"The Rising Cost of New Vinyl"

buttonbutton 1,475 Posts
edited May 2013 in Strut Central
interesting read:

http://recordcollectornews.com/2013/05/the-rising-cost-of-new-vinyl/

I def. don't pay any attention to rock reissues or new, big name indie releases, but I've definitely noticed this price creep in the comp. world. That being said, the quality of compilations over the last 10 years has risen exponentially, so it still seems like a fair enough deal @ ~$30. What does the Strut say? Will the spike in vinyl prices will make short work of the young collector scene thats sprung up over the last 5/6 years?
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  Comments


  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,917 Posts
    I think it's a masterclass in how capitalism always wins. Following the longest death-knell in history, a struggling industry has managed to take something long written off as a dead format and re-market it as a Premium Product, now with the ever-popular patina of nostalgia - always a winner in times of uncertainty and confusion. The kicker being that consumers now pay more than five times what they'd have paid for new vinyl first time round.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    Totally agree with you Doc and to add -

    1) vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride or PVC. This is a petroleum based product. Now ask yourself if vinyl prices have kept pace with gas prices since the early 90's? The short answer is hell no. Vinyl should, in theory be double what it even is now but the cost is not passed along to the consumer evenly, it's eaten by small labels (hi) who can't afford to amortize the cost across large runs of pressings.

    2) EPA regulations on the processes involved in lp manufacturing have devastated the manufacturing industry both in quality and cost. The removal of lead from lp black PVC has increased noise floor and distortion over the last year and it will only get worse. The regulation of the highly toxic materials used in platibg has caused laquer backlogs country wide. The bottom line is we all are inadvertantly producing the shittiest quality records in the history of the industry.

    3) unlike 99% of other industries, vinyl is still made the exact same way it was 80 years ago. It's outdated as a manufacturing medium and people with know how are dying, as is the equipment.

    Man I could go on and on. Buy vinyl now adays to support te artist and file away - but don't fool yourself - now releases WILL NOT sound better than the digital alternative.

  • buttonbutton 1,475 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    Totally agree with you Doc and to add -

    1) vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride or PVC. This is a petroleum based product. Now ask yourself if vinyl prices have kept pace with gas prices since the early 90's? The short answer is hell no. Vinyl should, in theory be double what it even is now but the cost is not passed along to the consumer evenly, it's eaten by small labels (hi) who can't afford to amortize the cost across large runs of pressings.

    seems like a dubious comparison but...


    Man I could go on and on. Buy vinyl now adays to support te artist and file away - but don't fool yourself - now releases WILL NOT sound better than the digital alternative.

    This I've often wondered about. Most bands are recording digitally now anyways, so has there ever been a difference between a CD and a record in these cases? Isn't it just a digital file grafted on to an analog record? I obviously dont know shit about gear, recording, producing, mastering etc...

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    I wish it was a dubious comparison but its funny how most collectors have no idea about what Vinyl truly is and where it comes from. The fact is that it the pvc comes from now only one of two main suppliers, sold in giant drums of pellets - and pressing plants only account for a small percentage of the drums purchased, most go to the medical industry, thus the cutback in quality and the susceptibility to regulation. The cost of those drums has steadily risen on par with most petro-chemicals and demand from health care has, of course, caused an increase in price. Most pressing plants have according raised their per unit pressing cost- on average one lp pressing - basically paying for a plant to smoosh it's pvc between your two metallic stampers, costs $1. It could easily jump to $2 if the raw material costs jump. It's not far off of a comparison.

    as for your second question - this is EXACTLY the point. I would venture that 99.9% of new records are cut from a digital file, which means they have to go through a d/a process to even get to the cutting head electronics. Most of these, from reissue companies I have personally witnessed submit a shitty cd-r burnt in itunes to the cutting engineer. So in essence the LP is a dub off of a cd of the original file. It's clearly an inferior product at that point.

    The only way vinyl could and has ever sounding better is OLD VINYL. With it's lead, it's cutting from tape, it's qualified living engineers and teams of techs, it's brand new well functioning manufacturing equipment, it's good pvc and plating, etc. This all died in the mid 80s. Anyone who believes they can make a superior record now adays is truly fooling themselves.

    I continue to struggle to manufacture vinyl with 0 profit margin because i believe in the medium, and I have educated myself on it's shortcomings to try and avoid all of the possible pitfalls of operating in an archaic manufacturing environment. By the record because the package is rad and it is something to cherish and hold on to.

    but if you want to listen to music, play the digital file and move on with your life.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts

  • jjfad027jjfad027 1,594 Posts
    So does anyone still go from tape/analog to vinyl? Or is 100% of it from a digital file?

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    jjfad027 said:
    So does anyone still go from tape/analog to vinyl? Or is 100% of it from a digital file?

