Record Sleeves: Inners & Outers

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by shotgunshane, Mar 2, 2022.

  1. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    I thought we could have a dedicated thread for record sleeves. The choices on the internet are boundless and can be overwhelming; and information can be somewhat limited and or in pieces across even more boundless forum threads here and there.

    Brief and probably woefully inadequate definitions-

    Outer Record Sleeves: These go over the entire album jacket. Usually made from Polyethylene (PE) or Polypropylene (PP). PE is less clear, can turn cloudy and in general is cheaper to purchase. PP has a clearer appearance, shouldn't turn cloudy is a bit more expensive than PE. There is also Cast Polypropylene (CPP), a premium product that it is crystal clear, like clean glass; supposedly much more durable, will not cloud, and is typically double the cost of standard PE.

    Inner Record Sleeves: These go over the vinyl itself. They were paper in the olden days but modern aftermarket inners have typically have been made from Polyethylene, while the latest advanced inner sleeves are made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). IME there is really no reason nowadays to buy anything less than HDPE inner sleeves. Depending on make-up and thickness options, they can be had for very reasonable prices.
     
  2. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    l've tried quite a few inner sleeves. None were really bad (annoying perhaps) but some were certainly better than others. All are HDPE, unless mentioned otherwise (like the MA Recordings).

    Probably the 'standard' audiophile inner sleeve is the Mofi inner. Here is their description:
    Three-ply, anti-static, premium sleeves (similar to rice paper). Back construction consists of a paper layer sandwiched between two sheets of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) with a translucent HDPE front.
    [​IMG]

    I like the Mofi sleeves and have a few that came with my Mofi pressings. I found a very similar inner on Amazon that's a bit cheaper but feels basically the same (and I'd hazard to guess may be made but the same place in China). The brand is Invest in Vinyl and the listing calls them Master Sleeves. 50 for $20 is also the same price as the Mofi sleeves but with the added benefit of Prime Shipping if you need them quick.
    [​IMG]

    The Mofi and Invest in Vinyl are good sleeves. The so called rice paper sandwiched on the back side, helps it maintain shape when inserting into the album jacket. The clear front side feels slightly thin but is easy to insert and remove the album.

    For this 'Master Sleeve' style, I'd personally prefer the front side to be slightly thicker. I understand Sleeve City does this with their Ultimate Audiophile version but they've been out a while and I've never tried it. Enter Vinyl Storage Solutions in Canada. Theirs feels not only thicker but overall maintains the shape even better. The downside is they are $15.50 for 25. At any rate, I'd recommend it as a more premium version of the Mofi style Master Sleeve.
    [​IMG]

    Sleeve City has a nice budget sleeve in the Diskeeper 2.0 antistatic record sleeves. At 50 for $12, I've not found a nicer one for so cheap. It's only 2 mil (thus the 2.0) but the front feels thicker than the master sleeve style (while the back feels slightly less thick). These take slightly more effort to get into album jackets than the master sleeve style but is in no way difficult. The Diskeeper 2.0 doesn't open at the top quite as easily either but, again, not really difficult.
    [​IMG]

    I wanted to try some round bottom sleeves, with the idea they'd be easier to slide back in the jacket. While this proved true, I didn't really like the two I tried. The Sleeve City Diskeeper 1.5 (50 for $13) not only feels a little on the thin side, they are damn difficult to open the first time. I only ended up trying a few and left the rest in the bag.
    Edit: they remain damn difficult to reopen after taking a record out. I don't recommend this due to this.
    [​IMG]

    So then I tried the Bags Unlimited SLPHD2. These are 2 mil and feel of better quality than the Diskeeper 1.5. Whereas the 1.5 was annoyingly difficult to open, the Bags Unlimited tended to open for no reason. Also annoying.
    [​IMG]

    Of all those mentioned above, I prefer the Vinyl Storage Solution master style sleeves the best. They are also the most pricey and take the longest to get, since I'm in the USA. The Invest in Vinyl or Mofi master sleeves are good alternatives if cost is an issue and the Diskeeper 2.0 is great if you are frugal.

