Vinyl

We let you create a unique vinyl package, customizing your record color, labels, packaging and more. Each vinyl package includes a record (or two for a double album) with printed labels (1 per side), plus a protective printed or unprinted inner sleeve and outside printed cardstock packaging, finished with retail shrink wrap or polybag. You can optionally add stickers, download cards and UPC barcodes to complete your customized vinyl records.

Our online offering is intended only for complete retail packages.

We offer a "starter package" option at 100 and 200 units and a more comprehensive set of packaging and finishing options, plus different record size and color options starting at 250 units.

There are many different processes that vinyl has to go through before it's ready to be pressed and packaged, including plate and stamper production and physical test presses. All of these steps take time and are sometimes done at different facilities. Given the multiple processes and equipment, high demand and limited global capacity to manufacture vinyl, the result is long lead times.

A physical etching on electroplated stampers is required to press each individual record. There are two methods of creating these stampers - Lacquers and Direct Metal Mastering (DMM).

In DMM, a vinyl cutting lathe is used to physically etch grooves into a copper metal master disc using your audio master. Stampers are then made using this DMM metal master. Stampers are electroplated metallic plates that are attached to a vinyl press to mold the grooves of a finished record.

Lacquers are created by coating a silver metal disc with plastic (AKA lacquer, which is similar to nail polish.). The disc is then physically etched by a vinyl cutting lathe with audio content. Once the lacquer is created, "mother" stampers are created from which the press stampers are manufactured; this is referred to as a 2-step plating process. In very long run vinyl production and certain other instances, a 3-step process is sometimes utilized (a "father" stamper is used to make the mother stampers).

Making stampers via DMM skips at least one step (and involves only a single electroplating step) versus stampers created from lacquer masters. Thus, DMM is more streamlined and a good choice for smaller runs.

A DMM cut is more precise, with sharper transients and better edge definition. DMM is more responsive to treble, can cut down on groove echo (neighboring grooves being affected by each other in an undesirable way) and improve the depth of the stereo field. With one less plating step, DMM offers less chance for extra surface noise to be added during production.

Vinyl records typically come in two speeds: 33-1/3 and 45 rotations per minute (RPM). Average length records are generally cut at 33-1/3 rpm; shorter length records have the opportunity to be cut at 45 rpm, which can lead to a better sounding record. To provide the best sound possible, the record should turn faster (higher RPM). However, when a record turns faster the amount of audio that can be held on a record is reduced, thus having a shorter play time capacity.

Vinyl record size (most typically 12" or 7") and RPM are the primary drivers of content capacity. Capacity is also impacted by volume, as louder program levels take up more space on the disc. Bass also takes up more room, as does a stereo signal.

In general, shorter sides sound better because there is more room for the grooves to be spaced. Here are general recommendations.

12" LP @ 45 RPM – 12 minutes per side is optimal. Above 15 minutes, we recommend changing to 33 1/3 RPM.

12" LP @ 33 1/3 RPM – 14-18 minutes per side is ideal. At 20 minutes and longer, overall levels start to drop, surface noise will become more noticeable and bass may need to be trimmed. We do not recommend sides over 24 minutes.

7" @ 45 RPM – 3:30 is the optimal. Leading up to and after 4:30 level starts to drop a bit. Max recommend time is 5 minutes. Cutting at 33 1/3 on 7 inches is not recommend because of added distortion

We encourage you to supply audio at the highest original sampling rate and bit depth for creating a vinyl master. More specifically:

  • We can cut from audio files at resolution of up to a 192 KHz sampling rate and 32 bit depth.
  • Up-sampling does not help the quality; send files at the highest rate they were recorded at during tracking and mixing.
  • You can send us audio files peaking near 0 dBFS, but leave at least 0.1-0.5dB headroom for D/A conversion.
  • It is best to not limited your use of hard-limiters (brickwall, peak limiters).
  • A good and safe dynamic range is around DR12, but if mixed and (pre-)mastered well, it can be up to DR8 for some genres.
  • The project should be in-phase, as out of phase audio can cause skips during playback.
  • Avoid or limit bass below 300 HZ and Treble over 18KHz. It is typical to use an elliptical EQ on low range bass during cutting generally up to 150Hz and low pass filters on treble over 18KHz.
  • Sibilants are also problematic, so de-essing is recommend especially on tracks near the inside of the record which are at risk for inner ring distortion (the grooves toward the inside of the record distort more easily than the ones near the outside).
  • Louder tracks normally do best at the start of a side and quieter tracks on the inside toward the label.

High resolution uncompressed audio files such as .WAV or .AIFF files are recommended. Vinyl can be cut at a higher digital sampling rates than finished CDs can provide. If the project was originally recorded at, for example, a 96K sampling rate with 24 Bit depth, the cutting engineer can use those higher resolution digital files to cut the vinyl master.

We can use CD digital masters to cut records, but heavy limiting can affect the ability to produce a loud vinyl master. It's generally a good idea to create a separate master explicitly for vinyl as the hard final limiting that CD and digital masters go through is not ideal for vinyl mastering. It is normal for the vinyl version to have less hard limiting and perhaps a slightly different EQ curve.

