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Music in Shades: Differentiating Black and Colored Vinyl

With the resurgence of vinyl as an appealing medium to audiophiles, the debate on colored vinyl has returned. In previous decades, colored vinyl was considered a symbol of cheap quality recording. This medium allowed recording companies to set higher prices for recordings that contained more noise and hiss, upsetting the HiFi community. 

Although colored vinyl discs are materially inferior to jet black vinyl records, the rising popularity of HiFi listening can turn the tables among turntable owners.

How does color affect a vinyl record’s sound quality?

All vinyl records come from PVC, which naturally contains no colors. However, colorants are introduced to the material to produce different color variations. For classic vinyl records, black carbon is added to strengthen the mix and reduce static electricity. Attempting to alter the formula in the vinyl record production process can lead to various product inconsistencies.

Vinyl fetishization was a popular trend in previous decades, attracting a younger demographic to purchase colored vinyl discs by charging for a higher price. This change in color can cause the resulting music to be noisy or unpredictable. Mixing more colors from different vinyl pellet forms will lead to molding issues, affecting the music it produces. It’s the reason why sacrificing the authenticity of the traditional black design will lead to inefficiencies in alternative and hand-made records.

Are there other kinds of vinyl records?

Besides the colored vinyl, other formats also rose in popularity due to their distinct appearance. Clear vinyl is generally the purest and most similar to black discs’ performance. However, there is still some loss in sound quality, even if it may not be perceptible to a casual listener.

A picture disc is another format that displays a decorative image on top of the record. These discs are made up of three layers. The first is a transparent record functioning as a base, the second containing the displayed image, and a third transparent plastic sheet containing the record’s grooves. Due to its vulnerability, the final malleable plastic layer is weak and prone to breaking. This affects the longevity of the record and is not suitable for long-term use.

Are colored vinyl records worth buying?

Keep in mind that the comparisons in this article refer to colored vinyl that was popular in the 1960s. In reality, vinyl record pressing technologies have come a long way and solved the weaknesses of older methods. Today, there is no major difference between traditional black record vinyl and modern colored discs.

Although it has already been proven that colored vinyl discs from the past are of lesser quality, it isn’t stopping collectors from hunting these items down. From a manufacturer’s perspective, colored vinyl is typically more expensive to make. However, there’s also the issue of increasing demand for these products due to limited supply. This creates a consistent appeal for these antique pieces to increase in value continually. It’s a trend in vinyl disc collection affecting how consumers treat modern releases from today’s bands, which is why colored vinyl is substantially more valuable today.


No one in the music industry could have predicted the sudden rise of colored vinyl disc prices today. Nevertheless, its newfound attention to the traditional listening format is welcome and appreciated. While streaming is a popular means of listening to audio, HiFi enthusiasts and hobbyists are sure to drive the sales of vinyl records for years to come.

It can be challenging to find a local store that will cater to your HiFi listening needs. At Music Connection, we buy and sell vinyls in Manchester, NH. Browse our wide assortment of HiFi equipment and catalog of previously-loved CDs, DVDs, cassettes, and vinyl records today!

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