"The Rising Cost of New Vinyl"

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  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    Man... As a guy who makes and sells new vinyl - that isn't cheap either - I guess i have mixed feelings about this and can;t help but feel a little disheartened about people saying they wont buy new vinyl. Fwiw, Day's vinyl was cut at Bernie Grundman using the two EQ path technique. It cost me over $900 just to cut the laq's. (average industry price is about $300 for both sides). By the time we made the stampers, labels, jackets and sleeves, I had invested $12,000 and we didn't even have a single record pressed yet. That's alot of money for a record you are only going to make 1000 units of.

    But at the same time, the truth is the truth, and as much as it saddens me to relay this information I feel like people should know. Too much misinformation and "Vinyl is back" fluff pieces out there. To give some perspective, my man Len (who helped in getting me the Bells tape) told me that in the 70's Kaiser Century (aka Century) had a plant somewhere near Modesto and they literally had two train tracks that lead straight through the center of the factory so that Vinyl pellets could be brought in by the Boxcar.

    A little later I'm going to add info about shitty ass DMM records (the absolute worst) and a few anecdotes about high profile reissues i cut from actual Mp3 cd's that were submitted, and the impact and entrance of Chinese vinyl pressing and sleeve manufacturing.

  • pcmrpcmr 5,591 Posts
    yeah fantastic thread guys...enlightening and informative.

  • mickalphabetmickalphabet deep inna majestic segue 374 Posts
    Wouldn't be bothered with the music but this would appear to be a gigantic taking of the piss

    http://www.insound.com/The-Devil-Put-Dinosaurs-Here-Vinyl-LP-Alice-in-Chains/P/INS118819/

    couple interesting bits on reddit about it

    http://www.reddit.com/r/vinyl/comments/1fbcrc/


    After Warp records putting out the latest autechre on 4 x for ???30 i thought they might try same with the new Boards of Canada but its actually a standard ???19 (still pricey mind compared to US prices) which I thought was OK considering the value of their back catalogue

  • RAJRAJ tenacious local 7,780 Posts
    :face_melt:

    My nephews are 17 and 19 and are in the camp of mp3 being boring and buying the record is cool.

    I went digging with them in NY and they immediately were picking up $25 reissues of Black Sabbath and Santana records... That shit was baffling too me as many of the ORIGINAL pressings were dollar bin material in the 00's. I was pretty much like... "I can get an OG for a fraction of the price and it will sound better because it was mastered by the masters using ANALOG technology...."

    Also, was kind of baffled when I went to buy the new Daft Punk on vinyl and found it was $32!!??? Sorry, but that is a redic asking price for a major label record.

  • CBearCBear 902 Posts
    BallzDeep said:
    I'm no longer buying records post 1983.

    Cool. You guys can send me all your 90s indie vinyl. They probably sound terrible.

    I've noticed prices for new limited releases going up as well. I used to invest in them, but the margins are getting thin enough these days that's it's no longer worth it.

    The new My Bloody Valentine vinyl was touted as being cut direct from Analog.

    Do most of you guys have stereo systems nice enough to really tell the difference between new and old vinyl? I am imagining that most of the young kids buying reissues and new releases these days are playing records on a USB ION or similar.

    Great thread.

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 7,788 Posts
    BallzDeep said:
    I'm no longer buying records made in America post 1983.

    Fixed.

    I keeed.

    Great thread, on the subject of reissue sound quality, I decided to invest in the recent Warp re-ish of Aphex Twin's FUCKING CLASSIQUE I Care Because You Do. Figured the sell-on value in a few year's might be good, and what the hell, I love that album so much it was a pleasure spending money on it twice.
    However, the reproduction is not great. The album art for starters looks like a low quality scan, noticably different to my OG. Worse is the sound. Muddier, quieter. As well as being louder and clearer, the OG sounds like it has a nice, crisp sheen to it that is missing from the re-ish, and I have played the shit out of that album since I bought it in '95... it shouldn't sound better than a minty official Warp re-ish. Has anyone done a sound check on the the American re-ish?

    Cost of new dance music singles is often around ??10.00 now, let alone deluxe boxsets. If the product is good quality (soundwise), I don't mind as I'm so picky these days it's not like I want to buy 20 new singles a week anyway.

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    Just for some perspective I plugged in list prices for records into an inflation calculator.