For all standard projects of 250 units or more, we strongly encourage test presses and we require an explicit acknowledgement if you wish to waive a test press on these larger jobs.

We do not offer test presses on our short run vinyl "starter packages"; this facilitates a more streamlined production process to get your vinyl project shipped much faster than larger orders.

You should listen to your test press on a properly calibrated and maintained turntable as the record will only sound as true and good as the stereo being utilized. Listen carefully to verify that the side breaks and tracks are in the correct running order, the rotation speed is correct, the song breaks are accurate and the visual track markers are properly placed. If you had a custom etching done in the run-out groove, that should also be inspected.

If you do hear any persistent audio issues or skipping, please play each of your test presses and, if possible, on multiple turntables. If there is a repeatable issue in the same location across all test presses, please identify the exact location and details.

Acetates (also known as dubplates) are an optional, cost-effective pre-test under lacquer production, before the expensive metal work begins and can be created prior to a formal test press. While not an exact preview, acetates allow you to get a preview of the play back level and sound characteristics that will be present on the final pressing of the LP.

After LP labels have been printed, they are literally put in an oven and baked. This process removes moisture from the labels so the plant can press them into the record without the labels sticking together. The baking process can impact the color of labels in unpredictable ways, although the shift is often subtle.

The actual weight of a record will differ on every record that is pressed. Fluctuations depend on the vinyl material and other variables in the pressing process and are adjusted in order to obtain optimal sound quality. 180 gram and the standard gram weight (approximately 140 grams) are benchmarks.

There is no difference between the grooves pressed onto a 180 gram record and a standard weight record. Some believe that heavier weight helps absorb vibrations from the turntable and keep that noise from passing through the needle, but such sonic difference is not discernable to most listeners.

In practical terms it is harder to warp a 180 gram record – not only coming off press, but in shipping and storage as well. 180 gram records have a durable and solid feel that is aesthetically prized by collectors and marketers.

Black vinyl is the safest bet for audio quality. There is a possibility of some surface noise or other sound issues with color vinyl. White, glow-in-the-dark and picture vinyl are known to have greater risk for surface noise issues.

Artwork guidelines summary:

  • Provide artwork as a high resolution editable PDF (export as Press Quality)
  • Artwork should be created in the CMYK color mode (or Greyscale color mode for 1-color black artwork)
  • Artwork files need to be at a resolution of 300 dpi or higher at the intended print size to ensure that the image is sharp and not pixelated.
  • Please provide layouts with the text converted to outlines and/or include all font files used
  • Artwork needs to extend to the bleed line (at least 3mm on bleed past any cut lines (see templates)
  • All text should be allowed at least 3mm of safety away from any cut or fold lines (see templates)
  • Fonts should always be outlined. Converting fonts to paths rather than "live text," eliminates the need for the font.
  • Images should always been embedded into the final artwork before sending
  • Total ink coverage cannot exceed 320%
  • Do not flatten the template layer into your artwork (and please delete before uploading)

Details on artwork submission are included on each artwork design template, plus we encourage you to read or provide your graphic designer our artwork guidelines (click here).

Our standard stock for our standard jackets and gatefolds is offset printed 350gsm paper stock (approx. 20 point stock). For our starter package, we digitally print on 300gsm stock (approx. 18 point stock).

Vinyl production is complex, involving many processes with uncertain production yields. Given the complexity and unpredictability, the final delivered quantity can be above or below the order quantity. Typically for jobs up to 1000 units, the over/under allowance is 10%, with a typical final delivered quantity being an overage of 3% to 8%. We add an overage allowance to help ensure we deliver at least your desired order quantity. If the delivered quantity is below the order quantity plus overage already charged, we will refund you the difference to reflect only the actual delivered quantity.

Shipping is separate and quoted as a separate line item. For our standard packages starting at 250 units, the product price includes air shipment from Europe to our warehouse in the U.S. The shipping price reflected in your project price reflects only shipment within the U.S. For our shorter run, 100 and 200 unit starter packages, the shipping price reflects direct air shipment from the vinyl production facility in Europe to your address.

Yes, we offer unprinted black and white inner sleeve options as lower priced options to printed inner sleeves, and black and white printed labels and outer packaging as lower priced options to full color printing. We also offer a range of outer packaging options, from basic jackets to more expensive gatefolds and other offline options. If you've got more time, we can also explore options to ocean ship your project rather than air shipping from Europe to our US warehouse.

Yes, and we typically provide the entire setup and hosting of a digital download in conjunction with pressing a vinyl project.

Our online offering allows you to build custom vinyl projects with most common print, vinyl color and packaging options. However, we regularly produce other very custom vinyl products and packaging. If you're looking for specialty effects, shapes, glow in the dark, silkscreened, etched or other effects, 10" vinyl or specialty packaging, please contact us or submit a custom quote request. In general, minimum order quantities for items we don't offer online will be at least 250 units and sometimes greater.

Overt audio, video and graphic representations of misogyny, sexual violence, homophobia, bigotry, anti-Semitism, racism and all-around hate are not welcomed and will be rejected.