VJQC = Vinyl Junkies Quality Control Score. It is a system of scoring new vinyl pressings. VJQC testers use this scoring system to grade their personal new vinyl purchases. Quality records matter!
Why The VJQC Score?
Vinyl Junkies spend a lot of money on their record collections. They love music enough to buy it. I got fed up of being disappointed by the quality of the new records I was purchasing and wanted to see if there was a method to determine which were the biggest issues, where they were coming from and what was causing them. I wanted to learn, so that I could then avoid buying bad records.
I wanted to know about which pressing plants and labels were having the issues that I wanted to avoid, when purchasing my records. The point of the VJQC score is to help me make a more informed, personal decision about which records to buy and which to avoid.
The most common complaint among the VJ audience was the inconsistent quality of new vinyl pressings. I want to be able to provide my community with the benefit of my personal experience. I've been a hardcore collector of every music format, for over 40 years. Similarly, the other VJQC testers own very large record collections and buy a lot of new records. We get it.
As an independent online record store, we wanted to provide some kind of guideline which can help point our patrons towards the "safe bets". No one likes to gamble with their vinyl budget, we get it.
I didn’t feel like enough people in the record industry took this issue seriously; it’s the elephant in the room that no one seemed willing to address. So we decided to address it for ourselves.
The VJQC Score is an attempt to do something about the quality of new vinyl pressings, independently of an industry which seems resistant to it. No one can stop me from buying my own records, scoring them and sharing my findings with my audience, right? That's the point.
So What’s the Point? This scoring system can’t be implemented on a larger scale and it’s impossible to score every record.
The VJQC Score basically guarantees nothing, it's impossible to know the quality of every single new record ever pressed. Ask an industry person, they'll tell you every reason why this is a useless endeavor. However,
Like televisions, every single record manufactured is going to be different. But as a consumer, I like to do my research before spending my hard earned discretionary income. I like to know whether to buy Samsung or Panasonic or Technics, and what the common issues are for each. Remember when everyone knew that buying a Jaguar meant you were gonna have constant mechanical problems? Like that.
The VJQC Score is research which is based on a consistent scoring structure, for each record, a “‘Consumer Reports” for the record buying public which includes the shop owners who stock new releases. The VJ Community is made up of 125k+ members who buy records. We share our experiences. The VJQC Score is an attempt to provide a consistent scoring template, with which to qualitatively assess an inconsistent consumer product.
It’s a method to identify the issues with new vinyl pressings, in a quantifiable method. It’s not science, nor is it meant to be. It is meant as a general guide to help the consumer avoid disappointment.
How will the VJQC Score be used?
We launched vinyljunkies.store last July with a mission statement to focus on quality vinyl. Our shop will eventually have a VJQC section which will include the scores of all the records that have been scored to date . We will continue to score these records and update that section. We will also eventually make the entire contents of the report available to anyone who wishes to view it, and an active conversation about quality control will be one area which will differentiate us from Amazon.
The VJQC Score is an assurance that we actually played a copy of that particular vinyl pressing. We listened to it, we scored it. Your copy might not be the same but it came from the same pressing plant as ours did, and reached us using the same channels. Is that information worth anything to the consumer, will it influence their buying decisions? The consumer can decide that for themselves.
Questions/Comments? Please feel free to share them! Have we missed anything important? The discussion is necessary, we're trying to make a difference!
The VJQC Score
Scored Out of 100
9/10 Very slight warp, barely noticeable
8/10 Noticeable warp but still minor
7/10 Warp, some space between can be seen between the vinyl record and the turntable platter
6/10 Bowl/significant Warp. Space between the vinyl record and the turntable platter is more pronounced, space can be seen all the way down to the center label.
0-5/10 Fail QC. Warping affects sound, playback. Any “lip” that causes a change in playback quality. Combination of warps/bowling/lipping compromises the sound of playback
9/10 Very slight, near perfect but not quite
8/10 Slight but more noticeable
7/10 Noticeable swaying of the tonearm but does not affect sound
0/10 Fail QC, significantly off center, affects sound playback.
9/10 Very slight background noise/whoosh to the vinyl itself, but only barely noticeable at beginning/end of playback, and during the gaps between songs.
8/10 more significant background noise, acceptable for louder music with no quiet passages (rock, metal, etc). Distracting for classical/jazz
0/10 Fail QC. Vinyl is too noisy, record should never have made it out of the pressing plant.
9/10 printed paper inners, lack of polylined sleeves
8/10 plain paper sleeves used
Vinyl Finish /10
9/10 slightly rough edges OR a bit of flash stuck to center hole (record still fits spindle properly)
8/10 slightly rough edges AND some center flash
7/10 Sharp outer edges and/or
9/10 point removed for lack of polylined sleeve (customer has to buy/replace)
6-8/10 dependent on cumulative scores from other categories
0-5 Fail QC. Dependent on cumulative scores from other categories
Vinyl Surface /10
9/10 slight surface scuffing
8/10 slight surface scuffing, both sides and/or very minor dimpling (1-2, not on playing surface)
7/10 more significant surface scuffs OR minor dimpling across playing surface (does not affect play)
6/10 significant surface scuffs AND dimpling across playing surface (does not affect play)
0-5 Fail QC. Significant dimpling and surface scuffing
9/10 some paper flecks, dust or loose pvc stuck to surface, can be easily cleaned off
6-8/10 dusty record surface, paper flecks and loose PVC, fingerprints, or “film” can be seen on vinyl surface
0-5/10 Fail QC, combination of above factors, significant
Overall Vinyl Experience /20
Based on personal user experience. How much did you enjoy your vinyl listening experience?
Warped records always get a point removed, depending on severity. Ditto for off center records. No one likes seeing a tonearm swaying, while seated and enjoying their spin. It’s akin to driving a car with poor alignment.
Poor sound gets treated more severely in this category. This is only in reference, specifically, to sound degradation caused by a poorly pressed or plated record. So, a well pressed Bad Brains record won’t lose any points for sound, because Rock For Light never sounded good to begin with. It’s not a function of the actual vinyl pressing.
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