How to choose a vinyl record?

Posted on Jun 21, 2022      134

Throughout the history of music distribution, beginning in 1887, there have been many choices of sound media. But only vinyl continues to be listened to today. If you take a poll among the younger generation, you hear that vinyl records are an outdated way of playing music. Some will cite poor quality, some the time-consuming process of caring for equipment and analog media.

Most popular old and new artists around the world still release their albums on vinyl. Many people, regardless of age, consciously choose it to listen to music.

What should you look for when choosing records? How do you check their authenticity? What is the difference between new and used? You will find the answers to these questions in our text.

Assessing the quality of vinyl media before you buy it

1. External signs. To avoid buying inferior quality vinyl, you need to clarify the distortion indicators. They should be 0.15 mm or lower. If the value is higher, there is a high probability that the sound signal will be played with tonal distortions. Pay attention to the edge of the record: a defect is easiest to detect in this place.

2. Various mechanical damages will affect sound quality. Check both sides of the disc for chips and scratches.

3. The authenticity of the LP can be easily judged with no special equipment. Take it in your hands, turn it facing a dark part of the room, and observe the reflection of light. The glare should not be over 5 cm. This will reveal the genuine quality of the vinyl production.

4. A modern record is made of vinyl resin. It is necessary to find out information about the noise level, which should not be lower than 54 decibels. Some production varieties may have an exception to the rule - their noise level may be 2 decibels lower.

5. Tightly twisted groove - a spiral-shaped track by which you can gauge the age of the disc before you buy it. You can make an approximate calculation of the time of use of the carrier and understand how much longer it will last. The depth and width of the groove should not be large. The smaller the groove, the longer and better quality it will transmit sound waves.

6. Color. If you see that the color of the vinyl has changed or faded, this is a clear indicator of poor sound quality. Old, low-quality black records can turn gray. Also pay attention to stains and streaks, dirt in the grooves. The center hole of the record and the label can also help verify the quality of the product.

7. Weight. A 12-inch vinyl disc typically weighs 120-200 grams. Some music lovers say that a heavy record will last longer. But that doesn’t mean that if the vinyl is light, it will be of poor quality. An excellent record will sound great on a 120-gram disc. And a poor record can sound distorted on a heavier one.

8. Recommended RPM. A 12-inch LP record plays at 33 1/3 rpm. Some styles of music require higher fidelity playback. For many jazz compositions, a speed of 45 rpm is appropriate.

First-press or new-model? Myths about Modern Manufacturing.

Before buying vinyl records, any beginner will first come across an argument on the Internet that older records sound better. For example, the comment that if music was released in the ‘70s, then you can only find the best records among the production of the ‘70s. This principle works when you are comparing an original old record to a disc from an unscrupulous producer or a fake. Provided that the exclusive rarity carrier has been constantly and meticulously cared for.

If it comes to licensed records released by world famous professional studios, the new copy will sound much better and more detailed. Manufacturing techniques, as in all other fields of endeavor, have undergone changes. Sometimes, the quality of vinyl is improved by introducing new analog equipment into production - with more precise calculations. In others, the raw material from which the discs are made has been refined.

There are studios that reissue records by recording the signal on them from digital media. Such vinyl sounds worse than CDs. It is because of such producers that all the negativity and endless arguments are about “first-press or new-fangled”. Only the major studios and record labels that originally released certain albums have access to the master tapes (the original recordings).

But now there are more and more new small companies making quality vinyl. The label or the envelope always shows the label that released the album. It’s better to read reviews about it. There’s one rule that sometimes works: aspiring, yet unknown studios produce a quality product to gain credibility.

More about used records

If you are buying used records, listen to them first before you buy them. If it is difficult to judge by the appearance of the carrier and the envelope, it is easy enough to tell by ear whether you have an original or an outright fake. If you hear any obvious distortions, you’ll know right away that it’s not worth taking the product.

When you buy records online, make sure you are dealing with an official distributor of a major label or recording studio. Otherwise, it’s a lottery.

Knowing how to choose is a guarantee of quality sound

Original records these days are produced in limited editions. Musical works sound deeper and more natural on them than on other modern media. Choosing the right vinyl guarantees pleasant sound and a pleasant listening experience. Please note our recommendations before buying and follow the rules for using vinyl records.