KNOWLEDGE BASE: Vinyl Records
Below you can find out how to prepare your audio tracks for vinyl pressing as well as information about order processing.
Submitting audio master
- Master can be submitted as a production-ready copy on CDR or DVDR. While submitting a physical master, please label it clearly “MASTER” on the disc surface, accompanied by artist name and release title.
- Master can be submitted as a zipped package with WAV files – each track clearly numbered and titled. Such a package must be delivered with md5 checksum.
- You are strongly advised to keep a backup copy of the master.
- Master submitted to 8Merch must be prepared as a final release – we will replicate it to the total number of ordered copies.
- Please note that we offer professional mastering services, in case you are in need of them. Please contact us for detailed pricing.
The following maximum playing times are recommended for respective formats of a vinyl record:
- 12″ Vinyl Records (30cm):
Up to 14 minutes at 45 rpm and up to 24 minutes at 33 rpm;
for DJ applications up to 9 minutes at 45 rpm and up to 15 minutes at 33 rpm.
- 10″ Vinyl Records (25cm):
Up to 8 minutes at 45 rpm and up to 14 minutes at 33 rpm;
for DJ applications up to 6 minutes at 45 rpm and up to 9 minutes at 33 rpm.
- 7″ Vinyl Records (17cm):
Up to 4 minutes at 45 rpm and up to 6 minutes at 33 rpm.
These specifications are only general guidelines! Longer playing times require a reduction of the cutting level, and may necessitate alteration of the characteristics of the audio material.
Labels printing specification
- Colour specification: CMYK. Additional Pantone colours can be applied.
- Resolution: min. 300dpi.
- Accepted file format: PDF. Other files format like EPS, TIFF, JPG are accepted only after prior approval from 8Merch team.
- It is advised to convert all fonts to outlines. Minimum size: 5,5 pt (positive) and 6 pt (negative).
- Trapping is required for image and line elements.
Here is a short overview of how we fulfill your LP pressing order.
Placing an order
You can place your order using this website. Just go to Vinyl Record Pressing section and do one of the following:
- select a pre-defined package (if you are looking for a simple product)
- configure your package (if you want more customized product)
- fill in the quote form and send to us (if none of the above is sufficient)
Along with the order specification submitted through one of the ways described above, we will need the following to start your order processing:
- audio master uploaded to 8merch-audio.wetransfer.com (if it is submitted in a digital format) or sent to our office (if submitted in a physical format)
- artwork files uploaded to 8merch-dtp.wetransfer.com (please check this page for detailed artwork preparation guideline)
- completed Tracklist Form
- completed Copyright Declaration Form
- payment (we accept direct bank transfer, credit cards and PayPal)
Processing your order
Once your order is submitted, we check audio and artwork files you have provided us with. You receive digital proofs for all printed parts and after you have approved them, we will start the pressing and printing process.
Obviously, if there are any errors in the supplied files, we will notify you about that and instruct you what shall be corrected. Please check Artwork Preparation Guideline to learn more about how to correctly prepare the files as well as read through the most common mistakes.
Normally an LP order is fulfilled within 5-6 weeks (plus 2-3 weeks for test presses), counting from the day of all files approval and received payment. Please note that these are only estimates and the final turnaround time will depend on the quantity ordered and specification of the packaging. Additionally, these lead times may vary significantly, depending on the current workload and market situation and can both be shorter or longer. You can always drop us a line to check what is the current lead time.
After your order is fulfilled, we carefully pack it and ship to a desired destination. We ship worldwide via both standard and express delivery services and we can also drop ship to multiple location directly from our warehouse.
Last, but not least, at the end of the process, you will also receive a nice bonus from us – a set of professionally taken photos of your product, which you can use for commercial and marketing purposes.
We compiled a list of templates for the most frequently ordered packages. Just browse and download below.
If a template you are looking for is not here, just e-mail us.
12" Vinyl Records
7" Vinyl Records
AUDIO FOR VINYL PRESSING
To achieve the best possible sound quality on your vinyl record, the master must be prepared for vinyl cutting.
Here is more in-depth information on the audio characteristics.
Peak Level of the master audio
For each cut, the signal supplied by the player is evaluated in terms of analog characteristics, and is adapted accordingly to meet the requirements. In the case of digital recording media, various investigations concerning headroom requirements have yielded different results; to be on the safe side we recommend restricting the level to -3 dBfs rather than -0.01 dBfs.
The level used when transferring to disk, referred to as the “cutting level”, determines the extent to which the groove cut into the lacquer is modulated by the audio signal, and hence the level generated by the playback system. A higher cutting level improves the signal-to-noise ratio with respect to rumbling, hissing and crackling noises, but also increases the risk of playback distortion. In addition, more extensively modulated grooves require more space, which decreases the amount of playing time available. The use of a lower level thus allows longer playing times and reduces the risk of playback distortion, however it also adversely affects the signal-to-noise ratio. The cutting level is always related to the peaks in the audio material.
The impression of loudness is of course dependent upon the signal level; however, it is also strongly influenced by the dynamic range of the production. If there is a great difference between the peak and average level, the impression of loudness can be expected to be less than when the difference is small. The cutting level is always set in accordance with the peak levels of the production. A restriction of the dynamic range (through compression or limiting) can increase the impression of loudness. For the disk there is the advantage that very soft passages are boosted, so that they are not at risk of “disappearing” into the background noise during playback.
