Answer: Yes, somewhat.

When pressing records through SlyVinyl Records we’re often asked by bands about possibly doing picture discs and if they sound any different. This is always uncomfortable for us as we understand how very badass an artistic picture disc can look but in the end if it’s not going to be the best audio quality possible, then we can’t do it. So let’s talk about why they don’t sound as good.

The Why:

The main reason for the lack in quality is going to be the higher noise floor. With Picture disc vinyl a vinyl base is laid down, then a full size label is placed on top and then a clear wax layer on top that the plates will then be pressed into. What this mainly leads to is increased surface noise, which is most obviously heard in the silence between tracks. As every collector with a scratched vinyl knows though, once you hear the imperfection in the space between tracks it can be difficult to un-hear it. In addition the art actually can affect the sound quality, this part I don’t fully understand, but it has to do with how intense the pattern is on the art.

Check out Pirates Press’ disclaimer:

It should be noted that Picture Discs may offer a lower acoustic quality, especially an increase in the acoustic noise in the initial and final grooves of the record and in the transitions between tracks. When using standard printing, a moiré effect may occur on the record as a result of interference effects (between the grooves of the record and the screening of the underlying label); the intensity of this phenomenon depends on the type of the pattern which is printed on the label.

What do you guys think?

Do you have any picture discs you regularly play?

Do they sound worse to you?