Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects

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TONEPUB

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #20 on: 8 Dec 2009, 06:37 am »
No one is losing sight of anything.  If you are going to argue that people should expect to get stuck with defective records then please, don't post any further in this thread.  And if some clarification would help then I am referring to records that are clearly damaged out of the jacket, have scratches, have gross pressing defects, or are warped.

If you have some specific experience with reissue labels and would you like to share that then by all means please do so.  And that would include your experiences with dealers and how they handle defective returns.  That is what I started this thread for.  Some reissue labels are doing a better job than others and some dealers are doing a better job than others...talking about it here is information that people can use.

--Jerome

I'm not suggesting that you should expect to get stuck with anything.  Fortunately, I've had great luck with buying these records and have dodged the bullet so far.  Vinyl is problematic.  It's a case by case subject.  My favorite local retailer, Music Millenium gave me an exchange on the one bad record I bought this year, so I don't have any complaints.

I've also had excellent luck in dealing with Music Direct over the years, that's why they are the only software retailer I've taken advertising from.  I know they stand behind their customers.

The music industry has always cranked out a lot of poor sounding records.  I just don't understand why everyone thinks it's any different this time around?  It's just that in the old days when the record companies sold 600 million records a year, they didn't mind throwing a few in the dumpster.

I would suggest if you are dealing with a local merchant, ask them what the return policy is before you plunk down your credit card.  Ask them if you can open up the record before you take it home.  If it's got obvious scratches or other visual defects, you stand a much better chance of exchanging it right on the spot in front of the vendor.

I've also seen a few records that looked a little scary, but after a pass or two with the record cleaning machine played just fine.

Most of the record pressing plants here and abroad are working to capacity these days.  Hopefully, they will straighten it out, or the
"vinyl resurgence" will go away.

As far as sound quality on new vinyl goes, almost all of it unless they make a point to stress that they were produced from analog masters will still sound somewhat digital.  Again, I don't understand all the excitement about buying a piece of vinyl that's been pressed from a digital master.  I've heard a few good ones, but few and far inbetween.

Check who's mastering the records you're thinking about buying.  If it's done by one of the five or six major guys, your chances are better that you'll get a good sounding record.  Most of the indie stuff is produced in small studios with crap equipment.  Chances of getting that stuff to sound awesome is slim to none.  Last years Fleet Foxes record is a perfect example, it sounds way better on CD.




jsaliga

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #21 on: 8 Dec 2009, 12:32 pm »
I just got back in to the vinyl camp in the past few months and the number of defective new pressings I've seen is disturbing.  And they're not even pressed in China (yet).  I think I have purchased about 20 new/sealed lps recently and the defective product rate is around 40% in my limited experience.

This is precisely the reason I started the topic.  I went through the same thing the past three or so years.  It hit a peak in 2008 and by that time I was ready to give up on new vinyl.  My typical order is between $150 and $300.  Yes, I buy a lot of vinyl and I mainly buy the expensive stuff.  I won't go into why here since this thread has gone off-topic enough as it is.  Here I am mostly concerned with physical defects/damage and not mastering.  The latter is a matter of opinion regarding its quality, the former is a matter of fact.

If you are getting a high concentration of defective product from one dealer then it's time for you to change your buying habits.  I had to do this last year.  I was buying virtually all of my new vinyl from one dealer and the defect rate hit a staggering 30%.  I now spread my orders around between three dealers that I trust and that also have fair return policies.

Quote
1. the pressing plants are sloppy and apparently exercise minimal quality control (Pallas excluded)

I think the pressing plants are very inconsistent and have shown a willingness to take shortcuts to increase production.  This will invariably lead to quality problems.  The only folks in a position to reign that in are the pressing plant's customers...and I don't mean us.

Quote
2. the distribution system is acting like a dictatorship and forcing the retailers to eat unquestionably defective product.  Is this practice acceptable in any other industry?  I think a lot of the retailers, the independents in particular, are already hanging on by a thread.

I don't know how true this is.  I have heard it said the wholesale rates to dealers for pressed vinyl are factored for a certain defect rate.  But I would imagine that this is a small number and will guess that the rate used is drawn from general manufacturing, which is typically 1.5%.  If true it probably doesn't go far enough to compensate the retailers.

Quote
3. a number of retailers, in reaction to the above, do not want to accept returns of defective pressings.  This is total BS.

