When vinyl came back from the ashes more than a decade ago, debates that center around it popped here and there. Much like the ongoing debate on which is the better music format—CD or vinyl, a debate on which TYPE of vinyl record is better is now also being talked about, especially by musicians who are planning to make their first custom vinyl pressing.
There have been numerous slander on colored vinyl records that are quite outdated so we have come to defend them. We won’t defend them blindly though, because we’ll be discussing this matter after doing deeper research on the matter.
Before that, let’s first see the difference between colored vinyl records and black vinyl records because they both have their pros and cons and in the end, it’s up to you to decide which one is better.
Vinyl record pressing for black vinyl records are still abundant to this day and that has something to do with its affordability. Additionally, black vinyl records are said to sound better than the colored ones (but we’ll talk about that in detail later).
Some years during the war between cylindrical and disc phonographs, colored vinyl records were introduced in 1908. During that time, Thomas Edison also released his Blue Amberol cylinders to attract favor for his format. This however, gave those in favor of disc records an idea of adding color in theirs.
All kinds of vinyl records are made of polyvinyl chloride, or more commonly known as PVC, where the format got its name. PVC is initially a colorless synthetic plastic polymer, leaving it needing for colorants to gain its color.
To give the black vinyl records its color, black carbon is added to the PVC mix while dyes are the ones added for colored vinyl records. While the added black carbon provides strength to the mix, dyes cannot strengthen the mix the same way as the black carbon could.
In addition, black carbon can also reduce static electricity. This static electricity apparently attracts dust and dirt to the surface of the vinyl record which can cause the pops and clicks during playback.
Another factor that makes colored vinyl records different from the black ones is their malleability. Malleability is a characteristic needed during the pressing of the tracks onto the surface of the record.
For black vinyl records, that malleability is the same, making their quality stable and great since black is a malleable color. Colored vinyl records, on the other hand, have differing malleability, depending on the dye used to obtain its color, and the pressing plant you had your custom vinyl pressing done on. Read more about vinyl pressing manufacturing to understand it better.
Black vinyl records use carbon as colorant and carbon reduces static electricity. However, the biggest factor why people say black vinyl records sound better isn’t really because of that, it’s because black is the standard color for vinyl records. It’s the most pressed, most used, and therefore more consistent. Vinyl plants, even the new ones, are experts at making black vinyl records.
When you make a colored vinyl record, materials are different and this makes the whole process a little more “experimental.” And of course, this could affect sound.
However, today, many of these plants are pressing colored vinyl records so there’s almost no risk at all.
Because it’s prettier, of course!
If you press a black vinyl record and colored vinyl records, chances are people will be drawn to the colored ones.
You might think, but that’s not so important! And you’d be surprised it is, especially now that we’re all going digital. We want our records pretty or else we’d rather just listen to iTunes.
Colored vinyl records with only one color are said to be better than how they are portrayed in some debates about black and colored vinyl records. It all actually depends on the dyes used because they can affect the malleability of the PVC mix.
According to Matt Earley of Gotta Grooves Records, white records are the noisiest ones, based on their experience of vinyl record pressing. And when this white mix is mixed with another dye to make another color, it becomes worse.
Transparent vinyl records are said to be on par with black vinyl records when it comes to consistent playing. It is said that both black and transparent are the most malleable. This consistency also applies to transparent colored vinyl records. They are also considered to be better than those opaque mono-colored ones.
Multi-colored vinyl records may be the worst among the discussed types of colored vinyl records. This is due to it composing different PVC mixes with different malleability and melting ability.
Imagine having different colors from different PVC mixes completing a vinyl record. When the tracks are pressed or cut into that record, there will be differences in how they are formed or molded. This can result in an inconsistent sound, making it sound awful.
Some may say that colors affect the sound quality of vinyl records but it really isn’t the color but the ingredient used to obtain that color. Colored vinyl records need dyes to get colored and these dyes have different compositions. This causes a difference among differently colored records as some dyes may give benefits or cause damage. It will really depend on the dye your pressing plant will use for the custom vinyl pressing.
Different pressing plants have different PVC pellet suppliers with different PVC recipes. Different recipes means different qualities. Additionally, there are pressing plants with different ways of producing their records.
So if you’re planning on having your own vinyl record, it would be best to look for a pressing plant that presses their vinyl records well. To make sure you’re in the right hands, try listening to vinyl albums they’ve pressed for other musicians. This way you can evaluate their work on your own and not through the suggestion or experience of others.
The track you submit to your pressing plant will greatly affect the quality of sound your vinyl record will deliver in the end. If your tracks were not mastered for vinyl then I’m pretty sure it would sound awful.
So that’s about it, folks. If you’re worried about quality and want to play safe, go for black vinyl records. That’s a sure way you’ll have good sound quality. Your records may look a bit boring, though.
But if you want to have really good-looking records, go have colored ones! Just make sure you choose a good vinyl mastering service and a good pressing plant and you’re all good.
If we really have to answer which is more valuable? The answer really depends on a lot of factors. But one thing that I’m sure of, if I want to buy an album on vinyl, I surely need more than just good music-- I need it to be something beautiful...something worthy to add in my collection. Black or colored, it’s up to you, and of course, the buyer.