too. The trouble you mention is totally outside my experience range. You either got a really terrible collection of vinyl or your system is in need of tune up.

By the way, I agree with Hdm that you can find great vinyl at $1.00. I have hundreds of LP's bought used from Half Price Books (a local hang out with used LP's too).

I hope this gets resolved before you despair and give up on the idea. It just kills me to hear others with this problem.
I bought 4 new Lp’s and a TT /w pre. Of the four albums, three were full of pops and clicks. The quality control of new vinyl bites.
I would say it is very unusual for 50% defective rate.
I've purchased roughly 40 new LP's in the last year and have had 1 defective one. The rest all sound terrific. I have a VPI 16.5 and use RRL cleaning fluids, and I don't know how you others clean, but I've never been able to get a used LP to sound as good as a new one. I can definitely get the used ones listenable, but never as totally free of pops and clicks as a new LP. That is just my experiences.

As for returning the LP for another one, I would.
I would say the odds of getting a better copy are better than 90%, IMHO.

I do agree that the full analog LP's sound best. Definitely steer clear of the 'Digital Master' LP's of the late 80's and early 90's.
thanks for the input guys - I'm feeling better.

regarding some of the "provisional" points made above - a little background:

My turntable is a Pink Triangle Anniversary with a OL Modded Rega arm. I believe it's well tuned - most of the LP's I play are stunning - better than CDs on my Meridian 508.24 CD player.

I have a VPI 16.5 RCM and have have been buying used LP's by the armful during the last 2 months especially, but also during the last 2 years sporadically. I also had a collection of about 400 LPs I bought in the 70's. The defective albums were cleaned - but no use. Most of the used LP's I've bought cleaned up and sound great, except of course those that I don't really expect to be "pop free" (ie cheap/worn LPs I bought cause I wanted them cheap. net-net - I'm having good luck with used LPs and expect most of my purchases will be used . . . just thought it'd be nice to pick up some new ones too - especially those not available used.
Vinyl is somewhat unpredictable. I have bought brand new vinyl with lots of loud pops that never went away and have found and bought records that looked like they had survived countless late night Ultimate games at Chico State that sounded surprisingly okay.
I recommend checking out Last Record Preservative. Last was the first to explain to me why records develope pops in the first place. Since I've been using it, I don't expect pops on new records any more.
And I'm not sold on the heavy vinyl. Generally my lighter vinyl sounds better than the heavier.
I'd return the defective new, 180 gram Lps. They ought to be pristene if advertised as new. No question. If the seller refuses, stay away from them and leave - feedback so we steer away.
I agree with the comments of the others here. A record being new and pressed on 180 gram vinyl doesn't mean that the rest of the production process has been performed to strict quality standards. It is also important to clean records before they are played the first time, and to keep them clean.

It is important to perform an initial thorough cleaning to remove the mold release that is on new records. The mold release can cause a 'veiled' or 'scratchy' sound, and will attract dust,etc. to the record. It will also foster microbial growth on the record. A good enzymatic cleaner is the most effective for removing mold release. By the way, the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions products will be back on the market in a few days and they offer an enzymatic formula and a product line the was picked as the Stereo Times Analog Product of The Year in 2005. Their products are the most effective that I've found in over 30 years of cleaning records.

Good luck with your analog rig.
Upon further reflection, the 50% rate does seem extreme. And even the the records that I've bought with what I consider to be pretty awful quality control issues play reasonably well. It's just that it's super irritating to me when I buy the bulk of my vinyl for next to nothing and I pay $20 to $30 for a new record and it comes out of the jacket with scuffs, smeared label glue, plays noisy in spots, etc. At heart, I guess I am just a cheapskate. And Albert's point about the phono stage is also dead on and one that is not made very often. I'm in the process of upgrading my phono pre right now and cannot believe the reduction in surface noise/imperfections that it provides.
I had big problems with WHatmusic Brazilian reissues.Out of 30 records i bought at least 20 had some kind of imperfection.Usually it's the bubbles and off center pressings.
Setup definitely lessens surface noise issues with vinyl, but other than an out of production Nakamichi I've never heard of a turntable or setup procedure that corrects for off center pressings.
thanks again for all the input, it sounds like my experience isn't that unusual, and I realize a sample of 4 isn't a statistically valid sample to project 50% defects from.

I plan to return the 2 defectives, and will post how it goes back here. By the way, the 2 in question are 1) Johnny Cash "American V: A Hundred Highways" 180gm on Lost Highway Records; and 2) Lambchop "Damaged" on Merge Records. The Lambchop record is bizarre - on side one the grooves are cut off-center by about 1/4". How can that happen, I wonder?? Both are excellent. I cleaned both before playing them. I cleaned the Johnny Cash album a second time and listened to it again this morning on my second system. Same results on track one, so I think we can rule out equipment as the source.

