With the revitalization of vinyl records today many bands both new and seasoned are seeking out the medium. It’s an additional way to purchase their music as well as of promoting themselves to the audiophile niche. If you’re choosing to press a record, there are a couple of things you should know beforehand.
Know your specs
Do you need to press a 12” record or would a 7” meet your needs? Is your record going to be coloured or not? What colour is the label? Is there artwork on the jacket? Is there an insert going into each record? Is there a sticker or a free download code included with the purchase? All of these questions need to be answered before you go ahead. And it really comes down to a band’s budget and what kind of product they want to put out.
Know the process and limitations
Pressing vinyl is a labour intensive process, it can take a few months. It’s well worth the wait once you’re holding your own record in your hands.
Here’s a quick rundown.
It all starts with a lacquer master. This is an aluminum-based disc covered in plastic that gets cut from your master tapes. It’s far too delicate to be used more than once.
Next comes plating (or electroplating). The lacquer master is used as a mould and silver-plated to make the metal master. This is what gets used to press your records. Once the metal master (or stamper) is created the lacquer master that was used is discarded. It should be noted that depending on the quantity of records you want to press you may need extra stampers — sound quality starts to suffer with large quantity pressings. This means added costs.
Next you get a test pressing. This is usually only a handful of copies, sent back to you for your approval. If everything you hear is A-OK, it’s time to turn what they call biscuits (that black melted “hot wax”) into pressed records. Voila!
As for the limitations and how to get the best possible sound from vinyl, visit recordtech.com/prodsounds.htm for an in-depth article by vinyl veteran Kevin Gray. He tells it best.
Shop around for what suits your needs
Just as every band is different so is every vinyl manufacturer — you had better shop around. If you’re into flexi discs then check out piratespress.com, they claim to be the only ones who produce them these days. If you’re environmentally conscious, check out brooklynphono.com. In previous years they’ve recycled old records to press new ones. The list goes on, but definitely do a price comparison of different manufacturers to find the best bang for your buck. In the end, it will be worth your time.