True Colors: Black or Colored Vinyl?

by MarbleheadJohnson

I don’t give a shit about colored vinyl. In fact, I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid it. It sounds inferior, reeks of cheap gimmickry, and tends to be more expensive and harder to track down. With the exception of the past five or so years, it always seemed that this was the majority opinion.

Colored wax, and I’m talking about any color other than classic black, was looked upon as some open joke; a way the record company looked upon its buyers with disdain, and further distanced themselves from the reality of what the true music lovers demanded from their records: high quality sound. Almost without exception, a colored vinyl disc played with much more noise and hiss compared to their black counterparts, thus making the colored disc quite surely second-best in the eyes and ears of the fans who bought them.

Well, those times have certainly changed. As we enjoy the non-stop upward momentum of the vinyl boom, it’s clear more and more people demand colors that pop and literally glow from our turntables. If you look around the internet, you’ll notice that the quality of colored vinyl pressings hasn’t gone up one iota, yet a quick glance around Discogs makes it clear that people not only seek out the colored variants with fevered gusto, but will throw down whatever money it takes to acquire them. This begs the question: are people really into the music, or just acquiring shiny colored wax because they’re “collector’s editions”? Why are we agreeing to pay more for something that sounds nowhere near as good as a simple piece of classic black vinyl? The simple answer is “duh, of course we only want the colored vinyl. It looks better!”. Fair enough. However, we’re buying these things for the music, right? What difference does it make whether it’s on Classic Black, or Translucent Pale Green, or Icy Pink, or….Blood and Sperm? Is this the point where these circular objects cease to be a physical form of listening to music, and simply become an art piece with no intention of ever letting the needle grace its grooves?

colored vinylblack vinyl

Colored and black vinyl pellets

We know in some cases that the colored variants are worth less simply because the black versions are fewer in number — see Aphex Twin’s “Selected Ambient Works II” for evidence. But this seems to be the exception distancing the rule. If an album comes out on colored wax, you can be sure it’ll be gone in a hurry, and quickly selling for massive amounts. There also exists the “initial copies on colored wax” bait, where we quickly shuffle to buy up whatever is left of the initial run, not having any clue how many are pressed, or when the later black vinyl pressings will be released. Or maybe it will continue to get pressed on different variants, further lessening the value of that initial pressing. Any way you cut it, obsessive collectors will only accept the wacky colored variant without exception. What happened to the music? In an age where music can be accessed 24 hours a day from anywhere on the planet, have records become a rampant collecting competition where someone looks to amass as many as they can without caring about the tunes that emit from them? Or are our colorful records just a further enhancement to something we know we’re going to buy anyway?

Cuttings from clear vinyl records
Leftovers from pressing clear vinyl records

Why do you buy colored vinyl records? Why do you not buy them? Are you under the spell of “limited quantities”, or are you simply dazzled and dumbstruck by any shade other than black? We’d like to know what compels you to buy those colored discs, and what sort of motivators drive your choices! While you gather your thoughts, let’s take a look at some examples of exactly how much more you’re willing to pay for an album based upon the color, and a release where the colored wax was clearly just a bad idea:

Exhibit A: Nirvana-Nevermind Nirvana Nevermind colored vinyl

“Nevermind” has been re-pressed to the point of nausea over the years, and among the many re-releases there have existed a smattering of colors, gatefolds, tri-folds, billfolds, and probably skin-folds as enticements to throw down money and hear this album once again on a shiny new piece of wax. Universal Music Group released it back in 2009 on black wax, and the median is around $40 (although there are none for sale currently, which means that number will more than likely rise). However, going over to its blue-colored counterpart, the exact same release has a median price of $120. Which obviously means that blue pellets are deemed worth $80 more than black pellets. The album has been released a number of times after this pressing, and even the later four-disc set on black wax sells for half this price. It’s blue or bust for Nirvana fans!

Exhibit B: The ClashThe Clash colored vinyl

Going the opposite way of the financial spectrum, we have last year’s RSD release of The Clash’s first album. First off, did we need this repress? Is it really that hard to locate a vinyl copy of The Clash? The median price of 22 dollars on this colored press seems to answer these questions with a defiant “nope”. With original pressings being relatively easy to find and affordable, this release probably showcases how badly record companies overthink the success of RSD, and grasp at any album that has a color in a song title — Protex Blue & White Riot, for instance. Ahh, I get it. Protex Blue & White Riot are song titles on the album. Hence, the blue and white colored wax. Right. Aaaaaand, no one cares. Who knows, though? In ten years time buyers may be selling furniture and auctioning their underpants to afford themselves the luxury of owning this bizarrely-colored hybrid, but as of now, the jury remains out to lunch.

