After a marathon session of ultrasonically cleaning some of my vinyl treasures, I discovered that a few of them had what I'll call "skip-scratches" on various cuts. I have many more to clean (i.e. somewhere around 5 to 6 hundred, mostly original 60s & 70s LPs) and fully expect to encounter more bruised babies along the way, not all of which I'll probably replace with vinyl re-issues or re-pressings. Some of my all-time favorites, however, I definitely will want to replace, providing I can find good quality re-issues/re-pressings. I know there is much to learn about this, and I am just beginning to scratch the surface (no pun intended). For example, there are issues of so called "virgin vinyl", quality of the vinyl mix, thickness of vinyl, recording from original master tapes, if still in existence and in good condition, quality of the actual pressing process, etc., etc., etc.
So, I guess my question for you all who know much more about this than I, is where the best places are to buy the best quality vinyl re-issues or re-pressings. Local record shops are few and far between and most of them don't have much in the way of variety or stock in anything other than used records. I'm familiar with Discogs but, frankly, am reluctant to buy used records on-line because I don't entirely trust the purveyors' ratings and the endemic hassles of possible returns. Most of the re-issues/re-pressings I've purchased, thus far, have been from or through Music Direct. I've noticed that some of their offerings actually come from companies like: Island Records; Impex; RHINO and other sources.
So, what are some of your go-to, solid, reputable standbys?
Discogs is generally very trustworthy. Pick 99% or 100% vendors only. Most will simply refund and allow you keep a disk you are not happy with rather than run the risk of a negative review.
Take this with as many grains of sand you wish...I’m not a fan of re-issues. They rarely sound as good as the originals to my ears - often with a subtle grey veil of digital hash. Seek out used NM versions of the originals if possible.
I went through a similar process in 2006, when used vinyl was far cheaper than it is today. If you are talking classic rock, one of the best sources for info on better sounding pressings is the Hoffman forum- but you have to dig- many will be older postings, by members who have done the comparisons. While dead wax alone is not altogether determinative (the inscriptions on the play out space after the last groove of music), it is instructive.
In terms of sources, I used Discogs a lot simply b/c what I've been buying in the last decade or more is not something you'd find at a local store- early heavy rock from the UK; so-called spiritual jazz (typically US pressings in the '70s during a low point in vinyl manufacture).
Jazz- Tone Poets and Ume/Verve series are good and relatively cheap. One of my favs on Tone Poet is Katanga! which is currently out of print but hopefully, for those who don't have it, they will do another run.
I developed a taste for oddball stuff- thus, Abdul Wadid's By Myself was reissued (with some help from a DSD copy of the tape) and reissued for 30 bucks. An OG costs 4 figures, so there really isn't much choice, unless you have unlimited funds.
EIL was a go to for me for a while- they aren't cheap but grade conservatively. Good source for English rock from the Island pink label era.
If you are buying used, from a platform like Discogs, enter into a dialog with the seller -- their response will give you better insight into how careful they are on grading and minimize grief. I've had very few sour transactions that way.
I posted about Woody Shaw's Blackstone Legacy here a week or so ago- not "rare" but hard to find a clean copy- took me a few years. And now, even more expensive. Craft is reissuing, allegedly from the tape, cut by K. Gray and it isn't expensive.
In some cases, the reissue or a later issue may make sense only because the desirable copies are now so expensive. When I was buying up Dark Sides, A3/B3s were commonly 50 bucks a pop for M-. I'm sure they are 5X that now.
Do your due diligence both in terms of sonics of particular pressing and the seller.
What is your system? There is a place to put photos. Very helpful. What turntable?
I started collecting in the 60’s as well and continued through present. I was shocked that when cleaned and with an audiophile turntable most of my early albums sounded spectacular… maybe one in a hundred with a skip on them. I attribute their spectacular sound to my stylist going much deeper into the grooves than my Sears portable and cheap junk Garrard at college.
I buy from a local used record store where I can carefully examine the record and typically after clearing they are flawless. Also, for classics I was shocked over the last twenty years how audiophile pressings have come out on my very favorite albums of the time. Music Direct is my normal place to buy those. But read reviews… not all audiophile pressing sound great. Some are terrible… 10% - 15% maybe.
I have not had great luck with Amazon and misc used through the mail suppliers.
Acoustic Sounds and Analog Productions are two of the best. I also use Elusive Disc. There are many online record stores and they all sell the same records. Acoustic Sounds and Analog Productions are one and the same. Music Direct and MoFi are one and the same.