    I saved my favorite for last.
    MA Recordings inner record sleeves. Also the priciest at $33 for 50. These are really soft feeling, yet also maintain their shape for easy inserting and removing from the jacket. Also, they open easily but also inherently stay shut. Perhaps the only downside is they are not exactly see through, if that matters to you. The MA Recording sleeves are not HDPE but apparently something unique in the market. The owner of MA Recordings, Todd Garfinkle, can be found in a few YouTube videos talking about his sleeves. Here is what MA Recordings says on their site:
    Exclusively fabricated for us in Japan from a high-tech blend of two polyethylene based microfibers. Originally conceived as the modern alternative to the rice paper used in traditional Japanese room screens and window coverings, this material exhibits both tensile strength and, because of its porous characteristics, the ability to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. Possessing inherent antistatic properties, the material also prevents the buildup of dust and other electrically charged particles on the playing surfaces of Your Long Playing records.
    [​IMG]

    I will probably eventually sleeve my entire collection in the MA Recordings inner.

    Update 4/9/22:
    Tried the Sleeve City Diskeeper Ultimate Audiophile inner sleeves. They sell 50 for $28.99. These are fantastic and I'd place them on equal level with the MA Recordings inner sleeves as my favorites. They are noticeably thicker than anything else. This is really good for keeping the edges from crumpling and folding over. Also the loading edges are supper smooth. The quality is better than the VSS 3mil inners and the pricing is better. Too hard to pick a favorite between these Ultimates and the MA Recordings.

    [​IMG]
     
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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2022
  3. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    For years the Bags Unlimited SLP3 has been my outer sleeve of choice. At 3 mil the thickness has been a nice compromise between functionality and price. Bags Unlimited sells them at $31 for 100 but I have found them cheaper on Amazon through marketplace sellers. SLP3 is PE and has proven to be super durable for me. They do however cloud a little over the years. What I like most about the SLP3 is that it can fit just about any album without being too big on smaller. Yes it fits Mofi's thick ass jackets.
    [​IMG]

    Based on the crap that comes on much of the used records I buy (from thin mylar that while clear, tears way to easily, to really thick and cloudy PE that fits way too tightly), I've been reluctant to try much else.

    Then I recently stumbled on a video review of Vinyl Storage Solutions CCP dual pocket outer sleeves. This particular outer has two pockets and one flap. The pockets are for you to separate the jacket and the inner with record. The one flap folds in on the jacket side effectively sealing the jacket off. This is an amazing set up for keeping your jackets pristine and not having to remove the inner or album out of it every time you want to play it. Plus the CCP is crystal effing clear. It makes every jacket look amazing. There is a slightly larger version for those oversized and fat jackets. While definitely pricey, 25 for $30, it is worth every penny to me. I feel like I'm now able to put my records in a crystal clear time capsule, yet its super easy to remove the record for play.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a video on how to use the dual pocket sleeves. There are single flap and dual flap version. I didn't want a flap for the vinyl pocket. Supposedly he is working on a crystal clear inner sleeve as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
  4. Inoculator

    Inoculator Friend

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    In my opinion, hands down the best inner sleeve on the market is the Diskeeper Ultimate Sleeve https://www.sleevecityusa.com/diskeeper-ultimate-audiophile-inner-sleeve-p/312lps.htm

    I love that it is sturdy and substantial (although a bit on the thick size if the interior space of your jacket is at a minimum). I hate that with the Mofi sleeves for example that only one side is paper lined so they are flimsy and floppy to deal with. Slide records in and out of the Diskeeper ultimate sleeves is a treat due to being paper backed on both sides.

    They may be overkill, but I like overkill when it comes to protecting my records. I clean every record a buy, they go in these, and I have zero static issues and never really feel the need to clean again.

    I do also enjoy using their Diskeeper 2.0 sleeves (no paper on either side), for when I want to still use a printed inner jacket. https://www.sleevecityusa.com/Diskeeper-2-0-Antistatic-Record-Sleeves-p/9235.htm These slide perfectly into printed inner jackets so you get best of both worlds, keep the aesthetic, but with anti-static lining.

    As far as outer sleeves...I am cheap and landed on the Vinyl Styl ones early in my record collecting. They are not necessarily fantastic, but they are decently thick, slide in and out easy, and cheap enough that I have one on every record in my collection so they all look uniform.
     
  5. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    My inner sleeve experiences added to post 2.

