Unbiased reviews of new vinyl releases, audiophile reissues, and more

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update: Big Star #1 Record and Radio City Reissues -- Classic Records 200 gram Clarity Vinyl vs. 150 gram Standard Vinyl





Several months ago, Concord Music Group and Classic Records both reissued vinyl editions of Big Star's first two albums, #1 Record and Radio City and I was able to obtain copies of the 150 gram standard vinyl pressings from Concord Music Group in advance of their general release. In reviewing them, I compared them primarily to the original Ardent vinyl, and the reissue of Radio City fared much better in the comparison than did #1 Record. Click here to read the full reviews:

When Classic released their versions several weeks later, it was discovered that both the Concord and Classic versions used the exact same mastering from Chris Bellman of Bernie Grundman Mastering. The only difference between the releases was the vinyl formulation and pressing. Concord used 150 gram standard vinyl; Classic used their new 200 gram Clarity vinyl formulation.


Today, I found a copy of the Classic 200 gram Clarity Vinyl version of Radio City in a local vinyl shop. Still curious about the new Clarity Vinyl formulation, I picked it up to compare to the 150 gram version from Concord I already had.



Classic's cover is made from fairly heavy card stock and looks virtually identical to the one used by Concord. The Clarity vinyl itself, is actually a transluscent light brown color, rather than clear as one might expect, and is housed in a rice paper Mofi-style sleeve. The vinyl feels all of its 200 grams and my copy was perfectly flat, and extremely clean. There is no question that the overall pressing quality of the Clarity vinyl is of a higher quality than the standard vinyl 150 gram version from Concord.

What about the sound? I played both the 150 gram and 2oo gram copies back to back and could hear no significant difference between the two. Notwithstanding the fact that the Concord vinyl looks a bit dirty and already had marks when I opened it, both records played very quietly. The only very minor difference I noticed, was that the Clarity vinyl seemed to be quieter between tracks--in fact, it was dead quiet.

Is it worth the money to buy the Classic Records Clarity Vinyl versions of these records rather than the standard vinyl versions from Concord? There have been some reports on internet music forums from people stating that their Concord pressings were off-center. I don't recall hearing about any such issues with the Classic Records versions. If you are a real stickler about pressing quality, it might just be worth your while to go for the Classics.

On the other hand, you could pick up both titles from Concord for less than the price of one of the Classics. If you don't obsess over the appearance of your vinyl, you might just want to go for the Concords and save your money.


buy the Concord
version of #1 Record



buy the Classic
version of #1 Record



buy the Concord
version of Radio City



buy the Classic
version of Radio City

2 comments:

Pete Bilderback said...

I picked up the Concord pressing of Radio City, and my copy was clean, flat, on center and virtually noise free. I've bought many 180-200 gram "audiophile" pressings with much worse noise issues.

At $12 each, the Concords are a steal. It's hard to see shelling out $33 for the Classics.

BTW, the Four Men With Beards reissue of Big Star/3rd is a thing of beauty. A great pressing with beautifully reproduced artwork, and mastered from the original analog tapes.

Matt R said...

Late to the party here, but I had the exact opposite experience with the standard Concord reissue of Radio City. Aside from the really harsh, distorted highs on O My Soul, there are a few scuffs on the first side that result in pretty bad surface noise on the last few tracks. This was a brand new sealed copy bought at Dusty Groove in Chicago. More and more I'm thinking that cheap new vinyl is a crap shoot. On some albums such as this I think it's worth to pay extra for a quality product.

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