I always take the path of least resistance and go first to Amazon. If something I am interested in is available on LP or CD, I scan down and look at the production information. You can always see who is doing the issue. It is remastered? Is it produced by the original issuer or under license to a known entity like Rhino. Amazon has so much to offer both in new and used. I have been buying more used than new lately and have never had an issue. Plus, I have the power of Amazon's no question return policy should an issue ever arise. Free delivery in most cases. As I said, path of least resistance.
I second analog productions and reading about pressings on the Hoffman forums. Rhino also has some good releases. Look for mastering engineers such as Kevin Gray, Chris Bellman, Bernie Grundman, and Ryan K Smith. I think some of the quality AAA repressings can beat the originals (but not all of them).
Also, there are a number of YouTube channels dedicated to discussing quality pressings. Some include University of Vinyl, Steve Westman, 45 RPM Audiophile, The Pressing Matters.
I've bought nearly 1000 records on Discogs in the past 4-5 years and have had less than 10 that didn't meet expectations, a few approached $1000. Two were fully refunded, a few more were partial refunds we both agreed to. The others were not worth worrying about. As mentioned above, I require at least a 99% rating and that must in most circumstances be based on at least 1000 reviews. (I occasionally make exceptions for rare records) Discogs is very reliable if you use a little common sense.
Before purchasing new albums, consider a trial of cleaning a few using Perfect Vinyl Forever. I’ve used a top tier US-based cleaner, and found that Perfect Vinyl’s two step process renders an even better sound. However, they’re costly but can address some types of damaged albums. Of course, purchasing reissues also offers enhanced recording quality from remixing.
Any Speakers Corner pressing , the only all analog reissue pressing and fantastic quality .
I was buying most of my albums from Japan before the shipping rates increased beyond my limit but you might find your favorite pressing ther , facerecords on E-Bay has great quiality and you can bid so the album can be inexpensive , now I use mostly Discogs . If you want to purchase NEW remastered or re-issues then I suggest using a local record shop making returns much easier ( surface noise not flat ) .
One of the reasons I asked about your equipment was because I have found there is a level of turntable that radically drops the surface noise and tracks very much better… kind of the audiophile threshold.
@ghdprentice Thanks! I'm certain the MoFi Ultradeck+M has a lot to do with the fidelity I'm getting from my vinyl now. It's only the second TT I've ever owned. My previous TT was a Phillips 212 Electronic. Yes! I'm that old! That Phillips was a real trouper, from when I bought it, new, in 1973 to when I replaced it around 5 or 6 years ago!
I had a Phillips 212 in the mid 70’s. I don’t know where it got a reputation for being a good turntable. It was so bad compared to all my future turntables. I’m older than that.
My first turntable was inside a beautiful, dark, hard wood tubed counsel built in the 1950’s… you know the one you had to tape a nickel to the top of the tone arm to make it not skip. The radio sounded sweet though.
I have had good luck with ebay. Its true that some of the listings grade items as NM when they should be lower, but then I contact the seller. Sometimes the seller offers a partial refund and soometimes a full refund. One seller refused to cooperate and ebay said I could just keep it and they would deal with the seller. I tried to get an album thru Discogs but they would not accept my credit card so i had to contact the seller and cancel the purchase, so I no longer buy from Discogs.
@mijostyn I fully agree with your comment re returns to Amazon. I would say 25% of the vinyl purchased has gone back. However, that speaks to the problems with LP's and to the beauty of Amazon's return policy. I recently bought a Lee Morgan LP issued by Blue Note under their Tone Poet Series. The first copy had a couple of bad pops that Ultrasonic cleaning would not remove. It went back. The second copy was just as bad. It went back. The third copy was a keeper. Again, this speaks to the problems inherent with vinyl, and why Amazon remains my first option as I know there are going to be returns. Cheers.
I can't honestly say this was MY first TT because my parents bought it in the 50s when I was just a little shaver. Outside of one of those portable record players one of my aunt's had, this Grundig is what I started listening to records on (mostly 45s). I think its vertical tracking force was somewhere around half a pound.
Yes, Amazons packaging can be really bad. My return rate is probably over 25%… with Music Direct I returned one about five years ago… so, like 1 or 2 percent. Their packaging is made for vinyl and they will slit the plastic to prevent warping in hot weather if you want.
