New Vinyl Quality Control – I’m Running Out of Patience

Marc HenshallCulture & Industry67 Comments

Considering vinyl records are pitched as a premium or luxury product, the quality control of some new vinyl releases leaves much to be desired…

Pressing faults and the quality of new vinyl is a topic we’ve covered before. Sadly, there are several common faults to watch out for, which can be a cause for headache for many record enthusiasts. 

To a certain degree, it’s the nature of the beast (within reason). But in my experience, the rate of faulty or poor quality pressings is far higher than it should be. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve encountered problems and had to return or replace a new record. 

Here are some recent examples:

Tenth-anniversary re-issue of John Frusciante’s The Empyrean. It took me three attempts to get a copy that didn’t either have huge distortion on track four or have a deep scratch on the surface due to a rouge piece of vinyl making it into the record sleeve after trimming. 

Alt-J – Relaxer. Little bubbles on the record surface that cause a clip or pop as the stylus runs through them.

Record Store Day 2020 release of Tyrannosaurus Rex Unicorn – the yellow vinyl has color contamination, meaning the surface isn’t entirely solid yellow. See close up pictures below. This is my most recent disappointment and is ultimately the straw that broke the camels back, leading to this article (or rant, depending on how you look at it). 

Back to Black copy of Nirvana Nevermind. Pressed off-center…

Counting Crows – August and Everything After. Again, there is a tiny bubble on the record surface that causes a pop as the stylus runs through. After buying a few copies, I ended up settling for one of them where the bubble was located between two tracks. Better to have the bubble in the silence rather than disturbing the music. 

Norah Jones – Come Away with Me. There is significant sibilance on this record, particularly on Norah’s vocal. My suspicion here is the mastering wasn’t explicitly handled for vinyl, and the original digital master doesn’t translate well to wax. 

Threatening the Vinyl Revival

I appreciate there will always be the odd problem that slips through the net, and I also understand the huge strain placed on record plants to keep up with demand. Sales figures for new vinyl continue to rise, putting the limited amount of pressing plants under increased pressure. My fear is, if the subject of quality control isn’t addressed, it could threaten the resurgence in vinyl. Consumers will quickly lose patience if they feel they’re paying a premium for subpar quality. For example, I paid upwards of $40 for my recent copy of Unicorn (described above). And while there was nothing wrong with the actual pressing, color defects on a limited edition pressing simply isn’t good enough. 

Thankfully, most retailers are understanding and will always accept a return or replacement for faulty records, but the process and time involved certainly takes the edge off the whole experience of buying a desirable product.

I’m not the only person to raise concerns over quality control, of course. For example, many YouTubers have expressed concerns and frustrations, including Frank Landry from Channel 33RMP, who claims there are “Still MAJOR quality control issues with new vinyl records” after receiving a heavily scratched copy of Ozzy Osbourne’s Ordinary Man.

Additionally, Brian from For the Record expressed in one video why he doesn’t buy that much new vinyl any more after battling with ongoing quality issues. “I have found that quality control for new vinyl pressings has been put on the backburner in lieu of getting them out as fast as humanly possible.” 

He goes on claim that “one in maybe five or six new records I buy have nothing wrong with them, the other records have something wrong with them!” The most common issues he cites are bubbles on the record surface and off-center pressings – both of which I can vouch for as being a huge headache when buying new vinyl. Four out of five records is a bold claim, and it’s important to note that the video is almost two years old now. However, the fact remains, there are clearly some consistency and quality control issues at play. 

Signs of Promise

It’s not all bad news. There is a strong determination across the industry to improve and uphold standards to secure a bright future for vinyl records as demand continues to grow. In a recent interview with mastering engineer Barry Grint, he revealed a promising development supporting quality control. “The RIAA have a working group looking to put together a standards document covering all aspects of record manufacture in terms of quality of pressing, printing, and becoming more environmentally friendly,” he explains. “However, the manufacture of records is a very organic process, and all factories cycle through peaks and troughs of quality. That doesn’t mean that suddenly the quality is disastrous, but that they work within a tolerance.”

