New vinyl quality....


Recently I have purchased quite a bit of new vinyl. I am shocked at the poor quality control and inconsistency that I am getting. Anyone else?
Chris Stapleton Traveller 2LP: LP1 is flawless. LP2 is so beyond warped and is not even close to round!! Oh, and this is after I returned the 1st copy as there was an audible flaw through most of the first 2 songs of disc 2, side 1. Wish I had that copy back! 
Stones' new release, Honk: LP1 is so bad the center is damaged and won't even fit over the spindle! Additionally, there are visual marks all over it - looks like smudges. LP2 is fine.
I am seeing this a lot. Probably 30-40% of the new (sealed) vinyl I'm buying has some kind of an issue. Not even talking about SQ here - it's physical issues that I am seeing. 
What are you all experiencing? 
Ag insider logo xs@2xdenjer1
I totally avoid United Record Pressing.  If I were a betting man I'd suspect that's where your LP was pressed.  Take a look and let us know.  Non-fill vinyl areas, fingerprints, wavy, etc...
Yep. Manufactured and Distributed by Universal Music Enterprises. 

Same thing? 
@denjer That’s the distributor. I just looked it up on Discogs. Yep, United Record Pressing and tons of comments about how poor the vinyl is.


Wow. You are so right. It's a disgrace. Typical of the music industry. Just as soon as they get back on their feet selling more vinyl than ever the biggest player will kill it through greed and not caring. Will they ever learn??? 


@winoguy17 

Just read your B&N thread and was surprised your record was pressed at RTI which I is (or was) considered one of the good pressing plants! I  had heard that their QC was getting a bit sketchy last couple of years but they are certainly no United as far as I have read.  Most of the vinyl I buy is jazz and I seek early pressings and sometime Japan pressings.  RTI does some good record store day releases.  maybe on the newer stuff I need to stick with Mofi and Analogue Productions.
 I wouldnt blame this on RTI. This record was clearly used, returned and repackaged . The worst thing was I showed it to a manager. Two weeks later the same record was back in the bin. No way they should be allowed to sell this as  "new ". Also the fact that they said it is a common problem was disturbing.
Any wonder I stick to original "old" releases.

Last new album I bought by Candlebox was at least flat but the center hole was undersized and I could not get it to fit over any spindle of the 3 TT I have in the house, not even close!

I was able to open it up to fit but then the SQ was huge disappointment.

Oh well....

@denjer1,

You’re not alone.

Here in the UK myself and a couple of friends have found that well over half of new vinyl (180gm)/to be of poor quality, especially in terms of surface noise / clicks and pops.

The turntable we use is a Pro-ject Debut Carbon with an acrylic platter and an Ortofon Blue cart.

Quite often we find heavily played LPs from the 70s/80s to be superior in this regard. Yes, we do encourage each other to return them but its not always possible.
Fully agree. I recently purchased a Clearaudio vacuum cleaner and even some of those poor abused 1980's records sound incredibly good after a cleaning. Such a shame they can't get the overall quality of new vinyl to be better. But occasionally I do come across some new gems that sound amazing. 
Vinyl quality? Huge and fascinating subject.

Back in the day, until the late 1970’s anyway, a lot of records were made to as high a standard as they could manage. Not all but you play them today and its just staggering to think back on what that must have taken back when they were recorded.

Nowadays, not only did digital not kill off vinyl but records are now into well over a decade of powerful growth that is, if anything, accelerating.

Unfortunately, in between (1970 to roughly 2000) the whole industry was decimated. A lot of equipment and skill that was once common is now scarce, just when we need it most.

That’s the view from space. The view from 10,000 feet is no two pressings are ever exactly the same. Listen close on a system good enough you may notice no two sides even of the same LP are quite the same. This appears to have always been the case.

The takeaway from this is you cannot judge "a" record by your copy of that record. I cold give countless examples, and if you come over play some for you, where two otherwise identical looking records sound completely different. I could play you some expensive audiophile reissues that sound like absolute crap compared to my $3 record bin copy. I also have two copies of the same LP, absolutely identical right down to the dead wax, that one of them sounds completely average the other so freaking beyond perfection you would swear I must have the studio Master if it wasn’t for the occasional bit of surface noise.

Vinyl records are capable of sound quality undreamed of by other formats, but the sad fact of the matter is it comes at the price of unpredictability. Inconsistency.

For myself, I have gotten so sick and tired of crappy reissues that unless one comes out with music I just have to have, AND the preponderance of reviews is they also did a superb pressing of it, then there is just no way. Pass. Better things to do with my time and money than chase long odds. Regular old run of the mill new vinyl? R U Kidding me? Forget about it.

No. If you are serious about sound quality then there are two and only two solutions to this problem. First, accept the fact that statistically speaking only one in 10 copies is pretty good, one in 20 great, and one in 30 demo quality. If that. Then you either play the odds, or pay someone else to do it for you. Take Your Licks or Pay The Man. That’s it. No other way. Anyone sees a third way let me know.



@winoguy17, I have the answer for how and why that dirty LP you returned ended up back in the rack. When a retailer buys an LP from its’ distributor, it is a 1-way buy; that is, the LP is non-returnable to the distributor, for ANY reason, including being defective! I guess the store manager decided there was nothing to do but sell the LP again, hopefully this time to a consumer who isn’t an audiophile, or merely attentive enough to notice fingerprints on a "new" LP. The only other choice is for the store to "eat" the LP, losing the money it spent to buy it.

