True Colors: What You Should Know About Black vs. Colored Vinyl

For decades, colored vinyl was looked upon as some open joke. A way that record companies could charge more while distancing themselves from what many music lovers demanded from their records: high-quality sound. Almost without exception, a colored vinyl disc would play with much more noise and hiss compared to their black counterparts. 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.

glow in the dark vinyl of Ghostbusters soundtrack

Does The Color Of A Vinyl Record Affect Sound Quality?

If you’re looking for the short version of whether colored vinyl is worse you can walk away with this – vinyl record production has come a long way in the last 20 years and most modern colored vinyl is on par with black pressings. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. And, yes, picture discs are still more prone to be problematic, at least regarding playback durability. But that shouldn’t deter you from purchasing a new record just because it is not black.

Other steps in the vinyl-record production process, such as mastering and a pressing plant’s quality control standards, have a more substantial impact on playback. When in doubt about a pressing quality check out the Reviews section on the Discogs release page. Chances are, other collectors have listened to the pressing and can provide a sneak peek into the quality.

good review of a Sza Ctrl translucent green pressing on Discogs

How Colored Vinyl Records Are Made

All vinyl records are made of PVC, which is naturally colorless. To turn this clear material into a solid color titanium dioxide and other additives are mixed in. To make the standard black vinyl color, black carbon is often added, which strengthens the PVC mix. To make any other color, dyes are used instead of black carbon. These dyes do not strengthen the vinyl in the same way as black carbon, but the difference is negligible unless mistakes are made in the production process.

black vinyl pelletsBlack vinyl pellets at Cascade Record Pressing

A few exceptions exist: Clear vinyl, picture discs and glow-in-the-dark pressings are more susceptible to poor playback. Very few additives can be mixed into clear vinyl without jeopardizing the opacity, which means there is a potential for worse sound quality, albeit this drop is often imperceptible to the common listener.

Clear record examples

Picture Discs are a different story. They are typically made of 3 layers. The first layer is a clear record with no music, the second is the picture layer, and the third is a clear plastic sheet that contains the grooves. This final thin and malleable plastic layer is not as durable as regular records, which can negatively affect both the playback and long-term durability.

examples of picture discs

A word of caution for those glow-in-the-dark records too: According to Pirate Press, “Glow-In-The-Dark pigments unfortunately deteriorate the acoustic properties of the recording and do often cause increased surface noise.”

Are Colored Records Worth More Money?

The process of pressing a multi-colored vinyl adds about a dollar to the production cost, so from a material perspective, yes, colored vinyl records are worth more. But, of course, that’s only part of the story. The real cost differences come from colored releases often being pressed in limited batches. This drives down supply while increasing demand, leading to higher market costs.

Let’s also call out the elephant in the room. Vinyl records are collectible items, with more colorful pressings often increasing the aesthetic appeal. Clever minds have ingeniously paired colors with the vibe of the record. Check 👏 out 👏 any 👏 of 👏 these 👏 releases 👏 for examples of pressings that were thoughtfully chosen to match their music or album art.

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 an exception from the rule. If an album comes out on colored wax you can almost be certain that it will be more sought after in the future.

Any way you cut it, many collectors will seek out the wacky colored variant without exception. And colored vinyl has reached near ubiquitous levels. For instance, a cursory glance at Oddisee’s discography reveals a full embrace – with nearly every album having at least one colored release, many of which happen to be first-pressings. This would have been unfathomable just twenty years ago.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how a color record can affect the desirability and price of an album.

Example 1: Nirvana – Nevermind

Nevermind has been repressed on vinyl more than 145 times over the years and among the many pressings there are 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 sale price is around $55. However, going over to the blue-translucent colored counterpart, the exact same release has a median price of $150.

Nirvana Nevermind pressed on a blue-translucenct vinyl record

The $150 price tag far exceeds what would be expected in a batch of 4,000 black-colored copies. The album has been released a number of times after this pressing, and even the later four-disc deluxe set on black wax sells for a third of the blue variant price.

Example 2: The Clash – The Clash (White Riot / Protex Blue)

The Clash colored vinyl

Going the opposite way on the financial spectrum, we have 2015’s Record Store Day release of The Clash’s first album. First off, did we need this repress? Is it really that hard to locate one of the existing 90+ vinyl pressings of The Clash? The median price of $35 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 showcases how badly record companies overthink the success of RSD, a common complaint which we recently explored.

Example 3: Alex North – 2001 A Space Odyssey Soundtrack

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 $20, and while it costs this much to buy new, this is a reasonable price to pay.

