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How to Find the Best Album Variation Using Discogs Comments

One of the biggest challenges Discogs newcomers face is the absurd amount of variations one particular album can have. Luckily, our userbase is pretty damn smart and they sure like to talk. From full-blown reviews to passing sound-quality scrutiny, the comment sections on a Master Release and Release page are an excellent way to get a feel of the Community in a way even the forums may not reflect due to their specific album and artist focus. It has helped me find some great recommendations throughout the years, and it’s always a pleasure to digitally discuss with like-minded fans.

I’ve found comments to be especially useful when it comes to modern pressings where quality control can sometimes be over the map. Is it worth grabbing the new, remastered, 180-gram version when you can grab a cheaper original copy for a fraction of the price? On the flip side, do you want to pony up some cash for an original pressing when a more affordable reissue will do the trick?

Take Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, the most collected record in the Discogs Database. At the time of writing, there are currently 1,034 versions listed in the Database, ranging from the original LP and 8-track releases to modern remasters, reissues, and unofficial releases. There are also nearly as many comments — 839, to be exact — which is probably another Database record if there was a way for us to track comments.

Say you’re in a record store in the United States and find a few copies of Dark Side of the Moon. That leaves you with the potential of grabbing one of around 70 different U.S. vinyl variations (assuming it is a U.S. copy), many of which were pressed at different pressing plants and mastered by different individuals. Based on the comments, anything from Dark Side’s original pressing to a 2003 analog remaster to 2016’s remaster will get the job done to varying degrees of quality.

Another well-known classic, John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, has 242 variations of wildly varying quality and prices, with originals going for upwards of $300 and newer reissues as low as $12. The merits of mono vs. stereo mixes, comparing the 1980s-era Impulse reissues to original pressings, the quality of Japanese pressings, and opinions on a load of modern reissues are all touched upon in the comment section. While there’s no clear consensus, rest assured that if you’re comparing pressings, you’ll probably find a comment or two to give you some guidance.

In the age of multiple variations upon release, these comments can be even more beneficial for newer albums. Khruangbin’s Mordechai is one of the most collected records of 2020, which is evident in the 200-plus comments discussing its 15 different variations, some of which have garnered 20 to 40 responses per variation. Despite some varying criticism of the pressing and mastering quality, it seems like the standard black vinyl variant is the way to go.

Of course, your mileage will always vary based on your overall setup, the grading of the record in question, and your own two ears. Now, most people may not necessarily want to go to such trainspotting lengths every time they want to buy a record. Still, you’re already into that Discogs lifestyle and looking to get your favorite records at the best quality available, right? In that case, you might as well use the site to its fullest potential and join the conversation.

Photo courtesy of MayoFi.

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