Discussion in 'Marketplace Discussions' started by TwiceFan, May 11, 2022.
Anyone want to weigh in on this?
Play grading can be tricky. For example, I sold an audiophile reissue here that I spot played and graded NM but when the buyer received it he claimed record had persistent noise on the left channel. I apologized for the oversight, had him send the record back and gave him a full refund. When I received the record back I played it in it's entirely and it was completely NM, zero audible issues what so ever. I do believe he had an issue on his setup but on mine, and for the second buyer, it played NM.
I bought a kind of expensive album on discogs that the seller noted a bit of surface noise for a few seconds on one track. When I got it there was significant surface noise throughout the record. He had graded it VG+ (even though he noted the issue on one track that should have automatically dropped it to VG, but he did note it so I was aware) and for me it played on the low end of the VG spectrum. I cleaned the record twice, checked / cleaned the stylus, played on two different systems and the issues were still there. When I respectfully sent him a message about the grading he was somewhat belligerent, basically disputing what I heard but after a few more messages back and forth he offered a reasonable adjustment. Upon reflection I wondered if perhaps he had a more high end setup that might have overcome the SN I was hearing with more moderately priced Otofon Super OM 10 and older Pickering carts?
But then I bought several Blue Note classic and 75th series albums here recently. The seller noted any and all issues for each, some brief non-fill with one, a couple of pops on another, some slight / brief SN in the quiet part of another. He put them at VG++ and sold them at a very reasonable price, (averaged out to about $11 a record with shipping). When I played each they were more like NM. I never heard the brief non-fill. The couple of pops on another were so faint had I not been intently listening for something I never would have even noticed, and the SN on the other was almost all between one track and the other, and gone within seconds of the start of the quiet passage. So again, could it have been the difference between his equipment and mine. Perhaps he was just being overly cautious, or perhaps his set up pulled out more details than my system is able to, thus those imperfections are masked?
It makes me wonder if perhaps sellers shouldn't play grade on their audiophile level equipment. Not to say that they should be using bottom of the line carts, but something more consumer level so that they get a perspective that the average record collector would experience. The 2M Red a nice cart. If the difference between his Hana and that is that much it is a misleading play grade. Most of us don't have $2,500 carts.
It’s not worth the time to argue with sellers online. Pay with paypal when buying used records always, and if there’s an issue, tell them you want to return it because it’s miss-graded. Most of the time they’ll take it back no problem and send you a refund. Usually I’ll leave positive or neutral feedback here, but I will point out the record was missgraded in my feedback. If they make things difficult, just open a paypal dispute. They’ll come around and let you return it. I used to bicker with sellers like this but it’s a waste of time and only leads to 2 angry parties who don’t want to be reasonable with eachother. I can count the number of times on 1 hand I’ve left negative review, and they’ve all been after the seller is being ridiculous about returning an item, lying that I switched the record etc. Had one guy curse me out and say he refused to refund the money even though I had already sent back the record which skipped because I “must have switched the disk”. Took a few weeks and finally Paypal told him to send me the money. I did and left negative feedback. Had he just been reasonable and accepted he made a mistake, it would have been much easier and he would have gotten positive feedback.
I totally agree and understand. Sometimes it takes everything I have to not go tear them a new one with bad feedback. Especially if it was a high dollar order or it’s the second time with the same seller. Close to half the used “VG+” records I buy online get cleaned, played for 20 seconds, and boxed back up and sent back. Overgrading is so extremely common that you’re right. It’s not just an honest mistake time and time again. Some sellers just hope that the buyer doesn’t notice or care. I’ve gotten extremely tired of it, and picky with this stuff, that if even a $15 record is missgraded, I’m sending it back. I recommend doing this. Just accepting that you got ripped off is what enables the crappy sellers. I’m guilty of it too, because sometimes I just can’t be bothered to pay for media mail and then drive to the post office to get what ends up being $9 back after postage etc.
Discogs removes feedback if they see you threaten them unless they do something right (which involves money). In fact, it's very easy to get feedback removed. I would personally go the 'less is more' approach if I have an issue. No seller wants an encyclopedia of definitions thrown at them. Decent sellers will accept they screwed up. Either they admit it and care or argue and not care.
Usually, my motto is "give the seller the chance to put it right".
Even if you know it's probably something or other, just let them have the opportunity. Then go from there if it still hasn't worked out.
Thanks. Now, I need a new keyboard.
Excuse my ignorance but I don't follow?
It's a bad cart. I owned it. It sucked; the Blue is a different story. The person you wrote the Red is good to had it and just had a ton of IGD with it as well. I suggested he upgrade to the Blue and now not only does he not struggle with IGD everywhere but also enjoys an undeniably superior sound in every capacity.
I steer people away from the Red. It's just a terrible cart that I've never heard in a positive context.
Thanks for the heads up. I don't have a Red but have the Super OM 10 which I've been happy with. My point in the post was more along the lines of, sellers shouldn't play grade using carts that are $1,000 + because they may well get a much better result than the average buyer using a more modestly priced cart. I would think most record buyers are using carts in the $75-$250 range, and the Red falls into that category. If a seller does they can expect to get complains of over grading. And I would say those complaints would be justified.
