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How to Determine If a Record Is an Original Pressing

Collectors and audiophiles always tend to lean toward vinyl records because of their higher quality sound and analog aesthetic. It’s great for any music collection and produces unmatched lossless audio that digital just hasn’t been able to attain. Because of this, there remain countless stores and individuals who buy and sell records frequently.

Most purists will tell you to opt for a first pressing. Even though remasters and reissues can sound better, the first press will be unique, have greater value, and carry that historical “authenticity” that reissues just don’t have. If you’re eyeing a vinyl record that claims to be the first pressing, make sure you know how to tell if it’s legitimate.

Check the Packaging and Visuals

The first thing to check for are signs of aging. This is immediately helpful if you’re looking at a decades-old record. However, wear and tear does not always count as an accurate marker. It’s just a starting point.

What really helps is checking the details on the package. Many first press editions carry different artwork and packaging than reissues, so this is an immediate visual indicator.

Look for the Edition 

If you’re lucky enough to find one with a sleeve, simply check the edition details that should be marked there. This will tell you if it’s a first edition and what region it was released for. Different records are created to cater to various markets across the world.

Use the Catalog Number

For the most part, finding a catalog number with your vinyl record should be a sure shot. The format can already tell you by the number of digits, though this isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal.

Different record companies use their own cataloging system, so make sure you note down the number and company then search that online. From there, you can get more information on your specific vinyl’s release date and details.

Look Up the Barcode

This method works for any vinyl record from the ‘80s onwards. If you’re looking at an older album from before that time, and it has a barcode, you can be fairly certain it’s a reissue. 

Otherwise, later albums will need to have their barcode scanned to search for its details.

Read The Label

Your vinyl will usually have tell-tale signs right on the label. The publishing date will be there, along with the matrix number and region. Even the logos and designs used can provide clues on the release date since editions and companies alike can change their visuals.

Check the Dead Wax

This pertains to the grooves on either side of your vinyl record. Within these, you’ll likely see core identifiers that can tell you more about which pressing is in your hands. Mastering engineers will leave their initials, so this helps if you know who did the original. 

On top of that, it can reveal whether the record is in stereo or mono using the markings. Simply compare that information with anything you can search on Discogs, and you should be good to go.


You’ll find all of these unique characteristics when you pre-order vinyl records from new releases. Reputable shops will give you the real deal for newly released records, so you don’t really have to worry about that. These tips will come in handier when dealing with older releases that have since seen a number of reissues, especially if you’re getting your vinyl from a solo seller or second-hand.

Wondering where to get vinyls in Manchester, NH? Look no further than Music Connection, where we provide an extensive and authentic collection of both new and pre-loved vinyl records. Visit us now and order your favorite classics!

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