Record Sleeves - Which ones and where?

I'm looking to replace all of my record sleeves with better ones. I've seen polyethylene, polypropylene, and rice paper lined. What's the difference? I'm looking for the best place to buy them too. Is it worth getting outer sleeves too? Please advise. Thanks!
These look pretty nice, patterned after the very good DiscWasher VRP sleeves:

And they're reasonably priced at 50 for $17.00

Hello, There's numerous places to buy Sleeves. One, is Sleeve Town (Or is it Sleeve City)
Usually places like Elusive Disc, Needle Doctor, Garage A Records sell them.

I have always bought my Poly Lined Inner, and Outer Sleeves from MusicDirect.

While the Mobile Fidelity Sleeves are really nice, they do also cost a bundle, and generally are sold in quantities of 50.

The Inner Sleeves I have usually bought from MusicDirect are a high quality Poly Lined Paper Sleeve, are very well made, are quite a bit less money than the Mo-Fi's, and can be gotten in lots of 100. (They may still break lots of these to sell lots of 50 also, you'd have to inquire)

As for Outer Sleeves, yes, they are a wise investment, and if you only use Inner Sleeves, IMO you are only doing half the job of protecting your LPs from Dust, and wear, and tear.

The very best Outer Sleeves I have ever bought, and used, were the 6-mil Resealable Japanese Sleeves that MusicDirect sells.

These are not a "stretchy" plastic, where when you go to open the Flap, the Sleeve itself wishes to stretch, and tear. I've had these, and didn't like them, and returned them once with an in store purchase.

They are just large enough to hold some "thinner" double LPs, and will contain any of the single Mo-Fi releases, but will not hold any of the occasional triples you might have. Hope this helps you,

Bes Nivera is the guy to speak with at MusicDirect, ask for him. He'll know what you want, as they carry a plethora of Inner, and Outer Sleeves in various price ranges. Mark
I second Markd51's recommendation for the Poly Lined Paper Sleeve and the resealable Japanese Sleeves that both Elusive and Music Direct carry.

The out sleeves are excellent and also completely clear (nice to see the the cover) and it is very to easy to read the spine of the LP. They look the best on the shelf too.
Sorry for being dim, but what are outer sleeves, why are they important and how do they protect the LP from wear, tear and dust? I've heard of plastic covers used to protect the album cover, but never heard of an outer "sleeve" that could protect the vinyl record itself. Thanks.
Far West Records is a nice mom and pop near LA with better prices than the above, especially if you're out West. No website! ph: 626-335-5544.
Sorry Hartwerger, My post did leave a bit to be explained, and was sort of vague re-reading back.
I'll explain further.

My opinion of Outer Sleeves, is that yes, they will actually protect the LP itself, even though one might not be able to see immediately how this is.

Imagine this if you will, your LPs sitting on a shelf, rack, or wherever 9Hopefully in an upright manner, and as they sit, the dust accumilates. Two weeks, two months, two years, six years, etc. etc. Imagine if you will, the amount of dust landing on your beloved, and expensive LPs. If you live in a desert climate like I do in New Mexico, all the more reason for the Outer Sleeves.

Eventually, dust will get in, thus intruding into the inner Sleeves, and ultimately the LP itself even if you might think it won't. The other obvious benefit, is the protection of the LP Outer covers themselves.

When a person has just perhaps a dozen LPs, then maybe one might feel what's the use?, but when collections start numbering into the multiple 100's, I feel it's very wise to protect this investment as well as possible.

