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Baltimore, MD 21218
MORPHIUSDISC MANUFACTURING. VINYL RECORD PRESSING
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Below we've included some explanations of various terms that we use while processing vinyl record orders. Customers placing vinyl orders are bound by our Terms & Conditions, which requires them to have essential familiarity with these terms. The simple explanations in this section will help anyone, but especially anyone not totally experienced and familiar with the process. Reading through these terms will help you understand more about how vinyl is made and will hopefully help you avoid costly mistakes:
GLOSSARY OF TERMINOLOGY FOR VINYL PRESSING ORDERS
Lacquer Mastering is the process of taking the music from your source (usually a CD-R or AIFF or WAV files) and embedding the information into an analog format on a lacquer made of soft metal.
Although the word "Mastering" is contained in this term, please do not confuse this process with our other Audio Mastering Services, as we do not make EQ, compression, or limiting changes during this process (except by special arrangement and extra charges)
Lacquer Masters (AKA "Lacquers") are a the result of the Lacquer Mastering process. They are essentially the first "version" of your record, which is used to create the Metal Stampers , which are in turn used to actually press ("Stamp") your records. In very simplistic terms, this process works in a similar way to candlemaking.
Although we use a smaller size for 7" lacquers, the lacquers for 10" and 12" records are both done on 12" lacquer blanks.
When a record is played on a turntable, the stylus makes contact with the record, and then as the record spins the stylus follows the visible circular paths around the record, which are referred to as "grooves." Those grooves are actually an indention in the record, so the stylus essentially "sits in them" as the record plays. There are a variety of specialty groove records, which are discussed below for people who want their record to play in unique ways.
Around the inside center of the record, in the section after the music ends, is an area referred to by some as the "leadout groove". In order to know what is on each lacquer, we automatically inscribe the lacquer with an internal selection number. This helps prevent us from mixing up your music with someone else's. We also allow our customers to add an additional identifier number or short personal message in this area. This message must be indicated at the time of the order in the correct section on our Order Form. The lacquer scribe info is written by the lacquer engineer by hand, and it does not cost anything.
A reference acetate (AKA Lacquer Ref or Reference Disc) is a record that is made prior to the lacquer mastering, for the purpose of giving an accurate reference for what the records will sound like prior to spending $450-$600 on lacquer mastering and plating. These discs are pressed using the same process (but a different type of blank) as lacquer mastering Certain types of audio recordings (including those with long program lengths, especially compressed audio, very dynamic volume shifts, prominent bass frequencies, or modern electronic effects) have the potential of sounding quite different when pressed on vinyl, and for recordings like this we highly recommend the purchase of a reference acetate at the start of your order.
The Plating Process
Plating is process of making metal stampers from the lacquer masters. These metal stampers are what we actually attach to the record press in order to "stamp" your music into the molten vinyl, hence the term "stamper". Several different methods exist for creating metal stampers for vinyl records, as follows:
Full Processing (AKA 5-Step Processing) Is a fancy word for the method and type of Stampers that we make during our process, which involves 5 separate steps.. 5-step processing creates a Father Stamper, a Mother Stamper, and the "children" stampers" and a stamper. Mothers usually last long enough to make about 5,000 records, prior to wearing out enough that they need to be replaced. In order to make another Mother Stamper, a Father Stamper must be used.
3-Step Processing. Some companies skip 2 of these steps and use 3-step processing, which means making not making a father stamper and going straight to making a mother stamper. major limitation of this process is that if the record does well, it will have to be re-cut once the mother stamper wears out. There is also the small risk of the occasional situation where a mother can become damaged through accidental handling, (probably slightly more than 1% of the time).
2-Step Processing is the process of creating a Mother Stamper and then one Stamper only. Although we accept 2-step masters, our use of them is entirely at clients risk.
Blank Stamper (AKA "No Groove" Stamper)
Is a stamper that has no music on it and no visual grooves. These are typically used to press records that are intended to be decorated on the blank side, either with an etching or a silkscreen or other process. They can also be left totally blank. Records that use a blank stamper on one side are sometimes referred to as "one sided records".
Static Groove Stamper
Is a stamper that has no actual music on it but uses what are called "static grooves". If played, this side of a record will just sound like static. Some people prefer to use these instead of "no groove" blank stampers, especially for records being used as event invitations which will not contain music on one or both sides, because the records look as though they do contain music.
Center Labels Center labels are the circular paper that is typically seen in the middle of a vinyl record. They can be either printed with information ("printed center labels") or unprinted white labels. We also offer "stock labels" that have pre-printed background colors (using our stock colors as a "flood coat," but without any other printing). Contrary to what some people assume, center labels for vinyl are not "stickers," and we do not use adhesive on the back to adhere them to the records. They are printed on special paper and "pressed onto" the vinyl records while they are being made. Prior to attaching center labels to the records, the center labels must be "baked" in an oven to remove all moisture from the paper.
