|TECHNICAL CONDITIONS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF VINYL RECORDS
Vinyl records are mechanically produced analog sound storage mediums. The sound and dimensional parameters are based according to the standard IEC 98 publication in its 3rd edition in 1987.
1 TYPES OF VINYL
Vinyl records are classified according to the combination of playback speed and diameter into the following categories:
In addition to the above mentioned products, there are also different types of records which differ in weight (standard and “heavy”), color, designer labels (picture disc) or shape (shaped vinyl). These may not conform to the standard specifications published in IEC 98.
1.1 Recording times and choice of vinyl records
Each side of a record carries a spiral groove with 2 channels (stereo). The groove begins at the edge of the record and ends within a specified diameter from the center, where the groove closes within itself. Any request involving a different geometrical groove order needs to be specifically defined as a planned difference from the IEC 98 norm.
The playing time of a record is limited to the frequency and dynamics of the sound, amount reproduced in stereo and various other characteristics of the sound signal. The table below can be used an orientation of playing times.
If the playing time per side does not exceed the timings mentioned, the cutting level is usually only limited according to parameters of the cutting machine and playback conditions. If the playing time is longer than the recommended times in the table, it is possible that the signal requested to be cut could exceed the recording area. In this case, it is necessary to lower the cutting level or to choose a suitable compromise.
For a more clear orientation between the track markings, it is possible to cut a transmission groove, keeping in mind that this transmission groove decreases the recordable area.
When selecting the desired vinyl format, it is important to not only take the playback time into consideration, but also the physical principles of playback as well. Based on this, the worst suitable format would be a 7″ EP cut at 33 1/3 RPM (which we don’t recommend, because this particular format has the lowest circumference speed during playback in the center area of the record).
1.2 Geometric parameters of vinyl records
The measurements of vinyl records are based on the IEC 98 norm. Record dimensions 12″, 10″ and 7″ are valid for standard weight vinyl in the diagram below.
Other parameters not included in these figures are:
1. Flatness of the records:
1. For 7″ records, the deformation in the recorded area cannot exceed the area of the record with a maximum thickness (2.3mm) on a diameter of 90mm (91.5mm).
Records may not show an extreme warping. The warping may not influence a continuous replaying on a record player.
For nonstandard records where there is only one label or for picture discs, where the label is printed from both sides, warping will always be present. Warping can’t prevent continuous play of the record.
2. When placed directly on a flat surface, the warping tolerance at the edge of the vinyl is max. 1.5mm for 12″ and 10″ records.
2. Eccentricity of the spiral groove cannot be more than 0.2mm.
The dimensions and flatness parameters for the records mentioned above are not valid for heavyweight vinyl, picture discs or shaped vinyl. Further specifications can be found in the information concerning the specific format.
1.3 Heavy Vinyl
Records with a diameter of 7″ and 12″ are manufactured in 2 different weight classes: “standard“ and “heavy“. Records with a diameter of 10” are manufactured in standard weight.
* Records can be produced with a large hole, but there is a hish risk of damage to the label due to die-cutting of the center hole.
All types of records and weights are within ± 10g, apart from 7″ standard weight, which has a tolerance of ± 7g.
Note: Heavyweight vinyl does not provide improved audio quality from standard weight vinyl. That is a hugely common misconception. Heavyweight vinyl may actually deteriorate the acoustic properties of the recording, for example, by causing increased crackling. These degraded acoustic properties cannot be subject to claim. The weights mentioned above are not valid for picture discs and shaped vinyl. Weights for these types of special records are determined according to the technological parameter settings.
1.4 Colored Vinyl
Records are normally produced in standard black vinyl, other colors can, however, also be combined and customized as follows:
We can also make custom colored vinyl compound, for a price, on orders of 3000pc or more. In this case, it is important to supply a PMS number of the color requested, as well as whether the request is for opaque or transparent vinyl. We will never guarantee a PMS color match, and not all colors and styles can be made, but we will try to accommodate any request, within reason.
When combining colors, in any of the styles listed above, please note that each color compound has it’s own properties (density, viscosity, etc.) and therefore react differently when combined with each other – even from batch to batch sometimes – Any photos online, or used as reference, are just a target. There is no guarantee that the colors will not vary at least to some degree.
Black, and some other dark opaque colors are VERY dominant when mixed with other colors. Two-color combinations (black w/ transparent splatters) and 2 color configurations (transparent color in black color) are not suitable because the color effect is lost when the transparent color disappears in the black color. Another unsuitable format we cannot make is 7″ heavy vinyl with splatters.