For years I went without, but for the last 10 years I haven't. I feel the Outer Sleeves were a very wise investment, and whenever I buy used LPs, they get the complete treatment, Last, or Disc Doctor Cleaners, Last Preservative, and always new Inner, and Outer Sleeves.
I know when I go to pull one of these LPs, even if it's a year later, all is fine, and spotless. Hope this helps, Mark
Hartwerger -
Outer sleeves in my experience are typically larger and heavier gauge plastic "envelopes" that will accomodate the entire LP package...vinyl w/inner sleeve + jacket. I don't have these on all my LPs but where I do my practice using them with inner sleeves is to insert the Lp into the inner sleeve with the open end of the inner sleeve facing up or "North". Slide the inner sleeve into the record jacket (maintainng open end North) and then insert the record jacket open end first into the outer sleeve. The open end of the outer sleeve is at the spine end of the record jacket. The open end of the inner sleeve is pointed at the top of the inside of the record jacket. Dust (to anthropomorphize) trying to get in has to make a few 90 degree turns to get to the vinyl.
Thanks for the tips guys. As far as the outer sleeves(Hartwerger, I believe the "plastic covers" and "outer sleeves" are one in the same, and keep your albums from getting scuffed up), I like the idea of a thicker 6 mil sleeve (thanks Markd51!). I've been looking at the 3 mil, but I've never used any outer sleeves and so I don't know what the quality will be like. Do the outer sleeves fit snugly or are there edges that will fold under when I place the albums on shelves and end up taking away valuable real estate on my shelves with the "bunching up" of the plastic on the bottom?
I forgot to mention that I hit the motherload during the past week finding well over 200 albums in virtually brand new condition (even the sleeves look like new) and all for $1 each. Everything from obscure Gentile Giant LP's to Ry Cooder, Steely Dan, Dave Mason, Dire Straits, and on and on. I also found a near mint Ariston RD-11S that works perfectly for $200. What do you guys do with all of the original sleeves after you put your albums in new ones? Will they fit in the new outer sleeves along with the album? There's a lot of info on most of the original sleeves that I like to read while I'm listening, and I don't want to have to search through hundreds of original sleeves to find the one I'm listening to.
whatever you do stay away from Sleeve City.

2 sets of different sleeves in different shipments came in bent up.

They offered to let me return them, but between shipping

and my time it wasn't worth it. They would not reiumburse me for return shipping so they wont be getting my business any more.
What I have always done, and I'm sure all will agree with my practices, is that any plain jane inner paper sleeves with no writing on them, or the ones that may show just other releases by the manufacturer (EMI-Capitol, RCA-etc) I usually dump as quickly as possible.

Those that have Pictures, and/or Lyrics, and information about the particular release, definitely do keep them, and in general, I have usually found ample room to place these inside the LP Jacket with the LP, and new Inner Sleeve without too much crowding, or difficulty getting the LP in, and out.

If you should personally find a release, in which it is just too tight a fit to fit both Inner Sleeves, then yes, place the saved original inner Sleeve outside the Jacket, and place at the rear of the Jacket within the Outer Sleeve for protection, and safe keeping for future reference.

Hope this helps. Mark
BTW Spenceroo, Congrats on the great finds! Enjoy! Mark
Thanks guys. Very interesting. Now I have about 800 outer sleeves to buy. Sheesh. When does it ever end. I've been buying a ton of inner sleeves since I got a used Nitty Gritty Record Doctor a few months ago, which I absolutely love, by the way (brought a whole new clean experience to my vinyl). I had never really thought about outer sleeves. You're right, with just inner sleeves, its like only doing half the job.
Thanks again Mark for your precise help. I'm going to call Music Direct and inquire about the 6 mil outer sleeves as well as inners. Do you really need inner sleeves if you put the whole album, cover and all, in an outer sleeve? I'm suspecting that the old paper sleeves flake and whatnot onto the vinyl making them dirty correct? Is there a difference between polypropylene and polyethylene sleeves? I've seen both for about the same price.
Hi Spenceroo,
What I believe about the Original Paper Sleeves, and I'm sure this is why we all "convert" over to a better Inner Sleeve, is that the repeated removal, and insertion of the LP will eventually cause scratching to the LP. The Paper IMO, is very abrasive, and not as forgiving as Poly-Plastic, or the very good Rice Paper.

Generally, you'll find on new high end quality releases-reissues, such as DCI, EMI, and of course Mobile FIdelity Sound Labs (yes, there are others as well) that they will come with high quality Poly Sleeves right from the Presser-Manufacturer.

My technique for removing, and re-inserting LPs from thier Sleeve, is to insure my hand never touches the grooves at any cost. I always reach inside the Sleeve, and let my fingers support, and come in contact with the LP at the Label Area only, while my Thumb grasps-touches the very outer edge only. I let the gravity of the LP be supported in this hand, and carefully slide the LP out from its Sleeve, holding the Sleeve with the other hand. It's a bit of a balancing act, but one gets good quickly, without any mishaps. Same process for re-inserting the LP.

