Is it just me or is vinyl QC getting a lot better?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by rischa, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. rischa

    rischa Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Madison, WI
    It occurred to me today that it's been a year or two since I've purchased a warped record. For instance, of the 10 or so albums I bought in December, only one had any problems (Neil Young Hitchhiker), and that was just a bit of distortion in a couple of spots on the last track. Other than that, everything's been flat, quiet, and generally great sounding. Seems like the pressing plants have finally gotten their acts together.

    (Knock wood.)
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  2. Ben Adams

    Ben Adams Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    It's definitely been much better the last year or so, at least for what I've purchased.
    rischa likes this.
  3. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Knock on wood I’ve never purchased a messed up (new) record. I have noticed the remastered ones I’ve bought are dynamic as heck and silent. Just listened to Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut remaster and “WOW” the sound quality (especially the bass) was outstanding. Having fun:)
    SirMarc likes this.
  4. TheIncredibleHoke

    TheIncredibleHoke Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    I've only had one LP in the last three years that has had noticeable issues. It was Margaret Glaspy's Emotions and Math. There was nothing audible about it, but I noticed it was kind of warped to make the needle ride up and down. The needle tracked like a champ and there were no audible issues, but still noticed the warping.
    SandAndGlass and rischa like this.
  5. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    I've noticed this also but I've also become a lot more selective about new vinyl I will purchase. If it doesn't get a good review on this site, I won't buy it. But I think issues like non-fill and off-center pressings is improving.
  6. rischa

    rischa Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Madison, WI
    The vinyl gods have been on your side! During the early years of the resurgence, I pretty much expected every record to be warped, have non-fill, be off-center, or all of the above. On the rare occasion that a pressing was flawless, I'd be totally shocked. Fortunately this doesn't seem to be the case any more. Glad I didn't give up on vinyl.
    russk, SirMarc and Manimal like this.
  7. I had a warped Sgt. Pepper’s, but only enough to need a record clamp, not return. Also had a small warp on the most recent Foo Fighters. I don’t assume that it indicates a trend in any direction, just indicative of how vinyl has always been hit or miss. Thankfully, in my experience, mostly hit.
  8. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    Ha! Yes they have, but it may be a matter of numbers, I just don’t buy that many new records, my local shop carries a really clean used selection. I am stunned at the quality of remastered “new” albums, “wow”!
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  9. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    What reissues or new issues I get are mainly from the EU where quality control has been better. However even the US pressings I was forced to get in the last several years do seem better made including covers. Practice makes perfect. It should be remembered that 90% of the vinyl industry disappeared in the 90s and the experienced personnel retired or moved on. The Oughts were not starting from scratch but experienced plants and personnel were few and far between. It takes time to rebuild.
    Bananas&blow and Opeth like this.
  10. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    San Jose
    All of my bad purchases in the last half of the year have come from Optimal. Everyone else (EVEN GZ! :D) seems to have QC going well right now.
    richbdd01 likes this.
  11. Mr Bass

    Mr Bass Chevelle Ma Belle

    Mid Atlantic
    Well we are talking averages so there are always ups and downs. Since there are fewer plants a couple of poor workers can mess up a variety of new issues. However I can assure you that records in the 60s, 70s and 80s were far from perfect too. Return them if they are defective.
    Jrr likes this.
  12. I am hot and cold on this topic, and like anything the more you spend the better your chances... to a point. Now, the fact that Mofi pressings are $50+ in some cases is another topic, I think prices are too high.... but that is just a "whine"

    I have had MANY 180g pressings that came out of the package warped - badly- that I am not in 100% agreement. For instance, the Black Sabbath 180g blue vinyl release - first copy was a joke, horribly warped. I thought, OK, maybe it got left on a hot dock in Phx somewhere, so I returned and purchased another copy from an entirely different source - same exact problem!!! The third copy I opened at the store and ensure it was flat.

    Miles and Monk Columbia 180g recent release - bought from Fry's, badly bowed in the middle. Same thing, returned, bought from a small record store - same bow!!

    One of the new Monk Blue Note releases - badly warped. Same thing, second copy from a different source - same warp!!

    More examples.... and I am sure some will make the case I am not spending enough - but at $25 - $30 price range I disagree.

    Has it gotten better in the last year? Maybe... but I have had some real hot and cold experiences with newer pressings. And the fact they were the SAME issue on multiple albums says the QC is not good - they had to know if there was ANY checking as it was not just one record.

    In many of the cases, like the Sabbath above, reviews supported my findings / experience also. So I am not sold that it's better, I don't think I would run into so many problems if it were.
    Helom likes this.
  13. elvisizer

    elvisizer Forum Resident

    San Jose
    @Mr Bass Oh, I have . . . I just enjoy the humor of GZ's quality being higher than Optimal's right now.
    As you said, these things go up and down over time so I'm sure Optimal's averages will get back to normal soon.
  14. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Residue

    Buffalo, NY
    Agree. I’m getting more confident paying for new records.
  15. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    I love asking folks of the record generation, if they've ever got a warped record back in the day.