    In the early/mid 60's a stereo record typically listed at $4.98 (stereo records were $1 more than their mono counterparts back then). In today's money that's $36.38. A record that was $9.98 in 1984 (the last year the majors released vinyl in any quantity) would be $21.71 today.

    In that regard, records today are still cheaper than they used to be. However, as Thes pointed out, they are largely an inferior product. That said, I feel like he is overstating the shoddiness of modern records a bit. Yes, we don't really have much that can match, say, the 60's UK Decca chain of recording/mastering/plating/pressing, but I don't think that is the whole story. There are still modern releases that somehow manage to sound pretty good.

    Maybe modern vinyl is noisier due to the lack of lead in it, but I doubt most people can tell the difference. The Furnace pressings use lead-free vinyl, and they are pretty damn quiet. Sure, there are plenty of modern pressings that are way too noisy, but I think that is more due to shoddy plating and clueless/uncaring producers who don't even listen to the test pressings than it is to the vinyl.

    I agree that the average new release is basically a shitty digital file, poorly processed and then dumped onto vinyl, but it doesn't have to be that way.

    I am largely speaking from my own weird niche in this world, of course. I basically record poor condition African records from the 70's on quality audio gear to a dedicated digital recorder in 96k/24 bit, have them cleaned up and (sparingly) remastered. The remastering usually involves little or no EQ'ing, more likely a touch of carefully applied compression. These recordings were already mastered, so unless this was poorly done back in the day, not much is necessary now. (This brings up the whole scam of modern 'remastered' reissues, but that's another rant altogether.) The fact is that you can get much better results doing this digitally than you can analog - it's not even close. Almost everything else, however, is better off done analog.

    20 years ago a small timer such as myself could never afford to do this kind of restoration for what are essentially boutique releases, so I'm not going to hate on the technology that allows music like this to see the light of day again. I think my stuff sounds pretty great for what it is, but nobody is going to mistake it for some hi end audiophile shit.

    I've A/B'd say, the Psychedelic Aliens from the OGs to the re that I did and I honestly don't think too many people would prefer the OGs, though I'm sure there are some that would.

    This also brings up the issue that there are many different types of sound, and I think most of us know the experience of loving the way a crudely recorded and pressed 45 can sound, even if it is abysmal by audiophile standards.

  • LoopDreamsLoopDreams 1,195 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    Day's vinyl was cut at Bernie Grundman using the two EQ path technique.

    And it sounds amazing! Hope you dudes ended up making some $ off of that even if it won't make you rich. If you guys can't make it happen we're screwed.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,917 Posts
    I took the liberty of linking to this thread in another online community I move in. One of the guys there, who's something of an audio geek himself, posted a link to this piece by a colleague of his on the birth of digital recording in the US, which is kind of apropos.

    BTW, here's a little highlight from a passage about Fleetwood Mac's early experiments with digital, just so you don't make the mistake of thinking it's a bone-dry academic paper or something;

    Bruce Rothaar edited Fleetwood Mac???s recordings and discovered that rock musicians did not necessarily appreciate that the digital editing had to take place in Utah. He notes: ???Fleetwood Mac flew to Salt Lake City for the editing session. There was pressure to get the editing completed by four a.m. so they could be in their Lear Jet, over the Grand Canyon, on drugs, at dawn.???

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    I don't think the line is so rigid at the early 80's, though that was the beginning of the end - there are tons of great cuts from the 90's and early 00's from lathes and engineers who were still, then in operation which are now long gone. We have been asked numerous times to reissue our album OST (originally pressed in 2002 and cut at Frankfort Wayne), but i have refused because i am absolutely positive the reissue will be far worse than the original pressing. Tons of indi rock from the mid and late 90's sounds rad as does alot of hip hop from that era cut at Grundman, Sterling, Frankfort Wayne, etc.

    as for that other info-
    That any major could, with a straight face charge more than $30 for a new LP is amazing. Considering they have deals with the two major US pressing plants: Rainbo and United that allow them to undercut the prices smaller labels with lesser quantity have to deal with.

