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Coloured vinyl is treated in another question. While I'm not sure I would hear the difference between a normal and a coloured vinyl record, picture discs has a noticeable worse sound quality. What is the reason behind this?

  • I don't know for sure offhand, but I would bet a similar theorem would apply to the linked question; whatever paint or ink is necessary to make the picture is not as conducive to holding the groove as "virgin" black vinyl is. However, I'm interested to know the actual answer. – Johnny Bones May 12 '15 at 19:37
  • A reference describing "picture discs" in the question would be helpful. Some people might not know what they are. – user3169 May 13 '15 at 2:29
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The simplest reason is that the outer, playable surface is not actually traditional vinyl, but a thin film, applied to the outer surface, as part of a 5-layer process in manufacturing…
film - paper - black vinyl - paper - film

The film is not as malleable as 'real' vinyl & doesn't press quite as well as traditional semi-molten black vinyl.

There is the possibility that the paper itself can contribute to the stylus getting a rougher ride over the bottom of the groove.

The reason picture disks are made from this 5-layer process can only be speculated - the obvious alternative of clear semi-molten vinyl applied either side of a single paper insert is presumably not a viable manufacturing solution.

edit
Apparently Han-O-Disks use the vinyl - paper [or other substrate] - vinyl method.
I found this buried deep in Wikipedia comments… I really don't know what most of it means & there are no refs, but I guess it sounds expensive…

Only solvent (THF) welded Han-O-Disc (discs were pressed in two thin halves). Later releases used Radio Frequency (RF) welding and then finally UV diacromate welding.

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