Audio Guru

The Audio Guru: How does color affect a record's quality?

Vinylmnky's latest service to our Tribe is partnering up with Barry Thornton, an Audio guru to answer all of your hardware, vinyl, and audio questions - further enlightening us on how your music listening experience works and can get even better!

Barry Thornton, owner of, is an experienced audiophile who has designed over 70 hi-fi products, taught psycho-acoustics, designed recording studios and performance venues, recorded records, has 30+ patents, has always been in love with vinyl, and always searching for the eargasm - that moment when the music comes alive. Barry has a long list of credits that you can find on his website, but most importantly he has lived and helped define the hi-fi era.

The latest question answered by the Audio Guru is:

How does color affect a record's quality?

Colored records are the worst in sound quality, is the easiest way to say it. Records are made of a polyvinyl chloride, which is why we call them vinyl. The manufacturer adds carbon black to the polyvinyl chloride (which is originally an ugly translucent grey material) to give it a black color. The extra benefit it that it makes the record slipperier, and as a result the noise of the record is considerably lower and the life of the record is higher because there is less fiction. There are some white materials which are similar; It’d be nice to make a record out of Teflon but that is not going to happen anytime too soon. When you take the black out of the vinyl is just becomes the vinyl on the surface. When you add a color dye (as opposed to the black carbon), it’s not as good as a surface vinyl and is nosier and has less of a life. The other thing you can do is put a picture on the record, pictures are basically terrible, they look great and are collector items, but if you play it more than ten times, it’s probably ruined. The record groove cannot be cut deep enough and the material used to place the picture seen, does not have any resiliency or life time. Basically, black records will last a lot longer and play quieter.

Thank you for your question!

Barry is here to help the Tribe bolster their listening experience in small, simple, and fun bites. Go ahead, give him your best.

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