Yes, it is total BS.  But you have much more control over this situation than you might think.  As I said before, buy all of your vinyl with a credit card.  I have had dealers charged back on three occasions and also won a PayPal claim against another dealer on eBay.  Is it a hassle?  Absolutely.  The only way to avoid a potential inconvenience is to not buy vinyl.  A dealer is welcome to tell you they don't want your business, and it would be fair to inquire about their return policy in order to avoid a chargeback situation.  But they do not get to decide what is acceptable quality...you do as long as you pay with a credit card.

I wanted people to talk about their specific experiences with different labels and dealers.  Grading them, subjective as that may be, is useful.  Someone can look over my report card and see that I gave Four Men With Beards a grade of F and then I explain why.  Hopefully someone will see that and think twice about ordering a record from them.  Perhaps someone else has had a more positive experience with this label than I have.  I would like to know about that as well.  I don't consider my opinion to be the last word on anything.  Other labels, such as Classic Records, I am guarded about.  If it wasn't for their abysmal quality control I would probably own 20 times the number of LPs from them that I do, and I already have many of their pressings.

I already know that vinyl is a tough love.  Most of the people on this forum already know that too, and I don't believe for a minute that people here are so naive that they expect perfection from every single record.  Many of us are "old school" and have been buying vinyl since the 1960s and 1970s.  We know how things were back then.  If only I could say that things are as good now...because I don't believe that they are.  What people should expect is that in the course of their new vinyl buying they are going to get a few duds.  Some people will have more or less than others.  Some labels are cranking out pure crap pressings, if people come forward with their buying experiences, then that might just save someone else from a hassle.  Complaining about vinyl in general doesn't really help anyone and that is not information that someone else can use.

Here are a few samples of what I am talking about....

Sample #1 of Classic Records Pressing Defects on 200 Gram Vinyl

Sample #2 of Classic Records Pressing Defects on 200 Gram Vinyl

No one should feel like they have to live with this after spending $32 for a record.  I won't live with it and if a dealer refuses to take something like this back in exchange then that dealer can expect a credit card chargeback.  It's that simple.  So I am not talking about a little click, a brief pop, or other transient imperfection.  I have very few records with tiny problems such as this.  I don't consider surface noise a defect.  The major issue I have is with records that have an obvious pressing defect that destroys entire tracks or more of the music, and no one should feel compelled to pay for that.

I will say that things have gotten much better for me this year.  However, there remains a great deal of room for improvement.  I still get occasional bad pressings from the usual suspects, but I can manage and deal with it because it does not represent the bulk of my buying.

--Jerome
« Last Edit: 8 Dec 2009, 05:41 pm by jsaliga »

jimdgoulding

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #22 on: 8 Dec 2009, 03:59 pm »
Brother J'rome (*)-  Jez want to thank you for your well thought out and thorough posts here.  Your record catalog is quite another example of your high standards.  Most impressive.  Keep em coming.  Thanks.

*inspired listening to some "Frosty" rite now. 

vinyl_lady

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #23 on: 8 Dec 2009, 04:30 pm »
Last years Fleet Foxes record is a perfect example, it sounds way better on CD.

I have the vinyl of the Fleet Foxes lp and I think it sounds great. No defects in the pressing. I also saw them in the Spokane Opera House, a venue with great acoustics and a brand new sound system and I believe the vinyl is a good reproduction of the band live. I do not own the CD so I can not make a comparison. However I do have the EP on both vinyl and CD and to my ears the vinyl sounds better. Again, no defects in the pressing either. Maybe I was lucky on the quality control.

I have had good luck with vinyl from Arts & Crafts records in Canada and Matador records. All of The New Pornographers records sound better on vinyl--more live-like than the CDs. It is interesting that The New Pornographers offer a hi res download of Challengers for "audiophiles."

I buy most of my records from a local retailer, 4000 Holes, and he will take back defective pressings. I think he puts them in the used bin because most distributors will not take them back. One of his distributors is Music Direct and they will accept returns of defective pressings. I have purchased from Music Direct and was able to return a defective pressing for replacement without any problem.

Part of the frustration is the price of vinyl today vs $3.98 and $4.98 in the 60's & 70's. Even with the fairly high percentage of defects, the quality is still better today than when the vinyl got really thin and was pliable.

