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Colored & clear vinyl vs. standard black
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ttauri
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11th April 2009
Old 11th April 2009
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Colored & clear vinyl vs. standard black

Is there a difference in sound quality? Durability?

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11th April 2009
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I've come across mention indicating colored vinyl had inferior sonic qualities to the black stuff, and I believe also a lesser durability.

I'm far too tired and lazy to substantiate this hearsay at the moment though.

However, I do know my wicked-looking Brian Jonestown Massacre Take It From the Man! 2-album set on blue and red colored vinyl sounds like SHIT! I can't stand listening to it 'cause it gives me a headache (I DO have a decent TT and signal chain). I am thus rather bummed.

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11th April 2009
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I have a few colored vinyl & black vinyl records (otherwise, the same records).

The colored vinyl nearly always sounds like crap by comparison - And it wears out in three plays.

They always call them "collectors editions" because that what they're good for. Collecting.

MO, ME, etc., etc., yada, yada.
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11th April 2009
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Slightly off topic. What is the natural colour of vinyl before colours are added to it?
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11th April 2009
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coloured plates sound very inferior in my experience, pure novelty business
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11th April 2009
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The compound for colors is different than the 'pure' black.
Also recycled vinyl can be hit or miss depending on the plant. mixing different plants recycled records can be troublesome.

There was an early Chicago house label called 'Trax' with great music and terrible pressings. Pieces of paper,dips,bubbles etc. They pressed themselves. I remember buying multiple copies of titles to make sure I had a playable copy
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11th April 2009
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Coloured Vinyl

There are certain colours that do not sound great but i cannot remember which ones,As a rule I do not recomend it to my clients.
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11th April 2009
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"Carbon black" is the pigmenting compound added to PVC (which is generally a translucent clear color before any pigment added) that makes it look black. It is a homogenizing agent which helps reduce surface noise to a good extent. Other colored pigments generally aren't nearly as good as carbon black in doing this. Colored vinyl runs are a p.i.t.a. for any pressing plant, as it requires cleaning out the extruder of the press before and after the run, meaning more downtime.

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11th April 2009
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PVC I believe is kind of a murky light grayish color before the carbon is added. Fine carbon is naturally slick and that's why it reduces noise/wear. If you feel a coloured vinyl disc, it just FEELS cheap and a little rough. There's no reason why a coloured disc can't be as good as black, but they're usually just a gimmick. There's there's no push to improve the technology and come up with new additives that can take the place of carbon. It's just like there's no reason transistors can't sound like tubes but nobody's developed the geometry for it.
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11th April 2009
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the good thing about colours is you are getting virgin vinyl without remilled parts mixed back in it .
the bad thing is the runs are rarely big enough to allow the stampers to get consisent enough to make every record the same as the last.
in the factory i worked at on automatic machines and audiophile pressings the first 250 or so were often considered "warm up parts" by Quality control and thrown away .
on a normal run production started after 10 discs

i remember a u2 pressing in red vinyl that the band rejected for noise the first time round
the next time the damn factory had to press 1000 just for the test pressing before things settled down and they made me do the QC ! so it was only after 1000 copies i found 5 copies in a row where the the stampers had settled down!
i never found that problem with black

that said i have never heard about a definative colour that was best
every plant uses its own methods , i don't think colour is the only or best measure to judge by
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11th April 2009
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I was always told that colored vinyl has the potential to sound better but in practice doesn't sound as good. This is because the small runs don't have the benefit of an optimal press setup for temperature and time.
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12th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turtlerock View Post
the good thing about colours is you are getting virgin vinyl without remilled parts mixed back in it.
For larger colored vinyl runs there actually is some regrind used as instead of disposing colored flash (the excess parts trimmed off from the outer edge of the record after it's first pressed) you can just grind it up and mix it back with the same color material.
&
Actually regrind is a double edged sword -
first regrind actually has the potential to actually sound a good bit better than virgin vinyl because the grinding makes it more homogenous -
second regrind actually has the potential to sound a good bit worse than virgin vinyl because you risk getting contaminants into the material (i.e. paper, dust, burnt vinyl, and the worst: oil and metal), whenever you make it unless good due diligence is carried out.

Quote:
the bad thing is the runs are rarely big enough to allow the stampers to get consisent enough to make every record the same as the last.
Just to clarify -
the stamper isn't really the thing that needs to "get consistent" to make good records - it's the extruder, vinyl, and molds properly and evenly heated, along with having each part of the pressing cycle correctly timed, that takes a little time running the press to get to - which is what makes the initial records off the press generally not as good as the records you get as you continue the run. This is why short runs of test records done on automatic presses sometimes have more surface noise than the actual full pressing run.

