preparing your project for cutting vinyl
Please supply tracks in proper sequence to avoid a sequencing charge, i.e., if you have 3 tracks on the A-side and 2 tracks on the B-side, provide your source with cuts 1-3 appearing first and cuts 4 and 5 next. Or you can provide 2 sources, one source with 3 cuts for the A-side and one source with 2 cuts for the B-side. Please provide 2-3 seconds of space between tracks.
Levels and EQ from track to track should be uniform. It is recommended that you do not over compress your music as this causes it to sound “squashed”. Do not use a finalizer or similar device that tends to overemphasize certain frequencies that can cause problems in the transfer to vinyl. If your music contains vocals, we suggest you process the vocal track through a De-esser.
Should I “master” my tracks before submitting them to be cut?
It is not necessary to “master” before submitting your tracks for cutting. Vinyl records store music mechanically unlike the digitized storage medium of CDs. As such, cutting a loud, dynamic record presents many challenges not typical to the conventional recording and mixing process. Trutone’s mastering engineers enjoy decades of experience specific to the analog record format. This expertise, facilitated by their use of classic, vintage analog tube compressors, limiters and equalizers, afford our engineers the ability to provide all final EQ and level adjustments as your music is being transferred to the analog master. The result? A rich warm sound that transcends the digital phenomena, indicative of why vinyl remains the medium of choice for audiophiles worldwide.
Recommended Playing Times (per side)
To achieve maximum level on your record, we recommend the following per side lengths:
- 12” (dance or club) up to 12:00
- 10” up to 9:00
- 7” up to 4:00
- 12” LP records – 18:00 – 25:00
Level achieved will depend on the length of your program (the longer the playing time, the lower the disc level) as well as dynamic range.
Record Speeds 33 RPM & 45 RPM
45 rpm is the speed of choice if your 12” dance or club record is 9:00 or less. Since the disc is rotating at a faster speed (45 rpm vs. 33 1/3 rpm), the mechanical waveforms imbedded within the record groove are further apart. As such, when a playback stylus is tracking the disc it can extract more detail and information from the record groove and provide more definition in the reproduced sound with less distortion. On the down side, the play time for the side is reduced by 26% due to the faster rotational speed. 33 1/3 rpm is typically utilized for high level dance or club records in excess of the above length.
In many instances, “audiophile” record albums are cut at 45 RPM. As indicated above, the faster rotational speed affords greater clarity, definition and less distortion on the grooves cut toward the center of the disc. Prior to making a decision as to the cutting speed of an album project, it is best to consult with our engineering staff concerning the particulars of your project.
7” records are usually cut at 45 RPM. Due to the small diameter of these discs, 45 is the speed of choice for best sonic quality. With reduced level, a 7” 45 can deliver over 7 minutes of playing time. In 1968, the Beatles “Hey Jude” was released as a 7”, 45 with a playing time of 7:11.
Reference Acetates and Test Pressings
Reference acetate, dub, dub plate are all terms to describe an acetate record proof. These are aluminum based discs coated with a special lacquer. The reference acetate is very similar to the master lacquer that is used to manufacture vinyl records and is cut on the same lathe. It should be noted that the acetate coating is very soft and is subject to wear far more quickly than a vinyl pressing. As such, sonic evaluations of the reference disc should be made within the first few plays. Unlike digital based storage mediums, an analog record is a mechanical storage medium with very different and unique characteristics. It is important to listen to how your digital source transferred to the analog disc format BEFORE commencing with the record manufacturing process. At this juncture EQ and/or sequence changes can be accomplished at a reasonable cost. If the reference acetate was waived and a test pressing was utilized to evaluate the sound instead, changes would require expensive, time consuming additional steps, including re-cutting of master lacquers, replating, as well as manufacturing new test pressings.
Care and Playing of Reference Acetates
An acetate should NOT be played with a brand new stylus. A new stylus should be “burned in” a minimum of 5 hours on vinyl (pressed) records before playing the reference acetate. Conversely, a worn or damaged stylus will also damage the grooves and distort the sound.
The surface of a reference acetate is far softer than that of a pressed vinyl record. As such, the reference acetate will deteriorate much more rapidly and enjoy fewer plays than a vinyl pressing. Much greater care must be exercised in the handling of these discs.