Hand oils, dirt, and what other nasties one might have on thier hands is something that should never get on your LPs. Greasy Pizzas, and LPs most certainly don't mix very well! :-)

CDs of course aren't quite so sensitive, or prone to damage, but even these I always grasp from the very edges, and never touch the Playing surfaces. Mark
Agree with Markd51 about the Japanese resealable outers. They are simply a higher-quality way to store the records. Not as bulky, crystal clear, and I like being able to fully seal the album.

One thing-they are not 6 mil thick, in fact they are very thin, but seem sturdy enough. Occasionally on a heavily-used album I'll split a seam, but it's rare.
Correct Johnbrown, I believe I did make an error stating they were 6 mil thick, and are probably 3 mil thick? Bes at MusicDirect can probably confirm this.

What I think the material is, is Mylar, and heck, I got Snare Drum, Snare Side Heads that are made of 3 mil thick Mylar! The Remo Ambassador Snare Side is a 3 mil thick Head.

It is not a "stretchy" material, thus when you go to open the flap to extract an LP, it doesn't stretch all out of shape like a poly outer sleeve will. Not to say that they are bulletproof, but with care will last many years, and will protect your vinyl investment.

As you said John, they are crystal clear, and I'm very happy somebody came along making a quality product like this. Mark
Well I got my order today from Music Direct. I got 300 outer sleeves and 100 poly lined paper inner sleeves (to start*). The outer sleeves were advertised as 6 mil, and are very nice. Double albums fit with little hassle. It's easy to see the album covers through the sleeves. These are well worth the investment if your album covers are in nice shape and you want to preserve them. The inner sleeves are fine too. The paper isn't much heavier than a normal paper sleeve, but the poly lining makes it nice. I think I'll get a couple of samples from Sleeve Town and compare. *My thinking is that I can get more inner sleeves comparable to these for less $$$. The one thing I wasn't ready for is the time required to change out all the sleeves! I've been at it for a couple hours now and I've got a long way to go........but they're worth it.
Spenceroo: Shouldn't you be washing your albums before putting them in clean sleeves to minimize the dust from the stock cheap paper sleeves?

Please post what you think of the comparison of other manufacture sleeves as I'm going to have to do this with my small collection.
I've been giving the albums a dry brush treatment before putting them in the new sleeves. I'll do a thorough wash when I get my Kab EV-1. I'm going to get some sample sleeves for a penny each at Sleeve Town and compare. I'll post my findings when they get here.
Hello Spenceroo,
To tell the truth, I'm unsure what these Japanese Outer Sleeves were in thickness, and perhaps I was correct the first time with my rememberence that they were 6 Mil? lol

Anyhow, they are nice, aren't they?

Sadly, all these little goodies we buy are somewhat expensive. I just ordered some RRL Cleaning products, and I know they are very good, but it does hurt when you think for a second that these liquids cost $100 to $200 a Gallon! And we thought Gasoline was expensive.

Do let us know when the KAB EV-1 Machine arrives, and how you like it. I'll be interested to hear how it works, and it's ease of use. Mark
My experience with Sleeve City (Sleevetown) has been much different than that of Emailist.

For me they have been terrific and give great customer service. All of the sleeve sellers by in bulk from manufacturers and can have production or packing problems from time to time. I have been working with Sleeve City for 4 years now, had one problem (I mis-ordered) and they took back the sleeves with no hassle and replaced them with what I meant to have ordered.
They will also give you a bit of a discount (around 10-15% , can’t remember exactly) if your make a larger order.
I have tried several inner sleeves and found the MFSL to be by far the best. They also have a nice advantage of having some printing on one side that directs you to the opening in the sleeve (seems small, but a nice convenience). They are a bit more expensive, but well worth the money.
The best outer sleeves have been the Poly pro 5 mil polypropylene. They are clear and large enough to let the LP’s easily drop in and handle the double LP’s as well. They happen to be on sale now.
Below are links and the product description they list on their website for both the Inner Sleeves and Outer Sleeves that I have recommending.

Information for the Inner sleeves

Mobile Fidelity Master Sleeves - These are the same high-quality inner sleeves used by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab for their vinyl releases. They are imported, three-ply, anti-static, premium sleeves (similar to rice paper) and work with both LPs and laser discs. Back construction consists of a paper layer sandwiched between two sheets of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with a translucent HDPE front. This equals or surpasses the discontinued VRP inner sleeves.