    Wanna know what everyone's response has been?

    Jrr, Radio and Opeth like this.
  16. Opeth

    Opeth Forum Resident

    don't let that turn you off from optimal, some of my sweetest records are from there. I get some warps from optimal once in a while but normally they are up there with the best IMO.
    everyone makes junk sometimes I guess. Even GZ and united have surprised me this year with improved quality. MPO which is usually solid had a lot of bad records this year.

    Funny all the vintage vinyl I have from late 60's to early 80's is all perfectly flat and centered. 99% of it easy.
    richbdd01 and Manimal like this.
  17. masterbucket

    masterbucket Forum Resident

    Georgia US
    I recently bought a new MFSL GD In the Dark and side one sounded like it had been pressed on a sanding block......
    I have found better stock at a flea market.
  18. I own 2000+ LP's - many from back in "the day" (I am 55), and many from even back in my Dad's day! The warped pressings I find from the late 50's or early 60's for example are few and far between... so point taken. Even the 70's with their thin vinyl, more focus on production and profit / volume.... warps are more a result of poor storage than production. I bought a lot of albums in the 70's and early 80's and warps were not common.

    Sure it happened, but I don't think today's QC is better.... not from my experience, I buy a lot of vinyl. It does seem when I buy the $50+ pressings, the chance go down. But that being said, I purcahsed a Mofi Bitches Brew a few weeks ago... warped out of the package.
    Tommyboy and Aftermath like this.
  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Off-center is still a big problem at certain plants, not to mention non-fill. I cut back my new vinyl purchases severely in the last year or two which means I get less defects. One guy I follow on IG always calls out off-center records because he buys a lot of new vinyl, much more than I do right now. I think many people would be surprised how many LPs are still being pressed off-center, not just Rainbo and URP pressings either.
    clhboa, Tommyboy and TheVinylAddict like this.
  20. As a whole the industry has improved QC standards. IMO part of it is due to new plants opening and the increased competition it creates.
  21. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Yikes, hopefully you get a nice flat replacement for that one.
  22. Tullman

    Tullman I prefer analog

    Boston MA
    Not to mention the new and improved record pressing machines.
    Aftermath, Manimal and Johnny Vinyl like this.
  23. TheVU

    TheVU Forum Resident

    I love records, and listen to primarily records.

    I used to buy anything on record, assuming it was better than its digital cousin. But over time I learned that not every record is the same.

    Now I'm more selective of the releases I purchase. Some artists have always put out amazing records, quality wise. Like Animal Collective. I've never had an issue with their records. I bought Avery Tare's newest record without batting an eye, and it's a wonderful pressing.

    I think it's about the whole process. Does the artist just drop off a cd to the lacquer cutter, and they're never seen again; or are they a part of the process the whole way.
  24. Satrus

    Satrus Forum Resident

    Cork, Ireland
    Not my recent experience, unfortunately. Brand new copies of John Coltrane ‘Giant Steps’ and Lucinda Williams ‘The Ghosts of Highway 20’ both scratched and just to add insult to injury the Lucinda album had very noticeable non-fill on Record 1. The Coltrane pressing was perfect apart from the physical damage which no doubt happened at the plant, Optimal in the case in point. MPO was the plant that pressed and shipped the Lucinda album sometime in 2016, I think.

    That was bad enough. My Neil Young RSD copy of ‘Harvest Moon’ pressed at Record Industry in the Netherlands was strewn with ‘blisters’ or ‘pimples’ for want of a better description, amongst the worst I have ever seen to be honest. Interesting that your one ‘clunker’ was also a Neil Young record. I seem to have a Neil Young jinx when it comes to buying records. Non-Fill is usually the problem but ‘pimples’ on vinyl records is new to me in the ‘modern’ vinyl era. I only saw it previously on a U.S. 1970s pressed Tom Rush Columbia record, petrol crisis era?

    In in the interests of being balanced, my copy of Van Morrison ‘Versatile’ (Optimal) is very good indeed as is my copy of Gillian Welch ‘The Harrow And the Harvest’ (QRP). I bought 5 used NM Japan LPs (from Japan Sellers) recently and all are perfect.

    Physical damage like scratches is down to careless handling while ‘non-fill’ I think speaks to inexperience on the part of press operators. At least, I cannot remember seeing this (non-fill) during the 70s and 80s? Off-Centre pressings are still around but the eccentricity is very minor in most cases and can be easily corrected, if it concerns you. I don’t knowingly buy GZ Vinyl, Rainbo or URP Vinyl.

    Before I finish, I must mention that I was both astounded and delighted at the same time to find that my recent purchase of Margot Price ‘All American Made’ was amongst the best pressed records I have bought in any era! It was flat, centered and dead quiet. Great to see that the Motor City is pressing quality vinyl records at Jack White’s new plant.
  25. Gaslight

    Gaslight Geitto Listener

    Northeast USA
    If I asked this question to my older friends and family, their response would likely be

    "I don't remember, it was thirty years ago!"

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