Exhibit C: Alex North-2001 Soundtrack2001 soundtrack colored vinyl

A fine example of unbridled financial hysteria is in the case of the recent Mondo repress of the 2001 soundtrack by Alex North. The black vinyl median price is $30, and while it costed this much to buy new, this is a reasonable price to pay. However, you then have the “randomly inserted” (really, Mondo?) colored vinyl version with a median price of $100, complete with deep and hazy shades as if you were journeying down the wormhole with Dave himself, Hal 9000 echoing in your soul, and chattering in your ear. You can almost taste the greasy chemical sludge dripping off this cheap colored version, guaranteed to collect so much gunk by your turntable needle that you’d be required to thoroughly clean your stylus after each and every two-minute track. So what is it about this one that holds people’s attention? Is it the idea that the colored variants are “randomly inserted”, and the excitement of actually popping one open and finding the colored wax is like discovering a Wonka Golden Ticket? Isn’t the fun in finding one of these in the surprise? What would you pay for the blissful shock of breaking one of these open and finding the “Beyond The Infinite” version, opposed to what you’d pay for a copy you already knew was colored? The one lone copy is now going for $130, so that median is creeping ever upwards.

These are just a few examples — show us your choices!

60 comments about “True Colors: Black or Colored Vinyl?
  • des_ 2 years ago
    Here's the thing: I've always loved visual art more than I've loved music. And in pressing vinyl there is BOTH visual art AND music. Unlike CDs, tapes, or direct digital downloads... vinyl embraces visual art. To say that there is no visual art to vinyl is to ignore half of the artistic experience of buying and owning vinyl. More than 80% of my collection is on colored vinyl, picture discs and laser etched discs. Because why? Because that is art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, my dear. And believe it or not, a large percentage of my collection is still factory sealed, meaning that (yes) I have never actually listened to it. I just stare at the cover art. I know I'm in the minority of vinyl collectors. But hey, to each his own. FYI, I have several copies of Reel Music by The Beatles on translucent gold vinyl for sale (still factory sealed! http://www.discogs.com/sell/item/300144552?ev=bp_img ) And if you want to see a bunch of great colored vinyl (and other "visual" art) go here: http://www.discogs.com/user/des_/collection
  • des_ 2 years ago
    P.S. It's also just super fun to be able to say that I own The Beatles White Album on white vinyl, and Elton John's Yellow Brick Road on yellow vinyl. Yes, seriously.
  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    des_ Thanks for your comment, this is exactly what I am curious to know. I only care about the music, so have zero interest in the color as long as it sounds good. Like you say, to each their own! I have to ask, though, why have a colored vinyl edition and leave it sealed? Or are you saying your sealed records are not limited to just colored editions? I understand you like to admire the cover art and opening the wax is of secondary importance, but wanted to get that straight in my head....
  • discosanddragons 2 years ago
    Please keep in mind the most important thing when it comes to sound quality is the mastering and cutting process. Not the color it's pressed on. I do think color is now a gimmick more than ever though. It's a marketing pitch. It's aimed more at a certain type of collector.
    Equally important is the system you're playing it on.
    Many, if not most people are not running systems that will pick up any true difference in quality or only subtle differences.
    I would say most people may notice a difference, but not one they can truly clarify as better or worse, just different in their opinion.
    Especially the new vinyl crowd buying RSD releases and playing them on a Crosley or something they pieced together from the flea market or Goodwill store.
    Equipment that likely needs to be serviced and / or set up properly.
    I can't tell you how many people I know that tout the superior sound quality while playing it on a turntable without a proper mat, out of phase speakers or a tone arm that is not balanced correctly.

    Any vinyl being pressed nowadays runs a chance of not sounding so hot, not because of the color, but as above due to the mastering process, the Majors controlling the plants and rushing things through and the people at the plants who are not as experienced in cutting vinyl as the vinyl that came from the true "heyday".
    Any color can sound bad when it's not mastered or cut correctly.

