Questions about the manufacturing
Usually 8-12 weeks.
The manufacturing process of a vinyl plate is still characterized by many handmade steps.
For example, it takes about 35 seconds to press a single record (10 times longer than a CD manufacturing).
The current vinyl revival is also responsible for the long production times. The vinyl record is in great demand and the production facilities are working at full speed.
With rpm (revolutions per minute), the playback speed of the disc is specified.
Generally speaking: the more rpm, the less music fits on the disk! The following playing times are possible:
- 7 inch 33 rpm: max. 6,5 minutes
- 7 inch 45 rpm: max. 4,5 minutes
- 12 inch 33 rpm: max. 24 minutes
- 12 inch 45 rpm: max. 11 minutes
Besides the clear weight difference, there is another difference in the resulting stiffness. The 180 g version (also called HEAVY vinyl) is significantly thicker and therefore not as easily bendable as the standard 140 g vinyl.
The 180 g vinyl is also said to have a better, clearer sound. However, this cannot be confirmed from a technical point of view and is therefore of a purely subjective nature. See for yourself!
The test pressing is a preliminary pressing of your final vinyl record, which will be sent to you for approval before reproduction.
It is not an absolute „must“, but we strongly recommend it.
Why is a test pressing that important?
Before transmitting the digital audio files (preferably WAV files), they must be adapted for the analogue medium vinyl. Here changes in sound are possible. In addition, the cutting machines for the vinyl records differ from one another. These tolerances can be filtered out and adjusted by a test pressing.
By many manual prdouction steps!
Vinyl pressing is carried out in 3 different steps, all of which require a very high degree of precision and craftsmanship.
- Preparation of the audio files for the production of the matrix (balancing)
Balancing is preferably carried out by the pressing plant itself. The spectral information of the music on a record is transmitted to the turntable’s needle by the depth of the respective groove. In order to avoid playing errors such as a skipping needle due to too shallow grooves, these must be precisely adjusted to a minimum/maximum (depending on the respective track) without influencing the sound. It is precisely because of these adjustments that test pressings are strongly recommended for vinyl records!
- Creating the „master“ (cutting)
During cutting, the digital audio files previously prepared for the medium are transferred to an analogue template for the subsequent pressing process.
Information is engraved into the prototype (also called „matrix“) as a negative print of the grooves of the record. The copper foil matrix is galvanized afterwards.
In comparison to the alternative lacquer cut for the production of press matrices, this process is not only faster but also of significantly higher quality due to the elimination of additional mechanical copying processes. HOFA uses only the high-quality process of copper foil! (DMM process – „Direct Metal Mastering“).
Each side of the record (sides A & B) requires a separate matrix.
- The pressing of the vinyl
The finalized matrices of both sides (A & B) are clamped into a press machine at the top and bottom. A piece of vinyl is placed between the matrices (140-180 g, depending on the configurations). The labels of the record (top and bottom) are bound together with the vinyl mass in the same production step.
At a temperature of approx. 150°C and under high pressure the mass is pressed into its final form. At the same time, the protruding plastic offcuts at the edge are neatly removed. Due to the high temperature, the pressure and the subsequent cooling phase of the vinyl, the labels are firmly bonded to the plate without an additional adhesive layer.
Step 3 of the production describes the production of 1 record at a time and takes approx. ten times longer than the pressing of a CD.
Yes, we also offer the vinyl in different colours and with marbling.
Vinyl colours available (with/without marbling):
Coloured vinyl is slightly limited in playback quality compared to the classic black record due to the addition of dyes.
In addition, problems during playback may occur more frequently.
Questions concerning audio file transfer
A mastering for vinyl is known for the fact that attention should be paid to special features which are caused by the medium. It should be noted that above all the cutter and the pressing plant are responsible for the actual implementation on vinyl and not the mastering engineer. They decide on criteria such as disc size, thickness or cutting speed.
Nevertheless, we would like to describe some details that may have a positive effect:
Loud low-frequency signals and extreme panning or negative correlations can cause the needle to skip and even damage it in extreme cases. This is one of the reasons why placing low-frequency signals in the middle of the mix has proven successful. To be on the safe side, keep frequencies up to 200 Hz in MONO if possible.
While the mastering for CD allows a clear statement about the functionality during playback, it is a little different with vinyl. Despite the consideration of the above-mentioned criteria, the actual result will only become apparent in detail during playback. It cannot be ruled out that subsequent corrections are requested, which may be related to the sound, the track sequence, etc.
For this reason, a test pressing is generally recommended.
As DDP image or WAV file.
There is no specified format – bit depth and sampling rate can be chosen freely, but should generally be as high as possible. 24 bit and 44.1 kHz are common.
Our recommendation – the HOFA Bundle for all premastering tasks:
Professional editing and burning of Red Book Audio CDs as well as creating, playing and sharing DDP images. We built some features into CD-Burn.DDP.Master that makes the preparation of music for a vinyl duplication extremely easy. With special markers you can define which tracks are on which side of the record. The setup maximum length of the vinyl disc is checked automatically.
More Infos about HOFA CD-Burn.DDP.Master
Things to know about vinyl
Due to the cutting but also the replay on vinyl, a mechanical noise occurs which can be reduced by producing a higher playback level.
Since with additional level more space is needed on the vinyl, some records are released with only one track per side. This is also often the case with bass-heavy music, as for loud low frequencies need additional space for the desired loudness.
For physical reasons, the quality of vinyl is higher on the outside of the disk than further inside.
This is because the needle covers a longer distance per revolution which allows a more precise scanning. This is noticeable by a better/louder reproduction of high frequencies. For this reason, the best tracks should be on the outside. It is also conceivable that tracks with a too loud high end are intentionally set on the inside.
It is often assumed (mistakenly) that the level of compression and loudness of the mastering is also responsible for the volume of the vinyl.
But that is not true: the volume is determined by the cutting process, whereby a higher loudness is also noticeable in a “better” sound and includes a signal to noise ratio.
A high degree of compression or loudness can even be a problem for the playback, since a high degree of scanning accuracy is required. If the needle reaches its technical limits, distortions may occur.