Quote:
in the factory i worked at on automatic machines and audiophile pressings the first 250 or so were often considered "warm up parts" by Quality control and thrown away.
That might have happened in the 80's and 90's when labels subsidized a few of their own record pressing plants - but I can't imagine a single record plant currently operating that can afford to do this now to that extent.

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Steve Berson
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12th April 2009
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good clarifications steve
and all correct of course

regarding regrind , i guess i was thinking of the "can we have our own colour that nobody else" has type of run
we used to mix them up like that all the time so it HAD to be virgin.
and was supposed to be quieter , but that was never my experience

our label owned the factory , and like all other australian labels the presses where sent off for scrap metal at the end to stop anybody , getting hold of them and continuing the vinyl runs !
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
"Carbon black" is the pigmenting compound added to PVC (which is generally a translucent clear color before any pigment added) that makes it look black. It is a homogenizing agent which helps reduce surface noise to a good extent. Other colored pigments generally aren't nearly as good as carbon black in doing this. Colored vinyl runs are a p.i.t.a. for any pressing plant, as it requires cleaning out the extruder of the press before and after the run, meaning more downtime.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
transparent vinyls, sound diferent in a good way.
all transparents ive heard sound more depth or something.
black is not always better,
ive heard 1 record that the PVC was so "low quality" that in 3 plays the record got noise, but had great sound.
i think that the softer the PVC the better highs you can stamp, but the easy to wornout at play.
but that was only 1 ofcourse, exeption to the rule maybe.
was one of franky bones LP, but cant remember the name, i think is where studio 54 song is.
all others were "normal".

i dont like heavy LPs, dont feel they sound better, just heavyer. i like light maleable records.

most solid color vinyls sound strange, less dynamic, more noise.
but most transparent color vinyls sound ok.

the transparent yellow with black stripes, also sound interesting, leopard pattern.
the solid red with black, sounded strange.
never heard a picture disc.
incredible.

PVC quality does affect the outcome, i dont like solid "crystalized" PVC that breaks easy when they hit the floor.
also when some paper gets stuck in the PVC and the disc gets affected in a bad way, so sad.
PVC that sounds Good, melts easy with sun light, if you play them under a sunny day at the end of the song they look like this:

The Persistence of Memory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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12th April 2009
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Most better plants reground their early pressing batches because the vinyl was still perfectly clean. It only cost time and wear and tear on the press and stampers.

It's the stuff that got reground from store returns to save money that gave regrind such a justified bad name. Even worse were styrene injection molded 45s. By far the cheapest pressing plant in the United States was located in Los Angeles and unfortunately manufactured most of the Indy 45s sold on the west coast during the '50s-'80s including Motown's.
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12th April 2009
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Thanks for the replies, everyone. The actual material of vinyl isn't something I had thought a lot about over the years, and its interesting to see how much subtlety and art extend even into that aspect of the process. Enlightening.

Peece,
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12th April 2009
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I bought that 40th anniversary reissue of Pet Sounds that has the new mono master, and the stereo mix, on clear yellow and green vinyl discs. What a waste of money! They sound absolutely atrocious compared to the CD reissues. I had to mess with the balance knob just to confirm that I was actually listening to the stereo version, it sounded so mushy. I've almost always found colored vinyl to sound really thin compared to black. But black vinyl can sound bad too. It's all about the mastering, and quality of vinyl used. If you pick up a record and it's wobbly and flimsy, it's a good bet that it's going to sound pretty awful.
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14th April 2009
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Cool discussion. The book 'Bootleg' states that many of the early live bootleg labels used color vinyl to be sure they got clean material versus nasty regrind. Makes sense, I guess, since their stuff was done on the DL and out the back door. Probably no other QC available in that instance.
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14th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by space2012 View Post
transparent vinyls, sound diferent in a good way.
all transparents ive heard sound more depth or something.
black is not always better,
ive heard 1 record that the PVC was so "low quality" that in 3 plays the record got noise, but had great sound.
i think that the softer the PVC the better highs you can stamp, but the easy to wornout at play.
but that was only 1 ofcourse, exeption to the rule maybe.
was one of franky bones LP, but cant remember the name, i think is where studio 54 song is.
all others were "normal".

i dont like heavy LPs, dont feel they sound better, just heavyer. i like light maleable records.

most solid color vinyls sound strange, less dynamic, more noise.
but most transparent color vinyls sound ok.

the transparent yellow with black stripes, also sound interesting, leopard pattern.
the solid red with black, sounded strange.
never heard a picture disc.
incredible.