However, you then have the “randomly inserted” colored vinyl version with a median price of $90, 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.

randomly inserted colored copy of space odyssey soundtrack on vinyl

So what is it about this one that holds people’s attention? There is scarcity involved with 2001 copies being pressed, but similar to the Nevermind release, that really isn’t few enough to justify the cost. 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?

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

Want to learn more about how to take care of your records?
We got your back!
Download our first eBook and get expert advice on how to grade, clean, store, and much more!
It’s for free.

Return to Discogs Blog
  • Nov 1,2020 at 08:15

    Find more information about sound and colour dynamics in the record pressing from the pressing plant’s perspective.

  • Aug 13,2020 at 01:24

    Your description of the picture disc process is incorrect. Always a good idea to do proper research before writing anything.

  • Mar 23,2020 at 05:45

    Is there a particular color of vinyl that causes more problems than another?

    I’m looking at two reissues that are only available in colored vinyl versions: “There’s a Riot Goin’ On” by Sly and the Family Stone and “The Bridge” by Billy Joel. Would I be better off looking for a near-mint/mint original pressing of either album, or will the color affect the sound quality drastically?

  • Jan 8,2020 at 18:27

    Not being an audiophile, I always liked vinyl and specially limited editions. That being said, when I had the choice, I always went for the picture discs and colored vinyls, even knowing them to be not as good. But things have changed for sure, in these last years. For instance, I own Metallica’s “Hardwired to self destruct” album in black, red, green and pink vinyl and all have exceptional sound. Long live vinyl!!

  • Jan 7,2020 at 17:08

    When I used to work at a pressing plant in the 90’s the coloured vinyl was all clear vinyl mixed with a colour dye, which if not mixed properly would sometimes cause some noise, splatters of colours were coloured regrind added to base colours which could also cause some noise.
    Black vinyl records were pressed with a mix of virgin vinyl & regrind mix of old records with labels punched out & then ground up
    Picture discs were made out of all the rubbish vinyl which had bits of paper in, mixed colours & any other regrind that was no good for pressing records (wasn’t an issue as the vinyl is sandwiched between 2 pictures & a sheet of PVC on outside with music pressed onto it

  • Jan 6,2020 at 02:36

    Very interesting!

  • Jan 5,2020 at 17:58

    Another cash-grab meant to exploit the (already) anal retentives record collecting THRIVES upon.

    [just a sidebar regarding the “unused” Alex North 2001 score: most of it *was used* in another 1968 MGM film North is credited with, “The Shoes Of The Fisherman”. Good thing, though, Kubrick (otherwise) went with a smart choice of timeless Classical blended-with some Avant-Garde of the era instead for the final product.]

  • Jan 5,2020 at 14:50

    Nice article. I am happy someone brought this up. I always wondered…is there really a difference?

    I grew up with vinyl in the 80’s as the format of choice. I mean, come on…who really wants to buy cassettes? I learned as a child at elementary school age how to play vinyl and care for it. All of my records (and my dad’s entire collection) were black. I grew up believing that’s the way it was SUPPOSED to be.

    Fast forward to today, I buy CDs as my format of choice (there are many reasons for this, but I won’t digress). However I do still buy vinyl on occasion depending on various factors and have accumulated a nice little collection since the 80s. I have always found it questionable the sound of colored vinyl, with picture discs sounding the worst. I always opt for black vinyl when I can. I always think back to those days of taking a break from GI Joe or riding BMX bikes around the neighborhood to sit and enjoy a Ratt LP on the stereo. Sitting on the orange shag carpet, gazing at the album jacket. There’s nothing like a pristine, clean, shiny black vinyl record. No color of any kind can match it. It’s almost magical. Colored variants to me have always seemed like cheap alternatives issued only as cash-grabs.

    Obviously this is only an opinion though I will argue that some of my colored and/or picture LPs sound like crap compared to their CD counterparts, no matter how well I try to clean the vinyl.

  • May 11,2019 at 16:07

    I manufacture vinyl for a living. As has been mentioned here a few times, solid colours don’t much affect playback these days, at least not regarding a high noise floor. The notable exception is glow-in-the-dark plastic, which is dreadful stuff. A nice gimmick, for sure, but that material is not really for pressing and it’s ludicrously expensive.

    Where you will naturally find playback issues is on discs pressed with multiple colours, either in segments or as splatters, especially mixtures of opaque and transparent plastic.