  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    discosanddragons Thanks for these excellent points. It definitely seems to be more prevalent with all of the recent re-issues as well. A lot of times people seem to be taken in by 180 gram vinyl pressings that still sound horrible. Even 180 gram pressings can be botched up!
  • discosanddragons 2 years ago
    180 gram is a whole other can of worms...please don't get me started.
    If it's not mastered properly, it won't sound good no matter how thick the vinyl.
    Let's remember that an overwhelming majority of the vinyl that got the "resurgence" started was normal 120 gram vinyl. That's the warm sound most remember.

    One other note about colored vinyl, many people claim that the red vinyl used on many Japanese pressings in the 70's is superior in sound quality. Many audiophile pressings of classical vinyl is also on red and allegedly superior.

    You could also check out things like

    http://www.popsike.com/PINK-FLOYD-Meddle-BLUE-VINYL-Colombia-ULTRA-RARE-UNSEEN/120360076031.html
    or [r2240555]
    which 7 people allegedly own here on Discogs. Hmmm............looks to be web subbed IMO.
    Crazy rare though.
  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    discosanddragons Hah, yep, 180 gram is more of a sales pitch than a tried and true practice. I think what you mentioned earlier about inexperienced people pressing the records is really the main thing here. During the "heyday" of vinyl, the weight of the vinyl made zero difference because we could trust it would be pressed well. Now it's more of a crapshoot.
    As far as the websubs.....don't get ME started. ;)
  • NielsKlein 2 years ago
    I really don't like colored for practical matters ánd visual: I've rarely seen a picturedisc/ colored that I honestly think is prettier than the beautiful black (beauty is in the eye of the beholder though) and most important: when playing in a club, for which I mostly buy vinyl, I can not see the grooves. Transparent ones are even worse: you think a break is coming up but it's the break on the other side...

    Also, sometimes you really can hear what coloring/ marbling has done to the sound. Worst example imo is the re-release of Oppenheimer Analysis' New Mexico on Minimal Wave (http://www.discogs.com/Oppenheimer-Analysis-New-Mexico/release/7013884). This has black/white quarters which you can honestly hear when the needle transfers from black to white. Not to mention how it looks...
  • espen.olsen.982 2 years ago
    black vinyl is also coloured
  • MartyTarty 2 years ago
    I love music but don't have the time to spin my vinyl as often as I want so I listen to my FLAC files and online the most.
    When I do find the time to put one on I get a bigger satisfaction from a coloured vinyl than a black, it simply adds a bigger visual experience for me.
  • scratchbrad 2 years ago
    Yes. I find it fun but the competition should be over rare and obscure recordings rather then pressing colors of an album.
  • pyenapple 2 years ago
    Pretty sure Urge Overkill "Saturation" album was [i]only[/i] pressed on translucent orange vinyl.

    Hey, what's the deal with Quiex II pressings?
  • anarchyreloaded 2 years ago
    I like colored vinyl because it looks good, it's that simple. About them sounding inferior to their black counterparts. Well, I never noticed. So why bother?^^
  • FangsFirst 2 years ago
    I collect coloured (or otherwise fancy) vinyl for reasons described previously--it's an extra visual element, it's fun with some (my own examples would be one of my earliest vinyl purchases at all, like Stone Temple Pilots' Purple, which I didn't know was on purple vinyl when I bought it, or even a bit after, dark as it is, and I also enjoy similarly associative chromatics that tie into the album art's colour scheme successfully), but, more than anything, I don't buy vinyl for audio quality.

    With the caveat that I have no interest in revisiting or restarting the argument for the nth time, let me phrase this thusly: a significant number of audio folks have suggested that there's no *objective* quality gain in analog formats, and more likely (due to imperfections, primarily) a probable loss. There's subjective value to some, etc etc--but basically, in the end, I'm already sacrificing something, so the minimal difference from coloured vinyl, not spending significant amounts of money for audiophilic cartridge, turntable, etc also means that the losses I have will remain indiscernible.
  • Xe4ro 2 years ago
    As far as i know singles were colored by genre in the early days (green colored country singles come to mind) which then stopped because it became to pricy as more and more genres became popular. Colored vinyl isn't really that recent, of course the amount has grown enormously and it has become a big thing of it's own yes and of course it's also used as a means of sales boost (just not always).