Additionally, the recent formation of the Vinyl Alliance—a members-based organization working to “strengthen the position of vinyl records in a digital world”—is a positive development. The more the industry groups together under a shared mission, the greater our ability to address quality control problems. 

Supporting the growth of record plant numbers and addressing broader supply chain issues will go a long way towards improving quality, as competition always raises quality standards. Here’s hoping the trend for new record plants continues, as consumers will soon vote with their feet if the quality continues to miss the mark.


  • Marc Henshall

    Marc is the owner of Sound Matters and a musician with a BSc Honours Degree in Music Technology. His love for records grew in the fallout from digital downloads and a feeling that, somehow, without the physical medium, the magic was lost.

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Melody Gardot 2009 UCJ. The copy I got brand new after max 4 plays on a new stylus the quality of the vinyl is an absolute disgrace. The surface is scratched already despite careful handling and cleaning. It’s just a disgrace of a pressing. Have had to ask the seller to review as I’ve no confidence in this vinyl copy whatsoever.

Last edited 10 months ago by Shenidan

I today had to return Ed Sheeran “Subtract” LP due to scratchy noise in between songs. And the scratchy sound even moved from left to right. I had to bring it back. And replaced with something else as I am concern about getting the same pressing. Guess what my replacement is Kenny G and it has some surface defects as well. An area that looks like scaling of the surface. But when I played it, no issue at all. But other area has scratches from after manufacturing. So handling issue I guess. But I swore I heard some some hissy noise on the left channel on one song. Couldn’t believe my luck. I have never had problems in the day long ago buying LPs. I also got Charlie Pugh latest album. I also can hear some distortion on some tracks. I think those people in the good old days knew how to make good LPs. Current news are just meh…..


Personally, I am sick of the whole deal. I can’t begin to count the number of exchanges due to scuffs, scratches, warping, surface noise, damaged jackets and sleeves, and labels torn around the center cut out. And yet the price continues to rise for garbage pressings. Definitely not worth the time and aggravation.

So the question is, why do people spend so much on subpar re-issues & defective new releases? It is illogical! And yet they do nothing about it, but complain?

Fortunately, I am not one of them. First, I purchase my records from overseas. I feel their pressing machines are advanced as opposed to the pressing machines here in the US. I also contact the record label sending a video displaying their pressing flaws.
This alleviates the back-and-forth emails. Based on my past experience, some labels have been cooperative, with the exception of Sony Entertainment on their re-issues. For example, Hall & Oates “Timeless Classics”. I purchased five copies of this title. All had the same distinctive pop, including the lead-in. Disgusting!

I am holding off on future LP purchases. I am going to research other “new” upcoming formats.


I could not agree more! I thought I was hearing things or it was my fault! I look after LP’s and have 50 year old pressings which are still almost perfect sonically. I have returned more new vinyl than kept any, three attempts at Aja, I still haven’t found a decent Love over Gold, returned three! Crime of the century took three goes, and the prices are extortionate, Japan super pressings are a safe bet but v dear. Took three goes for Kind of Blue as well. I think people are cashing in on the vinyl revival thinking that kids don’t know what vinyl should sound like, but old dogs like me (67) do and you won’t teach me new tricks. A suggestion is to try good condition used, cheaper and you might be surprised, I have been. The comment re sounding like major dust damage rang a bell with me, I think the grooves are full of vinyl debris from the pressing. Any thoughts?


Marc Hi. I have a £500 Moth cleaner which I use extensively but it simply can’t cope with all the debris noise, though I continue to clean and clean, what is frustrating is that it is often only side two which has the problems? The only real answer is get a better pressing, believe me Leo


I purchased the 2018 pressing of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway from Genesis and sure enough, one of the most subtle tracks, Lamia had contamination throughout.
Like dust particles floating, whether it was on a random run or it impacted a whole pressing run, this is totally unacceptable.
These are presently running for $55+
A pressing lab should be under strict medical cleanroom classifications for airborne impurities and dust, contaminants what have you.
I purchased the original 1974 British Charisma vinyl when I was 17 and saw the L.A. Shrine show.
That 1974 vinyl was pristine and flawless.
Wish I still had it.
The new overpriced copy I received is a POS, even if it only impacted one song.