Information for the Outer sleeves

SALE! Ultimate Outer 5.0 - a clearly better outer record sleeve that doesn't get cloudy. Manufactured from crystal 250 micron clear polypropylene, sleeves fit loosely over outside of jacket, 12.75" X 12.75". Our heaviest weight outer sleeve, yet it retains the sparkling clarity of polypro. Price decreases with quantity. Get a sample for only a penny!
Hi Mark,
Yes, the sleeves are really nice. Seem like the manufacturers have us over a barrel on the cost of this stuff though. Sometimes I wonder how much more effective these cleaning fluids are over the homemade varieties. My plan is to give each of my albums a good cleaning with vinyl-zyme and then do a really good cleaning with RRL wash ($25 / quart). I'm then hoping that with the new sleeves, I'll only have to do a dry brush cleaning before each play. I did a lot of research on cleaning machines, and the Kab seems to do every bit as good as one of the expensive motor driven units. I found a small shop vac (2 gallon version) at a yard sale with some of the albums, and read that it will work even better than the motorized RCM's because of the better suction. The only difference being manual rotation of the record for cleaning. I know that some people say not to use a shop vac (larger models) with the Kab, but I'm going to try it anyways on a scrap record and see what happens.
I suggest that you call Jim Pendleton an order sample size bottles of all 4 steps of his Audio Intelligent cleaning system.
I used RRL for several years and thought I was happy until I tried Audio Intelligent cleaning system. There was a definite sonic difference....not subtle.
You can contact Jim at his website: or call @ (573) 696-3551. Great guy to talk with and quite impressive.
Thanks Larry,
I'll look into it.
Spenceroo, I concur with Markd51 and do the same procedure. I also like to change the sleeves when I get around to playing ( and preferably washing) the particular album, not spending time doing only that. I also put a sticker on the outer sleeve (or the the jacket itself if the cover is not mint) to help me remember if I've washed it. Now that I'm using the Audio Intelligent cleaner exclusively I write on the sticker "AI" so I know I've cleaned it with the proper fluid if it has already been washed.
Sleeve Town is sending me a sample of their best inner and out sleeves for free. I'll compare them to what I got a Music Direct and post about it when they arrive.
I finally received the free sample sleeves from Sleeve Town. The poly lined paper sleeves are identical to the ones I got at Music Direct (Nitty Gritty). The outer sleeves were the same quality as the ones from Music Direct, but were completely (and I mean 100%) clear. The Music Direct outer sleeves are pretty clear, but still have a haze to them. I like the Sleeve Town outer sleeves better, but since I already bought 300 from Music Direct, I'll probably stick with those to keep things looking the same.
I just noticed that Sleeve Town has the outer sleeves on sale right now (5.0 version). Get em' now guys, it's a good deal.
Hmm, Spenceroo, May I ask you this?
Where the Peel Strip is on the MusicDirect Outer Sleeves, does this have what appears to be some black ink Japanese writing? Mine does, and these that I have are prefectly crystal clear, like looking through a Pane of Glass.

I've once seen another Sleeve in person that MusicDirect once carried, that had a different "red ink" writing. Very similar, but there were some personal dislikeable differences, and didn't buy these particular Sleeves. Maybe somewhere along the line, materials used have changed?
Hi Mark,
The ones I got from Music Direct don't have any writing on them at all. They don't have a re-sealable flap. Mine are open on the end, and are just a tad bit cloudy. The Sleeve Town sleeves are crystal clear. My Music Direct sleeves were the only ones they had in 6 mil.

Hmm, Ok Spenceroo,
I see they are totally different from what I use.
As I believe I said previously, I first bought these nice Japan resealable sleeves many years ago, then went in, and bought some more, and they were different, and brought them back. Finally after some time, they had gotten these same type sleeves I always used, and bought I think 200, so I would be good to go for quite a length of time.

These reseable sleeves as I have said, were with Black Writing on the Peel Strip, but I do indeed note, that once the Strip is removed, there is then 'White writing" where the Flap will adhere.

Gotaa talk to Bess at MusicDirect soon, and see if they still get these same ones I use. I've been happy with them, and for the majority of my collection, I have most with these Outer Sleeves.

I would think most the better ones will be pretty good, and it looks like Sleevetown does sell some very good products. I see they do thoroughly describe thier products, which virtaully all other vendors do not.

In fact, I think I might see what goodies Sleevetown all has next time I need some. (I'll let them send me some samples of everything)

The most important thing, is that they do thier required jobs protecting the LP against dust, and wear. Mark