    I see it as a part of the art form, the package, the message or whatever you want to call it. I really like it when the color becomes part of the cover art or overall artwork / mood. Sometimes you get just a random color and then i decide if i like the color or not. I just love colors / combinations of colors in general : )

    Also who cares about "the value of that initial pressing". I don't care how often an album gets pressed after i bought it. More pressings before i buy it are interesting to me because i can choose and maybe get cheap versions of albums i had overlooked for a long time. I get the one copy i can afford or like the most (when pre ordering for example). I don't care about value because i never plan to sell anything i buy, i like what i buy and i want to listen to it not keep it like a dragon and think too much about it's value.
  • FangsFirst 2 years ago
    Also:

    "Colored wax, and I’m talking about any color other than classic black, was looked upon as some open joke; a way the record company looked upon its buyers with disdain,"

    This kind of loses out on the significant indie scene of previous decades, at least, where some bands chose to do it themselves--though, admittedly, plenty of them had a similar attitude themselves and found it a gimmick.
  • ColonelKurtz 2 years ago
    Nice article. I won't pay extra to get a coloured copy but I like the gimmick.
  • gaelic67 2 years ago
    Black is a "colour" too. True, unadulterated vinyl is clear.
  • torlporl 2 years ago
    I have a mix of black and coloured vinyl. I love both. I hear no difference between them at all. I like coloured / limited releases even though I have no intention of selling them. There's something a little bit special about putting them on, some variety in what you see. There's great. I won't however pay significantly more than just for the regular black version because ultimately it's about the music. Most of my more expensive coloured ones have been awesome presents actually.
  • djfaber 2 years ago
  • aopps42 2 years ago
    I completely disagree that it sounds inferior. That said I agree with your point that it seems that people care less about the music and more about the variant. People can do whatever they want with their money, but it seems that newer collectors are also looking at it as more of an investment than about the music as well.
  • coopzilla 2 years ago
    I own a few coloured vinyl but I prefer black; it just feels like the real deal to me. It annoys me when the most limited press is some garish colour with a couple of hundred copies available - it makes owning a superior quality black pressing with 2000 copies seem less "special".

    Unfortunately sometimes you have to get a coloured variant to get all the best "goodies" available with a record, for example: [r2746993] is the only pressing to come with free badges but comes in a hideous "flesh" colour.

    Then you get to the point of ridiculousness with albums like [m294950] - if the numbers on discogs are to be believed 14100 copies on vinyl are in existence - 2000 are picture discs; a whopping 10800 on various colours and patterns and only 1300 on black!

    Even the most common colour variant [r5121004] (blue/white split, 2000 copies) commands a price of at least £34 here; while the lowly black repress [r5121004] with half the amount of copies available can be had for £14.

    Madness, I say!!!

  • Ruxton 2 years ago
    Because the collection isn't complete until you have the set ;(

    "continue to get pressed on different variants" this release became a running joke locally because of this. [m664511]

    [m423594] & [m745951] The original blacks are harder to find, but the coloured (still on shelves in places) tends to fetch more O_o

    Given the degradation in quality of black pellets in the last 20 years, perhaps the colored variants are now on-par?

    Either way, the collection isn't complete without them ;)
  • ckchew23 2 years ago
    Recycling thoughts from the same discussion w/ Indie Vinyl Den (https://twitter.com/ckchew23/status/686270949465939968) I think, admittedly, the novelty of it is a part of collecting today. For most *MOST* people who want to just HEAR music today, digital honestly makes more sense since many can't even distinguish an audible difference, nor do they really care about it. Plus the audio quality of many modern pressings—black or not—is subpar & albums just end up on wax because it's in demand. Having the pressing be stellar quality is always desired as it makes for the most complete experience when combined with having nice packaging, well-designed inserts, & cool looking wax to watch spin; everyone wishes we didn't have to take our chances with audio quality when we pick up a new record, but it's not the reality right now. So, yes, it does kind of become about collecting the artifact that represents the music they love, which isn't necessarily required by all in order to enjoy the music.

    related: aren't there some labels (or at least a label) that press "audiophile clear vinyl" with some reasoning on the back as to why it's better than black vinyl?
  • ckchew23 2 years ago
    (cont.)

    "You don't have to collect vinyl to love music, but you have to love music to collect vinyl (https://twitter.com/VinylMePlease/status/653023299392311296)"

    Ben Blackwell also talked abuot Third Man's output
    "we don’t shy away from the word 'gimmick' or 'novelty.' I think that stuff’s really important. There doesn’t have to be that one cynical way of releasing music. If you enjoy what you are doing, you might as well have fun."

