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What does everyone use for cleaning records? There seem to be many options ranging from a cloth and some liquid to super expensive fully automated kits. Would something like this work well? 

 

Also, is it a good idea to clean new records? Does it make them more resistant to static?

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2 hours ago, Sane said:

What does everyone use for cleaning records? There seem to be many options ranging from a cloth and some liquid to super expensive fully automated kits. Would something like this work well? 

 

Also, is it a good idea to clean new records? Does it make them more resistant to static?


Looks like a more modern trendier take on the Disco Anti-stat, if so it does the job very well and is essential if you buy a lot of second hand records. Use a mixer of: 

 

1/5 isopropyl alcohol

4/5 distilled water

Few of drops of a surfactant like Triton

 

Have many records which I picked up which were drowning in surface noise be completely brought back to life using that mixture in the anti-stat cleaner. 

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On 29/09/2021 at 14:40, Sane said:

What does everyone use for cleaning records? There seem to be many options ranging from a cloth and some liquid to super expensive fully automated kits. Would something like this work well? 

 

Also, is it a good idea to clean new records? Does it make them more resistant to static?

 

I'm sure some people will throw their hands up in horror, but I just tend to dunk the dirty ones in the sink and clean with a micro fibre cloth and washing up liquid. Always come out sounding much better than when they went in.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just bought my first new vinyl album for many years. Relatively recent release (last few months). It's pretty warped. Nothing to distort the sound as far as I can tell but the arm is on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Is this rare or fairly common? For some reason I was expecting better quality than 30 years ago but if anything its worse. Maybe just bad luck? 

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1 hour ago, MagicalDrop said:

I just bought my first new vinyl album for many years. Relatively recent release (last few months). It's pretty warped. Nothing to distort the sound as far as I can tell but the arm is on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Is this rare or fairly common? For some reason I was expecting better quality than 30 years ago but if anything its worse. Maybe just bad luck? 

 

My quality control got better once I ditched my Rega RP3 with its glass platter and went for the Technics. I swear the glass platter was the problem, a lot of warped records I had aren't really that bad on the Technics

 

I'd say look up your title on Discogs and see if others report the same thing. If they don't get it swapped. If they do, a refund would probably be better if you can't live with it. 

 

Vinyl isn't perfect of course, but large scale warps and off centre pressings should be thrown back

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Thanks - can't see any comments on Discogs, audio is fine and return by mail is a bit of a hassle so I'll live with it. I've several hundred albums stored in a damp garage over a few decades and none of them are like this. Hopefully the next few on order will restore the faith. 

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I usually check on discogs before buying to get an idea. If there's big issues people will usually mention it there. Unfortunately there's a lot of labels with poor quality control so it pays to not buy stuff completely blind. Also beware cheap releases of older music from unknown labels, you can buy Miles Davis' Kind of blue for a tenner on amazon but there's a good chance the sound quality will be mediocre and/or there will be problems with warped or otherwise damaged vinyl.

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4 hours ago, Sane said:

I usually check on discogs before buying to get an idea. If there's big issues people will usually mention it there. Unfortunately there's a lot of labels with poor quality control so it pays to not buy stuff completely blind. Also beware cheap releases of older music from unknown labels, you can buy Miles Davis' Kind of blue for a tenner on amazon but there's a good chance the sound quality will be mediocre and/or there will be problems with warped or otherwise damaged vinyl.

I don't think cost is a reliable indicator of quality. Kind of Blue is cheap because it's out of copyright. 

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I don't think that's entirely true. Kind of Blue and lots of the Blue Note catalogue from that era could be argued is sort of out of copyright in Europe, but I think I read once that is disputed and it's actually 2054 when it becomes public domain. In any case it's definitely not OK in America and it's illegal to import those copies, but it's not really enforced. The vast majority of these issues seem to be done by a company called DOL who are just a dreadful pressing plant in Russia, knocking out flimsy bootleg copies of popular albums from CD rips, low bit rate downloads or straight from vinyl recordings. They're legally dubious and sound appalling. I bought a few as a skint student from Fopp and they've all been moved on – they're copies to say you own a copy, not to listen to in my opinion.

 

Owning that catalogue is tricky as ideally you want original pressings but they're hundreds now. Second best is the 70s Japanese reissues, then Music on Vinyl then after that it's a lottery.

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38 minutes ago, Art Vandelay said:

Owning that catalogue is tricky as ideally you want original pressings but they're hundreds now. Second best is the 70s Japanese reissues, then Music on Vinyl then after that it's a lottery.

 

I think modern reissues on the original labels are perfectly fine. I'm happy with Sony/Colombia's Miles re-releases; the Blue Note Classic and Tone Poet series, the Coltrane re-releases on Impulse and the Coltrane Rhino/Atlantic re-releases for instance.

 

You can get a modern Columbia re-release of Kind of Blue for £15.