Laura

kenreau

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #24 on: 8 Dec 2009, 04:33 pm »
What everyone is losing sight of is that has always been the way of the world with vinyl,
it's an imperfect media.  It's just unfortunate we're taking it on the chin at these prices...

This is why vinyl has always been a love/hate thing and why I get grumpy when other
people in the industry just assume that because something is pressed on a slab of vinyl
it's going to be superior to digital.  No one knows better than Kenreau that I'm totally committed
to analog, but it can be frustrating!

It is a real buyer beware format.  Much more so than what I had anticipated before jumping back in to the pool.  But the rewards, for the most part, outweigh the obstacle course of efforts. 

And yes, I can vouch for Jeff's commitment to vinyl.  Amazing and vast collection of albums and turntables.  Hearing 200 gr slabs of Neil Youngs "Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury" in Jeff's studio was like being in the front row at the show.  The best I've ever experienced.

Kenreau

TONEPUB

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #25 on: 8 Dec 2009, 11:09 pm »
4000 holes is a great record store!  Hey, if you want a gift certificate for $25, pm me.  My inlaws in spokane gave me one for Christmas last year and I know we'll never get up there again.  Rather see it get some use!

Stu Pitt

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #26 on: 9 Dec 2009, 02:57 pm »
I think the main reason for the inconsistency is the recent boom in vinyl demand and sales.  For example, I pre-ordered Led Zeppelin's Mothership the the day I heard it announced.  The pressing got pushed back several times, until they finally said it'll be pressed when its pressed. 

According to the guys at Music Direct, there are very few record pressing plants, and most were already at full capacity or even backlogged.

From that, I'm assuming that the plants were far more interested in quantity than quantity.  Get as much pressed and sold before the 'fad' ends.  The more popular vinyl gets, the more artists are going to want their music on vinyl.

With the economy the way it is and the possibility of the demand dropping, I highly doubt anyone will take the risk and open a new plant.  Until the demans drops and/or the plants catch up, the situation will probably stay the same.  But without the demand, will artists continue to insist their music gets pressed on vinyl?  I guess its a double edged sword.

When I first signed up for Music Direct's weekly e-mails about new vinyl releases about 6 years ago or so, there were a handful of upcoming releases.  In the last 2 years or so, it seems like dozens every week.  If their haven't been any new plants or expansions, keeping up could get pretty tough.

yokophono

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 5
Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #27 on: 19 Feb 2010, 08:15 pm »
Quote
Check who's mastering the records you're thinking about buying.  If it's done by one of the five or six major guys, your chances are better that you'll get a good sounding record.  Most of the indie stuff is produced in small studios with crap equipment.  Chances of getting that stuff to sound awesome is slim to none.  Last years Fleet Foxes record is a perfect example, it sounds way better on CD.

That's a pretty bold generalization to make and one that is somewhat refutable. Obviously, in the independent world there are examples of people who have recorded low quality recordings out of necessity and cost considerations.  At the other end of the spectrum, you have quite a few artists  and labels out there who have been making high quality recordings and releasing high quality product while bucking the digital trend for the past three decades.

Let's just put it this way, in the independent & punk world, vinyl and multi-track analog reel-to-reel recording were never 'dead' and therefore never needed a 'revival'.  You're simply seeing a number of major labels and artists on said labels jumping onto a bandwagon back towards releasing vinyl.  Whereas, if you walked into any independent record store for the past 20 years, they were always well stocked with new LP and 7" releases.

I can site a number of examples of bands, studios, and recording engineers who have worked primarily with artists on independent labels that have been recording using multi-track analog reel-to-reel machines (Studer, Ampex, etc.) through analog mixing consoles (Neve, SSL, etc.), using quality outboard gear (mic-pres, compressors, etc.), and quality microphones that are hallmarks of high quality multi-track recording from the 60s through the early 80s.  Some guys like Steve Albini (Electrical Audio) have been outspoken about fad based recording techniques such as abuse of compression in mixing and mastering which are directly responsible for the noticeable degradation in audio quality of current major label releases.

In addition, I know that back in the 80s through the 90s, a lot of independent labels used John Golden at K Disc who now runs his own mastering studio, Golden Mastering. Basically, K Disc was one of the big mastering studios, so they've been using people that mastered releases for major label releases.  There's no special barrier preventing independent labels from shipping off the 2 track recording studio master off to a mastering studio for creating a master for re-production and most of the big ones are using the same people.