    China:
    I have heard China has begun to manufacture and press records (DMM more on this below). This I suppose was only inevitable considering demand - one so frantic that all sides of the US supply line are struggling to keep up with; this is aggrevated by vinyl events like SXSW and RSD. I have heard that Rainbo is quoting new customers a 4 Month turnaround on Vinyl. China, for a few years now has taken over the paper goods side of Vinyl in a serious way, and of course quality has suffered. One egregious example are the box set reissues like the Fat Boys Pizza Box which was manufactured at Dongguan City Tangxia Sanfeng Paper Products Factory. Clicking on that link will reveal both the Fat Boys box set and the Pharcyde reissue. I purchased the P&P compilation because i really wanted the music, and when i received the oversize box set it was literally coming apart at the seams from poor gluing and finishing. I couldn't be upset really for the price and amount of music i received, but it saddened me that such an important piece of US music history was relinquished to chinese manufacturing - it just somehow seemed at odds with the original spirit of P&P in my private mindgarden. Then again, any attempt to manufacture in the US something of that scale and limited quantity is entirely cost prohibitive - trust me I've tried. So I have heard that they are pressing records too now in China using DMM and the quality is going to suck - but do you want/need the vinyl record?

    DMM:
    DMM is Direct Metal Mastering in which the entire laquer and plating step is skipped and the music is cut straight into the metal plate. These records sound like shit. Period. I had the unfortunate experience of having K7, a Berlin Based company, cut our album FunDMC using DMM without our knowledge or consent. The result was a truly shitty piece of vinyl. There are no DMM cutters left in the US as far as I know and the last DMM lathe was sold to The Church Of Scientology so they could cut discs that, in thier mind, would play 1 Million years from now (no shit). They kept alot of people I know in pro audio paid for a second as they pursued cockeyed ways to ensure their message would live on for eternity. I believe China is now attempting to acquire DMM lathes from Europe, we'll see.

    Brain Drain:
    There is pretty much only 1 living lathe technician left in LA, my homeboy Len who is probably late 60's, early 70s. There is not anyone currently apprenticing underneath him or learning his trade. So what happens when Len passes? What happens to this trade which has not been modernized and still operates on Lathes which, at their latest VMS-80, stopped production in the early 80s? The people who know how to wind heads, repair preview systems, etc. are retiring and dying.

    #'s Game:
    When we cut our first distributed 12" (Youth Explosion) in 2000, it was pressed in a quantity of 20,000 units. The following 2 12"s dropped consecutively and they each were pressed in those quantities and each sold out. Within a month of their release. We were an unknown group at the time too. Now, at this point in our career, after being on The Simpsons, scoring Motion Pictures, Touring for 14 years, 100k real facebook "friends", I would seriously have a hard time selling more than 600 12"s. Maybe this is a reflection of us and where we stand but I think the issue here is everything is diminished across the board. That's why I really don't give a shit about telling you guys the truth, as it actually is. Vinyl may be UP last year and this year and blahzey blah but in the grand scheme its DOWN 99%. And so what? It's just an antiquated medium. IF given the option, as wanting the best sound quality, I can guarantee you that the Digital version of albums now a days will shit on the Vinyl version, each time and every time. That isn't to say it's not nice to own the LP but don't fool yourself, that's all I'm saying.
    Go into it with realistic expectations. There are good quality pressings out there made by people who care and are putting it all on the line to keep this going, people like Wingate and Horseleech and myself becasue we care and know the difference, but it's an uphill battle.

  • Bon VivantBon Vivant The Eye of the Storm 2,018 Posts
    Horseleech said:
    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.

    My bad. I was referring to 12" singles and not LPs. I should have been clearer.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    There are no DMM cutters left in the US as far as I know and the last DMM lathe was sold to The Church Of Scientology so they could cut discs that, in thier mind, would play 1 Million years from now (no shit). They kept alot of people I know in pro audio paid for a second as they pursued cockeyed ways to ensure their message would live on for eternity.

    :face_melt:

    Fuck, this thread is amazing.

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    Yeah, whatever they recorded probably wasn't as funky as L Ron's first outing:

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts
    Horseleech said:
    Just for some perspective I plugged in list prices for records into an inflation calculator.

    In the early/mid 60's a stereo record typically listed at $4.98 (stereo records were $1 more than their mono counterparts back then). In today's money that's $36.38.

    This^ brings up 2 thoughts.

    Even though people had less disposable cash in the early 60s every one still had records.

    For those of us who buy collections we often hear people say 'I have hundreds of records I bought in the 60s'.
    But they rarely do.
    Instead they think that 50=hundreds, or they bought most of their favorite 60s records in the 70s and 80s.

    b/w
    "I (or most people) can't hear the difference / or can't hear the difference on a crappy system."

    Most of us can not hear the difference when somebody says 'listen how great/terrible this sounds'.