I had a recent one where seller just didn’t respond when I sent my initial impressions, and told them I would give it a clean and a second try, but if there was no improvement I wasn’t satisfied with the NM grade. No response. Several days later after second play through I informed them I wasn’t satisfied and asked where to send a return, and they sent me the address and said would refund upon receipt. Simple enough. Think from now on I’ll avoid any description and just say “hey I appreciate it but I’m not satisfied and would like to return this item, where should I send it?” and see how it goes.
That depends on what is being judged.
If we're talking about IGD, a better cart will track the record much better and will either exhibit little or even no IGD whatsoever.
If you're referring to tics/pops, higher-end carts use finer stylus which allows for more detail retrieval and therefore is far more accurate to determine the grading of a record. In the event the buyer uses an elliptical stylus which are very forgiving by sacrificing detail, a VG+ might end up sounding NM. However, if a record is graded as NM using an elliptical stylus and I play it on my 2K cart, my result will very likely be much poorer performance and the record likely could end up sounding VG+ or even VG.
Alongside the fact that most records are merely visually graded (and not even with the right tools to do so, either), play-grades are typically done with average to below average equipment which won't be as revealing as audiophiles who sank more money into their gear and therefore have more revealing gear.
That is why there is such stress in buying online.
Sure, there are sellers who grade visually (and poorly) but even those who play-grade typically don't do so on gear that would expose flaws so even after a play-grade, my chances of getting a NM record are 50/50. I play-grade every record I sell so I can accurately describe it with confidence and know what it is precisely that I'm selling. However, I'm just one person selling a few records here and there. A business or someone who decides to sell hundreds or thousands of records won't realistically have the time to do so.
I'm unsure about that. If I sell a NM record that I know plays perfectly and the buyer happens to use a Red and complains about IGD, that would be very upsetting to me because I *know* it's the seller's gear that sucks - not the record which was accurately described.
Unfortunately, a lot of people get very defensive when the quality of their gear is questioned. Thankfully, @TwiceFan was not and understood the logic and experience I was presenting to him. To his credit, he got himself a far better cart and now doesn't suffer from the same issues he once had. But it'd be unrealistic to assume most buyers would be receptive to the idea that they'd need to upgrade their gear to hear the record's audio properly.
In short, "it depends."
I'm also thinking that if a seller is play grading on a ML or similar stylus and the buyer is using an elliptical the SN can be much more evident with the lower end elliptical as opposed to the more detailed higher in with the ML stylus, given the ML is going beyond the wear and tear of previous owners to the more virgin territory below it. (I'm more asking then telling, feedback appreciated)
An elliptical will read the side walls more whereas the finer stylus will read more of the groove, hence why it reveals so much. If there's damage below the point where an elliptical stylus can read, it won't pick it up due to its limitations but a ML would.
So no, it doesn't depend. MLs are far superior but also cost so much more. Not everyone is willing to sink that much money into it. I don't drive a Ferrari but still want to get around so I have use the spherical version, car-wise. And I'm OK with that even though it's clearly limited in many ways compared to more powerful better performing car. But it also depends what the goal is; active listening or background music? If it's the latter, would I be inclined to spend as much? I can only speak for myself but that's a "no chance" response from me.
Essentially, if I grade something on my higher-end cart, I can vouch for how it'll sound but only if a good enough tracker that has been properly calibrated is being used. There are limitations to lower-end gear that might introduce some issues, such as IGD. And even high-end gear can have issues as well with IGD if they're not calibrated properly anyway. In such cases, the seller or record isn't at fault.
Just to be clear, inner groove distortion wasn't the problem with the LP that started this thread. It was unbearable surface noise with loud pops scattered throughout. There was also pronounced groove wear presumably because it was played many times with a worn stylus. These issues would have been obvious no matter what kind of cartridge was used to audition it. The record was completely trashed.
And also to reiterate, the seller was cool (and I regret being a little nasty to him.) He said he sent me the wrong copy and has dispatched what he says is the correct "VG++" copy. He also said nothing about returning the first one so I guess he does not expect me to do so.
I'm thinking more along the lines of groove damage. It's my understanding that if an elliptical stylus was used with a record and for whatever reason groove damage occurred, playing the record with a micro line stylus, thus tracking further down in the groove wall would result in that groove damage not being audible because it wasn't reading that portion of the groove. Is this incorrect?
@Strat-Mangler may be able to speak to this with more authority but as I stated above, the groove damage on this record was so severe I find it hard to believe that a stylus profile that reaches deeper into the groove would have done much about it.
Could very well be, but there is a thread about the AT VM95ML and a lot of commenters there are noting albums that played with a lot of SN using elliptical stylus cleaned up drastically when they switched to the ML. I'm not disputing the extremely poor condition of the record you got, just wondering about transactions in general.
So what do you do in the event you disagree with the grade of a record you received and they respond “I only grade visually ”
I'd say that the visual grade wasn't reflective of how the record actually played. I'd like either a refund or price adjustment to reflect the actual condition of the record. And you could offer to send them an MP3 sample if they want.