    One of my upcoming releases will be cut straight from the master tape, but outside of high priced audiophile labels, the practice is pretty rare these days.

    b/w

    Great article, I agree with the whole thing. The first paragraph is pretty much word for word what I've been saying since I started.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    @jjfad

    That's a great question. It's not just a matter of spooling up a tape and playing the music while you cut the record. Lathes are equipped with a device called a pitch system which reads a "preview" stream of music and opens and closes the pitch of the grooves accordingly to save space. That is why you see grooves tightening up on quiet passages and conversely why it's usually easy to visually see the break on the record. The grooves are more open and darker.

    To create a preview stream in the days of yore, a special tape machine was needed with two sets of stereo heads. One set would actually sit ahead of the main repro head and send that audio - a second or two ahead of the actual audio - to the lathe pitch system. The pitch system would then open or close the grooves according to the audio it heard and in advance of what was coming down the pipe, ao as to avoid overcuts. As you can imagine this was very complicated and a general pita but there was no better way back in the day. Different size heads, different spacing for different IPS tapes etc. then again with a staff of engineers salaried and on hand plus hundreds of competent techs around town, that's just how vinyl was cut.

    When the cd revolution started and digital took over, cutting engineers, understandably, sold off this gear as quickly as they could, especially the valuable extra sets of heads. But the fact of the matter is unless you have one of these rare and complex set ups, you just ain't cuttin off of tape. There are two places left I know who didn't sell of thier Rigs (Bernie grundman and sterling and maybe Doug sax) but other than that, tape isn't even an option.

    So short answer, yes it's still possible, it will cost you an arm and a leg and there are about two places left in the us who can still do it.

    Everything else is a dub of a CD.

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    So short answer, yes it's still possible, it will cost you an arm and a leg and there are about two places left in the us who can still do it.

    Everything else is a dub of a CD.

    Actually, there are two places in NYC alone, Salt and Bonati, that do it.

    Not sure I agree with the dub of a CD statement, unless you include hi-res (96k/24 bit) as a CD, which is not really accurate.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    In my experience, and again this is just anecdotal but i have seen a shit ton and hang with pros, 44/16 audio CDs account for the overwhelming majority of what gets turned in to lathe operators. And, more importantly, you could submit a goddamn DSD but it still has to d/a to get to the lathe. So the question is what converters, what clock, etc.

    Yes 96k/24bit cut vinyl is an analog dub of a 96k/ 24bit file.

    I checked Bonatis websit and they have a vms 70 with a digital delay for the preview. That's not really the same thing as a preview head on a tape machine. Just sayin'.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,787 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:

    The removal of lead from lp black PVC has increased noise floor and distortion over the last year and it will only get worse. The regulation of the highly toxic materials used in platibg has caused laquer backlogs country wide.

    Is this just in the US?

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    As far as I know, yes. Furnace has been having good results out of Germany.

  • I use furnace for my record pressing because I believe they cut great vinyl. I am also transferring the audio straight from the master tapes then I/we digitally remaster the music. So far I haven't had to bake anything yet but fingers crossed for the other masters that I have yet to transfer.

    Furnace is expensive to press with but the good thing is that they add the shipping into cost of pressing. Outside of the delays, I am happy with them. Anyways, what plant these days isn't experiencing delays and back ups.

    amir

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    In my experience, and again this is just anecdotal but i have seen a shit ton and hang with pros, 44/16 audio CDs account for the overwhelming majority of what gets turned in to lathe operators. And, more importantly, you could submit a goddamn DSD but it still has to d/a to get to the lathe. So the question is what converters, what clock, etc.

    No doubt this is the norm, but not everybody does it

    4YearGraduate said:
    I checked Bonatis websit and they have a vms 70 with a digital delay for the preview. That's not really the same thing as a preview head on a tape machine. Just sayin'.

    Does this affect the sound quality of the final product?

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    +1 for Furnace, by working in Germany they have skirted a lot of the issues local plants have faced with the supply chain and regulations

    @horseleech well, it's splitting hairs but yes - if I understand correctly the digital delay holds up the actual audio feed for a second or two and allows the real time audio from tape to control the pitch system, so in that sense it adds an extra round of digital conversion. The other alternative from tape would be to cut "fixed pitch" but it's risky as you could have an overcut and not know until you get the test pressing back (if you can't see it on the microscope off the lathe)
    At Bernie grundman and sterling they still have thier original decks with the 4 head set up, preview in front of playback. It's so damn expensive though the records would be like $40 a piece just to amortize the cost in at 1000 units

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    To take it a step further, there is only one true OG way to master for vinyl off of analog:

    You have your tape machine with 4 heads, and you have a throw switch behind it. The throw switch routes audio to path A and Path B, each of which has an identical set of EQ's limiters or comps etc. You chart out your moves for each song and start cutting the first song on Path A with your mastering settings. While A/Song 1 is cutting, you set up the EQ on path B for the second track. When the first track ends, you throw the switch and route the audio to Path B with it's mastering settings. While that is cutting you wipe Path A and set the EQ etc. BAck and forth like a Cameo song till the side is done.

