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hrtshpdbox
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 11:06 AM
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AudioGasoline wrote:

When I'm buying, I just assume that VG+ will have at least a couple marks/imperfections - otherwise it would be NM, right?


I usually grade a record VG+ that looks absolutely perfect but plays with slight surface noise. I think the stated grade should be the lesser of the visual and audio grades.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 11:29 AM
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hrtshpdbox wrote:

I usually grade a record VG+ that looks absolutely perfect but plays with slight surface noise. I think the stated grade should be the lesser of the visual and audio grades.


I'm not sure that I've ever seen a record that looked perfect but had surface noise, but I agree that the final grade should be the lesser of the two. Please remember, though, that the vast majority of records for sale out there are only visually graded. Dealers simply don't have the time to listen to every record they list (although sometimes we really want to!). For me, I'll spot-play any questionable marks on the vinyl to hear if playback is affected, and grade from there. But if it looks close to perfect, I probably wouldn't even play it - I would grade it visually, and move on to the next one. I do realize that unnoticeable groove damage could be present, but it's very unlikely if the wax looks crisp. But even to protect against the rare chance of this happening, a good online seller should have a decent return policy.

However, if you're referring to an album that just had terrible sound quality to begin with (such as the Rolling Stones' "Hot Rocks" re-issue recently discussed on the Ask Neal forum), if it looks perfect I would give it a NM; it is in exactly the same state it was in when it was made, and the poor sound quality is part of that. The grade should reflect how well the item has been cared for, not how well it was produced.

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hrtshpdbox
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 12:17 PM
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AudioGasoline wrote:

I'm not sure that I've ever seen a record that looked perfect but had surface noise


Egads, I see it a lot. I should make a distinction between LPs and 45s though; with 45s, I always post a sound clip, with LPs I almost never do. And it's obviously not possible to grade a visually NM 45 as NM when it has even the slightest crackle at the lead-in or lead-out - so it becomes VG + +. With LPs, I'll usually just visually grade, unless it's a valuable record.
 
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RidinTheWind
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 01:12 PM
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I've run across many 45's that looked NM but played terrible, and they can be vinyl or styrene.

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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 02:05 PM
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Yes, I was speaking of LPs. I suppose you're right that 45s are a bit more variable, what with all the varied materials used (and the quality of those materials). Even higher variability from era to era - my focus is on records from the last 30 years or so, so classic sides from the 60s would be an entirely different creature. Truth be told, it seems that a lot of those old 45s sound better than they look a lot of times... maybe best to play-grade just to sort out the players from the skippers. 45s from the 90s will make noise with the slightest damage, so maybe that's why I'm in the habit of spot-playing questionable marks and not the whole record.

I have to say, though, that I've gone through enough duplicates of enough titles to notice a few that always have the same problem: the same fuzziness, or a tick in the exact same place of every copy. Don't you think a seller should have some allowance for errors that were present when the item was new? I don't mean be deceptive grading, but by describing the sound imperfection as a separate part of the item description. Something like "...one light sleeve scuff on side 2. It has the same soft crackle in between songs that is heard on all copies."

Bob Dylan's 1973 "Dylan" album is often described in this way, although the poor sound quality is blamed on Columbia and not the plant. But it is commonly known to sound like crap, and I think a seller is better off to educate the buyer on these issues than to hope the buyer is already familiar with them. Worse yet, they may pass you by altogether if they think a pristine-playing copy is out there (when there isn't). I mean, if it's truly an issue that is inherent to production, a seller should be able to mention it for what it is: a production error. And then grade the rest of the item in spite of this flaw. Mention both, but separately.

Clear colored vinyl seems to be the biggest offender IMO, followed closely by pure white vinyl. For some reason, these materials always seem to have some form of inherent quiet background noise. Almost every punk label in the 90s made a limited number of colored vinyl copies of every 45 they did, and the colored ones almost always go for more money because of their relative scarcity (compared to the black copies). But the black copies almost always sound better. Go figure. You can lead a horse to water.....

BTW, hrtshpdbox, I have to compliment you on your customer service: play-grading and uploading sound clips is definitely above and beyond the norm. That's a very nice touch. Can I ask you a question about the sound clips? Are they allowable as evidence in a SNAD claim? In other words, if someone were to file a SNAD claim against you, does ebay consider the clips as part of the original description, and therefore "disclosed information"? Maybe they claim it skips, but your clip can prove it doesn't skip, that sort of thing. I always wondered if it was just a seller showing their dedication, or if they got some protection from the practice as well.