I have albums up to 50+ old that I bought in my youth. I always tried to take care of them. I was intrigued when pressings were reissued in “high quality 180gm’s” at high prices. So, I bought a few. My system is pretty good, but not over the top. Nottingham turntable with a Soundsmith $1500 cartridge. So I was eager to hear the new high end vinyl on a midrange TT and cartridge. First up, Patricia Barber’s Modern Cool and Cafe Blue albums. For the most part, the instruments were sounding very good, but her vocal tracks were over the top with sibilant distortion. It was very annoying. Enough so, to make me return the albums and ended up with the CD versions. NO sibilant distortion on the much cheaper CD’s. Also bought a new Steely Dan Gaucho album. My original pressing from 1980 still tracks along beautifully with the odd noise one would expect from a 42 year old album. But, the recording and playback are still quite wonderful. I can’t say the same about my new 180gm version which is full of tick’s and the odd pop etc. And I can also say the same for a few others I’ve bought. Now, I won’t buy any more of them. I’d rather take my chance on a 40 year old pressing from a used record shop than purchase a brand new reissue. I was told the vinyl that is used now is not “virgin”, whereas way back when, when dinosaur’s roamed the planet, they used virgin vinyl. I don’t know if this is the reason why I’ve had bad luck or not. All I do know is that I won’t purchase any more of them. It’ll either be a CD or a high res download. And, I might add, I prefer the sound of vinyl to digital. There is a difference.


Two years later reading this article, everything still stands at least in my experience. Before there is an immediate defensive or outright hostile response let me clarify. I have been a “collector” for over 20 years, I am not new to this hobby nor music in general. My setup is not on the low end, with two turntables with different cartridges. I do not claim that vinyl in of itself is superior to CD’s and accept that is more prone to physical damage than other formats.

With that out of the way, any product regardless of media should not have as many physical defects or issues that newer records have. I still get CD’s mind you and have returned only a handful out of 100’s of new ones. Returning and exchanging vinyl the ration is closer to 35% or higher but not 50%.

No fill is the most common issue, especially on 180 gram. I dread playing a record through and getting to that hissing/static sound that can not be fixed. Scratches upon opening a new album is the second worst. Mind you not always audible but annoying regardless. This can be from the plant, or storage and is unacceptable for new items. Audible defects from either mastering or pressing, nothing you can see but simply here. This has not been as frequent but a couple times and incredibly irritating.

The issue is people do have an inherent reaction that vinyl is meant to be noisy which when I was a teen or younger also believed. Then I grew up and actually researched the hobby to my surprise it is not supposed to be. Bad equipment, bad setup, not taking care of albums etc all lead to the noise. People do not raise questions or make a fuss about this nearly enough which will keep it happening. Now I am not suggesting that if hear the slightest crackle, pop or static to immediately return your record. I am saying that genuine defects and damage are not reasonable for new items.


I have a 40 year old EX copy of Dare by the Human League. Not a single crackle or pop to be heard. Play so smooth. 2022 copy of the 1883 Soundtrack (Returned twice) – All contain pops and crackles all the way through. I am done buying modern vinyl. The quality is terrible.


Old records are worn out, so not worth to pay for them 10-15 eur like sellers want to have. Many new records stink when you put them out of the sleeves, they are not even vinyl, but mixture of old plastic, grinded CD`s and vinyl. Those will be scratched in the lead inn grooves every time you will put a stylus down. Not appropriate material.


Off-center pressings are the bane of my existence, and the biggest problem with the vinyl format. Why is it almost always only Side B that is off? How can this happen so often now after so many years to perfect the vinyl pressing process? I’ve been collecting for 30 years, and work in a record store so I’ve seen thousands of records pass through my hands over the years. I recently ordered a batch of brand new reggae reissues and 5 of the 13 LPs were off center on side B.

At the store I work at, we often get returns with double LPs having 2 of the same record in the packaging. Also, records that are already scratched straight out of the packaging, or have pressing defects/debris pressed into the vinyl causing skips or heavy noise. Brutal! There are also many instances of the completely wrong LP inside of the jacket.

