This is the first of what I hope will be an occasional series on my personal favorite accessories for record collecting. In this post, I’ll talk about one of the least exciting, but most essential items: outer sleeves.
Note: Links are just for your information/convenience. I’m not making any money from your clicks!
Sleeve City Ultimate Outer 5.0 & Deluxe Oversized Ultimate Outer 5.0
If there are better outer sleeves currently on the market, I have not seen them. I’ve tried many sleeves from many manufacturers and none come close to these.
These are branded as “ultimate” because: 1) they are the thickest (5.0 mil), most protective sleeves you’ll find, and 2) they really are crystal clear, thoroughly resisting the tendency to cloud up the way cheaper sleeves do over time. So, if you want outstanding protection and you want to be able to enjoy your album art, these are what you’re looking for.
The first thing you’ll notice about the UO 5.0s is that they are made of a totally different kind of plastic than any sleeve you’ve ever used. It’s such a sturdy material that you’ll need to careful the first couple of times you use them. These sleeve have very little “give”, and if you’re not careful, you can catch the edge of your record jacket. But…fear not! The sleeve will actually start to loosen a little. Don’t worry, this is a good thing, for it will make sliding in an album almost effortless. Just give it a little time to “break in.”
Meanwhile, the Deluxe Oversized UO 5.0 version has been designed for the current crop of audiophile reissues, many of which do not get along with conventional outer sleeves. If you’re reading this blog, then maybe you know what I mean. As brilliant as their presentation is—all heavy cardboard and fat, 180g vinyl—the Music Matters Blue Note reissues can be a massive pain when you try to fit them into a sleeve.1 The same goes for Analogue Productions 45rpm series (many genres) and many other high quality—but massive—reissues. You won’t know how you managed without these.
At just over twice the price of Sleeve City’s thinner sleeves, they are indeed a little pricy. As of this writing, the UO 5.0s are $21.99 for 50 ($0.44/per), while the budget 3.0 mil are $19.99 for 100 ($0.20/per). Are they worth the expense? If you are a quality-over-quantity collector, I’d say absolutely, emphatically, “Yes!”
For more information, check these links:
1. By the way, if you are spending $50 on a record without putting it in an outer sleeve, I command you to stop reading this immediately. Now, go grab your copy of Empyrean Isles and smash it with a grub hoe, because you obviously don’t deserve to own that record.↩