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hrtshpdbox
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 02:23 PM
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AudioGasoline wrote:
Don't you think a seller is allowed some allowance for errors that were present when the item was new? I don't mean be deceptive grading, but by describing the sound imperfection as a separate part of the item description. Something like "...one light sleeve scuff on side 2. It has the same soft crackle in between songs that is heard on all copies.

Absolutely agree - the seller can justifiably say something like "NM, same crappy pressing as all the others", or whatever. I'm sure I've probably graded records downwards on occasion because I wasn't familiar with some defect that I didn't know was present on all copies.

AudioGasoline wrote:

Are they allowable as evidence in a SNAD claim? In other words, if someone were to file a SNAD claim against you, does ebay consider the clips as part of the original description, and therefore "disclosed information"? Maybe they claim it skips, but your clip can prove it doesn't skip, that sort of thing.

I don't know if Ebay would look that far into a "not as described" claim; the customer invariably wins in any case, and it's easier for the seller to just take the return and process a refund. But I think that putting up a clip, and lots of pictures, is a disincentive for a buyer to make such a claim; they were given a lot of info before deciding to buy. I think that's the main reason to provide the sound clips; customers know what they're getting and are unlikely to be dissatisfied. Reminds me of one time, a buyer returned a record - he couldn't listen to sound clips, and thought the record was a completely different song! He was apologetic and didn't seem to be a jerk, so I didn't get bent out of shape over it.
 
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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 05, 2012 - 03:29 PM
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hrtshpdbox wrote:
Reminds me of one time, a buyer returned a record - he couldn't listen to sound clips, and thought the record was a completely different song! He was apologetic and didn't seem to be a jerk, so I didn't get bent out of shape over it.


Laughing That's funny, and nice to see a buyer own up to their own mistake. Yeah, I'm sure the sound clips are a huge disincentive to would-be scammers. I use 5-10 large zoomable HD pics, Goldmine grading and a physical description of condition on every listing, and I pretty much follow the same protocol you do if someone is unsatisfied: ask them to return it for a refund. No need to even escalate it to an argument. If we've done our job correctly, then they won't be disappointed by even a VG- record, as long as we described it as VG- in the first place. I get very few returns, and have even had a couple customers leave positive feedback because the returns process was so smooth. I thought that was nice of them, since ebay would have let them destroy my ratings if they wanted to.

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RidinTheWind
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 06, 2012 - 11:35 AM
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Even higher variability from era to era - my focus is on records from the last 30 years or so, so classic sides from the 60s would be an entirely different creature. Truth be told, it seems that a lot of those old 45s sound better than they look a lot of times...

The rule of thumb seems to be that if it was pressed before 1971, the record will sound better than it looks, but if pressed after 1970, will sound worse than it looks. Also, as you mentioned, the label itself can make a difference.
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I have to say, though, that I've gone through enough duplicates of enough titles to notice a few that always have the same problem: the same fuzziness, or a tick in the exact same place of every copy. Don't you think a seller should have some allowance for errors that were present when the item was new? I don't mean be deceptive grading, but by describing the sound imperfection as a separate part of the item description. Something like "...one light sleeve scuff on side 2. It has the same soft crackle in between songs that is heard on all copies."

If you do that, there's always the danger of the exception, in which case the buyer could claim deception. For example, I was trying to get a decent copy of McCartney's 45, "Coming Up", but everyone I found had the same problem like you mentioned. Then finally this year, I did find one that plays flawlessly.

So, I would leave that out, and just describe the record as best as you can and add a sound clip, or rephrase it to read: that is common on all copies I have come across so far.

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AudioGasoline
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 07, 2012 - 11:02 AM
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RidinTheWind wrote:

If you do that, there's always the danger of the exception, in which case the buyer could claim deception. For example, I was trying to get a decent copy of McCartney's 45, "Coming Up", but everyone I found had the same problem like you mentioned. Then finally this year, I did find one that plays flawlessly.


Wow Ridin, that sounds like about a 30 year search... now that's diligence! But, are you saying a buyer might claim deception if the record plays better than described? Not impossible, I suppose. However, if I found a rare clean playing copy of an otherwise poor playing record, I would mention that in the listing. The bit about "all copies I've come across so far" is a good qualifier, probably smart to add it. But I can't imagine how I would come up with the time to add sound clips to all my listings.... I admire those of you who can, but I don't have time to eat some days, let alone record and upload sound files on every record. And we always take returns for subjective things like this, just so no one is left feeling jilted.

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RidinTheWind
Post subject:   PostPosted: Sep 07, 2012 - 11:28 AM
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But, are you saying a buyer might claim deception if the record plays better than described? Not impossible, I suppose.

No, I mean that he may buy the record and then run across another copy without the flaws. In other words, Murphy's Law might come into play.

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