    @Inoculator Sounds like the Vinyl Storage Solutions inner might be comparable to the Sleeve City Ultimate Audiophile sleeves with regards to thickness perhaps but the VSS does not have the paper on the front side. I wanted to try those but they were always backordered. Oh well, I've landed on the MA Recordings inner as my ultimate.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
  6. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I use almost exclusively the Disckeeper 2.0 sleeves. I also love that they have double sided ones for double LPs. Those MA Recordings ones look amazing however.
     
  7. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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  8. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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  9. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    Thanks for the recommendation on the outer sleeves @shotgunshane, I'll have to give those brands a try. I've been struggling to find a good quality outer sleeve these days.

    I used to use the following sleeves for year, but all batches I have tried recently split down the seem on every record on the first insert. I'm in search of a new standard outer sleeve because of this. Collector Protector Premium Record Sleeves:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EX6XB4I

    For my oversized records, I've been using Groove Vinyl's Oversized 4 mil 12 inch sleeves and haven't broken a single one in years.

    I haven't Tried any of Sleeve City's Diskeeper outer covers, but their outer sleeves are on my short list to try next.

    For inner sleeves, Sleeve City has the best quality sleeves I have tried. Sleeve City's Ultimate Audiophile Inner sleeve is hands down my favorite. Rather than being the typical "archival" four layer sleeve with one layer of rice paper, this sleeve is six layers with a sheet of rice paper on each side of the record. I have never broken one of these and have never received a defective one. With MFSL brand sleeves, about 5% that I get made too small to fit any records in. These hold their shape very well when removing and inserting a record, which is a huge benefit for my small hands.

    https://www.sleevecityusa.com/diskeeper-ultimate-audiophile-inner-sleeve-p/312lps.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
  10. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    @Vansen I checked the Amazon listing of that outer sleeve that’s been splitting on you. It says it’s only 2 mil BOPP. The Vinyl Storage Solutions CPP outers are 4 mil plus the claimed better durability of CCP over BOPP.

    The Bags Unlimited won’t have near the clarity of either but I’ve never had any tear over a decade +. Nothing fancy, just a solid sleeve with blue color practicality. Hopefully my VSS CCP outers prove just as durable because they look amazing.

    Seems like I’ll need to try a small order of those Sleeve City Ultimate Audiophile inners just to know. It would have to be mighty impressive to pull me away from MA Recordings though. :fire:
     
  11. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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    For outer sleeves I’ve ended up being happy with these 3 mil sleeves. You can get 1,000 for $127, so about as cheap as you’ll find. It’ll fit double albums but it’s nicely fitted even on single albums so not a lot of extra material flapping around the edges. Makes filing albums easy and neat.

    https://www.squaredealonline.com/a.asp?s=I1#1
     
  12. lehmanhill

    lehmanhill Almost "Made"

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    Thanks for this thread. I am learning with every post. Probably an urban legend and wrong, but I always heard that you shouldn't us a plastic outer sleeve, probably because it would hold moisture. Any problems with long term outer sleeve use?

    I'm a little unclear about how people advertise the thickness of their sleeves. Is a 3 ply that is advertised as 2.1 mil actually 3 layers of 0.7 or 3 layers of 2.1? Most descriptions aren't very clear on that.

    I have been using the MoFi inner sleeves because that was all I knew of. I recently bought a used LP on Discogs and was pleasantly surprised when the record arrived spotlessly clean and in a new modern inner sleeve. The inner sleeve was from Square Deal Recordings and Supplies and is frankly nicer than the MoFi sleeves. Easier to put the LP into and better at holding shape. They have lots of choices for sleeve designs and materials, but this one is 3 ply, 1.2 mil HDPE each with rice paper for $30 per 100. I will have to try some of the inners mentioned here, but so far, these would do the job.

    https://www.squaredealonline.com/a.asp?m=7.43.M.#1#1
     
  13. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    I just ordered some of the MA Recordings inner record sleeves to compare with the Diskeeper Ultimate Audiophile Inner sleeves. I'll post a comparison once they arrive.

    I also grabbed two versions of the 12 inch Vinyl Storage Solutions CCP dual pocket outer sleeves - one with the resealable flap and one with the tuckable flap. I'm pretty sure everything I have on hand will seem like crap next to these, so I'm hoping to report back positively on these.