I always look for evidence of the "factory" seal of the shrink wrap on LP’s. Having seen LP’s resealed in the back room of a Tower Records (every one of them had a resealing machine), I know what to look for: the wrap is sealed on the edges of the cover, and there is a rough melted bead in the plastic on those edges. Factory shrink wrap often has the seal in the middle of the cover, with the two ends of the plastic overlapping. Resealing machines can’t do that. I also so look for paper stickers on the plastic wrap, which won’t be on a resealed LP.

Great post bdp24. Now I know what to look for in the shrink-wrap and MUST HAVE THE STICKER! 

Speaking of, tonight opened up a newly received Sly & The Family Stone, There's a Riot Going On. A 2007 reissue by Sundazed Music/Sony BMG. It is INCREDIBLE!! Side 1 is one of the most enjoyable sides of music I have ever heard. Blown away. This is why we can't leave this hobby well enough alone....

Back to the music now: Side 2.....

@denjer1, Sundazed is a great label, I have a bunch of their albums (on both LP and CD). So is their counterpart in the UK, Ace Records. Their Everly Brothers albums are fantastic, and the sound is audiophile quality.

Let me correct one misimpression I may have created in my above post: While a "paper sticker" (containing any announcement to consumers from the record company) glued onto the outside of shrink wrap is definite proof of that LP being factory sealed, the LACK of any such sticker tells one nothing. Many, in fact most, LP’s leave the factory with no such sticker.

A little off topic, if you want to experience how good vinyl can sound, have a listen to a MFSL Ultradisc. These disc are about as good as it gets IMHO, albeit expensive at $125 now. I am lucky to own all 7 limited edition titles (all sold out now), every time I play one I think I am listening to a master tape. They are that good! Last night I listened to Bill Evans - Sunday Night At The Village Vanguard; a 60 year old recording that made me think I was listening to live jazz. Hard to imagine the vinyl playback experience getting any better.
To millercarbon - possibly a third way is to use a vinyl demagnetizer. I recently bought the Furutech demag alpha. Every record I play gets the treatment. If I could describe the effect it would be "more relaxed" sounding after treatment. But there is also more detail and less distortion. I also use the Furutech SK-Filter for static. It’s also extremely good. It removes glare and harshness while the disc spins. You can hear the effect immediately after you swing the SK-Filter arm over the record.
Right. And I have no idea why this works, but I've been using the Radio Shack Bulk Tape Eraser (a great big demagnetizer) on my records just before playing and it does make for a more detailed yet smoother more grain-free sound. Not huge but definitely noticeable. Does not last. Need to do it every time. Which makes me think its static not truly magnetic. Whatever. How something works matters a lot less to me than does it work. 

The Furutech gizmo looks like carbon fiber bristles hang down very near to but not touching the record. Carbon fiber is conductive. Is it grounded? I don't see any ground wire. Is the base purely for mass to balance the thing, or is there a battery or something inside? Looks pretty easy to DIY.
It’s not grounded. The base is purely a weight for balance and convenience. It’s overpriced considering you can buy the brush itself for quite cheap and mount it on your own arm. But I’m not sure if the cheap brush is actually the same (Thunderon) material or not. The ads say it is.

The brush needs to be mounted on a swinging arm while the record plays because the record picks up static very quickly as it spins. I’ve tested this and the static comes back in less than a minute if you remove the arm. It needs to be positioned precisely 1-2 mm above the vinyl surface to work correctly. Although it’s expensive, the SK-Filter set-up works and it’s quite sturdy. Now that I’ve got it, I wouldn’t want to be without it.
I recently bought a 45 rpm jazz album with pretty bad pops and clicks. I bought another copy and it also had pops and clicks but in different parts of the record, so the noise appears to be a problem at the press, not the master.

One of the early attractions of CDs was the absence of such noise. I do my best with keeping my vinyl clean and dust-free, and when I succeed the sound is better than CD. I hate noise embedded in the tracks. Pops and clicks make me want to fall back to CDs.
Re new vinyl - apart from the pressing quality control considerations, I find it fundamentally problematic that most new vinyl is pressed from digital masters. Even considering the expense, I much prefer to buy original pressings from the late '50s until the very early '70s. Early-to-mid '60s is my favourite era, when the art of mastering and pressing records was at its peak, and most of the recording  and mastering equipment in use was still tube based. 
Yes digital is a curse. Several times now I have had records that sounded pretty good but not great, only to discover each time they had been digitally remastered. One of the worst, the Nautilus Rumours remaster, which despite being half-speed mastered sounded worse, turns out it was digitally remastered.

For years I could never understand how Famous Blue Raincoat managed to sound so good despite being a digital recording. Then one day reading an interview with Warnes it comes out that they weren’t happy with the result and so made a few copies one of which was dubbed onto analog tape, and all four of them preferred the analog tape. So that’s what we hear when we play the "digital" recording.

jameswei thinks he hates the noise embedded in the tracks. Well, at least with vinyl you stand a fighting chance eliminating the noise. At least with analog the noise is noise you know is noise. With digital the noise truly is embedded in the signal. With digital the noise is the signal itself.

Don’t take my word for it. Listening one night my wife exclaimed how quiet the record is. I said yes I cleaned it really good. She said no. Had to ask her a few questions to get to the bottom of it. She was saying what I just said, that with CD the noise is the signal. The music is the noise. It just doesn’t hit you as obvious as a pop or a tick. Its more insidious than that. Worse than that. Its why the same records, turntables, arms and cartridges, and phono-stages that were made 50 years ago are still prized, yet they have to keep reinventing digital every few years.