    This is how pretty much ALL records were mastered/cut up until 1980, and this is why ALL those records potentially sound much more rad than what we are doing today.

  • DORDOR Two Ron Toe 9,901 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    Totally agree with you Doc and to add -

    1) vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride or PVC. This is a petroleum based product. Now ask yourself if vinyl prices have kept pace with gas prices since the early 90's? The short answer is hell no. Vinyl should, in theory be double what it even is now but the cost is not passed along to the consumer evenly, it's eaten by small labels (hi) who can't afford to amortize the cost across large runs of pressings.

    I'm thinking one of the things that have kept it a bit in check is the use of recycled vinyl no? For a good 20+ years the only people that were using virgin vinyl were some plants in Europe. And it always showed in the final product with the quality. I had people willing to spend the money for UK presses of albums. The the majority just wanted it for as cheap as possible (Buy the shitty US press). So now we still have people willing to spend for a quality product, but now add a bit of rarity into the mix... You just loose the buyers that just wanted it cheap (Who buy or dl the digital).

  • disco_chedisco_che 1,115 Posts
    Just read this article today and it fits the thread quite well. 2500 pounds for an reissue-box and yes, all analogue manufacturing.

    http://m.guardiannews.com/music/2013/may/25/pete-hutchison-interview-new-vinyl-recording

    BTW, my post No.1000. Wanted to save it up but...who cares anyway.

  • Bon VivantBon Vivant The Eye of the Storm 2,018 Posts
    I've been buying vinyl, almost exclusively, for nearly 25 years.

    When I reflect on prices then versus prices now, they have gone up a bit; say $1 (give or take) per domestic, and maybe $2 per import.

    Nothing shocking, though.

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    Bon Vivant said:
    I've been buying vinyl, almost exclusively, for nearly 25 years.

    When I reflect on prices then versus prices now, they have gone up a bit; say $1 (give or take) per domestic, and maybe $2 per import.

    Nothing shocking, though.

    I wish this were true, but it's not.

    Some labels have kept prices low, in the $12-$15 range, but they are the exception. A lot of the titles I have in stock now are closer to $20 and way too many are $25-$30 (or more). 25 years ago the list price of Lps was $8.98 to $9.98. I'd say that the average price has close to doubled in that time.

  • buttonbutton 1,475 Posts
    25 years is a pretty long time. What hasn't doubled in price since 1988? Movie tickets, yes. Automobiles, yes; and on and on.. The article seems to be talking about a drastic price spike within the last 1 or 2 years. Before then, it was only high-end reissues (ie Sundazed, Soul Jazz, et al) that ran $20-25. Now thats the baseline price for like ACDC reissues and Jack White LPs

  • This is a fantastic thread by the way.

  • TECUMSEHTECUMSEH 301 Posts
    Excuse the ignorance. Does the lead used in PVC records effect the end users?

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    That's a great question. I don't think so. But im no chemist - For instance I just found out (not the hard way) that if you heat raw vinyl (PVC) up past like 200 degrees (which isn't all that much IMO) it releases chlorine gas knock you on yo ass.

  • Controller_7Controller_7 4,052 Posts
    Probably similar to most hoses. Sitting in the warm sun, they leach lead into the water that's sitting in the hose. Think of how many kids drank from those hoses when we were growing up. It didn't seem to do anything to anyone. I bet you could find a way to make the lead in vinyl hurt you, but it'd probably be difficult and unlikely.

    Great thread.

  • TECUMSEHTECUMSEH 301 Posts
    I guess it wouldn't change much anyway. Kinda hard to stop years of being a vinyl junkie.

  • YNOTYNOT in a studio apt mixing tuna with the ramen 417 Posts
    The article was well written, got a kick out of he line; "Even if you???re some crusty collector who sticks to the sad-old-man digger circuit". Never been into buying new releases unless of course as mentioned earlier to support the artist and if the packaging is dope (see the Freeway Jake 1 release). Whatever the case there's some serious knowledge being dropped in this thread and If I learned anything it's that I'm no longer buying records post 1983.

  • BallzDeepBallzDeep 612 Posts
    I'm no longer buying records post 1983.

  • BowlsBowls 28 Posts
    This thread kicks ass. Looking at the number of responses, I assumed it was started a couple years ago.

    Just had my mind blown by Thes' posts and I tried to convey it to my wife. "Wow I just found out why new records sound kinda shitty. Something about not using lead anymore and PVC and pasting digital tracks onto an analog format. This is crazy."

    "Oh. Cool."

  • El PrezEl Prez NE Ohio 1,141 Posts
    Great thread gotta print this out
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