FAQs - Vinyl Pressing

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  • What is your turnaround time on vinyl pressing?

    Standard turnaround can be broken down in two parts. Once your order form, audio files, and deposit have been received it will usually takes 3 weeks for your test pressings to be shipped. Once you approve your tests and all of the components (jackets, inserts, stickers, etc.) have been received it typically takes another 5-6 weeks for your order to be completed.

    Please note that this time frame is not set in stone. Vinyl pressing is a labor of love, with many detailed steps involved in the process. Our goal is to produce quality records, which means that we need to take the necessary time to ensure that they are to your specifications.  Please be patient and - for your own peace of mind - don’t schedule any release dates until you have your product in hand.

  • What sort of masters do you accept for vinyl pressing?

    For vinyl, we accept PMCD / CD-R discs and lacquer masters.

  • How do I prepare a master for vinyl pressing?

    Mastering for vinyl is very different than that for CDs.  We highly recommend that you read the article Producing Great Sounding Phonograph Records by vinyl mastering pro, Kevin Gray.

  • How are vinyl records manufactured?

    Here’s an interesting video on how vinyl records are made.

  • What is a lacquer master?

    A lacquer is an aluminum-based disc, covered with a plastic material that is cut by an engineer from your master tapes. It is the medium by which your music is transferred to disc to produce metal parts, which produces phonograph records. It is a vital part of record pressing.

  • What is plating?

    Plating (also known as electroplating) is the process of making a mold from a lacquer, that can be put into the press to press your records. The lacquers are first silvered and plated at low temperature and amperage to make the metal master (sometimes called “father”). As the lacquer is somewhat delicate, it can only be used one time reliably.

  • Why do I need extra stampers for my order?

    Pressing vinyl records over and over again is hard on metal stampers - causing them to wear out, split, become scratched, etc. We can generally press approximately 1000 records per set of stampers before we start to lose sound quality. Therefore, if you have larger orders, more stampers are needed to complete that order with the highest quality surface integrity.

  • My record sounds distorted.  What happened?

    Distortion on the “S” sounds in the vocals and the high-hat of the cymbals is called sibilance. Some of these hottest and most dynamic sounds cannot be translated directly to vinyl without compression. See Producing Great Sounding Phonograph Records for a complete explanation.

  • Why don’t my records sound as loud as my CD master?

    Digital levels do not bear any relationship to analog levels. The analog output level of a CD player can be anything the manufacturer wants it to be, but it is generally higher than a phono pre-amp output.  Digital equipment manufacturers want CDs to sound better (translate “louder”) than records. If the CD has fairly wide dynamic range, a record can be as loud. See a complete explanation in Producing Great Sounding Phonograph Records.

  • How much music can I get onto an 12” vinyl record?

    The amount of music that can be cut onto a 12” lacquer is a function of the level and the compression / equalization. For example, the length of a hip-hop recording is typically shorter than a classical recording because the levels are generally much higher. 

    See the chart on our mastering specs page for recommended times.

  • How much music can I get on a 7” vinyl record?

    As mentioned above, the basic principle is that as the time of the side increases, the level decreases.  With that mind, for a 45 rpm 7” record, the optimal time per side is 3:00 - 3:30 minutes. 3:30 - 4:00 is considered good, and 4:00 - 4:30 is fair.  We don’t recommend cutting a 7” at 33-1/3 rpm - they just don’t sound very good.  See the chart on our mastering specs page.

  • What’s the difference between 2-step and 3-step processing?

    In both cases, 2-step and 3-step start with a lacquer:

    For 2-step processing, the lacquer is silvered, pre-plated at low temperature, then moved to a rotary tank to complete the plating cycle. The 2-step nickel master must meet stringent weight and taper guidelines to be used for pressing. After making the 2-step nickel master, the master is used to make a mother. The mother, once approved, can then be used for subsequent stampers, if needed. After the mother is approved, the nickel master can then be converted into a stamper. 2-step is usually for small LP quantities.

    3-step processing is usually for large LP quantities. The lacquer is silvered and pre-plated at low temperature/low amperage, but instead of being moved to the rotary tank the lacquer is left to plate at low temperature/low amperage for about 14 hours before reaching the desired thickness. The nickel master is then used to make a mother, which is then used to make stampers for test and/or production.

    The major quality difference between 2 and 3-step processing is the 3-step lacquer is not exposed to the higher plating bath temperature/higher plating amperage that comes with being plated in a rotary tank.

  • What is a test pressing?  Do I need one?

    All our vinyl packages include a test pressing. Once a stamper is made, it is sent to the pressing department for a test pressing. 5 copies (more can be requested) are pressed and sent to you for approval. These should be listened to, confirming the mastering and checking for any extraneous noises that may be present. Be certain the turntable you are using is properly set up and aligned.

  • I’m listening to my test pressing and the speed (pitch) seems off.  What’s the problem?

    It’s impossible to cut a lacquer master at the wrong speed.  Most likely the speed on your turntable is off.  Make sure that you are playing it on a good quality (and well-tuned) turntable.

  • What colors of vinyl do you offer?

    The standard color is black.  Transparent red, blue, yellow, pink, and green are also available for an additional charge.

  • What are the paper color options for my vinyl label?

    The paper color options for your vinyl label are: White, Black, Silver (PMS 877), Gold (PMS 871), Process Yellow, Medium Blue (Process Blue), Dark Blue (PMS 072), Tan (PMS 155), Light Green (PMS 578), Purple (PMS 261), Red (PMS 032), Process Yellow, Bubblegum Pink (PMS 211), and Orange (PMS 021). 

  • How do I create the artwork for my vinyl label?

    We have templates available in Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Quark.  Images should be 300 dpi.  Use either Pantone colors for solids or CMYK for full color.

  • How do I provide my art files for vinyl records?

    Artwork for label or jacket printing can be provided on a disc or uploaded via our File Upload Service. There will be a charge for film output depending on the nature of your design. A proof is necessary for any multiple-color printing, and must be approved by the customer before printing a job. This can be supplied by the customer or made after a film is generated. Prices will be quoted by printer upon receipt of files. All fonts must be provided, and please provide special instructions in writing.  See our design specs for additional information.

  • Do you insert the records in sleeves?

    Yes, insertion into white paper dust sleeves is included in every vinyl package.  Premium poly-lined sleeves are also available at an additional price.  In addition, we can print custom paper sleeves.  Contact us for a quote.

  • What are my options for vinyl jackets?

    We have templates available for 7” single, 12” single and 12” double.  Our standard stock is 20 pt. SBS, but we can also print on reverse board stock, 100% recycled white Enviroboard or 100% recycled brown chipboard.  We can also die-cut holes in the jacket.  In the near future, we will be offering blank chipboard vinyl jackets online, so you can custom design your own jackets.

  • Do you offer stickers for vinyl packages?

    Yes.  We offer hundreds of shapes and sizes and can print 1, 2, 3 or 4 colors.  We also apply them to the outside for your package for an additional charge. Contact us for more information.

  • Can you do inserts for vinyl jackets?

    Yes.  The maximum size for any insert is 11” x 11”. The cost of insertion is based upon ease (or difficulty) of insertion. Be aware that thick and bulky inserts can lead to warped records.  We can also print 11 x 11” inserts.  Call or write for a quote.