Before initiating the cutting and pressing process of your records, professional vinyl mastering is essential to achieve optimal sound quality and mitigate technical challenges associated with analog format transfer. This procedure influences various factors including playback duration, musical genre, vocal clarity, phase alignment between channels, and bass frequencies. We collaborate with ENISSLAB, a specialized studio in mastering for vinyl with more than 20 years of experience in this service, which guarantees the optimal sound quality of your records.
Lacquer Cut: Following a thorough review of your audio, an engineer crafts the music into a continuous groove on a pristine lacquer disc using a specialized record lathe, employing a dedicated cutting head/stylus made of sapphire or ruby gems. The lacquer comprises a nitrocellulose layer atop an aluminum disc. The cutting stylus is heated and carves a spiral V-shaped sound groove into the nitrocellulose layer. One notable advantage of lacquer cutting lies in its ability to generate louder sides, owing to the possibility of making deeper cuts into the soft surface of a lacquer disc compared to a rigid copper DMM blank. This may be particularly appealing for those working on 12″ club singles or LPs with shorter sides. It’s worth noting, however, that increased volume is not without its risks, as it may lead to distortion or skipping on certain turntables. Stampers for pressing records are created through an electroforming process using these meticulously mastered lacquers. DMM (Direct Metal Mastering): Often referred to simply as DMM, this method employs an alternative lathe style equipped with a diamond cutting head that etches grooves into a steel disc coated in high-purity copper. One of the key benefits of cutting into copper is the ability to bypass two stages of the electroplating process that usually follows cutting. This includes the “silvering” wash, which renders the lacquers electrically conductive, and a secondary electroplating step to create a backup of the lacquer. By circumventing both of these stages, DMM cutting mitigates the risk of introducing higher surface noise.
The copper master discs are submerged in an electroforming bath containing a nickel-based solution. Electricity is introduced at a temperature that prompts nickel deposits to adhere to the copper disc in the bath, forming a solid plate that fills the grooves of the master.
Once removed from the tank, the plate is separated to reveal a negative version of the original, now composed of nickel instead of copper. This negative plate is referred to as the “stamper.” The grooves originally on the copper master are inverted on the stamper, allowing it to be used to press grooves into a melted PVC puck, creating a playable vinyl record.
A small series of vinyl records is produced and sent to the artist or label as test pressings (TP). Test pressings enable you to listen to your recording on vinyl for the first time, identify any concerns in the rare event of an issue, or give the green light for the production run.
Vinyl jackets and center labels are printed and then manufactured in Italy, using paper trimmers, die cutters and folding and gluing machines. Once die cut, center labels are baked in an oven to draw all of the moisture out of the water-based inks. After 24 hours of drying time, they are ready to be loaded onto the press.
Two stampers are mounted on the press (on the top and bottom of the pressing mould). A heated PVC puck is extruded and placed in the press in between a and b side center labels. The press closes, introducing steam and pressure to create a flat disc. Cold water rushes into the moulds to cool down and solidify the disc before the press opens again.
AUDIO QUALITY CONTROL
At the beginning of the press run, a single copy is listened to in its entirety by a member of the quality control team. Afterwards, every 50th record receives an audio review to ensure consistency throughout the run. The planning team will deliberately overproduce an order to make sure that any copies with quality issues can be set aside.
VISUAL QUALITY CONTROL
Each record is physically inspected by the press operator for any visual imperfections. the records are later checked again under special lighting by the sleeving team before the records are paired with inner sleeves and jackets.
After being cured for 24 hours to ensure flatness, the records are inserted into blank or printed inner sleeves. the sleeved records move to the assembly table where they are carefully inserted into jackets alongside download cards, booklets or other printed components. The units are then shrink wrapped and placed in specially fortified boxes to protect against damage while in transit.After being cured for 24 hours to ensure flatness, the records are inserted into blank or printed inner sleeves. the sleeved records move to the assembly table where they are carefully inserted into jackets alongside download cards, booklets or other printed components. The units are then shrink wrapped and placed in specially fortified boxes to protect against damage while in transit.
SHIPPING & DELIVERY
Orders can be split into multiple deliveries, both in North America and Europe.