Test pressings are records made (usually just 4 or 5, but sometimes more than that) prior to proceeding with the rest of an order. Test pressings are usually made on the same press and using the same process as the record run which they are "testing," although typically we put blank white labels on them rather than printed labels.
Since this process isn't substantially any different than what we will do when we make the rest of your records, the test pressings should sound the same as what the rest of your order will sound like when we proceed with it, after you give us your approval.
Sometime for our clients that are in a hurry to get their records we make what we call Approval Copies, which are really just test pressings with printed center labels. Although it incurs a small additional charge for us to do these, it can be an inexpensive way to get a portion of the records for an order faster than the rest of the records (doing an order this way is substantially less risky than having us press all of your records without listening to a test pressing first).
Changing A Record After Hearing the Test Pressing
Customers sometimes ask us "I like the way my test pressings sound, but can you change ________?" The short answer to the question is "no, unless we start over and do new lacquers and new stampers" (which is fairly costly). The usual purpose of the test pressing process for most runs is as a final checking method to make sure nothing went wrong during the complicated process of the lacquer and stamper production (which does occasionally happen). Accordingly, the test pressing process should not be used to gage how a record will sound if you have a substantial amount of uncertainty going in to the process. In those cases, a reference acetate can be produced for you to review how your source translates to vinyl, whether the EQ and compression of the master is suitable to your tastes, whether the low end (which sounds different in the analog realm from the digital realm) is affected, whether a long side length will result in too much surface noise, and other aesthetic questions like that. Audiophiles and anyone who considers themselves "picky" or intends to be "discerning" about how their music sounds on vinyl should probably add a reference acetate to their order.
Dust Sleeves, Inner Sleeves, PVC Sleeves, 7", 10" and 12" bags
The white paper protective sleeves for 7", 10", and 12" records are called dust sleeves, or sometimes "inner sleeves." Our standard orders for all records except picture discs automatically include assembly of your records into dust sleeves. Usually these dust sleeves have a die cut hole in the middle, so that the center label can be seen while the record is in the dust sleeve. Picturedisc vinyl is normally assembled into a clear thick plastic sleeve made of PVC material, which we refer to as a PVC Sleeve. For 12" picture disc vinyl, the PVC sleeves include a flap and strap. 7" PVC sleeves do not have these flaps.
Printed Inner Sleeves
For customers who want to display additional artwork, lyrics, or whatever, Morphius offers printing on the inner sleeves, either in black and white (which we refer to as (1/0) or B&W), or in full color (which we refer to as (4/0) or CMYK). Normally we do not die cut a hole in our printed inner sleeves, but we are able to.
Record Jackets (AKA Printed Jackets)
Record Jackets are the protective covers used for most records. Record jackets can be printed or not, and can include various types of finish (gloss, matte, UV or aqueous coating), as well as be embossed, de-bossed, foil stamped, die cut, serialized (individually numbered), printed on reverse board or alternate stocks, and customized in many other different ways. We produce a wide variety of record jackets, including fitted, fold-over, j-fold, gatefold, triple gatefold, using either direct-to-board or tip-on ("old style") printing method.
Shrink-wrap, Cello Wrap, Bags,
Typically, 12" and 10" record products in jackets are shrink-wrapped for retail usage. 5" and 7" records are usually not shrink-wrapped, as the wrap has a tendency to bend the corners of the jackets. Instead they are placed in what are called 7" bags, available either in standard format or re-sealable. Bags are available for 10" and 12" size records too, and some people prefer that method of sealing as it can be retained once the record has been opened for added protection of the jacket artwork.
Virgin Vinyl, "Regrind", Recycled Vinyl
Morphius uses only 100% virgin vinyl to press records. Many plants use recycled (AKA regrind) vinyl to press records, so that they can use up the scrap vinyl they have lying around. It really doesn't sound good that way, so we don't use it. Recycled vinyl should be taken to a recycling center in your city, or melted down and turned into a coffee table.
Specialty Color Vinyl and Specialty Groove Records
These topics are not covered here. For more information about the various specialty records that we can produce (including lock grooves, interweaving grooves, inside out grooves, laser etchings, silkscreened sides, marbled color mixes, splatters, half and half color vinyl, odd sizes, shapes, please contact us by email.
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Select the product you would like to receive a pricing quote for below. Instant Quotes are available for CDs/DVDs/Vinyl/In Cases/Jackets & Digipaks. Instant Quotes also Includes Package Pricing Specials for Posters & Postcards.
Custom Quotes are also available here on our quotes page. We will get back to you promptly with a customized quote. If you need immediate service, you are welcome to call us at 410-662-0112 weekdays between 10 AM and 6 PM (Eastern Standard Time).