    & I remember an interview (somewhere that I can't find) Jack White spoke on the same thing, basically they don't mind using bells & whistles, like on Lazaretto, if it means getting more people to notice & hear the music by buying the wax.
  • hifienvelope 2 years ago
    The colored vinyl phenomena is most certainly gimmickry. However, it happens to be gimmickry I love. Buying a record is more than just buying music; if that's all you're after then you can forgo the expensive equipment and just buy the media in a lossless format thus having the music in as good or better quality. Let's cut the shit: your human ear can not detect the difference. If you think so you're kidding yourself. Besides, most music is produced digitally now anyways which relates back to my first point. Buying records is not merely a listening experience, but also an exercise in collecting. The beauty of the artifact is as much a part of a record as the content. I love beauty. I love beautiful music, beautiful people, and beautiful objects. Perhaps it is vain, but that's part of the experience for me. Colored editions are not my exclusive choice every time, but they are fun when available. Take the upcoming Tortoise reissues for instance; who wouldn't love the first Tortoise on brown vinyl or Standards on red/white splatter? It's just fun. Beyond all of this is the fact that collecting music, at it's root, is fundamentally an absurd and rather gauche exploit to begin with. Music is an experience and trying to collect experiences in a physical form is silly. Yet we do it obsessively.
  • jonnyrollins 2 years ago
    Colored vinyl doesn't sound different than black vinyl, it is just a different color.
  • vinylscore 2 years ago
    Do we have proof that coloured vinyl is worse than black for sound?

    Yes, black is generally better for seeing the groove, but depends on the colour & lighting.

    Yes it's a gimmick.
  • Borg-mx5 2 years ago
    I don't think I've ever purchased records in a color other than black. I therefore cannot comment on the quality. It just never seemed important to me, though to seek a different color.
  • powerstone05 2 years ago
    Oh boy. I can understand that black vinyl would have less noise then colored or picture discs. However, in my opinion, despite what countless audiophiles may say, I do believe a lossless digital (CD, FLAC, etc.) will always be better then most black vinyl can get. So whether someone says 'colored vinyl is for suckers' or etc, is irrelevant to me. As des_ here said, I appreciate the visuals in these more than the plain old black discs. And yes, I do like having 'limited editions' as I'm not afraid to say it, it does make me feel abit special. So it does anger me when some person randomly comments or says that these 'kindergarten' discs are dumb, ripoffs, bad quality, etc.
    But records for me are a fun way of listening to music, which is why I still buy and play them. I'm probably in the minority when it comes to my opinion, but that's what I believe. If you want to buy black, then buy black. If you want a little color, then go for the colors. It doesn't matter, because in the end, it doesn't compare to digital (For me), so why not go all out.
  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    NielsKlein That's an interesting point! I've also looked at transparent wax before and mistaken the break, thinking it was on the current playing side but it was actually on the flip side.
    espen.olsen.982 As I mention in the post, when I say "colored", I'm referring to colors other than black.
    FangsFirst Thanks for the insight there. It was mentioned by another user earlier that all colors are dependent upon the quality of the pressing as well, so your argument may reflect this. Even black vinyl can sound like crap if not pressed correctly.
    Xe4ro Agreed, I also buy without the thought of reselling which I think factors into some of these colored variants selling for such insane amounts. It definitely seems a large number of these colored variants get bought in quantity so sellers can then flip them for a higher price. That's an entirely different conversation, though....
    aopps42 Great point, I certainly agree that records have become an investment for some.
    coopzilla That's an excellent point, it is madness! Do you ever get sucked into that "extra gear with the colored vinyl" gimmickry? Thanks for those examples, those are awesome.
    Ruxton Ahh yes, the whole "complete the set" bullshit. That's when collecting goes off the deep end, in my opinion. It ceases to be about the music and becomes a race to just collect stuff.

