Vinyl records have had a rebound since their near-death in the mid-2000s, and the market has since been enjoying a resurgence, according to music industry observers. According to a 2020 Statista finding, the number of turntables sold in the United States increased by about 4% over the previous year. In all, roughly 75 thousand turntables were estimated to be sold in the United States last year, compared to 72 thousand in 2019. As statistics have shown, the turntable community has been expanding slowly, but surely.
In response to the enlarging community, common problems have since begun to crop up: new vinyl records coming in warped. Do a quick search and you’ll see hundreds of forums expressing annoyance over records arriving in poor condition.
But Why Exactly Do So Many Brand New Vinyl Records Come Warped?
1. Poor Storage
Well, your new vinyl may come warped if it was not stored properly during manufacture or at its stay in the retail outlet. This could be a common explanation for records arriving warped despite being straight out from its cover.
If this is the case, we urge you to get a replacement or refund as soon as you’ve given it a once-over. Any turntable owner knows how important storing a record is to prolong its shelf life and condition. Check out this video to see how you can keep your records in mint condition:
Similarly, we’ve also written articles about how you can go about storing your vinyl records without their covers if that is an aesthetic decision or a necessary choice you need to make.
2. Prolonged Heat Exposure
If you get your vinyl records delivered to you, courier services leaving your package under the sun may have given it an accidental death sentence.
At 140°F (60°C), a standard vinyl record will begin to distort due to heat, and at temperatures beyond 212°F (100°C), it will melt. Humidity, UV exposure, and poor storage can all have a significant influence on a record’s durability.
But, how much sunlight is too much sunlight? Well, heat is definitely a record’s worst enemy and should be avoided as long as you can help it. Just check out how fast a vinyl disc will warp under the Las Vegas in just a few minutes (we are as amusingly pained as you are):
Even if your discs are wrapped perfectly, prolonged exposure to the sun will heat up your package pretty fast, so make sure you get them handed to you as much as you can.
3. Manufacture Error
Unfortunately, this one cannot be helped. Some users have suspected that manufacturers are not allowing the vinyl to cool properly. Pressing plants for vinyl records are reserved 5-6 months in advance. Even if the process could be sped up by a few seconds, it might save days of manufacturing time in the long run. The heat generated from these factories during production may also be a plausible reason.
Extensive quality control practises are also often lacking in a bid to meet strict deadlines. Considering the ostensibly massive backlog of work they claim to have, it makes quite a bit of sense that records come warped and we’ll leave it to you to decide.
Check out this interesting video about how vinyl records are made and you might get an idea about where certain steps have been compromised on:
Checking where your records are pressed will definitely give you a better idea about the quality promised by the manufacturing company.
4. Shipping Process
Even if your vinyl record managed to leave its warehouse in a state comparable to flatbread, the process of shipping by courier services may have been careless in the treatment of these discs.
It is almost impossible to know the exact journey of your delivery before it arrives in your hands and the handling of these records may have been under inattentive care. We will not be listing which commercial couriers are at fault or promise the best delivery, but this is definitely a possible explanation as to why some of your vinyl records end up warped.
The Pressure of Demand
As we’ve seen from the statistics, new vinyl recordings are in high demand. When it comes to quality control, one of the most prevalent themes is demand outstripping supply. While some pressing facilities are plainly superior to others, many well-intentioned pressing factories appear to be working nonstop to fulfill endless, and often unrelenting demands.
Most of the turntable community still believes that quality control is a major issue. While we cannot argue with that, there are ways to go about it and put your foot down.
Asking for a replacement or a refund is possibly the best way to go. If you’re lucky, you might get one replaced free of charge. However, if merely getting a refund doesn’t satisfy your need for a new record, trying to fix a warped vinyl yourself can be a solution.
We’ve written a post on how you could attempt to fix vinyl warping. Do note that these acts should be taken at your own risk. Likewise, check out this video if listening is more of your thing than reading:
If we want to keep seeing an increase in vinyl sales and a growth in the turntable community, reducing the number of poor pressings must be prioritized which can only come through more investment in the production process.
As a vinyl customer, the greatest thing you can do until that happens is to voice out in the push for quality production. Returning defective records will send a strong message.
Have other questions about turntables? We’ve written a post about why your new vinyl record sounds bad and how to clean vinyl records.