A good record store will always accept returns/store credit for bad product, so please support your local shop/ask them about their return policy on new vinyl returns.


Really angry at the quality of new pressed Vinyl, just opened a Christmas present AC/DC Dirty deeds and this is my worst so far, completely unplayable there must be 50 jumps in the first 2 tracks, along with all the issues i have had with pretty much all of Led Zeps albums, will not be looking to purchase or ask people to buy me gifts of newly pressed Vinyl again, I have purchased several from an auction site that are 30/40 years old with hardly any issues unfortunately the covers are normally in poor condition but at least the album will play without issue, as an avid collector this is not good enough and the industry really need to look at what quality they are putting out there before it falls on its face with disillusioned people like me ….. not another wasted penny from me gents

Joe Palka

I am so relieved at the frustration expressed as far too many of my recent vinyl purchases have been far from acceptable. Consider the double LP of the 2020 Emma released as a movie about a year ago. Not released in CD, the music compilation is glorious. But the extraneous noise very discomfiting. Oddly, many of my old lp’s are vastly superior despite the wear and tear of 30 years of playing. Not right!

[…] Whether it’s pressed off-center, or there are little bubbles on the record surface, masters that weren’t specifically engineered for vinyl, all sorts of quality issue can crop up in the unforgiving medium of vinyl. Here are some thoughts and approaches to new vinyl quality control over at Sound Matters: […]


This the inherit problem of “newbies” entering the vinyl market. They expect vinyl to be like CDs. I’m sorry but most vinyl has defects in them in some way or another. You should be buying vinyl records because you simply love them. It does not follow that they are automatically “superior” to other formats. I believe that it is the “superiority” argument that is at fault here. I love records for multiple reasons, but I have never even considered wondering if they are better than other formats. (Gross who wants to buy a CD?)


A blotchy yellow Unicorn RSD pressing is a concern, I agree with you on that!
But c’mon dude, vinyl quality was much worse in the late ’70s early ’80s as record companies tried to make records cheaper and cheaper until the medium was nearly killed off in favor of CDs. In the modern era I try to buy quality product from quality companies and rarely have a problem. An article that features a video called “New Records Kinda Suck” is not doing our hobby any good. Are you trying to drive people away?


I don’t have any pressings from the early 80s. But one of my Tina Turner greatest hit album from the 90s is one of the best one I own. Zero sonic defect and the overall quality of the sound is just very good, Love listening to it. Even my latest pressing of Tina Turner LP couldn’t beat the quality from the early 90s.


At the end of the day, even if the quality of vinyl record gets you mad – you can change the bad energy to creativity and make lamps or statues or paint on them ?

Dennis Ward

Two months ago I received my pre-ordered copy of Rick Wakeman’s Red Planet (Red Vinyl) and the first track on each side of the double album is unplayable. I have sent multiple emails to the retailer & manufacturer. They do reply stating they will rectify the situation, but nothing had happened as yet.


Skip vinyl and buy the CD!


I’ve been spinning LPs since the 1950s thanks to my late Dad and I disagree with your premise that most new LPs are defective; they are certainly better than the 1970s pressings which in many cases are horribly noisy and that includes WLPs that I received when I worked in the music business. I clean every LP that hits my platter with my iSonic Ultrasonic cleaner and experience few badly pressed records and NONE that were pressed off-center, except for the AP test record that I use to set up azimuth using my Fozgometer. Sibilance is caused by many things including the singer as some singers have sibilant ‘S’s. Bright speakers are also a culprit, and of course poorly set-up carts and incorrect loading. Before you say I can’t hear what you’re talking about and that my system doesn’t reveal detail but my system is highly resolving and includes Audio Research REF 3 pre, Musical Fidelity NuVista Vinyl, a Zesto Audio Andros Allasso Step Up Transformer, a slew of expensive MC carts, Rogue Audio Medusa (w/Mullard 4003s) . . . and more and my home built speakers which blow away my Revel Ultima Studios, so yes I can hear everything that is on the record being played.