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I'm not sure there actually are any pressing plants in Russia, are there? IIRC DOL are sort of a sister label to the older and equally awful/legally dubious Vinyl Lovers and Lilith. All of them specialise in pressing up whatever they think they can get away with from CD sources, pressed up as cheaply as possible - usually at GZ in the Czech Republic.

 

The current Blue Note pressings done by Kevin Gray have had various problems (tape/mastering issues and being affected more than most by current horrendous quality control that makes every purchase a massive roll of the dice) but if you get a good one they're excellent and a godsend for us in the UK who've been starved of decent issues of the Blue Note catalogue basically forever. The old Japanese Kings are definitely the next best option but have always been a pain to get hold of here with import duty etc. and have become much more expensive than they were.

 

Speaking of those, anyone who waves away QC complaints with stuff like 'vinyl is an imperfect medium so we can't demand better' should buy some of those old Japanese pressings. I've never seen a single one that wasn't perfectly flat, perfectly centred and completely free of non-fill. Quality vinyl manufacturing was a solved problem for them decades ago.

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4 minutes ago, Rsdio said:

Speaking of those, anyone who waves away QC complaints with stuff like 'vinyl is an imperfect medium so we can't demand better' should buy some of those old Japanese pressings. I've never seen a single one that wasn't perfectly flat, perfectly centred and completely free of non-fill. Quality vinyl manufacturing was a solved problem for them decades ago.

 

That was decades ago though, as you mention.

 

Vinyl today is a different ball-game. For the few pressing plants that are left, demand is high enough that they're running over capacity, but not high enough for someone to invest massively into new equipment and new plants to keep up with demand. Add in that a lot of plants are running on aging machinery, then it's not surprising vinyl is an imperfect medium currently.

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2 hours ago, Ste_S said:

 

I think modern reissues on the original labels are perfectly fine. I'm happy with Sony/Colombia's Miles re-releases; the Blue Note Classic and Tone Poet series, the Coltrane re-releases on Impulse and the Coltrane Rhino/Atlantic re-releases for instance.

 

You can get a modern Columbia re-release of Kind of Blue for £15.

Yeah I feel the same. I also don't know what's going on with the blue note classics line because I own almost all of them and haven't had a single QC problem. Maybe they use different pressing plants?

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1 hour ago, Ste_S said:

 

I think modern reissues on the original labels are perfectly fine. I'm happy with Sony/Colombia's Miles re-releases; the Blue Note Classic and Tone Poet series, the Coltrane re-releases on Impulse and the Coltrane Rhino/Atlantic re-releases for instance.

 

You can get a modern Columbia re-release of Kind of Blue for £15.

 

I might need to investigate a few of these then. I think I've been caught out in the past and been reticent to invest good money after bad. The backbone of my jazz collection from that period is all Japanese as I've never had one that hasn't both sounded amazing and looked like it was brand new so never really strayed. I've said loads of times I'm sure, but when I was last there I was filling suitcases with it all. Getting it delivered isn't as straightforward unfortunately.

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1 hour ago, Ste_S said:

 

That was decades ago though, as you mention.

 

Vinyl today is a different ball-game. For the few pressing plants that are left, demand is high enough that they're running over capacity, but not high enough for someone to invest massively into new equipment and new plants to keep up with demand. Add in that a lot of plants are running on aging machinery, then it's not surprising vinyl is an imperfect medium currently.

Of course, I'm well aware of all that. It's just you see it thrown out pretty often as an absolute, the medium is imperfect therefore it's unreasonable to demand that the standard should be better.  Things won't ever begin to improve even in more favourable conditions if everyone just shrugs their shoulders and says "Well, it's vinyl innit? What can you expect." It's always frustrating to see people make excuses for companies to sell them ropey product at premium prices.

 

Even now it's a choice that's actively being made to rush through more orders vs. doing a better job. Obviously I'd realistically expect almost no-one running a modern business to favour the latter (and there'd likely be other undesirable consequences if they did) but still, it's their choice. Take GZ for example, refusing to press mountains of obvious bootlegs/pirate editions would help but they're not going to.

 

1 hour ago, Sane said:

Yeah I feel the same. I also don't know what's going on with the blue note classics line because I own almost all of them and haven't had a single GC problem. Maybe they use different pressing plants?

As always it's a YMMV with these things - some are just luckier than others for whatever reason or their setups are more forgiving - but most (all?) of the 80th/Classics have been done at Optimal who've been specialists in non-fill for years and as with every other plant their issues have become more prominent during the pandemic. Most of mine haven't been too bad so I've been more fortunate than most for a change, but there's been a lot of 'I don't normally complain about vinyl but..' type patter with these on Discogs and the Hoffman forum, which had some pretty comical photos of crazy amounts of non-fill too. There are others saying theirs have all been fine as well, but complaints have definitely been noticeably higher than usual.

 

The Tone Poets are done at RTI I think unless they've changed recently so they're a different ball game.