@ghdprenticeThey must do something different is the US as my complaint in Canada is the ridiculous waste in over packaging. First, they put the LP in a special cardboard enclosure, made specifically for LPs and that should be sufficient to protect the package in most cases. Hey, stuff happens. But then they take this prepackaged LP and put it in a box, often with some bubble wrap. I have never had an LP from Amazon arrive damaged. But I still have a high return rate due to Vinyl quality that is unacceptable at today prices. I can't see that changing no matter where the LP is shipped from. But I can see the returns being a bigger problem. To be clear, I am not a shill for Amazon. They just work for me. Cheers.
I have been buying primarily through eBay for a couple of decades now. Maybe 90%. My 2nd source is discogs. I rarely buy at a brick and mortar store: the selections are far too limited.
I look for NM pressings from close to the release date.
I find that they are superior to reissues/remastered reissues 95% of the time.
I suspect the reasons are:
- master tapes degrade over time, so someone promoting an LP as “remastered from the master tapes” is hoping you will be bamboozled by the word “master”.
- add to this problem, some remastering is done digitally. ADA is inferior to AAA, and the difference can be heard. For example, I stopped buying MFSL pressings at a certain point because they somehow were no longer sounding as good as my old somewhat worn pressings. I then later learned - as did everyone else - about how they introduced a digital step into their process without making that clear to everyone.
back to your opening statement, you’ve gone through a marathon session of cleaning. I too have about 500 more to clean. I got fed up around the 15th album.
The process of allowing them to ir dry takes a tone of stand up space and time. I don’t have a demagnetizer so ambient dust started collecting on newly cleaned albums. I knew because soon as I thought they were dry I put them back in sleeves and album covers. Few days later when I went to play them I used a felt brush and sure enough wherever I lift the brush there a line of dust. Also, after playing A and B side of an album my Shure V15 with the little dust sweeper was clogged with dust.
Check out Sweet Vinyl.....they make a noise suppressor (aka tick and pop remover) that really works....even if you can't remove the last traces of dust/gunk, etc their noise filtering system works marvels and makes old noisy records sound like new. Just go on their website and read the accolades. I've bought mine when they first came out and several of my vinyl friends followed suit and were amazed how flawlessly it works
jackster, In my experience felt causes static electric charge buldup on vinyl. So I would not use a felt brush or pad to keep dust away. Also, to ameliorate the static charge, you do not want a demagnetizer. You want a positive ion generator, as the charge on an LP is negative, and positive ions sprayed toward the LP surface will neutralize the net charge. Zerostat actually works. So do other more expensive devices that do the same thing. Magnetism and static electricity are two different phenomena, even though both result in an attractive or repulsive force between two objects.
@jackskyI don't have the scientific acumen lewn has brought to your dust dilemma. However, just instinctively, brushing records with felt does seem like it would cause static electricity and attract dust like nobody's business. Another reason why I would never use a felt TT platter mat.
FWIW, when I go through my ultrasonic cleaning process, I only do about 15 records at a time. That's, easily, an entire afternoon's worth of work, and then some, because of the labor-intensive process I use. I've tried a few approaches to keeping as much ambient dust off the records as they air dry (e.g. putting large high-quality microfiber cloths over them in the drying stand). Alternatively, I've toyed with the idea of obtaining a large rigid cover to put over them, instead, something like a humongous TT dust cover that I could find at a Michael's arts & crafts store or something along those line. Of course, a cover like this would need to be shimmed at the bottom in order to allow for some air circulation. Otherwise, drying would take a very long time.
I just accept the fact that there is always going to be some amount of dust in the air and always play my records with the dust cover down. Also, I always use my Audioquest Anti-Static Record Brush and Onzow stylus cleaner before & after every play, Mobile Fidelity LP#9 after every listening session and keep my records in Mobile Fidelity inner sleeves. Until I can afford a man cave with clean room protocols, that's the best I can do.
@bigtwin: The Amazon packing you are seeing in Canada (a thin cardboard mailing sleeve inside a 4" thick carton filled with bubble wrap) is the same I have been seeing for quite some time here in the US.
That's certainly preferable to the mailing envelope they were using a few years back, but I'm still seeing damage in another way: While the double-boxing guards against shipping damage, what I'm regularly receiving are LP covers which have been bent/creased, a result of pulling them from the storage racks in the Amazon LP warehouse by the corner of the cover, rather the center. Duh.
I return, like others, maybe about 25% of my LP's for new copies. Most of the second copies arrive undamaged, but I've had two titles where the second copy is damaged in exactly the same manner as the first. Double duh.