It depends on so many factors that it's impossible to predict. Groove damage is groove damage, meaning you can't unscramble an egg. Groove damage on the walls will, in my experience, still be picked up by a ML stylus because it will also be reading the damaged portion of the groove anyway. There's no filtering that states it'll ignore the damaged portion of a groove. It quickly becomes a coin toss; how was it damage, to what extent, the damage is normally manifested how (IGD, surface noise, etc), and so on.
I do not have any groove damaged records in my collection nor would I ever be satisfied with any regardless of the price I obtained it for, rarity, or any other factor. All my records are NM, period. A record from the late 50s? I still want it only in NM condition and am ready to pay for it. No point in listening to distorted records; might as well queue a CD, at that point.
Again, it depends on so many factors that there are no hard & fast rules. For instance, some records are cut with wide grooves while others are cut with narrow grooves. The more narrow a groove, the high in it an elliptical would ride and the more undamaged/untouched section of a groove there would be. Ideally, a wide groove would be preferred but it is far from being the norm.
It sounds to me as if you're attempting to justify the possible future purchase of a better cart in the hopes it'd clean up a sizable portion of your collection. That isn't normally how it works so I wouldn't put faith into that and would instead suggest upgrading to a cart with a terrific reputation as a tracker that also features a sound signature you're looking for and then replacing any records which do not play in NM condition with ones which do.
I'm unfamiliar with the size of your collection or the amount of records which would need to be replaced but the bottom line is, from my POV, I have no time for records which are damaged or don't play nearly flawlessly. My dad taught me to do things once and do them right. Quality VS quantity. My collection is modest in size compared to a lot of members but in terms of worth, SQ, and pressing quality, I'd put it up there with most. All of my records with few exceptions are of the very best pressings for each album and in NM condition. This takes time and research, along with the patience to find records that are not priced unreasonably. My efforts have been rewarded time and time again as I am treated 100% of the time to a flawless listening experience whenever I queue up any of my records regardless of vintage.
While I understand most people couldn't be bothered to follow my process, the payoff, IMHO, is worth it. It amuses me whenever I have someone whose idea of records is the crackling/ticking/popping stuff that is shown in movies and on TV listen to my records. The first comment is always that it sounds so clean. The 2nd comment is they're astounded by the SQ. Having the best pressing is bringing your system to a much higher level.
When you listen to an album with your eyes closed in a dark room and you know from experience its sound will be the very best it's ever been presented, the immersion into the music is something else... and to me, that's what it's all about; losing myself into the music. It sucks that it isn't as simple as queuing up a tune on Spotify but (to me) it's worth it.
This will be a somewhat longish response.
Prior to buying a record on Discogs, I have a system in place.
1. Check the seller feedback, of course. But also read the context of the comments. Is there a pattern, here? One seller had a history of shipping records in pizza boxes which were greasy and not well packed, resulting in shipping damage. There are too many examples but it's important to check out *why* people leave negative or neutral feedback. On Amazon, lots of people put 1-star ratings because the post office didn't deliver it quick enough to their liking. A lot of feedback on Discogs is as useless so important to see whether the seller is being given these ratings unfairly, first.
2. Then I check the description of his records. One seller I recently looked into had the exact same description for every record; something along the lines of "Pristine. Stunning copy." Now, that tells me the seller is either lazy, trying to drum up business by overhyping his products, or that he's selling his personal copy that he (like me) would've acquired carefully over many years. However, referring to rule #1, in that particular case, his feedback entries commonly referred to inaccurate grading with records playing with lots of ticks/pops.
3. I ask the seller to confirm the specific matrices of the record. Oftentimes, the record is not properly categorized and should be listed as a different pressing altogether. I'd say easily 7/10 times, it's in the wrong place.
4. The records I buy are typically on the more expensive side so $10 records are a rarity for me. As a result, I ask sellers to regrade and play-grade if at all possible. A good portion of the time, sellers downgrade their records, sometimes to the point where they just delist them.
Assuming I get through all of these steps and I'm satisfied, I put in an order. The goal of going through all of this is to decrease as much as possible the chances of getting something I'm unsatisfied with. Due to human nature and the discrepancy between my high standards and those of sellers who typically only want to move product and are rather generous in their grading( especially overseas sellers who understand the shipping fees required to ship back a record will usually discourage most from doing so) can be frustrating but there's little that can be done in that regard. Receiving an unsatisfactory item is inevitable; it's the nature of the beast.
When that happens, a request for a full refund is the only way I go. I'm wholly uninterested in keeping records I won't play and I will never play a less than NM record. Back, it goes. If a record were $5 and I paid $30 in shipping, that would give me pause; however, a lot of my record-buying involves records which are $100 and above. As a result, stomaching high shipping fees is a little easier.
You may also be unaware of this but PayPal has a shipping fees refund program that can be used (I believe) 6x/year where they'll refund you up to $25 (I think) in shipping fees. That helps when I'm ordering something from Germany that isn't up to my standards.
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