Does Color Vinyl Sound Worse Than Black Vinyl?
There is an ongoing debate among record lovers regarding colored vinyl records vs. black. Does color vinyl sound worse? The safe answer is: sometimes. There are other key factors that play a part in the quality of sound.
When a vinyl record is made, it naturally has no color. Color vinyl is a result of colorants added to the mix of the natural materials used to make pure vinyl. Each colorant creates a slightly different formula with different melting characteristics that can affect molding of the record.
For example, black carbon is what’s most often added to make vinyl appear the standard black color. Since this is the most chosen coloring, it is the most consistent quality-wise during pressing. When switching to other colors, such as red, yellow, green, etc, during any pressings, it can achieve the same quality, though this quality can change from one pressing to the next. It’s the unpredictability that makes some think color vinyl sounds worse than black.
On its face then, it may seem that when comparing colored vinyl records vs. black, traditional black wins out. Although, technically, it doesn’t mean colored vinyl can’t have the same high level of sound quality. It comes down to the molding and how often the colorant is run.
Colored vinyl usually costs more per record since it costs more to produce, but often these pressings are available in limited batches, which makes them a collector’s item for music fans. Sometimes rare records are meant to be played, while others are meant to display. If you’re looking for limited edition, beautifully colored vinyl to add to your collection, here are a few we recommend at Victrola.
Elton John: Legendary Covers 69/70 - Limited Edition Pink Vinyl
Elton John fans already own all of the records that fall under his musical canon, but for the true enthusiasts who have followed his career in its entirety, this limited edition pink vinyl is one to add to the collection.
Elton John: Legendary Covers 69/70 - Limited Edition Pink Vinyl includes original recordings from Elton John’s early career, just as he was on the brink of superstardom. In addition to the colored vinyl, the album is packaged in a rainbow jacket, a design reflective of the star’s flamboyant stage presence he is well known for.
Song covers on the album included “Spirit in the Sky,” “Up Around the Bend,” and “Come and Get It.” Though this album doesn’t include any of the Rocketman's original hits, hearing him in this way with such a special limited edition album is one worthy of seeking out. His original hits from the 2019 Film, Rocketman, are included under the best movie soundtracks to own on vinyl.
Marvin Gaye: Dream of a Lifetime Limited 180-Gram Transparent Blue Colored Vinyl
For those left wondering, does color vinyl sound worse, the answer is not when it comes to Marvin Gaye. Regardless of the record color, venue, or recording, nothing can disguise or detract from the soulful sounds of one of Motown’s biggest stars. This limited edition vinyl record is a beautiful collector’s item and is the first posthumously released studio album by the singer.
It’s the production of modernizing several of his songs from his Motown and Columbia recording sessions and includes his single, “Sanctified Lady,” which hit top five on the R&B charts. Other songs on the album include the title track, “Dream of a Lifetime,” “It’s Madness,” and “Masochistic Beauty.” Through this special edition and his various other hits he put out throughout the course of his career, the music of Marvin Gaye lives on.
Mariah Carey: Me. I Am Mariah - The Elusive Chanteuse Limited Edition Translucent Orange Colored Vinyl
Over the span of the past few decades, Mariah Carey always shares surprises with her fans and never seems to run out of hits. In celebration of her 14th studio album, Me. I Am Mariah - Elusive Chanteuse, she released the record as a limited edition double LP orange-colored vinyl. Though pink is the songstress’ signature color, the sunset aesthetic fits the breezy sounds that infiltrated this specific record.
With 14 tracks total, including her the radio favorite single “#Beautiful” she gave audiences a collector’s item to add to her already extensive catalogue of work. Other songs off the record include “Cry,” “You’re Mine Eternal,” and “One More Try.” It also features several guest artists, including Nas, Miguel, Wale, and Fabolous. Bonus tracks from the deluxe edition also include tracks with Mary J. Blige and R. Kelly.
