Does black vinyl sound better than colored vinyl?

January 11, 2021
Madison McMakin

Interested in collecting vinyl, or just wondering how much your collection is worth? Here, we will argue one of the most discussed topics in the world of record pressing: Is there really a difference between classic black vinyl and color vinyl? 

Vinyl records are made from PVC pellets which naturally have no color. To get black, we add super strong black carbon to the pellets. Black carbon has chemical qualities that happen to increase durability and electromagnetic conduction. This reduces static and therefore lessens a record’s attraction to dust. The less dust, the better your record holds up over time, play after play. To get other colors we add dyes that neither add durability nor detract from the quality. With modern pressing technology, it’s possible to get colored LPs up to par with the classic black ones, but there’s usually an overarching problem of surface noise. The main issue lies within the quality of the manufacturer. The types of records most likely to experience a quality problem are translucent records, glow-in-the-dark records, and picture disks.

With this consistent issue in quality, you may wonder why colored vinyl records are so collectible. Color records are more expensive to produce, so most artists choose to do small batches of color and larger batches of black to save on production costs. Scarcity inflates the value. We see the reverse of this effect in Aphex Twin’s 1994 release, “Selected Ambient Works Volume II.” This album was mostly pressed in color, making the small number of black pressings more valuable. 

Overall, black records do perform better than color records over time. Collectibility is based upon available quantity, and unless you’re going to hang them on your wall… stay away from picture disks!