Colored Vinyl vs. Black Vinyl

Colored Vinyl vs. Black Vinyl

First did the color of vinyl come to be?

Since the introduction of the commercial cylindrical records in the year of 1889, records have been made up of PVC–a material which is naturally colorless. Titanium dioxide and other additives are added to the material in order to turn the colorless material into a solid color.


The signature black color of records is actually a product of the combination of black carbon into the mix. With black carbon, it's supposed to strengthens the PVC mix even further.

But what about other colored records?


Although some would assume that the standard black vinyl reigns superior to other color variants, that isn't always the case in reality. Colored vinyl records lack the black carbon that supposedly strengthens the PVC material, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not as durable or as thick as black vinyl.

Differences between colored and black vinyl are negligible unless there were mistakes to be made during the production process of these records


So...what exactly sounds better?


During the 70's and 80's, colored vinyl was found to have a lot more surface noice and sound imperfections as compared to it's standard black variant. However, with modern day technology and improved pressing techniques from pressing plants worldwide, the difference has become almost little to none in today's time.

Most modern colored records have become on par or even better than their black vinyl counterparts. Rather than color, the most important aspects that make a record sound great would be the mastering and the pressing plant's quality control standards.

What has more value?


In most cases, the value tends to grow exponentially for the colored versions of almost any album.This is because the price to manufacture colored vinyl records is actually higher than standard black ones, especially as they press most color variants only on a limited quantity. Additionally, colored vinyl are also considered as unique collectibles due to their unique aesthetic as most of them tend to match the album they're paired with.

As time has shown, many colored variants are often one-time pressings unlike their black counterparts––which is probably why they go for much higher in the after market.


Are some colored variants better than others?


Well, the answer would be yes and no.

Others would argue that solid colors would sound better because they are more simple, without any color mixes that interfere with the grooves of one's records. Yet from personal experience and the input of others, swirled, marbled, splatter, and multicolored variants of vinyl can all sound fantastic depending on how well it's been pressed or mastered by the manufacturer.

However, some pressings that noticeably sound much worse than colored ones would be glow in the dark pressings, or picture disc ones.

So what about GITD & Picture Disc pressings?


Glow-In-The-Dark pigments unfortunately deteriorate the acoustic properties of the recording and do often cause increased surface noise. This leads for a more muddy listening experience, as those who often buy such variants buy it for the aesthetic that comes with it. 


On the other hand, picture discs usually made of 3 layers. The first layer is a clear record with no music, the second is the picture layer, and the third is a clear plastic sheet that contains the grooves. This final thin and malleable plastic layer is not as durable as regular records, which can negatively affect both the playback and long-term durability.


However, this isn't the case for all Glow-in-the-Dark or Picture Disc pressings. Some of them were actually pressed really well, and their final products have exceeded the quality of other variants. Sometimes, they actually add a lot to the charm of the record especially when they're really fitting to whatever album it is that you're looking at.


So...what variants should I be getting?

Once again, that's up to you!

Every listener looks for different things that make their listening experience unique and personalized to their liking. Whatever pros and cons you'd like to weigh out, the ultimate decision about what color of records you'd like to collect is entirely your decision. So keep spinning!


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