  • May 10,2019 at 09:39

    I can’t discern any difference between recent pressings of black or any other coloured vinyl
    All pressings I’ve purchased in the last five years have been as good if not better than records I acquired in the late 70’s, early 80’s, but they do tend to be heavier these days, i.e. 180gram.
    The only exception to this is Jean Michel Jarre’s “Tout est Bleu” 12″ that skips and goes into a loop half way through track 2, side 1. It took 5 fives minutes to realise it was looping!😂 This is the same for all 3 pressings I’ve taken back to the record shop (That was black vinyl btw)
    As for surface noise, its only a problem on second hand records that haven’t been treated well.
    As always YMMV😜

  • May 10,2019 at 02:33

    sometimes when it comes to the aesthetics at least, one of the originals is still one of the best. case in point:

  • May 9,2019 at 16:36

    These days I don’t really have a problem with colored vinyl… They play well and 180 grams is the way to go with both colored and good ol black vinyl.
    My only bugbear is the near transparent vinyl with multiple tracks on either side.
    Back in the days of DJing it could be a bit of a nightmare trying to quickly cue up the track you wanted because the cue point (ie start of the track) would show on both sides and mistakes could be made when you thought you had cued it up only to find out it was halfway through the desired track because you were literally looking at the track on the other side of the vinyl. In a dimly lit room, it made for some funnily frustrating times. I am not an audiophile and never have been in all my 46 years of listening to vinyl (except classical music which is better on cd!)… So all in all vinyl is a fantastic medium so have fun in all that you listen too! PEACE … P.s. Oh and don’t get me started on that mug Larry Sherman with his badly shaven face and poor excuses! Byeeeeee

  • May 9,2019 at 10:16

    I cut Vinyl Records / Lathe and one of my specialities are hand made custom made coloured vinyl and my brand new range of holographic transparent coloured vinyl. I find regardless the care during the cutting process and creation of the coloured vinyl, black vinyl is always a little less noisier on the inside and outside grooves though it isn’t really a big deal as vinyl is in general a little noisy. Imo your speaker system, turntable set up and needle!! is a greater handicap on the quality of the playback of the record. When I play them out on a big system nobody ever came to me and complained. We can be fussy or go on with it and make it better for those sensitive audiophile ears who have a great system set up at home.

  • May 9,2019 at 07:56

    There is more surface noise to colored vinyl as opposed to black vinyl. I own multiple copies of split, tri-colored and quad-colored vinyl and if you listen to those LPs with head phones on you can tell the difference in surface noise. Especially if one of the sections is black. Also I find it irritating that when some artists release an LP there can be up to 10 different variations of the release! Annoying AF! I always buy the black version for my play copy and leave the other variation just to look at occasionally. I have found though that there are some really good quality colored vinyl out there and it seems to be the 180 gram and above that sound the best. Radiohead’s Moon Shaped Pool (white vinyl) comes to mind and most Third Man Records releases. I know people complain about their LPs not laying flat but I don’t seem to have that problem. Also picture discs have improved a lot since the glory days when picture discs were all the rage. I purchased Coil’s Recoiled on black, brown splatter and the picture disc versions and the picture disc sound really good!
    I also think that the quality has gone down a bit since the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I experiencing a lot more warping, rough edges, particles in the grooves and kinked inserts and inner sleeves. with some of the new released that I never experienced before. Sure there was warping back then too but usually on popular releases that would sell a lot of units and they packed and shipped them quickly before they completely cooled from the pressing process. Frampton Comes Alive comes to mind. Love all the comments on this informative article.

  • May 9,2019 at 00:00

    For those that say record companies always punched out label centers before melting down old vinyl to make new vinyl pressing …..

    This isn’t always the case, just take a look at TRAX RECORDS from Chicago.

    The owner was notorious for melting down old vinyl records, labels and all to make new TRAX RECORDS.

    I own many of them, and some do have pieces of old labels randomly in the “new” vinyl.

    It causes skips, noise and it sucks when you hear it.

    Colored vinyl is a gamble I don’t want to take, because you never know how it’s going to sound .


  • May 8,2019 at 23:08

    Not sure if anyone out there knows something about this, but i have recently found that colored vinyl and other variants arrive warped FAR more often than black wax. I collect High Roller Records releases and over more than 220 LP’s, about half of which are color/clear, the records do not lay flat at an alarming rate. Same with Third Man pressings on ‘Metal Flake’ and multi-colored. It’s gotten to the point where i pre-order the black version over the ‘rare’ ‘more valuable’ variants. Happened again lately with Shadow Kingdom and STB releases. Not blaming the record companies, just the colored vinyls…
    any thoughts?