PVC quality does affect the outcome, i dont like solid "crystalized" PVC that breaks easy when they hit the floor.
also when some paper gets stuck in the PVC and the disc gets affected in a bad way, so sad.
PVC that sounds Good, melts easy with sun light, if you play them under a sunny day at the end of the song they look like this:

The Persistence of Memory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

lol - still managed to get the clocks in there
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14th April 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta Heavy View Post
lol - still managed to get the clocks in there
Beat me to it.

And to Bill Hambone: I also heard the colored Pet Sounds discs too and thought they were pants, thought I must be mad.
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wheels o steel

surely in this day and age we could be listening to laser-engraved digital-master pewter or stainless steel records?
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I have both colour, and black and the various blacks inbetween.

The quality of the pressing plant makes a bigger difference than the colour. I have some very fine classical records on Red, Greed, etc and they are dead quite. I have some black wax that sounds like shit, even from new. However all things said we did a pressing of our record first in North America then here with Pallas sometime back and simply put the black here is better. It wears quicker but it gets that last bit of ambience. From my understanding they use a high level of graphite that makes it softer but better sounding.

We are going on our next sublabel with 180Gram red vinyl from them. I am not worried that it won't sound good. However 807 Recordings is going to stay Black 180Grams still.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopdante View Post
surely in this day and age we could be listening to laser-engraved digital-master pewter or stainless steel records?
I believe the Library of Congress has been copying "historically significant" recordings to metal disks using a photo-etch technique. The negative waveforms are projected onto a photosensitively coated disk. That disk is developed like a photograph (or memory chip) would be. The light-exposed portion becomes etch resistant so when they dip it in acid, the portions what were not exposed by light are eaten, leaving grooves with the positive waveforms in them. Why do this? Longevity and future proof. In 300 years, anybody with a pin and a Dixie cup could replay it and hear what is on those disks. You can't say the same for current technology. Even now, there's a whole new field developing called "techno-archaeology" where people have to learn how to copy obsolete data formats from the 50s and 60s. Analogue audio tape would be hard enough to reproduce if you have no model to follow, forget something as complex as a CD. The world would probably end before somebody figured out how, and construct a way to replay an ADAT tape without any knowledge of it.
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24th June 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrich10 View Post
The compound for colors is different than the 'pure' black.
Also recycled vinyl can be hit or miss depending on the plant. mixing different plants recycled records can be troublesome.

There was an early Chicago house label called 'Trax' with great music and terrible pressings. Pieces of paper,dips,bubbles etc. They pressed themselves. I remember buying multiple copies of titles to make sure I had a playable copy
I also have three or four copies of each of my favourite Trax records
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24th June 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bishopdante View Post
surely in this day and age we could be listening to laser-engraved digital-master pewter or stainless steel records?
What would the advantage to that be?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San01 View Post
I also have three or four copies of each of my favourite Trax records
I have many Trax doubles myself. some were bought new with skips...2nd copy doesnt have them on same tracks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
What would the advantage to that be?
Undestroyable surface.
That would be super cool.

By the way, I have two picture discs (singles) at 45RPM - they sound like a total crap, distorted, without life and dynamics.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dietrich10 View Post
I have many Trax doubles myself. some were bought new with skips...2nd copy doesnt have them on same tracks
Same for me, I went to Record Time in Detroit once, and i nearly bought all the Trax vinyls they had in store (it was cheap, something like 3USD each)

Once back home, many of them were useless because of poor pressing, and i'm not even talking about the center paper label being glued, wel,l not really in the center
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sat159p1 View Post
Undestroyable surface.
That would be super cool.
How would you mold the metal? Metal casting molds generally deform as the mold is softer than the part. Ever cast metal? Wouldn't work. Electroplate every copy? It would be incredibly expensive per copy. It would also tear up playback styli.
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Quote:
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How would you mold the metal? Metal casting molds generally deform as the mold is softer than the part. Ever cast metal? Wouldn't work. Electroplate every copy? It would be incredibly expensive per copy. It would also tear up playback styli.
See my previous and somewhat lengthy reply. You don't mold it, you project the image onto the disk and "develop" it. It's accurate enough to make microscopic IC circuitry. Replay would take a special stylus though. I've seen LASER phonographs though and those could do the job with perhaps a little modification to account for the difference in reflectivity.
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