Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is Clear Vinyl better than Black Vinyl ?


The change we are most excited about is a move toward a new vinyl formula with some unique characteristics. We have named our new formulation Classic CLARITY VINYL and it is exclusive to Classic Records. The genesis of the new formula came as a result of a visit to High End Audio's self proclaimed Vinyl Guru Michael Fremer's Analog Laboratory in suburban New Jersey. After being shown a large number of garage sale "finds" that Mikey picked up for a quarter each, I sat down for a listen and was, as many before me, suitably impressed with the sound presented there. Mr. Fremer, as I like to refer to him in deference to his analog tenacity, then proceeded to demonstrate for me a Furutech LP demagnetizer on the Classic 200g Flat Profile of "Masked and Anonymous" using "Most of The Time" performed by Sophie Zelmani (track two on side 2) which I know very well and is a personal favorite as well as a great demo tune.

We started by playing the cut at a realistic level on his infamous Continuum Turntable and I thought "this is pretty darned good sounding". Without muting or touching anything, Mikey then placed the LP, b-side down, on the demagnetizer and pushed the button that turned on a red light that changed to green after about 30 seconds of silent operation. As he put the LP back on the turntable, I thought to myself, "here we go again with another tweak that will change something that I can hear but can't explain nor determine whether the difference was better or worse". Skeptically predisposed, I listened as the perfectly cued stylus touched the lead in to the song. My mouth dropped open from the first note and remained opened throughout the entirety of the tune! The vocal had so much more texture, bass definition and clarity of every nuance of the recording was vastly improved and there was more low level information than I had ever heard in the recording. I felt like, for a moment, that Sophie was in the room singing to me having suspended my disbelief that this was a recording and having been fooled into believing it was real. I had not heard such a dramatic difference in LP playback since the first time I heard a flat profile Classic LP versus a conventional profile of the same title. In much the same way as with the initial Super Vinyl Profile versus Conventional Profile comparison, I was left puzzled trying to figure out why the demagnetizer had the sonic effects I clearly heard on a piece of plastic.

Extruded 280°f Clarity vinyl biscuit

Clarity biscuit on stamper ready to press

The answer was to come soon after that fateful day in the "Vinyl Temple" when, at the Consumer Electronic Show, I asked the Vice President of Furutech for an explanation. Through an interpreter, he explained very simply "the carbon black that is ADDED to vinyl for LP manufacture contains trace metals that become randomly magnetized and interfere electrically with the cartridge hanging overhead during play". I shared with him that when I heard the effects of his machine on my LP's that it was quite an "ear opening" experience, which I think he appreciated being told about.

Blank single-side with strobe label

Clarity vinyl pressing, blank side

I obtained Furutech demagnetizers for both home and Classic Records and became and remain one of the converted. Then one day, I was out running and I was struck by another epiphany – if carbon black and the trace metals contained therein caused playback distortion in the cartridge then why not take out the carbon black altogether? I sourced samples of clear vinyl and did some tests against our normal Black Kenan 550 compound made in Columbia. Not surprisingly, what I heard was that the clear vinyl sounded like the demagnetized black vinyl in all the same ways – better detail, better bass, more low level ambient detail and generally more clarity throughout. Working with vinyl manufacturers, we experimented with a number of formulas and finally decided upon a formula we now refer to as our CLARITY VINYL formulation that we are proud to announce to the market.

Classic Records Clarity Vinyl 45 RPM Deluxe Edition

Initially, we are introducing CLARITY VINYL on our single sided 45 RPM releases which have been upgraded to include special packaging in the form of a box for each release in the CLASSIC CLARITY VINYL 45 RPM SERIES – all pressed on our Super Vinyl Profile II. The first two releases will be:
BST 1577-45-200g Clarity SV-P II John Coltrane – Blue Train (4 disc box set)
BST 1595-45-200g Clarity SV-P II Cannonball Adderly – Somethin' Else (4 disc box set)

Also, coming soon on CLARITY VINYL will be:
C 1024-200g Clarity SV-PII Leo Kottke – 6 & 12 String Guitar
BST 81595-STEREO-45 Clarity SV-p II 1 disk 200G Cannonball Adderley Autumn Leaves & Alison's Uncle

In terms of future releases and re-pressings of back catalog on CLARITY VINYL, we will proceed slowly and keep you informed. We would be happy for you to tell us what you hear!!!!

Thank you for your continued support,
Michael Hobson – President, Classic Records Inc.

[Classic Records]

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