Roughly speaking, prior to cutting, the low frequencies are sharply reduced and the highs are considerably boosted. The result must be “equalized” again when the record is played back, so that the playback results will approximate the sound of the master. The characteristics of these measures are defined in DIN 45543 and in the international standard IEC 98, as well as being described in the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) bulletin E1. (“RIAA curve” and “RIAA equalization” are widely used terms in this context.)
These measures were developed on the one hand so as to decrease the space requirements of the groove to be cut by reducing levels in the low-frequency range, thus achieving a greater maximum playing time for the disk. (Another factor is that otherwise, with the use of customary levels when cutting disks, the low-frequency modulations would result in impermissibly large deflections of the groove.) In addition, reducing the high frequencies during playback also decreases noise such as hissing and crackling noises.
Audio information that contains many highs must be transferred to disk using lower levels than are required for audio documents with a moderate proportion of highs. In the low-frequency range, unrestricted suitability for disk cutting can be achieved only when the differences between stereo channels remain small. Poor mono compatibility in the low-frequency range can occasionally lead to excessive cutting depth, which can also overload the cutting equipment, as well as causing problems in subsequent production steps (electroplating and pressing). Modulation associated with very low-frequency audio signals can cause oscillations (resonance) of the tonearm during record playback, making it difficult for the playback stylus to trace the groove, and causing playback quality to suffer. Signals lower than 15 Hz must not be present! They can damage the cutting equipment, and during playback such signals are very likely to result in uncontrolled resonance oscillations of the tonearm. In any case, frequencies lower than 20 Hz are acoustically meaningless.
Mono compatibility, stereo, and degree of correlation
Stereo or two-channel audio can be recorded on a disk. However, there are limitations:
Large differences between the channels give rise to particularly complex groove modulation, which increases the risk of playback distortion, and means that more space is required for the groove. For recordings where the use of a high cutting level is expected (such as maxi singles with short playing times for use by DJs), only moderate stereo effects should be employed; in the low-frequency range it is best to avoid these altogether! In the low-frequency range, large differences between the channels with regard to the level and particularly the phase are to be completely avoided, since the resulting groove modulation presents technical cutting problems and can cause the playback stylus to leave the groove entirely.
The degree of correlation of a stereo audio signal refers to the phase correspondence between the two stereo channels. The degree of correlation can range in value from +1 (mono, with both channels exactly the same) to -1 (where both channels have the same signal, with opposite phases).
The intermediate value of 0 can represent e.g. two completely different signals, or stereo channels with a signal on only one of the channels. Roughly speaking, stereo signals with a degree of correlation between +0.5 and +1 can be assumed to be sufficiently mono compatible: Mono compatibility exists if combining the two stereo channels to create a mono signal does not cause any significant impairment of the sound or level. This is important, for example, in productions that may be used for radio or television, since here it can be expected that the use of stereo will be restricted to varying degrees, up to and including mono reproduction.
HOW IS THE VINYL RECORD MADE?
Here is a more detailed view on the whole vinyl production process, including cutting, galvanics and pressing.
This is where the actual and physical manufacturing process of vinyl records start. After we receive the audio source we prepare the Lacquer. Creating a lacquer master is a one-time process and wouldn’t happen again in the event of a reorder. So-called lacquer is a master plate, covered with soft substance which is heated while the needle from the machine is cutting the audio signal in it.
Galvanics is a next process, in which we prepare a stamper for vinyl pressing from lacquer in three steps. First, so-called Father (also known as Matrix) has to be done. To do so, we take the lacquer and spray it with silver nitrate. The nitrate fills all of the grooves in the lacquer master. Then we submerge the disc into a nickel sulphamate electrolyte solution and allow nickel to deposit through a chemical process onto the disc plate. This takes about an hour and a half and when it’s done we carefully separate a perfect negative. After that, the first negative matrix is taken into galvanic process once again, to prepare another metal master – named mother – from which we are creating (once again in the same process) a metal stamper that is put on the machine and used in actual vinyl pressing. From one father matrix multiple mothers can be made and stored in our archive, so there is no need to cut the lacquer once again for the re-ordering.
First few records – so called test-presses – are made and sent to you, so you can check the quality of the record itself. After we receive your approval of the sound on the record, we start pressing the actual run.
Pressing and printing
Once we get the approval from the customer we start pressing using the same metal parts (in case of long runs we have the Mother to do new Stampers). At the same time of pressing we place the labels in the vinyl. After the record is pressed it goes to a place to cool down for some hours and then goes to the packing department, where it is assembled with the printed parts, then housed in overbags or shrinkwrapped.
Additional comments on the process itself
We work very closely to our compound material supplier in order to have a perfect 100% virgin vinyl compound which allows us to press high quality vinyl records with the widest range of pressing options – various record sizes, colors and shapes.
Pressing lines that are used for your records are the best machines produced ever, Toolex Alpha automatic presses from Sweden, originally produced between 1960 and 1975.
A big QC team is checking all the process from the beginning to the end several times to be 100% sure everything is OK. This means, that besides a visual quality control and inspection while packing the vinyls – we listen to the test pressings before we ship them (if there are any quality issues, we repeat the whole process of galvanics or cutting once again) and we listen to random picked records from the final lot.
We like to change the stamper each 1.000 to 1.500 units, so we are sure it is not damaged during the pressing process, in reality we could do up to 2.000 / 2.500 per stamper, but we want to be 100% sure no pressing errors are present in our vinyls due to overuse of the stampers.