Does Colored Vinyl Sound Worse? Is Black Vinyl Better? Check Here

james williamson author James Williamson
  April 6th, 2024

Aha, the beautiful colored vinyl.

There is no doubt that the colored vinyl records look so cool and awesome. Honestly, I have more than 10 colored vinyl, and whenever I play anyone I get stunned by their amazing sound quality and beauty.

But, wait what? The amazing sound quality?

If you are surprised about my opinion regarding the sound quality then just keep reading this article and you will know why I am saying that.

Well, a lot of people in the vinyl community still raise questions like does colored vinyl sound worse, is black vinyl sound better than colored vinyl? and most of them still believe that colored vinyl sounds inferior to black vinyl but is this the real truth?

In this article, we are going to talk about colored vinyl, i.e., how they are made, how their sound quality is, and the reasons why your colored vinyl used to sound bad.

But firstly, let me answer the most important question.

Does Colored Vinyl Sound Worse?

does colored vinyl sound worse

The answer is no. The colored vinyl sounds as good as black vinyl considering the high-quality material used while pressing, an experienced mastering engineer mastered the original sound before pressing, the original sound has good dynamic range and the record is in good condition.

Well, I have answered your questions but most of you want me to share the facts behind my answer. So, here it goes.

But, before going any further let’s discuss more about vinyl.

What Material Is Vinyl Made Of?

The vinyl is created using Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) pellets and let me tell you that the term – “vinyl” has also come from the name of this material i.e. PolyVinyl Chloride.

What is the Natural Color of PVC?

PVC is colorless. It appears translucent milky white when pressed without any adulteration.

Now, you may be thinking that if the PVC is colorless then how do records have a black color or different color? Let me explain it.

How Vinyl Gets Its Different Color?

colored vinyl records

There are many different colors and designs of vinyl available in the market like black (the most common one and industry standard), metallic colors, opaque colors, pigment swirls, etc and not forgetting the picture disc, glow in dark and transparent vinyl.

colored pvc pellets

Well, the design and color of vinyl depend on the variety of colored pigments used with PVC. For black vinyl, black carbon pellets are mixed with PVC, and for colored vinyl, colored pellets are mixed with PVC.

Manufacturing Process:

The manufacturer mixes a specific quantity of black carbon pellets or colored pellets in the PVC pallets and preheats them into solid pucks called biscuits.  These biscuits are then heated to 148°C (300°F) and compressed inside the hydraulic press with stamper. This stamper flattens the biscuit and engraves groove patterns on top of it with more than 2000 PSI pressure for about 8 seconds each. Then the cooling process comes in and after cooling, these are trimmed into their final shape.

That’s how you get your perfect black or colored vinyl.

Video Tutorial:

Till now, you should have understood the details about vinyl and the material used by the manufacturer to manufacture a black or a colored one.

So now, let’s talk about the reason why people started thinking that colored vinyl sounded worse than black vinyl in the past.

Does Colored Vinyl Use to Sound Worse Than Black Vinyl In Past?

In the past, I agree with most people in the vinyl world that colored vinyl does sound worse than an industry-standard black vinyl record.

Here, I am not considering the bad mastering of sound before pressing but the actual quality of the material used in vinyl pressing.

As we have explained above, the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) used in vinyl, is a natural insulator and the static charge is built on it when it interacts with its surrounding objects like air, record sleeves, hand touches, and much more.

This static charge can attract dust particles which can get stuck inside record grooves and these dust particles restrict the stylus from fetching the audio signals properly, you get bad sound quality from speakers. On top of that, the dirt will damage the stylus and record grooves.

So to reduce the static charge from records and improve the sound quality, the manufacturers need to do some adulteration to the original PVC mixes with some material, and here, black carbon comes into the picture.

According to Conductive Phonograph Record Patents, black carbon is conductive so when you mix the black carbon in the PVC mix then the conductivity is increased which makes the record less prone to static charge.

Due to less static charge, the record attracts less dust which results in better sound quality and your records or stylus last longer.

Also, the black color of the record helps in easy and better visual inspection of the record and it is not also soluble in water so record cleaning fluids do not affect the record.

But then came the trend of colored vinyl and to press the colored vinyl, manufacturers needed to replace the black carbon with colored pellets.

However, the bad quality of the colored pellets supplied and their inability to mix perfectly with the PVC resulted in an increased static charge of the record which directly affected the sound quality and indirectly reduced the life span of the record and stylus.

Well, Matt Earley of GottaGrooveRecords (vinyl pressing plant) has also shared his insights (backed up by more than 10 years of experience) about vinyl, in which he has arranged the different types of vinyl according to their noise characteristics where position 1 represents the quietest and as the position increases, their surface noise increases too.

Position Type of Vinyl
1 Black
2 Natural PVC Pressed (No Adulteration)
3 Transparent Colors
4 Non-Mixed Opaque Colors (Excluding White Color)
5 White
6 Opaque Mix
7 Recycled Color Shades
8 Hand-made variants
9 Glow In The Dark
10 Glitter Records

These are the insights from the past but as you know, technology has evolved a lot.

Although the pressing techniques stayed the same, the quality of color pellets and PVC material has improved a lot which makes it a lot more difficult to hear any sound differences between black vinyl or colored vinyl.

So, I can say that colored vinyl sounds similar to black vinyl. There is no difference between these two.

But, if your colored vinyl sounds bad then don’t worry as now, we are going to address your issue.

Reasons Behind Your Colored Vinyl Sounds Worse:

Here are some reasons why your colored vinyl record sounds bad.

Record Condition:

The condition of the record does affect the sound quality.

You should clean your record and remove all the dust particles that are stuck inside the grooves otherwise, you need to deal with record skipping and distorted sound issues.

Well, the dust that remains in the grooves is quite common in colored vinyl.

In black vinyl, we can easily inspect the record grooves because the dust is easily visible in black color but in different colors, it is very difficult to track the dust and remove it.

So, I advise you to place your record in natural light and use a magnifier glass to see the dust particulars on the colored grooves and remove them.

Poor Mix and Mastering:

If the mastering engineer has done a bad job then you can’t do anything. You will get bad sound quality whether you are using black vinyl or a colored one.

Original or Re-Issue Pressing:

The original pressing always sounds better than reissue pressing.

Don’t know the difference?

Well, let me explain it to you.

Original pressing means the vinyl record is created from the initial batch i.e. from original recordings while reissue pressing means the vinyl record has been re-released and most of the times, the re-released vinyl are not created from the original records.

Recycled Pellets or Virgin Pellets:

The virgin pellets i.e. new PVC pellets are used for pressing records and recycled pellets are the pellets created from the recycling of the old vinyl records.

Sometimes, the bad quality of recycled pellets are reason for bad sound.

Compressed Audio:

If your original audio is too compressed then you are going to get bad sound quality no matter, if you are using black vinyl or colored one.


We have shared whether the colored vinyl sounds worse or not and also shared the history of colored vinyl along with the reasons why your colored vinyl might sound bad. If you have any kind of questions then you can comment below. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

james williamson
About Author: James Williamson

I have been a music enthusiast since childhood and I love talking about music bands, artists, vinyl, and music equipments. I have launched TurntableWave to help people avoid the mistakes that I had made while entering the vinyl world. In my free time, you will find me fishing or playing basketball.

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