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Clean but bad sounding used records from Aus discogs sellers recently.


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Hi all,
I've been buying more records from Australian sellers on Discogs during lockdown and I've noticed a troubling phenomenon with some recent purchases.
In each case the records were spotless, not a fleck of dust but I give them a pass through my Okki Nokki anyway. The problem is that these records sound thin, crackly and hollow despite appearing pristine. At first I thought it was bad luck or bad pressings, but it's happened twice more in the last few months, and in each case of a bad sound, the records arrived spotless. The clincher was that in the last lot of 5 records, one had a slight layer of dust, just enough to form a faint band when wiped with a cleaning brush. This record was the only one out of the batch which sounded great. Full bodied, rich flowing beautiful sound (also cleaned on Okki Nokki). Until this record came on I was starting to wonder if there was something wrong with my setup as the previous 4 records sounded uninspiring to say the least and had me tuned out on my phone. This has me wondering if there's some sort of destructive cleaning process making the rounds between Australian record stores at the moment? My orders over the preceding years always had some dust and by and large I've been satisfied with the sound. Perhaps a homebrew ultrasonic system or something like that is gaining traction? The dusty but great sounding record was only $5 so I wonder if it wasn't "worth cleaning". I actually asked the  seller about this and he said he didn't clean them and that they were 'minty' when he got them.

 

Edited by abelb
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A lot of records have been sitting in storage for 3 or so decades, so mould and other contaminants can be well and truely attached. Your Okki won't touch this, and US or glue extraction are the only possibilities worth exploring. I've come across many records that fit your description that came up fine with a US clean. However, mint looking records can also have groove damage from poor stylus condition/alignment which unfortunately can't be fixed.

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There are some sellers who are capitalists, not audiophiles.  They recognise that a shiny record will sell for more $$ than one that looks a bit dull.  So they will spray and polish them with goodness-knows-what so they look mint, but will play terribly on a good turntable.  The Crossley owners won't have a clue they are buying damaged records. 

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35 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

There are some sellers who are capitalists, not audiophiles.  They recognise that a shiny record will sell for more $$ than one that looks a bit dull.  So they will spray and polish them with goodness-knows-what so they look mint, but will play terribly on a good turntable.  The Crossley owners won't have a clue they are buying damaged records. 

 

That's a very negative opinion, af.  :(

 

1 hour ago, t_mike said:

A lot of records have been sitting in storage for 3 or so decades, so mould and other contaminants can be well and truely attached. Your Okki won't touch this, and US or glue extraction are the only possibilities worth exploring. I've come across many records that fit your description that came up fine with a US clean. However, mint looking records can also have groove damage from poor stylus condition/alignment which unfortunately can't be fixed.

 

^  ^  ^  what Mike said.  :thumb:  (Although I don't agree with him that (PVA) glue can necessarily remove all mould contaminants.)

 

a.  us cleaning is necessary, and

b.  the grooves might be fcuked - even if the record looks clean.

 

Andy

 

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30 minutes ago, andyr said:

That's a very negative opinion, af.  :(

Based on what I've read some people have observed.  Perhaps I should have clarified it would be an extremely low proportion. 

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Thanks everyone. I’m not sure it’s mould due to having three seperate orders from three different sellers over the last 6 months where this has been an issue (I’ve had other orders which are fine). The commonalities are that the records all appeared to have been cleaned prior to shipping and the sellers have been Australian. I’m sure the records are damaged, possibly just worn out due to being played on Crosley’s which is definitely a possibility in the used market. I’m still wondering if the cleaning process used by these sellers might have caused damage. That one order I got with the single dusty record which sounded great amongst the cleaned ones which didn’t is the thing that raised an eyebrow for me. Has anyone else noticed more used records from Aus Discogs sellers arriving pre-cleaned of late? How do they sound? As an aside I once saw a record store buff up a record with lighter fluid. Sure hope that fad isn’t still going around. 

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1 hour ago, abelb said:

The commonalities are that the records all appeared to have been cleaned prior to shipping and the sellers have been Australian. I’m sure the records are damaged, possibly just worn out due to being played on Crosley’s which is definitely a possibility in the used market. I’m still wondering if the cleaning process used by these sellers might have caused damage.

In your orig. post you described them as sounding thin, crackly and hollow.  I know of no cleaning process that can do that and for them to still appear to be spotless, not can I imagine how.   Maybe I am reading to much into the thin and hollow parts of the description?  I think that they must just have been damaged by a previous playing.

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Thanks AussieVintage. You might be right, I hope so, the mind does wander and it could just be a bad streak. I’ll give them another listen and try to come up with a better description of the sound. I’ve also been meaning to try them on my other decks with DJ stylus (primary is a Koetsu which would be playing the bottom of the grooves).

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-Do u choose the pressings before order?  Forget about the new pressings such as DoI etc.  they are all from CD
Also Australian pressings are generally poor sounding unless they are from 50’s or 60’s.  

Japanese pressing of American recordings usually in pristine conditions but can sound thin due to the eq. for jap market. (story for another post)

-Discogs description  of ‘conditions’ vary enormously from sellers.  I just bought a rather expensive ‘near mint’ that is badly warped and noisy

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12 minutes ago, denimhunter said:

Also Australian pressings are generally poor sounding unless they are from 50’s or 60’s.  

People (like me) might tend to disagree.  I have excellent Aussie pressings from throughout the 70s and into the 80s.

 

Just to mention a couple...  Dark Side of the Moon, and Brothers in Arms.

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4 hours ago, aussievintage said:

People (like me) might tend to disagree.  I have excellent Aussie pressings from throughout the 70s and into the 80s.

 

Just to mention a couple...  Dark Side of the Moon, and Brothers in Arms.

Indeed there are always exceptions

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6 minutes ago, denimhunter said:

Indeed there are always exceptions

I'm with @aussievintage on this one, many Australian pressings sound excellent. I also have many Japanese pressings that will see away MOFI output of the same release.

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5 minutes ago, t_mike said:

I'm with @aussievintage on this one, many Australian pressings sound excellent. I also have many Japanese pressings that will see away MOFI output of the same release.

Yes, more than just exceptions.  I have always been happy with most Aussie pressings.

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It's very embarrassing to sell LPs from the 50s or 60s that have groove damage (unseeable). I suppose that it's to be expected for some original pressings considering the nature of the cartridges and weights of that era. Not 'too' common but still an issue. Re-issues have the edge here if it's your very favourite music e.g. Music Matters label.

 

My 2c worth

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6 minutes ago, doogie44 said:

It's very embarrassing to sell LPs from the 50s or 60s that have groove damage (unseeable). I suppose that it's to be expected for some original pressings considering the nature of the cartridges and weights of that era

Certainly is to be expected.  I have knowingly purchased things, such as old Beatles original monos,  despite groove damage.  I was still very happy with the purchase - there's still a lot of pleasure left in those grooves.

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On 19/10/2020 at 2:03 PM, denimhunter said:

Indeed there are always exceptions

Too many to mention.

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Sympathy to the threadstarter, it's always a drag when mail-order vinyl ends up being disappointing. Vinyl is a fun hobby but geez it's a punt. Even new records can sound lousy. Even records that sounded OK when you auditioned them in the shop can sound lousy with your home setup. Sellers who you thought graded accurately on one LP disappoint you with the next. I feel like I go through phases where I buy a few disappointing discs in a row and then I have a good run - hopefully your good run is due soon. 

 

I've seen a few record stores using nappy wipes to clean their LPs and I don't really love that idea - surely they'll get gunked up with moisturiser/detergent/whatever. 

 

 

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