Friday, July 01, 2011
I Really Hate Off-Center Pressings!
Anyone who follows this blog knows that I am a big-time record nerd. I love records. I love everything about records. Almost. There is one thing I do not love, and that is LPs that are pressed off-center.
Of all the problems that can plague LPs, off-center pressings are in my opinion the worst. Yes, warped records are a pain, and so are ones that are scratched and noisy. But those can usually be returned for a better copy. But, in my experience, if an LP is pressed off-center, then the whole batch of LPs will have been pressed off-center as well. And since most new LPs are released in fairly limited runs these days, that typically means that all of them will be off center. I have learned the hard way that when you get an off-center pressing, the replacement copy will also almost always be off-center as well, so will the replacement for that one, and so on...
I don't expect LPs to sound like CDs (for better and for worse). I'm not one of these people who complains anytime there is a slight bit of surface noise on an LP, or if it is not perfectly flat. But I cannot tolerate off-center pressings. LP noise (clicks, pops, etc.) is typically intermittent and I can generally tune it out. Also, a lot of times an album that has a few clicks or pops on first play will start to play quietly after a good cleaning and a few plays. Likewise, a good turntable/tonearm/cartridge combo can play through minor warps without too much sonic damage. But off-center pressings affect the sound quality of the entire LP and create a horrible, warbling tone (from excessive wow and flutter). And aside from the old Nakamichi Dragon CT turntable, even the best turntable set up will sound horrible playing an off-center LP.
I can only listen to an off-center LP for a few seconds before wanting to crawl out of my skin. Sadly, the only "fix" is to ream out a larger spindle hole on the record and then manually center the LP every time you want to play it. To call this is a major PITA would be a serious understatement.
How much so I hate off-center pressings? Enough that I posted a demo video on youtube using Panda Bear's Tomboy LP as an example (see above).