Andy Johnston

The biggest thing most vinyl fans can do is AVOID anything pressed by GZ vinyl. Consult Discogs for information on specific pressings/releases and also look for the dreaded GZ etching in the deadwax. They have the largest pressing factory on the planet and the completely crappy level of quality of vinyl they manufacture is directly reflected by their quantity of output. I now go one step further and avoid artists with new or reissued records who also ALLOW their labels to knowingly rip-off and disappoint their fans in order to make for $$ when using GZ.



These are your complaints?

To address a few, yes… Air bubbles in the press process is unacceptable. So is improper storage/shipping that leads to warping (I’m looking at you Amazon.) Buy from audio specific houses, like Music Direct, MoFi, or the like if you want proper storage. And expect to pay more for it.

Off center pressing has been an issue for decades. It’s why two of the three turntables in the home are Nakamichi Dragon CTs. I have over 3k LPs. I think a half dozen have a perfect center. You have, and always have had, few options. Even the RIAA standard allows for centering deficiency. Wow and Flutter in LPs has always been an issue, and mechanically, there are too many variables to fix it (including your equipment, sizing if your spindle, etc.) You can learn to hand center discs if it really bothers you, but your issue is actually part of the format. If you

Colors streaks in colored vinyl? Huh. I guess. That seems nit-picky. It’s about the music, right? If you’re in the hobby for that, you’ll also know that black vinyl has the best press accuracy for sound reproduction, not colors (and I own plenty of color and picture discs, I just don’t check them for color issues.)

Overall, maybe my floor is lower. After dealing with acetate pressings, collecting via paper lists sent from overseas in the 90s (with records coming shattered, or not at all, after you send a USPS MO), and buying out hundreds of garage sales to get dozens of usable records….

Most of this just seems a little superfluous… I’m betting you haven’t been collecting that long (I’m 44, and have continued to grow my collection since I was 10-ish.)


Marc; it’s residue from a previous pressing.

Be it remaining surfactant, a small amount of residual vinyl, a thermal hot-spot where the heater sits in the press itself… Unless you legitimately scrub the entire machine down between pressings, it’s impossible to get perfect, every time.

It’s also one of the many reasons black was settled on as a standard color.

New vinyl, inflation adjusted, isn’t that bad. In the early 90s, I was paying $15-20 for a CD. Inflation for that 30 year period is a touch over 100%. Most of the new LPs range from $30 to $40 on average for a single, 33 RPM disc. It’s linear. And decent equipment is far cheaper.

You get into 45 RPM or collectors stuff, it gets pricier, but, It’s not bad. I paid more, years ago to import stuff (and just did on Discogs, tonight) when supply was only overseas.

The proliferation of readily available music on vinyl is incredible.

And QC is truly better than it ever was when it was mass produced. Stop by, look through some of my vintage stuff. If color spots drive you nuts, you’d never play mass produced junk from that era (which, inflation adjusted, was not cheaper…)

Melvin Womack

Mofi is no different I’ve had to send back four copies of mofi’s vinyl due to thumping surface noise warped and even scratches, so you can stop it with your 3k each snobby.
For a person who has spent 6k on turntables”you”out of all people shouldn’t be telling people how they should feel about imperfections that they’ve found in a product that they’ve purchased.


If you’re wanting to be serious about enjoying the vinyl experience you really have to educate yourself about pressing plants, do the research and find out who pressed the vinyl. There are some really bad pressing companies out there to avoid nowadays: United, Rainbo, Nashville, Third Man, GZ, etc Take the new Bob Dylan LP Rough and Rowdy Ways. The US pressings are click/pop/tick/scrape NOISY, The colored pressings are same.. NOISY. The EU pressing from MPO is pressed great and sounds excellent. So in this instance you have to buy the import if you want to actually listen to the LP. Costs more $$.


I agree. This is a very superficial article. I don’t think the Author really understands the topic enough to write an article on it…I bet that the proposed sibilance issue on “Come Away With Me” is due to incorrect cartridge alignment.