So to add to the list of things beyond the mastering engineer, it helps to be familiar with what studio the songs were recorded in, the recording engineer, and as well as where the release was pressed.  If people are using the same digital master for vinyl and CD, and there is a notable difference, it more than likely has to do the vinyl mastering process, the plating process, or an issue at the pressing plant.  A bad recording is a bad recording and will be bad whether the release is a CD or an LP record.

In addition, a number of labels use the same pressing plants.  I know that a lot of indie labels have been using Rainbo and United Record Pressing for years.  Rainbo, from their website, seems to have handled a number of major label artists.  United Record Pressing has a pretty long history going back to being responsible for pressing releases on Motown.  Again, the quality of the pressing plant for indies is probably on par with any larger label since there are only so many record pressing plants currently in existence.

Some additional details related to the record mastering, plating, and pressing process from Aardvark Mastering's website:

http://www.aardvarkmastering.com/proceed.htm

Sorry to take this OT, but I felt like this statement shouldn't be left unchallenged.  I'll add something relevant to the conversation:

In this case, the issue seems to be a problem with tracking the quality of records by specific labels.  However, in most instances the problems would be with the pressing plant.  It'd be more interesting to find out which labels are using which plants (I would assume a label is using one plant for all their releases - hence the quality issues at a specific plant would carry over to all releases).  Keeping track of labels serves a purpose, but tracking this back to the source could provide additional benefits, such as lobbying labels that are using plants that have quality issues to use a different pressing plant that appears to not have the same issues.
« Last Edit: 19 Feb 2010, 10:06 pm by yokophono »

AllynW

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #28 on: 21 Feb 2010, 05:33 am »
One to many bad records for Classic Records.   :nono:

TONEPUB

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #29 on: 21 Feb 2010, 07:12 am »
That's a pretty bold generalization to make and one that is somewhat refutable. Obviously, in the independent world there are examples of people who have recorded low quality recordings out of necessity and cost considerations.  At the other end of the spectrum, you have quite a few artists  and labels out there who have been making high quality recordings and releasing high quality product while bucking the digital trend for the past three decades.

I'm not talking about the past three decades, I'm talking about the past five years.  Sorry, but I've heard precious little new stuff (not carefully produced audiophile pressings) that sounds awesome.

Let's just put it this way, in the independent & punk world, vinyl and multi-track analog reel-to-reel recording were never 'dead' and therefore never needed a 'revival'.  You're simply seeing a number of major labels and artists on said labels jumping onto a bandwagon back towards releasing vinyl.  Whereas, if you walked into any independent record store for the past 20 years, they were always well stocked with new LP and 7" releases.

Please name ONE punk record that is well recorded....

I can site a number of examples of bands, studios, and recording engineers who have worked primarily with artists on independent labels that have been recording using multi-track analog reel-to-reel machines (Studer, Ampex, etc.) through analog mixing consoles (Neve, SSL, etc.), using quality outboard gear (mic-pres, compressors, etc.), and quality microphones that are hallmarks of high quality multi-track recording from the 60s through the early 80s.  Some guys like Steve Albini (Electrical Audio) have been outspoken about fad based recording techniques such as abuse of compression in mixing and mastering which are directly responsible for the noticeable degradation in audio quality of current major label releases.

Again, let's have your long list of indie records produced in the last five years that are outstanding....

In addition, I know that back in the 80s through the 90s, a lot of independent labels used John Golden at K Disc who now runs his own mastering studio, Golden Mastering. Basically, K Disc was one of the big mastering studios, so they've been using people that mastered releases for major label releases.  There's no special barrier preventing independent labels from shipping off the 2 track recording studio master off to a mastering studio for creating a master for re-production and most of the big ones are using the same people.

Actually, there is, and this reveals your general lack of knowledge about the record business.  The barrier is that most record labels aren't going to ship off an irreplaceable master tape to a no name mastering house, because there is too much of a chance for things to go sideways.  Call MoFi or Music Matters and ask them what kind of insurance bond they have to put up to get a copy of a good release.

