Vinyl Record Manufacturing
One Step At A Time
Before you actually decide to press your first record project you’ve probably already made some decisions as to what you’re going to do with the records and how many you intend to press. This will help determine some of the options you choose.
Mastering – Don’t scrimp to save a penny here. Go with a mastering house or engineer who is well known and has a good reputation. Be sure you find out from him how your audio master should be prepared and documented before you send it. One important detail that needs to be decided at the outset of mastering is the “matrix” , catalog or selection number. This should be a unique alpha numeric identifier for one specific title. This identifier should appear on each component of the title. Be sure to mark your audio master with this and the mastering engineer will “scribe” it in the lead-out or “dead-wax” area of the lead-out. Let the mastering engineer know to send the lacquers to Record Tech once they are cut. If you can also let him know who the Record Tech customer rep is, and the type of processing required for your job, he can pass that information along and it will help smooth your lacquers trip to the plating bath.
Plating – Plating 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. There are special circumstances when, for a very limited run and when time is of the utmost concern this negative part can be “converted” into a stamper and used to press a limited run of records. Normally, a “mother” is made, which can then be sound checked and stamper production can begin. Another mother can later be made from the stored metal master if needed. This is called 3-Step processing. Or, for a limited run, usually less than 3,000 records, the metal master can be “converted” into a stamper after the mother is sound checked and approved. The mother is then stored for later use. No additional mothers can be made. This is called 2-Step Processing.
Test Pressings – 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. These should be listened to, confirming the mastering and checking for any extraneous noises that may be present. As always, be certain the turntable you are using is properly set up and aligned. At this point, it is also a good idea to check your label and jacket layout against a test pressing and make sure they agree. If you find any problems or uncertainties contact your customer rep in writing with problem specifics.
Labels – Labels are printed from your camera ready artwork or can be typeset by the printer. Prices start at 1-color and go up. Ask a customer rep for color choices and pricing info. Just remember – full color printing can be quite costly. A .bmp template (932KB) for label layouts can be downloaded by clicking here.or a .pdf file (30 kb) can be accessed by clicking here
Jackets – Custom printed jackets are printed at a jacket manufacturer. For options and referrals talk to your customer rep.
Some generic jackets are available from us. We keep black or white solid jackets and black or white jackets with a 4″ center hole in stock. Other colors & configurations can be made available upon request.
Stickers – Generic or custom printed jackets can be dressed up by the use of custom printed stickers applied either directly to the jacket or over the outer shrink wrap or poly bag. Camera-Ready art work should be provided to us. We can suggest several capable printers and have a reasonable application charge.
Inserts- Maximum size of any insert is 11″ x 11″. Cost of insertion is based upon ease / difficulty of insertion. Be aware that thick and bulky inserts can lead to warped records.
Lead Time – Once we have all the components for your record job we will issue a work order for production. Components include test pressing approval, labels, jackets, inserts, special sleeves, stickers and any special requirement you may have. We can usually ship your finished records within 3 weeks.
Colored Vinyl – We press colored vinyl in “batches”. If you require a certain due date please try to plan far ahead and build in extra lead time. Minimum order is 500 and prices depend upon color. Color samples are available on our LP price list.
Camera Ready Art – black and white photo – ready artwork to size that looks exactly like what’s going to print. One piece of typeset artwork per color. This can be professionally typeset artwork or a good laser print from the computer. Full color artwork requires composite negatives and color key.
Composite Negatives – Complete ready to-print film separations encompassing all pictures, copy, logos, etc. to size. Each color is separated into one piece of film per process color to be printed. A color key proof should accompany the film.
Digital Files – Artwork for label or jacket printing can be provided on a disc to your printer. There will usually 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 your printer upon receipt of files. All fonts must be provided, and please provide special instructions in writing.
Shrink wrap, Polybag or No Wrap – Your LP will be completed by the wrap of your choice. Shrink wrap is a discardable, thin plastic wrap covering your jacket. Polybags are a thicker, reusable dust cover with a perforated edge, or, you can choose no wrap at all.