    None that I can think of long term so long as you have them in a well controlled environment like a living space. Keep the humidity in check and you should be fine. The damage will come to your sleeves, not the vinyl in most cases of moisture. See my review on the squakycleanvinyl RCM for an example of a water damaged record.

    I use closed flaps on mine and they saved a couple of records once from a water fight that a couple of kids brought in the house. I've never had any damage from an outer, but I have saved a couple of sleeves with them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2022
  14. supertransformingdhruv

    supertransformingdhruv Almost "Made"

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    Any issues with these being too thick when there are other inserts? I've got some bulging jackets using the MoFi sleeves when records come with a lyrics or art insert (though a lot of that is probably the sleeve bunching up), so I'm interested in switching to something a bit better.
     
  15. sfoclt

    sfoclt Friend

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    The MA inners are thinner than the Diskeeper Ultimate. I have them inside with other materials without issue.
     
  16. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Is it that big of a deal to leave the record in the jacket? I love the simplicity of the single pocket tuck outer sleeves where I could just unfold the flap, pull the record out of the jacket and inner sleeve, put it in the turntable.
     
  17. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    None that I've experienced (the MA sleeve resist bunching up pretty well) but I'm moving away from putting them back in the jacket.

    Just a matter of preference mostly. I considered doing what you've mentioned here, but I decided to go wit the two pocket outter sleeve instead. Some of my older and/or used records have some wear and tear on the jacket and are starting to pull apart. With the dual sleeve, I'll no longer be touching the jacket at all.
     
  18. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Some updated thoughts:
    I have found I tend to like using the thicker VSS 3mil inner sleeves when I'm putting a dual LP into the VSS single flap, dual pocket outer sleeve. I think I just subjectively fell better with the extra thickness in these relatively rarer cases. Otherwise I use the MA sleeves for single albums. In this case, I'd like to try the Sleeve City Ultimate Audiophile sleeves.

    Normally the VSS crystal outers work best with the single flap at the bottom of the jacket. However, sometimes jackets vary in size a bit and it's necessary to side load them instead. When I side load, I like the flap to be at the jacket opening. Side loading is a rarity as well. Scorpions Virgin Killer had to be side loaded, as well as a couple of Black Label Society new pressings.
     
  19. Polemarkos

    Polemarkos Rando

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    If you're sold on the VSS products bulk ordering is where it's at. If you order 500 pieces it's basically 25% off. I did 500 each of the 3ml rice paper sleeves and the 4 mil dual-flap and am set for a good long while.
     
  20. shotgunshane

    shotgunshane Floridian Falcon

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    Updated the first post. Finally tried the Sleeve City Ultimate Audiophile inner sleeves. These are awesome. I like them as much as the MA Recordings inners but for slightly different reasons. I like the MA's for the luxurious, soft feel and anti-moisture properties. The Ultimates are thick and substantial but with a really nice quality smooth insertion edge. These will not crumple or fold over and work great with the VSS CCP dual pocket outers. I'll definitely buy some more.

    Overall I'd rate the inners I've used like this:
    1. MA Recordings = Diskeeper Ultimate Audiophile
    2. VSS 3mil
    3. Invest in Viny Master = Mofi Master
    4. Diskeeper 2.0 antistatic
    5. Bags Unlimited SLPHD2
    6. Diskeeper 1.5 round bottom
    I 'd really recommend to anyone those in the first 2 places for sure, and the 3rd place inners if budget is a concern. But for my use cases, I've been replacing all those in 4-6 and ultimately wouldn't recommend them. While I like the Diskeeper 2.0 well enough, I was disappointed to take a few out of the album jacket and see them crumpled or folded as I moved the jackets into the VSS CCP dual pocket outers. The Bags Unlimited round bottom don't stay closed well enough, which could be a slight issue if storing in the album jacket. The Diskeeper 1.5 round bottoms are just too annoying to open again after removing the album.

    Speaking of the CCP dual pocket outers... I'm about two-thirds of the way through putting my entire collection in these. The spines are so much easier to see and read now, and of course the front covers look amazing in the crystal clear material. The only down side I've found is that using dual pockets and putting the albums in the second pocket takes up a lot more space per album in your rack/shelving. Not an issue if you have plenty of space but if space is an issue, you probably will want to stay with single pockets and keep the inners in the album jacket. However, I'm never going back. I've got the space and the dual pocket is super convenient.
     

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