Stick to buying from reputable brands who have their products pressed from reputable plants. Greatly reduces the odds of getting a crap product. Little bit of research on a release goes a long way. This has been the case since the 60s, for example the various pressing plants used by Atlantic and Columbia. Some were terrific, some absolute garbage. Same story, different decade. Nothing has changed.


I must agree with this 110% as 30% of my recent “NEW” vinyl record purchases have been either warped or pressed off centre causing the dreaded “wow & flutter” effect which ruins all enjoyment of playback.
Here’s hoping record plants QC really up their game as “new” vinyl records ain’t cheep!


I have to get into a better habit of cleaning/playing new records as soon as possible after buying them. I tend to do mine in batches and it can be months between cleaning cycles. In the meantime the record is no longer available for replacement – like with RSD releases. A few years back I bought the Chuck Berry London Sessions RSD release. It got put away and forgotten about for a year. When I finally opened it the vinyl had some residue – almost like dried glue – smeared across the first inch or so of one side. I’ve tried multiple cleaning methods to no avail. No replacements to be had. I may resort to the wood glue treatment. I figure I have nothing to lose!!

Rob Morton

This is my experience,too. I have many of my old vinyl from theo 60s and 70s, so with the resurgence of vinyl, I invested in a quality deck. I started rebuying some of my favourite albums which I’d become separated from along with the vinyl versions of more modern records. The older albums which I thought new, such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Carole Kings Tapestry along with more seen pressings of Springsteen’s High Hopes were atrocious! Filth in the grooves, warps, crackles and more. All requiring returns. in fact, I picked up an old copy of Tapestry in a charity shop for £1 and after a little clean, it replaced my brand new copy in terms of quality! Albums purchased on ebay, from the 60,and 70s … FIFTY years old were actually better quality! I have now come to the conclusion that new albums reprinted from the 70s onwards, I will buy the cd. Anything pre-existing the 70s I’ll do my best to buy second hand and maybe but the newest vinyl and hope for the best. (The latest Bob Dylan was excellent!)


I’m old school from the early 70’s and just got back into vinyl.
I’ll be returning Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 for the 3rd time today.
All have a dime size wavy area in the fourth track and the last was warped badly.
It’s pretty bad that I can spin albums I’ve had from the 70’s that are in better shape than what I’m paying 4 times the amount I spent on junk.


Just had this conversation with my girlfriend tonight… then came across this. There’s a subtle anxiety that now accompanies ordering new vinyl. Unless it’s an MFSL copy, I just worry until I play it from start to finish. On the other hand, I have had ZERO issues with all of the old, but sealed, records I’ve ordered since… well… ever. I’ve been collecting for decades; and I initially saw this resurgence as a godsend… enabling me to own some of my newer favorites on vinyl. However, it’s just not worth the headache to mess with new pressings. Maybe I’ll give it one more shot.

Andy Johnston

I agree with your anxiety comment. I now buy only quality labels including MOFI, Analogue Productions, Analog Spark, Impex, Pure Pleasure, Speakers Corner and a few tiny labels…When I stick to these I have had zero anxiety and zero disappointment. Well worth the extra$$

David Adamson

To be fair I had issues on occasion back in the old days, however I would say a pristine new pressing is the exception not the norm. I prefer whenever possible to buy vintage.


I have been buying LP’s since 1964. In recent years I have been buying new issues and re-issues. Some are bad and some are superb.
Over the years I have made a shortlist of labels to avoid and some that are perfect. A couple of nights ago I played new John Mayall “Nobody told me” My son in law did not know it was running in until the music started, it is dead quiet. Do your research on the label before you buy.
I disagree with the comment in the article “It’s the nature of the beast” NO. It should not be. In this day and age (after 60-70 years) of LP production they should be perfect. Many I have bought are.

Endre Trepper

I had high expectations when I bought new records. To be frank, I don’t really like as they sound. I wanted to test the new breeds to be sure, it is not my ears that is faulty. So I bought the brand new edition of the same Elvis Presley, and Bill Haley prints. Heaven, and hell the difference. My 45-50 year-old records sound much better. I think the new pressings are simply not worth the price.