  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    ckchew23 You make an excellent point here. For some, the gimmick is the best part, and fair enough. I guess it's akin to sports fans collecting cards, or people buying a Han Solo action figure because they love Star Wars, etc.
    hifienvelope Beautifully put. You're making me a believer!
    vinylscore Yes. I recommend googling the subject, there are many vinyl manufacturers online that will literally grade the typical degradation in sound by their color.
    powerstone05 Yep, it definitely comes down to what my ears hear to what your ears hear. Personally, I rip all of my vinyl using a certain turntable with a certain head cartridge with a certain tone arm and a certain platter using a certain pre-amp. I have invested into this knowing that what sounds perfect to me may sound like shit someone else, and in the end, I'll end up listening to my own Flac rip of it anyway! Do you listen to vinyl rips on Flac? Or do you like any Flac compression?
  • NeedfulThings 2 years ago
    woah!, who's bed did you get out the wrong side if?
  • Globe199 2 years ago
    I'm gonna let you in a little secret: colored vinyl has always been cool. I was just seven years old in 1985 when I got this record -- http://www.discogs.com/Starship-Sara-/release/1137781 -- on blue vinyl. It was cool then, it's cool now.

    The resurgence of vinyl is explained by a lot of people as "it's nice to hold the physical product." Well, colored vinyl makes that physical product even better. There's nothing wrong with it. And I'll be damned if there's any difference in sound quality, given that black vinyl IS colored; all vinyl starts out colorless.
  • ttenchantr 2 years ago
    I have no desire to play extra for colored vinyl but other than that I could care less.
  • seasonsinthesky 2 years ago
    Great read. Ultimately, the commentary on mastering and cutting quality are the actual winners here, which I'm glad to see you acknowledge... but you skip right over when people bring up black vinyl being just as colored as "gimmick" pressings, which is entirely valid.

    Clear vinyl should always be cheaper than black and colors, yet it often gets priced higher in stores, and often this is paired with smaller pressing numbers. This highlights the real reason pricing pressings on Discogs is crapshoot:

    Buyers don't know shit about anything anymore.

    Prior to this resurgence, perhaps you can justify talking as if most buyers were educated on this point. But you really can't now. Ignorance is rampant, people don't care in comparison to how it looks or if pricing is in favor (i.e. when the black pressing is in smaller numbers than colored, which happens on a lot of metal presses), and as someone else said, soooooo many people can't tell the difference through shite equipment anyway.

    The issue isn't colored vs. black, the technical argument. The issue is marketing and the ignorance of vinyl buyers brought in on the resurgence wave. People are getting marketed out of more money for absolutely no reason. Color has zero to do with it anymore.
  • dwars 2 years ago
    I hate it when the sleeve doesn't mention that there's coloured vinyl inside. Vinyl is supposed to be black! At least give me the choice of not buying it!

    I hate it especially when the coloured vinyl makes no sense in terms of design. The White Album on blue vinyl. That kind of thing. Some indielabels have really nice designs where the colored vinyl is beautifully intergrated with the artwork on the sleeve. Although I would still prefer black if it is availabe.

    And about the quality: People listen to MP3's. They are lost anyway. What did you expect?
  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    seasonsinthesky Thanks for the comments! I don't know that I'm choosing to glance over that black is also colored, but rather that black is the standard. To my knowledge, vinyl was changed to black to conceal the blemishes of the raw PVC. Whatever the reason, black is the standard to which median prices can generally be set whether it starts that way or not. Which more or less proves your point that color makes zero difference. Another user made a point earlier that colored wax is marketed toward a certain individual and priced as such, and there's probably a ton of truth to that. Several people have already mentioned that they buy vinyl and never even break the seal -- that's just crazy to me!
    dwars Wow, that's weird. Do you have an example of a record being colored and it not being mentioned on the sleeve?
  • powerstone05 2 years ago
    @MarbleheadJohnson
    Yep, I do "vinyl rips" of stuff that's not out digitally and encode them into FLAC.
  • codedwire 2 years ago
    If you want optimal audio quality you should be listening to 96kHz/24-bit digital audio, not vinyl. Even the most pristine black vinyl cannot represent the music as accurately as can high-resolution digital. I don't buy vinyl to get the best audio quality, I buy vinyl for it's sonic defects and for the enjoyment that collecting and playing records brings. Part of the fun for me is tracking down limited pressings, preferably on colored vinyl (which I feel enhances the artistic design of the entire package and increases my enjoyment). I don't have as much time as I'd like to listen to music on vinyl (I use Tidal and/or Spotify along with Sonos most of the time), but when I do have time it makes me happy to pull out an album on colored vinyl, place it on the turntable, then sit back with the record sleeve and enjoy the music -- pops, clicks and all.
  • Demonfuzz-Records 2 years ago
    For exhibit 2, we've had a split colored release that made noise on all areas where the colours blended into each other....So 2 pops with every spin ....
  • cellularsmoke 2 years ago
    I don't actually care what color my records are... but I would like a pure, technical, breakdown of why non-black is supposed to sound inferior based on the color alone.
    Because frankly, I don't trust 99% of people who "feel" the sound quality, they're mostly full of themselves, and/or trying to sound cool.
  • 78finn 2 years ago
    I think coloured vinyl is great when it adds something to the understanding of the music or what the artist is trying to convey. Packaging & artwork has always been one of the biggest draw cards when it comes to vinyl and coloured vinyl is really just an extension of that. When done thoughtfully and well, clever packaging and coloured vinyl can actually enhance the music and therefore the listening experience as a whole.
  • streetwaves 2 years ago
    I'm supposed to listen to someone who uses the word vinyls?
  • webkrawler 2 years ago
    IMO, you need an oscilloscope of audiophile grade equipment to really see/hear the difference between color and black vinyl. I have played colored/black vinyl of the same pressings back to back and I can't tell a difference. Not to say I don't have good equipment (Technics D2 with a new amp) but it definately isn't audiophile grade.