Albert - your point on phono stage is interesting, and I didn't realize that the phono stage could introduce this kind of noise. I'm using a Lehman Black Cube SE into a Musical Fidelity NuVista preamp on one system (Cartridge at present is a Benz Glider LO. On the other system I'm using the internal phono stage of my TAD 150 signature. The table is a Pink Triangle Original, Audioquest PT6 arm, and a Grado Sonota cartridge. Should I be concerned here? I'd appreciate it if you could elaborate.

Finally, the emphasis on setup is well taken, and while I assumed I got it right, but I suspect if I'm honest I probably haven't taken as much care as I should. I'll probably give it anither go on both tables.
The number of people complaining of poor QC on new audiophile vinyl has increased quite a bit in the past year or so. It's a constant topic on VA these days and I've heard a few of these problem LP's myself. Careful examination has proven beyond any doubt that there are QC issues with the records.

As has already been said, careful mastering and good quality vinyl are no guarantee of a flaw-free record. Any mis-step during cutting, plating, stamping or cooling can produce a flawed LP, and those mis-steps seem to be happening more frequently.

I agree that 50% is very unlucky however. Such records should be returned for replacement or refund of course. Otherwise the manufacturers will have no idea and no incentive to improve their work processes.

Note to jmcgrogan2,

IME "pops and clicks" are usually the sign of biological contaminants. These are especially likely on older records and RRL will not remove them. Try Vinyl-Zyme.

Older records may have been damaged of course, but I have hundreds (thousands?) that are just as quiet as any new release. After proper cleaning I have never heard a noisy surface on any (undamaged) post-1970 Harmonia Mundi, French Erato, Telefunken, Archiv Produktion or German EMI, to name a few. Quiet surfaces were not a Y2K development.

Bdgregory: I don't believe that Albert was suggesting that phono stages are "introducing" this noise, but rather that, as you go up the food chain in terms of quality in phono stages that the better phono stages actually deal with surface noise, pops etc. in a manner that makes that type of noise much less noticeable. I experienced exactly that this week with a phono stage I have been auditioning, expensive but not outrageously so (by high end phono stage standards) at $900. I was shocked at how less obtrusive that type of noise was using the better stage.
Note to jmcgrogan2,

IME "pops and clicks" are usually the sign of biological contaminants. These are especially likely on older records and RRL will not remove them. Try Vinyl-Zyme.

Thanks Doug, I will have to try that.

HDM - thanks for the clarification - that makes sense.
Update: Well, the seller replaced my defective LP, and the new one is better, in that it doesn't have the label adhesive on the vinyl. The problem is side 1 is off-center exactly like the first one. I'm going to keep this one as it costs me too much to send it back and I expect they're all that way. This is a Lambchop LP - "Damaged", and you get a free download of the CD from the record company, so I'll get/burn a CD and see how much different side 1 sounds. As for the Johnny Cash LP, the seller reminded me that I bought a second, that was advertided as such, and he didn't have any more of them. I had forgotten about that and agreed that it's unfair to expect replacement. In addition, the defect in the LP is minor, on one track only, and I'll tolerate it.

all and all, At least I feel I got a fair deal.
Dear B

You have evidence of the quality of the importance of customer satisfaction for one supplier vs the other's . How did the second vendor represent their product, was it mint ,mint - or vg or less. Used does not allow one to represent a record that has a manufacturer defect as unblemished out of the cover

Groovey - actually this is all the same vendor (ie seller). I bought a batch of LP's all brand new, sealed. They were just that. One of the LP's (Lambchop) is the one that has given me the biggest problem. The problem is with the manufacturer, not the seller. Side one is pressed out of round on both copies I received - causing an oscilation noticable on sustained notes. The first copy I received also had smears of what I believe was adhesive from the label. Another LP I bought was advertised as a 2nd, having a damaged cover. The cover was actually not bad. One track has some noise inherent to the pressing. The seller didn't have another copy so I kept this one.
this kind of manufacturing bs is why the majors wanted out of vinyl in the first place.
there is also a 'no returns' policy for the retailers who support vinyl.....they most eat the bad stuff. unfair but oh well....with sales now averaging under 1000 units per title (globally), its become nearly impossible to truly make a first class master,then disk and sleeve...and then take the risk of defectives coming back. a thankless labor of love, that only occasionally makes a few bucks. there is almost no competition in the manufacturing end now too, so its not like you can take the business elsewhere.
Dear B

You have evidence of the quality of the importance of customer satisfaction for one supplier vs the other's . How did the second vendor represent their product, was it mint ,mint - or vg or less. Used does not allow one to represent a record that has a manufacturer defect as unblemished out of the cover

LP's are selling regularly on Ebay for hundreds of dollars. I recently bid on a half dozen different jazz LP auctions offering well over $100 on each and lost them all. It is expensive to produce quality LP's but at over $100 per LP it has to begin to make economic sense for record companies to make good quality reissues I would think???

I have a few of the Analog Productions 45 RPM LP's which have been good quality as well as the test pressings. Any other opinions on these?