  • Apr 19,2019 at 06:13

    “the record companies would melt down the returns, labels and all, and recycle it into new popular records”

    Nope. The labels were punched out before the vinyl was ground up and melted down. Sometimes a bit of label would get in with the vinyl (if the label were originally off-center, for example), but that was pretty rare.

    How do I know? I operated the punch…

  • Apr 18,2019 at 22:54
  • Jun 10,2017 at 10:27

    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.

  • Jun 10,2017 at 07:41

    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.

  • Apr 25,2016 at 02:07

    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).

  • Jan 17,2016 at 05:36

    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!”

  • Jan 16,2016 at 11:13

    [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.

  • Jan 16,2016 at 10:14

    i don’t like sound of colored vinyl, i can remember only a few exceptions.

    black colour rule the world

  • Jan 15,2016 at 00:27

    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.

  • Jan 14,2016 at 02:41

    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.

  • Jan 14,2016 at 00:09

    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 :)

  • Jan 13,2016 at 11:00

    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 ( 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!

  • Jan 13,2016 at 07:29

    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.

  • Jan 13,2016 at 06:35

    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?!

  • Jan 13,2016 at 05:53

    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.

  • Jan 13,2016 at 00:28

    Without black vinyl coloured vinyl would never be considered special.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 20:22

    [u=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!
    [u=Demonfuzz-Records] Yes, I’ve experienced this as well. Thanks for letting people know!
    [u=78finn] Fair enough, thanks for your comment!
    [u=streetwaves] Where do you see the word “vinyls”? I don’t see it anywhere in the article or in any of the comments.
    [u=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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 18:43

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 18:02

    I’m supposed to listen to someone who uses the word vinyls?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 16:28

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 16:13

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 15:02

    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 ….

  • Jan 12,2016 at 14:23

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 14:13

    Yep, I do “vinyl rips” of stuff that’s not out digitally and encode them into FLAC.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 14:03

    [u=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!
    [u=dwars] Wow, that’s weird. Do you have an example of a record being colored and it not being mentioned on the sleeve?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 13:37

    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?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 13:24

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 12:53

    I have no desire to play extra for colored vinyl but other than that I could care less.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 12:45

    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 — — 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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 12:43

    woah!, who’s bed did you get out the wrong side if?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 12:42

    [u=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.
    [u=hifienvelope] Beautifully put. You’re making me a believer!
    [u=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.
    [u=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?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 12:35

    [u=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.
    [u=espen.olsen.982] As I mention in the post, when I say “colored”, I’m referring to colors other than black.
    [u=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.
    [u=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….
    [u=aopps42] Great point, I certainly agree that records have become an investment for some.
    [u=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.
    [u=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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 11:41

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 11:21

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 10:47

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 07:45

    Colored vinyl doesn’t sound different than black vinyl, it is just a different color.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 07:03

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 06:45


    “You don’t have to collect vinyl to love music, but you have to love music to collect vinyl (”

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 06:44

    Recycling thoughts from the same discussion w/ Indie Vinyl Den ( 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?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 05:54

    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 ;)

  • Jan 12,2016 at 05:06

    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!!!

  • Jan 12,2016 at 04:19

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 03:39
  • Jan 12,2016 at 03:01

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 02:32

    Black is a “colour” too. True, unadulterated vinyl is clear.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 02:01

    Nice article. I won’t pay extra to get a coloured copy but I like the gimmick.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:56


    “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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:56

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:54

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:54

    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?^^

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:46

    Pretty sure Urge Overkill “Saturation” album was [i]only[/i] pressed on translucent orange vinyl.

    Hey, what’s the deal with Quiex II pressings?

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:44

    Yes. I find it fun but the competition should be over rare and obscure recordings rather then pressing colors of an album.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:43

    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.

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:21

    black vinyl is also coloured

  • Jan 12,2016 at 01:13

    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 ( This has black/white quarters which you can honestly hear when the needle transfers from black to white. Not to mention how it looks…

  • Jan 11,2016 at 15:24

    [u=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. ;)

  • Jan 11,2016 at 15:02

    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
    or [r2240555]
    which 7 people allegedly own here on Discogs. Hmmm…………looks to be web subbed IMO.
    Crazy rare though.

  • Jan 11,2016 at 14:35

    [u=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!

  • Jan 11,2016 at 13:30

    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.

  • Jan 11,2016 at 10:46

    [u=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….

  • Jan 11,2016 at 10:00

    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.

  • Jan 11,2016 at 09:56

    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! ) And if you want to see a bunch of great colored vinyl (and other “visual” art) go here:

Leave A Reply