So to add to the list of things beyond the mastering engineer, it helps to be familiar with what studio the songs were recorded in, the recording engineer, and as well as where the release was pressed.  If people are using the same digital master for vinyl and CD, and there is a notable difference, it more than likely has to do the vinyl mastering process, the plating process, or an issue at the pressing plant.  A bad recording is a bad recording and will be bad whether the release is a CD or an LP record.

Same point.  If an engineer uses the same mastering for LP and CD, one format is going to be a loser, because Vinyl and CD have different requirements because of the media.  Of course a bad recording will be a bad recording, but a good recording can be ruined by the wrong mastering.  If this was not the case, there wouldn't be a whole industry built around audiophile remasters.

In addition, a number of labels use the same pressing plants.  I know that a lot of indie labels have been using Rainbo and United Record Pressing for years.  Rainbo, from their website, seems to have handled a number of major label artists.  United Record Pressing has a pretty long history going back to being responsible for pressing releases on Motown.  Again, the quality of the pressing plant for indies is probably on par with any larger label since there are only so many record pressing plants currently in existence.

Some additional details related to the record mastering, plating, and pressing process from Aardvark Mastering's website:

http://www.aardvarkmastering.com/proceed.htm


Sorry but Aaardvark mastering hasn't produced anything of note ever....

Sorry to take this OT, but I felt like this statement shouldn't be left unchallenged.  I'll add something relevant to the conversation:

In this case, the issue seems to be a problem with tracking the quality of records by specific labels.  However, in most instances the problems would be with the pressing plant.  It'd be more interesting to find out which labels are using which plants (I would assume a label is using one plant for all their releases - hence the quality issues at a specific plant would carry over to all releases).  Keeping track of labels serves a purpose, but tracking this back to the source could provide additional benefits, such as lobbying labels that are using plants that have quality issues to use a different pressing plant that appears to not have the same issues.

So what's relevant about this?  Most of the decent vinyl is pressed at a small handful of places.  Most of them are working 24 hours a day and things don't always go perfectly.  Because most records are produced in such small quantity, there's less margin for error and less profit margin, hence the reason some retailers are more grumpy than others in regards to return policies..  There's only so many places to get a good record pressed these days.  You can't "Lobby" labels to use "different" pressing plants, because there aren't any.



AliG

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #30 on: 21 Feb 2010, 09:51 am »
I began collecting vinyls two years ago. And I must admit that I have been rather disappointed with the quality of the new pressings. Some of my best sounding LPs are those pressed in 1950-1970. The new stuff are very unpredictable. Two examples of my latest disappointment are "Diana Krall's The Look of Love" from OMG ($40 a piece), and "Patricia Barber's Live: A Fortnight in France" by Mo-Fi ($50 a piece!). I have already owned the CD version and I was hoping the LPs would give me a better "chill", but these two are just too noisy (just like sample #2 below) for me.

Perhaps as a consumer we should demand and expect better product from the label. If we can send people to the moon, why can't we produce defect-free LPs on a more consistant basis.





Sample #1 of Classic Records Pressing Defects on 200 Gram Vinyl

Sample #2 of Classic Records Pressing Defects on 200 Gram Vinyl



--Jerome

Ericus Rex

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #31 on: 21 Feb 2010, 02:24 pm »
What's up with off-center spindle holes?  Is it so hard to get it centered?   :x

Stu Pitt

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #32 on: 22 Feb 2010, 01:59 am »
"That's what she said!"
- Michael Scott
Regional Manager, Dunder Mifflin Scranton

lazydays

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1256
Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #33 on: 22 Feb 2010, 03:43 pm »
I've yet to ever get a bad Classics LP, and I own many of them. I did have one once that had a heavilly distorted bass on one side, but it turned out tobe in my tonearm setp. On the otherhand I've had warpage problems with the Columbia reissues.
gary

jsaliga

Re: Vinyl Reissue Labels and Pressing Defects
« Reply #34 on: 31 Mar 2010, 09:45 pm »
I've yet to ever get a bad Classics LP, and I own many of them.

Then I think you have had extremely good fortune and should count your blessings.

Here is a new "Clarity Vinyl" title I just received today.  If you aren't familar with this series these pressings are made from clear vinyl cut at 45RPM.  Suffice it to say that I didn't expect to see this discoloration in Classic Records' flagship product.  Thankfully the records sound good, and that no doubt is my greatest concern.  But I still believe that the quality of their pressings is very uneven.





--Jerome