Is coloured vinyl worse than black vinyl?

3 mins read

Coloured vinyl records offer a change to the black standard issue you see across a majority of records. They look great when spinning on a record player and with technology improving you can get some pretty cool designs.

What is a coloured vinyl?

Traditionally vinyl records have come in black this has been the same over the last 70 years of production. Although black is the most popular colour, you can get variants which include coloured, both single and multi-coloured vinyl.

This can be pretty much any colour the record production company wants. It’s usually reserved for limited runs and exclusives meaning if you have a coloured version of a band’s LP it’s usually rarer than the black version.

The history of coloured vinyls

Coloured vinyls have a bad reputation which is due to the production quality. In the last 5 years, coloured vinyls have become hugely popular, often being sold exclusively by independent music stores which helps local record shops get customers over the online and offline retail giants. Due to this production with both technology and material has improved massively. A coloured vinyl bought in 2022 will sound way better than those made in the 60s and 70s.  

How are coloured vinyl records made?

All PVC is clear when first produced, black carbon is added to the PVC to create the classic black vinyl. When it comes to coloured vinyl variants these are created using a mix of dyes as part of the manufacturing process.

When you have splatter and mixed colour vinyl records you’ll often find that these are unique with the pattern being hard to replicate consistently. This is another draw to the vinyl record collector as they then have a unique item.

How do you know you’re buying a coloured vinyl?

If you’re buying a brand new vinyl of a recent release when purchasing the record you’ll be able to see choose if you want a coloured version or the standard black version.

Often online retailers and record stores will list the variants they have in stock making it easily labelled and known which one you’ll be getting. Coloured vinyl often costs slightly more. This is due to the limited runs often being more exclusively.

If you’ve acquired a sealed record and want to know if it’s a coloured version or not, you can look on sites such as Discogs. The album cover might indicate what you have, or you can look up the barcode to help identify what version you have.

Alternatively, you can open a small section of the plastic seal to check if you have a coloured vinyl or not – If you’re looking to sell on, then make sure you don’t open too much more as well as indicate to the buyer that’s what’s been done to avoid any questions.  

Are coloured vinyls worth more?

Generally yes. Due to the limited availability and often being used for exclusive pressings the vinyl record will be slightly more expensive than the black version. It’s often the case that a coloured vinyl record is rarer.

Are coloured records lower quality?

If this question was being asked 30 years ago then maybe there would be a quality difference between coloured and black vinyl records. Due to the production quality over the last 5-10 years, you’ll find that most modern coloured vinyl is on par with the black pressings. There will of course always be exceptions to the rule, picture discs which are in a category on their own are still more problematic and can have audio issues, but enthusiasts should no longer be deterred away from buying the coloured vinyl alternatives.

Is clear vinyl better than black?

PVC is clear when produced carbon is added to create the black vinyl record, this helps to strengthen the record. In terms of sound quality, clear and black vinyl records are considered to be the same. This is mainly due to the consistency you get from having a single colour as well as the most used colour when it comes to records.

Does coloured vinyl sound worse than black vinyl?

Not anymore – With modern technology, you’ll find that both are of the same quality now. If you’re buying old vinyls then you may find a difference in sound quality between the coloured version and the black version.

When colours are mixed more ingredients are added. The more colours you may find if you listen very closely the drop in sound quality, but generally, this isn’t something the everyday music lover will notice.

Should I buy coloured vinyl?

Of course, often coloured vinyls are sold by independent retailers who should always be supported. They are often used as marketing gimmicks to help album sales as part of a launch campaign. You’ll find some bands actively match the vinyl colour to the album art which again adds a nice mix to your record collection.

Music enthusiast with a love for vinyl, gigs and festivals. Here to educate, review, discuss and share the love of music and vinyl records for the next generation.

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