Kevin Cossaboon

Agree 100% Lenny Kravitz from Amazon, two record set, both were album 1, no album 2, I keep a drill bit by the turn table to cut a proper size hole in the new albums to fit on to my ProJect Turn Table…..

peter frost

Sorry to sound like a depressed profound person but I’ve got to the point where I’ve actually stopped buying new viny because of the poor quality and mainly it’s just too expensive
Also I don’t think any pressing plant can cut a decent vinyl unlike back in the day when I was growing up with buying records that hardly had any of the issues of today….in fact I played an original vinyl from 1969 and it still sounds good even though it was played on a dansette….new vinyl is crap and afraid I’m out


I have to agree. I seldom buy new releases. I buy used vinyls from various online groups. I also buy a few used from a local record shop. Prob is like mentioned before, it seems like the shops wanted too much for the used albums. Of course, it might be a reasonable price concerning their cost. But considering price alone I have to look at my online options.


Nice article.

I have also noticed issues with some vinyls I have recently purchased.

Some have had the before mentioned bubbles as u mentioned. At first I thought they were specs of dust.

But the real killer was a new release of “The Who’s” classic “Who’s Next”. On the last track side 2, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” I noticed a good bit of distortion from the middle to the end of the track, especially at the end. It was concentrated on my left channel. After consulting with a pro, I changed speakers from right to left channels. The distortion persisted. Different speakers, a thorough cleaning, nothing worked.

Finally, I purchased a used old version in near mint condition. No distortion.

I never thought of taking the new purchase back. I gave it to my grandson. I warned him about the distortion. One reason I didn’t return the new version was time. A good bit of time had passed before I noticed the distortion. I didn’t play that 2nd side that often.

So, it’s indeed a problem. I had subsequently been told that there have been trouble in the pressing of new albums. Strange. I have to buy an old version to eliminate distortion.

Kevin Ross Cossaboon

I always listen to new albums as fast as possible due to the amount I need to return.


Yep, I learned my lesson.

Mario Beaulieu

In general, pressing issues will cause, click, pops, crossed grooves and off center records. If you are playing your records on a properly calibrated setup the distortion is mostly due to a bad master. I found that most modern masters are too loud causing distortion and poor dynamic range. The same thing happened to me. I thought my vinyl was defective but the distortion was present on the CD also. These days, remaster = louder but not better. I think most of my old albums sound better than the ones I purchased lately except for a few pressings from Audio Fidelity that is now closed unfortunatley.


I agree with the premise of this article. The problems are simply too many. I’d also add that sleeve damage is also a real problem, crumpled inner sleeves particularly. I resent having to prove there is something wrong with the product, especially from a source where I have frequently bought from. I’ve committed to avoiding amazon but I have to admit their returns policy is excellent.

Jim Taylor

Seems records could have their surfaces laser scanned for surface imperfections and most of the above issues addressed via AI rather than human QC. Rejects get rejected and perhaps they’ll tighten things up as the pile of unsaleables grows.

Wayne Croxford

I buy a lot of vinyl, usually now, from Amazon. Returning faulty copies to them is hassle free because they ask no questions and they also arrange collection.
I would love to support my local record store but the problems with returning poor pressings puts me off. The staff too don’t seem to understand the issues, believing that pops and cracks are just part of the vinyl experience.
I must say though that many of the problems with new pressings can be solved by a good clean. I use a Moth.


I bought around 300 new records over the last few years…my return rate is probably 35%…35% of them I keep even thought they have some issues…and the rest, 30%, are good…very bad stats….

Steve Edwards

I’m a little surprised the examples don’t contain more information; i.e. label, issue date, weight of pressing, etc. There has been several complaints on the Norah Jones title. I don’t remember the specifics of that release, but I have a copy from Analogue Productions and it is flawless in pressing and sound. As a rule of thumb, I stay away from colored pressings.

Adam Bradford

I’m glad it’s not just me, Marc. Having only got back into vinyl fairly recently, I’ve been pretty dismayed at some of the quality control issues. Sadly, I’ve also experienced bad packaging that causes damage as soon as you take the record out.