    I like the look of SOME colored vinyl (brown doesn't do it for me...LOL)..but I have limited edition pressings like promos and such on colored vinyl and I would not trade them away for anything. In the end, it goes what people want. Isn't it true that digital music sounds better than vinyl? As a vinyl junkie and I can admit that. But, it's not about what sounds better. It's about what like. I like vinyl. If you like colored vinyl, BUY IT. If not don't.
  • MarbleheadJohnson 2 years ago
    codedwire I must admit that I can't hear any discernible difference with the 96kHz/24-bit recordings, and I've really tried. I appreciate that it's the highest quality you can possibly get, but I just don't hear it. Maybe I'm going deaf!
    Demonfuzz-Records Yes, I've experienced this as well. Thanks for letting people know!
    78finn Fair enough, thanks for your comment!
    streetwaves Where do you see the word "vinyls"? I don't see it anywhere in the article or in any of the comments.
    webkrawler Hah, yeah, brown vinyl is about as boring as you can get. Some really low-grade vinyl sometimes looks brown but is actually black because the wax is so thin you can see through it.
  • leggorocker 2 years ago
    Without black vinyl coloured vinyl would never be considered special.
  • g0rey1 2 years ago
    as a collector, i frequently have black and colored vinyl of the same release. i can tell you that, at least within the last few years, MOST colored vinyl pressings by companies that do it regularly sound exactly the same as the black. as people charge more for vinyl these days, it seems (again MOST) companies pay attention to quality control on test pressings and the like. citing Mondo as an example of "greasy chemical sludge" and "cheap colored version" is not making your argument - i have several copies of that pressing on black and that variant you mention, and just about every Mondo release there is. labels like them and Waxwork are creating very high-quality visual art with their unique colors/patterns as well as top-notch quality audio. i can think of one colored vinyl i purchased in the last few years that sounded inferior to the black. it was white and just plain noisy. that being said, it was "self-produced" (read: funded) and done on the cheap. as someone who's purchased vinyl since the '80s, i'm happy to have people pay attention to not only the music but the visual of the art form. after all, part of the reason to collect vinyl is to hold the thing in your hands and take in the package like you can't do with a CD or digital-only release. why not add some fantastic visual experiences to the collection? i think you are short-changing the experience. these aren't '80s picture discs we're talking about - the materials used and attention to QA these days seems very different. quality hasn't been an issue for me on colored vinyl. YMMV.
  • MJG196 2 years ago
    I just go for a version with the best price. I don't listen with a critical/audiophile ear, so I just purchase to enjoy. I NEVER go out of my way for a colored vinyl version.

    For example, you can find a barely-played 60s pressing of the 2001 soundtrack for a couple bucks...and often in dollar bins. Why do I need an expensive colored repress?!
  • DetroitBootyBass 2 years ago
    Having worked in multiple pressing plants and for multiple record labels, I can say that colored vinyl can sound just the same as black. Most all colored vinyl is pressed after the full run of black vinyl and occur on worn-out stampers. That's the source of most of the earlier quality issues regarding colored vinyl. The main issue right now, as others have pointed out, is the rush to master/manufacture records as quickly as possible. The current backlogs for every step in the vinyl record process makes for sloppy or non-existent quality control - these problems of haste equally afflict all vinyl colors.
  • draebyllek 2 years ago
    I know nothing about if a certain pressing is going to be "good" or not: how are you going to know? If you're so interested in optimum fidelity then I think only Mofi LPs are going to be good enough for you, and you should probably opt for their half-speed mastered stuff as well.