Whether Mariah Carey fans want to save this colored vinyl for the wall or play it as much as her other records, Me. I Am Mariah - Elusive Chanteuse serves as a bright spot, in more ways than one.
The Killers: Spaceman/Four Winds Single Limited Edition Picture Disc
The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers seemingly ignores the question: does color vinyl sound worse? With this limited edition picture disc, he shows that sometimes art supersedes any kind of rules. Rather than choose one color alone, the record is made up in multiple colors to capture Flowers’ portrait. Fans of this alternative rock band will appreciate the artistry of The Killers: Spaceman/Four Winds Single Limited Edition Picture Disc, whether as a framed collector’s item or watching it spin on their record player.
It features the band’s hit single “Spaceman” from their third studio album Day & Age, released in 2008 and includes the B-side single “Four Winds” as an extra treat for those who love The Killers. In terms of impressive artwork, and choosing colored vinyl vs. black, it doesn’t get much more creative and frame-worthy than this LP.
Charlie Parker: Jazz At Massey Hall Limited 180-Gram Yellow Colored Vinyl
Jazz music is one of the best genres to listen to on vinyl and Charlie Parker is an iconic artist whose music has lived on for generations. His limited edition album, Jazz At Massey Hall Limited 180-Gram Yellow Colored Vinyl, gives fans a double treat. First, the colored vinyl itself is a beauty to display and second, the album is a culmination of some of the best of the best of jazz musicians in a recording of what’s been called “the greatest jazz concert ever.”
This specially released album commemorates Charlie Parker’s 2020 Centennial with a direct metal mastering of the 1953 performance at Massey Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This rare record captures an elusive performance by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mignus, Bud Powell, and Max Roach. Though at the time of the actual performance, attendance was low due to a conflict with a major boxing fight, to hear this quintet come together live for one night only makes this record all the more magical.
Johnny Ramone: Final Sessions - Limited Edition Red Vinyl
The Ramones is arguably the most prolific punk rock band of a generation with guitarist and songwriter, Johnny Ramone leading the way. Fans of the band and music history buffs will appreciate his Final Sessions - Limited Edition Red Vinyl record.
It’s a chance to hear the final recorded studio performances of this punk music legend riffing on the guitar with fellow artists: Lemmy of Motörhead, Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom and Rockat Danny B. Harvey. This rare recording allows music lovers to feel like part of a personal jam session between legendary rockers doing what they do best, as well as pay homage to a genre of music that defined an era.
Lady Gaga: The Fame Limited Blue Vinyl
In 2008, Lady Gaga broke onto the music scene with her debut album, The Fame. It introduced a dance-pop sound and her hit singles “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” went on to gain international success. The album also features “LoveGame” and “Paparazzi,” which were also listed on the top ten on music charts.
The Fame contains 14 tracks all co-written by Lady Gaga herself. For fans of Gaga from the beginning, having this collector’s limited blue vinyl album commemorates her entry into stardom and her multiple Grammy award-winning album.
Influenced by synth-pop and electronics, she infuses new sounds and catchy lyrics into each song. Her debut seems so long as, since she has reinvented herself with her music and acting career several times since then. Gaga continues to deliver unique performances with elaborate costumes and music her fans connect with. The Fame Limited Blue Vinyl is an album almost too pretty not to display, but too good not to have in rotation on a regular basis.
Limited Edition Colored Vinyl Records Vs. Traditional Black Records: Which Wins Out?
Though traditional black records likely have a more consistent sound due to the number of pressings involved, there’s something to be said for the rarity of certain records when made available in limited edition colored vinyl. There are some records meant to be played over and over again and those meant to be reserved for special moments or kept perfectly preserved by displaying on the wall.
As a music lover, record collector, or just a fan of a certain artist, finding an album released in color vinyl at your local record store is a cool addition to any collection and makes the experience feel special and rewarding. Wondering what the perfect vinyl is to add to your collection? We’ve got you covered! At Victrola, we’re here to cater your vinyl wants and needs.