    But if you A/B - that is play the 2 versions back to back - most everyone can hear the difference, even on a crappy system.

    Right after I opened my shop the Robert Johnson CD box was released to much fan fare about improved sound that will blow you away. The music press repeated this verbatim straight from the press release.
    I A/Bed the cd with the 80s non-digital reissue vinyl for customers.
    Everyone agreed the cd sounds like shit.

  • YNOTYNOT in a studio apt mixing tuna with the ramen 417 Posts
    4YearGraduate said:
    Man... As a guy who makes and sells new vinyl - that isn't cheap either - I guess i have mixed feelings about this and can;t help but feel a little disheartened about people saying they wont buy new vinyl. .

    Grabbed Day's LP off GP, sounded really good although the mp3s have gotten more rotations. Followed the saga of The Highlighter LP and had to cop due to the high level of Quality control and overall package. How do you think the sound quality on the vinyl was compared too the HD-AAC format?

  • HorseleechHorseleech 3,830 Posts
    LaserWolf said:
    Horseleech said:
    Just for some perspective I plugged in list prices for records into an inflation calculator.

    In the early/mid 60's a stereo record typically listed at $4.98 (stereo records were $1 more than their mono counterparts back then). In today's money that's $36.38.

    This^ brings up 2 thoughts.

    Even though people had less disposable cash in the early 60s every one still had records.

    I'm not at all convinced that people have more disposable income these days despite what anybody says.



    LaserWolf said:
    For those of us who buy collections we often hear people say 'I have hundreds of records I bought in the 60s'.
    But they rarely do.
    Instead they think that 50=hundreds, or they bought most of their favorite 60s records in the 70s and 80s.

    Yep. Extremely few people had collections numbering in the thousands back then.

    LaserWolf said:
    Right after I opened my shop the Robert Johnson CD box was released to much fan fare about improved sound that will blow you away. The music press repeated this verbatim straight from the press release.
    I A/Bed the cd with the 80s non-digital reissue vinyl for customers.
    Everyone agreed the cd sounds like shit.

    I think a lot of people were suckered in by CDs because they were told that they were better. I remember hearing people say that there was so much more detail, but what really happened was that for the first time in many people's lives, they really listened to the music as far as sound quality. All of the sudden they were hearing details, not because there were more of them, but because they were paying more attention than they ever had. The mental part of the listening experience is a huge factor. So is the power of suggestion.

  • dj_cityboydj_cityboy 1,464 Posts
    mad info in this thread, I just wanted to chime in to say thanks for the knowledge drop Thes...



    pretty sure the 45's I bought from someone on this site were all mastered in analog?

    The Rail Runners - The Takeback b-side: Crash Burn Learn and they sound dope compared to some of the pricier represses I have purchased.

    for years I tried to find and OG copy of Too Short - Life Is... and got tired of searching, so when it was repressed I took a chance and bought it @ $29 (I believe) and what a waste of a purchase, while most of my albums play fine at volume 5 on my mixer the Too Short needs to be played at volume 10...and for being a 180gram pressing is warped...quality is gross and not worth playing most of the time, if I want to listen to the album, I'll pop in the cassette

    after the last few represses I purchased were ridiculously priced and shitty quality I cant be bothered buying into the temptation of purchasing an album overly priced with worse sound then the OG.

    I don't understand how the quality of some of the represses can be sooo bad that they even allow it to be repressed, bootlegs I can sort of understand, maybe there's a niche market for them...I was dumb and purchased, obviously um not the only one..

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts
    True, true.

    What gets me about music journalism in the early days of cds is that seemingly no music journalist bothered to A/B cd reissues.

    But music journalists told us that the Motown, Hendrix and a load of other reissues sounded better than the original releases.
    Today the late 80s early 90s cds are near worthless because people know they suck.

    Even on vinyl people were buying up Digitally Remastered MCA/Chess and Columbia jazz reissues that were pigs breath.

  • DJ_Enki said:


    :face_melt:

    Fuck, this thread is amazing.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts
    .

  • mannybolonemannybolone Los Angeles, CA 15,025 Posts
    A bit off-topic but Laserwolf: I wouldn't assume people had less disposable incomes in the past. If anything, they should have less today, partially because middle class wages have remained stagnant or declined over the last 20 years, thus lowering disposable income for most American families.