    Anyway, has it been proven that colored vinyl has inferior fidelity compared to black? Has it been established that the carbon black makes for a better pressing substrate? At least this post here (https://www.quora.com/Why-are-vinyl-records-black) asserts that carbon black is used to hide flaws, not produce better-sounding records.

    I think it's pretty well established by now that millennials (and now the rest of us) are getting into vinyl because of digital's lack of tactility: it's way cooler to sit in a chair with some good headphones reading liner notes and looking at album art. Add to this colored vinyl/picture discs and you only add to the visualness of an audio medium. Go colored vinyl, go picture discs!
  • OrionsLine 2 years ago
    I think it's unfair to lump all colored vinyl into a category of lesser quality. It really just depends on the particular pressing. And on a side note: nothing beats the look of a well made splatter vinyl! Just my two cents :)
  • sfrruk 2 years ago
    It's picture discs that are to be avoided, they do sound inferior although they are produced completely differently.
    Coloured vinyl does little for me tbh but if that's how it's made then there is no choice. Reissues I'd generally just pay for an original unless it's mega rare, analogue from start to finish and those UK pressed pre 73 ish records are absolutely untouchable. Even the sleeves were better quality. Flip back garrod and loft house for example. After that they charged a premium for deluxe.
    Most Beatles for example can be bought for under £20 on original heavy press in vg+ condition, they will destroy any subsequent pressing in any colour in mint factory condition.
  • blames 2 years ago
    There are several issues here:

    1) The pressing and mastering. Pressing and mastering are much more significant than the color of the vinyl. I have nothing against colored vinyl as long as these two jobs are done well. If not I don't care what the color is whether black or aqua blue.

    2) Buying second hand. When buying a second hand record, colored vinyls are a minefield. You cannot reflect light and see the possible defects as well as black vinyl. The worst in this case are the clear vinyls. This is why I prefer black vinyl when I'm buying second hand.

    3) As some people point out here, vinyl collection nowadays is partially a fashion and color, 180 gr vinyl, this and that are marketing tools being applied vigorously. It's a period of time that we have to live through. At some point people's interest will fade out and we will remain as before.
  • FLAME-XIII 2 years ago
    i don't like sound of colored vinyl, i can remember only a few exceptions.

    black colour rule the world
  • Sombunya 2 years ago
    [i]"Almost without exception, a colored vinyl disc played with much more noise and hiss compared to their black counterparts, thus making the colored disc quite surely second-best in the eyes and ears of the fans who bought them."[/i]

    Back in the day RCA issued their "Red Seal" series of records. Almost exclusively classical music targeting people who wanted high quality sound. Maybe RCA was putting one over on them and it was only a clever marketing ploy, I don't know.

    Otherwise an interesting read here.
  • aldo.lagana 2 years ago
    Colored vinyl is nice. That Alex North you show probably looks real nice at 33 1/3rd, under a black light (the original visualizer?) - which, as a few of you recall, is still the only way to listen to vinyl ;-0

    Silliness aside - as long as the sound quality is solid, I could care less of the color - "it's all about the music, man!"
  • otheriver 2 years ago
    Back in the days when vinyl was "the" format, the record companies would melt down the returns, labels and all, and recycle it into new popular records they could sell. Sometimes you would see pieces of the old labels in the vinyl. They could cause clicks, pops, skips, etc. The purer the vinyl (virgin)(yes even black), the more light would show through.
    Now I'm going to take a leap here...Given that you can see through some of the colored vinyl, I would think it was purer unless you can see artifacts in it.
    Virgin vinyl should be the bigger selling point (and I don't mean the record label).
  • Fool-Me-Thrice 6 months ago
    The sound difference between black vinyl and colored vinyl is really not that discernible. Let's just kill that argument. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to rest my non-audiophile eardrums.
  • Tarrynjade 6 months ago
    Vinyl is the ultimate historical musical artifact. It's visual, it's tactile, as well as being about the music itself. Everything about the vinyl should feel like it represents what the music is about. Not going to lie.. I will sacrifice slighty better sound quality for an artifact that has history ingrained in it (ie. limited pressings, first pressings.. wildly coloured gimmicky wax) I can't get enough.