Analogue Productions/Acoustic Sounds, on the other hand, packs with extreme care. Elusive Disc is real good too. Almost all Discogs and ebay sellers ship LP's in those pathetic thin cardboard mailing sleeves, which do little to protect the corners of the LP covers.
Just a different perspective on Zerostat. I have owned several over the decades… especially when I used to live in Tucson and static was a really big problem. They have never done a bit of good. I desperately wanted them to, I bought the newest… patiently took my time squeezing the stupid lever… and they never did a thing… zippo. I asked my dealer friend who has been a dealer for over 20 years… he has had the same experience.
I prefer discogs to eBay for the simple reason that you can select the exact pressing you desire. Santa Monica pressings apparently bypassed the inferior vinyl issue of the 70's. I did use eBay for several years, but no longer. Another caveat is to select a seller with a stellar track record and only choose NM or higher. On the rare occasion where the vinyl isn't to standard, most sellers are eager to please and are incentivized to make the transaction a positive one.
Regarding static on records, as per Neil Antin, I've been using a Ronxs lighter held above the rotating vinyl and tiger cloth instead of a brush-a huge improvement.
I think most of the vinyl lovers tend to like original music sound WITH a little distorted sound by record playing and some noise also by record playing. CD playing is much better in terms of high fidelity of original music sound.
Both theoretically and practically, any vinyl playing can not be better than that of CD playing unless mediocre CD system is used.
I do play many vinyl records but, only because I do not have CD versions of the vinyl records. I just like to listen music itself from best formats (CD is much better format than vinyl). If you like to enjoy turntable's turning look while listening, then I don't have any argument. But, I would like to say you are not genuine music lover!
In theory there's no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is.
-- The Philosopher Berra.
Until you hear the Nagra turntable, you do not know what vinyl playback is capable of. What I used to think was the sound of residual dirt in the groove after record cleaning turns out to be residual noise from vinyl playback which the Nagra turntable eliminates.
Irvington Music in Portland Oregon has a vast collection of used classical records. All graded.
Better Records sells vy expensive rock records. He listens to many copies of the same record to find the few that sound really great. It's enormously time consuming because he has to listen in real time and that's what you're paying for: his time so you don't waste your time. A few jazz and classical but mainly rock.
I buy a lot from Discogs. I sort for price and condition. Then I look at seller ratings. Unless you can actually look at the media before purchasing, you’re taking a chance one way or another. I don’t expect 100% accurate, occasionally you may get a lemon. But for the ease, vast choices, ratings, there’s no comparison.
@ghdprentice: I started using the Zerostat when it first came on the market. It was somewhat effective, but required one to squeeze and release the trigger v...e...r...y s...l...o...w...l...y. A real pita to use.
When the Nagaoka Kilavolt No.103 was introduced I got myself one, and was pleasantly surprised by how much better it was. But it is unfortunately no longer in production.
I now use the even better Furutech DeStat III. It is not cheap (typically selling for $310-$330), but after keeping an eye out for one on ebay, I snagged one new-in-the-box for $199. Highly recommended!
Yeah, demagnetizers have different directions….squeeze trigger and slowly approach the vinyl careful not to make sudden movements…hover and slowly withdraw….. test by holding it next to your arm to see if the hair rises.
If only you could do something like with a car battery where you put a penny near the negative terminal so the penny attracts corrosion instead of the battery post.
on a side note, with 500+ albums how do YOU sort?
my collection is 70% 60’s/70’s/80’s rock, then some jazz, mostly modern and progressive. So I sort kinda alphabetically…. Blind Faith goes together with Dave Mason, Steve Winwood, Traffic, Spencer Davis Group.
Or Al Dimeola goes together with Chick Korea and Stanley Clarke.
This system makes sense for me but with some artists the side collaboration tentacles just go all over the place.
Sorting vinyl? Reminds me of Nick Hornby's book High Fidelity (definitely read the book, not watch the movie), in which the main character's life revolves (!) as it were, about his efforts to find the best way of arranging all his vinyl albums.
My Zerostat works great. To determine the static charge of a record hang a piece of toilet paper down off of something close to your turntable. Static charge is easily seen when the paper is attracted to the album. Sometimes it practically glues itself to the paper. I do four squeezes and the static is gone. Then I place the album on the TT and use a high powered wired blower to blow off any dust. Any brushing even with those "antistatic brushes" adds static.
Ketchup, you may be correct about zerostat emitting both pos and negative ions, which is a subject I didn’t address, but what counts is neutralizing the negative charge on the vinyl surface. Which was my only point.
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