    What I would wager is that, in the past, people spent a higher % of their overall income on music than they do today, partially b/c the cost of music is less expensive now + there's more competition for entertaining $ spending.

  • BeatChemistBeatChemist 1,465 Posts
    bobtheorange said:
    DJ_Enki said:


    :face_melt:

    Fuck, this thread is amazing.

    Huge respect to Thes for being so candid.

  • LaserWolfLaserWolf Portland Oregon 11,517 Posts
    mannybolone said:
    A bit off-topic but Laserwolf: I wouldn't assume people had less disposable incomes in the past. If anything, they should have less today, partially because middle class wages have remained stagnant or declined over the last 20 years, thus lowering disposable income for most American families.

    What I would wager is that, in the past, people spent a higher % of their overall income on music than they do today, partially b/c the cost of music is less expensive now + there's more competition for entertaining $ spending.

    True.

  • mannybolonemannybolone Los Angeles, CA 15,025 Posts
    Thes, if I can offer a thought though:

    When vinyl was truly viable, it was largely because it was the only option in town, right? So whether things sounded amazing or sounded like shit, you bought an LP on vinyl because there wasn't another medium to compete with it. You may be absolutely correct in suggesting that the audio quality was superior in the past but I guess my question is, besides audiophiles: who really cares?

    Look at the spread of MP3s? Most of us would agree that the sound quality of an MP3 is inferior to many other potential forms that music could be delivered in. But for the vast vast vast majority of consumers, it sounds "fine." The convenience of MP3s trumps whatever you're giving up in fidelity or what not.

    So while I do think it sucks that manufacturing quality has declined over time,to the extent that recorded music exists as a commodity, if that commodity attracts buyers purely on fetish value rather than audio value, I'm not actually certain this betrays some notion of past standards when, as noted, most people didn't care if things sound the-best-they-could-possibly-be so long as it "sounds fine." I think the fact that there's a market for today's vinyl pressings, despite their crappiness, speaks to that same logic. But my point: it's always been the logic of how recorded music has behaved, no?

    BTW: I think you could do a repress of "OST" but on some deluxe tip, charging a premium for a premium recording. Maybe you'd only move a few hundred units but I bet there'd be a market for it.

  • dj_cityboydj_cityboy 1,464 Posts
    some of the most recent records I have copped have mostly been from Slice-of-Spice and the quality they are able to maintain/consistently is pretty outstanding, a lot of the records coming from diggers with gratitude are top quality as well, so someone's doing something right...they are fairly limited in volume, but the quality is there for sure and worth spending my money on...

    I have no issues paying a premium for quality

  • LoopDreamsLoopDreams 1,195 Posts
    mannybolone said:
    T most people didn't care if things sound the-best-they-could-possibly-be so long as it "sounds fine." I think the fact that there's a market for today's vinyl pressings, despite their crappiness, speaks to that same logic.

    Sure, if your into music, when buying an album the musical quality always precedes the quality of the pressing. But when you find a beautiful piece of music that has been given it's due by the technicians all the way through, then you have something special .And I can see why achieving the highest level of accurate representation in the medium can become important to the point of obsession for a musician.
    I find it really depressing what Thes is saying: that the best physical medium for music will no longer exist in the coming years. Will digital ever = the best analog could offer? I don't know enough to say. What I do know is that people don't even know what good sound IS anymore. I've seen folks get really emotional when I play them a great record on a good system, loud: it hits them hard. Good music + good sound is a very powerful drug. Unfortunately a host of factors seem to be killing the buzz...

  • BallzDeepBallzDeep 612 Posts
    handmade_tortillas said:
    Thes is full of poo-poo in more ways than one

    OH YEAH?

  • 4YearGraduate4YearGraduate 2,945 Posts
    Oh hey dude! Go ahead and expand on that gatortoof/blueberry pancakes/ valuable poster!

  • edulusedulus 421 Posts
    hey thes, not that i am trying to get you to throw any particular labels under the bus, but in your opinion which current labels (releasing new music) do a good job of pressing vinyl with high quality sound?

  • TECUMSEH said:
    Excuse the ignorance. Does the lead used in PVC records effect the end users?
    Polyvinyl Chloride is associated with angiosarcoma of the liver. Haven't heard anything about the lead though.

    Edit: Just to clarify, PVC and angiosarcoma is rare and more of an occupational hazard (say in a pressing plant or pipe factory), not really something a vinyl collector should worry about.
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