What is meant by IMPORT?

Besides the obvious what is meant by a record being an IMPORT?

are they better, worse, what guidelines should be used when buying?

Thank you
For LP's? any record not pressed in the United States.
Pressings from UK, Holland, Germany are USUALLY better masterings or pressings over those in U.S., for certain types of music and certain artists. usually rock/pop. BUT if the mastering tape originated here in the US sometimes US pressings are better in some ways. Japaneses imports are better in some ways, like quality of vinyl, quietness and lack of surface noise but worse in other ways, sound 'flat' lack of 'space' or have a hard 'etched' sound.

For Compact Discs I couldn't tell you anything...
the 'import' sticker itself is the 'only' thing for certain about any given release, that is indeed an import. as to the quality of the pressing or superior sound...its a crapshoot.
In the case of Classical digital discs, I have found that quality goes with label, and it just happens that the best labels are European.
In the USA the large scale manufacture and release of compact discs is performed by huge distributors like Universal, BMG and Sony. Same title releases made anywhere else in the world independent of these distribution agreements are imports. Likewise those never released for USA distribution are imports too.
well i guess so everyone knows why i ask.

i saw two steely dan AJA's records one was an import and one wasnt and someone told me the import sounded better, how can one know which companies to stay away from?

thx for the feedback so far.

If it's a RECORD LP then the import will probably not be better than the ORIGINAL U.S. pressing.
The only import pressing of a Dan record I found to be better was the German pressing of Royal Scam as the U.S. pressings all sucked (from noisy vinyl).
If you can afford it, buy both and A/B 'em for yourself.. it's a good test of listening ability and fun too.
I've done that with alot of records, had 3 or 4 different imports of some of my favorite records attempting to find the best sounding.
>>Royal Scam as the U.S. pressings all sucked<<

Nope, that's wrong.

Both of my original ABC yellow label pressings are dead quiet.

Listening is important. Some import pressings have been better than US pressings, and some have been worse. I find Xiekitchen's statement that vinyl quality has a lot to do with how good an LP sounds to be true more often than not. Island Records UK has pressed many excellent LP's that outshine their US counterparts, to cite one example. Whether you want to pay a premium for that is always your own choice (what is the price of better sound?)--Mrmitch
Well, you must have had better ones than me.. I think I had two U.S. pressings of Royal Scam and both suffered from noisy/distortion sounds like bad vinyl or vinyl with 'dirt' pressed into it... I had a 'shootout' of sorts with a german import, uk import and the said u.s. pressings. German Import won.
BUT.. I don't have a 10K table with a Triplanar arm (sure wish I did) and a Loricraft cleaner.
For all:
I recently picked up two very clean import pressings of two of my favorite records thinking/hoping they would be better.. when they were not.
1st was a UK import pressing of Weather Report's "Heavy Weather" now I used to have the orig. U.S. pressing bought as a teen back in 1977 but that one is long gone (and worn out by cheap shure carts) I have now the U.S. Columbia Half-Speed "audiophile" pressing of Heavy Weather, but have always thought it was a bit 'tipped up' in response and timbre. Alas, the UK pressing is good, but the 1/2 spd. still has better depth and space microdetails...Wayne Shorter's sax on some cuts I think is more accurate tone-wise on the UK pressing.
the other record is Jean Luc Ponty's "Imaginary Voyage" again used to have orig U.S. atlantic bought same year but again long gone worn out... Now I have a Japanese pressing of "Imaginary Voyage"... I just bought a German import pressing, and in a shoot out.. the German is NOT as good as the Japanese... I would have thought it would be the other way around.. German import must be using 2nd gen. tape as the sound is a little more 'processed' and somewhat lacking in immediacy esp. in the highs.
Oh well... I'll stick to the ones I had.
But it is fun to compare pressings...
There is much variation among pressings.

I'll give you 2 examples. I have original pressings of "Eagles" and "Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory". Both records were purchased new and on release.

Both suffer from higher than average surface noise despite carefully handling, many cleanings, and of course they've been played on properly aligned equipment.

The surfaces look perfect but the damn records are just plain noisy.

Go figure.
One u.s. pressing that I think is exceptional is the 1st Eagles album on asylum, which I had. Great sound! That copy is really beat up now, bought it when I was 16. Got alot of play on my Garrard/shure outfit.
I have had several copies of "Shootout" and now have a 1st issue U.K. Island pressing, which has been the best so far.I love the song "Evening Blue"!
"The surface looks perfect but..noisy"
Yep, know all about it!