 

As an aside, while it's definitely a very good idea to check around when weighing up whether to drop some cash on a release I'd suggest taking comments specifically about skipping on Discogs with a massive grain of salt. You see them a lot on there but I'm guessing it's mostly down to setup because in all my years of buying and working with records I could probably count the skips I've heard on new releases on one hand (I actually can't think of any off the top of my head but I feel like there must've been one or two). Quite a few times I've warily bought things that had a lot of those complaints and they've always played through totally fine.

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Yeah, I’ve never bought vinyl that skipped.

 

Mind you, I did have 1P pieces blu-tacked to the top of my head shells for years, that could have been a factor…

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1 hour ago, Art Vandelay said:

 

I might need to investigate a few of these then. I think I've been caught out in the past and been reticent to invest good money after bad. The backbone of my jazz collection from that period is all Japanese as I've never had one that hasn't both sounded amazing and looked like it was brand new so never really strayed. I've said loads of times I'm sure, but when I was last there I was filling suitcases with it all. Getting it delivered isn't as straightforward unfortunately.

 

I've got an ageing setup (Rega Planar 2, Arcam Alpha 3, Celestion 5), but it's good enough to highlight crap mastering/pressing and I've got no issues with the re-issues I've mentioned. YMMV with a different setup though I suppose?

 

Brought Freddie Hubbard, Ready for Freddie and McCoy Tyner, Expansions today and both sound great.

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I've got Ready for Freddy on the way, hopefully it's arrived when I get home. It's crazy how much amazing music Blue Note have in their catalogue! Also looking forward to Donald Byrd's Places and Spaces and Art Blakey's The Big Beat next month.

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If I get a skipping record it goes back. I don't think any of mine do. 

 

Sometimes if they skip lightly, you can fix it just by playing that section a few times, or lightly following the grooves with a toothpick.

 

I've a copy of Pornography by the Cure that I have from Vinyl Lovers - wasn't aware until it arrived. It sounds fine, but pretty loudly mastered. It's probably a pressing of the 2005 remaster.

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Is second hand record shopping dead now outside of Discogs? Charity shops haven't really had anything outside of James Last and Orchestral for a while, but now I'm also finding specialist second hand vinyl shops (at least here in Birmingham) essentially just have the stuff no one wants.

 

I guess the people clearing out their records for digital has dried up, and it's just collectors exchanging records via Discogs?

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Discogs has in some ways ruined the chances of getting a bargain as it's too easy to see what things are worth. The charity shops round here are shockingly bad for vinyl, I was in the local ones a few days ago and there was nothing, except for James Last and his peers.

 

Saying that, a lot of record shops have been shit for second hand for a while.

The worst are those that massively overprice where you end up with something that's usually worth a fiver being labelled at £25 because one once sold for that on eBay three years ago, or there is one for sale on discogs at that price (even though it'll never sell).

There's a stall on Grainger Market in Newcastle which looks like it's been there forever but probably hasn't shifted anything in years as his pricing model is basically this.

 

I was in London a couple of weeks ago and pleasantly surprised at a few shops in Soho. Sister Ray and the one over the road (selectadisc?reckless? I'm not sure which) had decent second hand collections which were properly categorised and sorted and the prices were reasonable too. The same with Phonica but they were quite focused on dance and electronic stuff which doesn't suit everyone.

 

Earworm Records in York always seem to have a decent selection which is in good condition and they don't take the piss on pricing either.

 

 

 

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It's sad but I think it's true. The age of the offline only record store is over, to be viable you have to (also) be online. And that influences everything. Back in the day you could open a shop and wait for people to come to you with their records, hunt down some big batches through word of mouth. Pricing was done without online tools and could vary a lot from shop to shop. Now you have to play a different game as a store owner, those big batches are harder and harder to find, you have to constantly be online, buying low selling high. It's like playing the stock market. 

 

For me as a buyer it's meant that I find myself buying less and less second hand because I really don't want to pay 'collector' prices. I love owning original pressings but there's just a limit how much I'm willing to pay extra for that. Especially since there's so many good reissues and new releases these days.

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21 minutes ago, Sane said:

It's sad but I think it's true. The age of the offline only record store is over, to be viable you have to (also) be online. And that influences everything. Back in the day you could open a shop and wait for people to come to you with their records, hunt down some big batches through word of mouth. Pricing was done without online tools and could vary a lot from shop to shop. Now you have to play a different game as a store owner, those big batches are harder and harder to find, you have to constantly be online, buying low selling high. It's like playing the stock market. 

 

For me as a buyer it's meant that I find myself buying less and less second hand because I really don't want to pay 'collector' prices. I love owning original pressings but there's just a limit how much I'm willing to pay extra for that. Especially since there's so many good reissues and new releases these days.

 

Just about every record shop I visit within a 20 mile radius are all offline. They sell mostly used records, but some do a mix of both old and new.

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London has loads like that fortunately. Eldica and The Little Record Shop as examples are jammed up with interesting stock and open at incredibly sporadic intervals. Eldica especially is like how you imagine a record shop should be – mad old hi-fi gear and posters wall to ceiling, you can smell the joss sticks from 200 yards away, owner is like James Brown’s unauthorised biographer. The place is a paradise.

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