Note: Colored vinyl records (Ultra Clear, Opaque Colors and fluorescent pigments especially) may deteriorate the acoustic properties of the recording; for example, most often causing increased surface noise. These degraded acoustic properties cannot be subject to claims.
1.5 Picture Disc (PD)
Picture discs are vinyl records which have a printed label on both sides with a sheet of plastic foil (like a transparency) covering the entire surface area on both sides. The grooves are pressed into this transparent plastic material, not vinyl like standard records. As a result, Picture Discs do not sound the same as normal vinyl records, and generally contain increased noise and static. These degraded acoustic properties cannot be subject to claims.
In the case that a one sided picture disc is requested, only one side of the picture disc will be cut. The other side cannot be “mirrored” (smooth surface with no recording), but there must be a “silent groove” (groove without signal).
There are two picture disc labels used. In the case that an exact orientation is requested it must be specified on the purchase order (ie. head to head).
When printing with a standard raster, images may appear distorted due to a phenomenon known as the moiré effect (interference between the grooves and printed label raster). The intensity of this effect is dependent on the art itself. It is not possible to remove this phenomenon by any technologies implemented by the manufacturer and cannot be subject to claims.
Exceeding of the flatness parameters cannot be subject to claim on one sided picture discs. Claims will only be accepted if the deviation is greater than 5mm for 10” and 12” vinyl or 3mm for 7” vinyl. The method of measuring picture discs is the same as with standard vinyl records.
7” PD records can be manufactured in a heavy weight only.
Picture discs may have defects in form of smudges (folded, wrinkled foil). As far as the text is legible and the label design is not significantly deformed this cannot be subject to claim.
1.6 Shaped Vinyl
Shaped vinyl are records which are pressed as normal 7”/10″/12” records and then cut into custom geometric shapes using a cutting tool. The shapes are based on vector files submitted by our customers, or using one of our existing shapes. Please note, not all shapes are achievable, and certain shapes with more symmetry work better and yield flatter, more consistent results. Also, most shapes significantly reduce the amount of space left on the record that can contain audio – please discuss the specific shape you want, and the amount of music you want the record to contain with your sales rep prior to placing an order.
In the case that a shaped picture disc is requested, the picture disc label must be 2-3mm smaller than the requested final shape size. Shaped picture discs have a tendency to warp/dish, more or less depending on the shapes used. This cannot be avoided, and cannot be subject to claims.
Note: A limited recording area results in a limited playback area. Please refer to chapter 1.1. on page 1. Exceeding the flatness parameter on a shaped pic LPs cannot be subject to claim. Please note that the same conditions apply for shaped picture discs as they do for standard ones (risk of moiré, warping on single sided picture discs, degraded acoustic quality). Please also take into consideration that the playback area is usually considerably reduced when ordering shaped vinyl.
1.7 Test Pressings
Test pressings are sent to customer for approval and are for approving the acoustic quality of the record only. Claims against other defects will not be accepted. The approved sample is used as a standard for assessing the acoustic quality of the complete production.
Test pressings are offered as “heavy weight” (70g. 7”, 180g. 12”) only – there is no option of “standard weight” for test pressings. Test pressings can be ordered upon request for orders under 3000 units and are required for orders of 3000 units and above. The minimum number of test pressings that can be ordered is 5 copies and a maximum of 30 copies. Test pressings can only be pressed on black vinyl and are pressed using blank/white center labels.
1.8 Identification markings
Each side of the record is marked with a mandatory matrix number in the run-out area in the form of: xxxxxxFS. This code serves as an identification of the manufacturing. The first part of the matrix number is a series of six numbers xxxxxx which identifies the particular title. F is the symbol which indicates the format (see Table in chapter 1) and S indicates the side of the record or set, which determines the assignment of pressing tools to the individual sides of a particular title. There can also by other markings that are used for internal records only.
There is a possibility to engrave other characters on customer request, using the capital letters only. The maximum number of characters including spaces is 60. See appendix #2 for allowed characters.
1.9 Silkscreen and etched vinyl
The silkscreen vinyl can be manufactured in variants with a label and without a label; with a silkscreen print over the label or outside the label.
The graphic must be supplied as min. 300DPI or in vectors, using one colour (ie. 1/0 K or 1/0 PMS). When using a PMS colour we prefer data to be supplied as 1/0 K with an exact PMS color specification in the file supplied.
Extra attention should be paid to a correct distinction between a positive and a negative (according to the base plate). The black graphic will be printed on a vinyl record using the requested color.
We recommend to use at least one label, preferably on the side with a recording. In the case a silkscreen printed record without labels on both sides is requested we cannot guarantee the size of the center hole will be kept. This cannot be subject to claim.
The etched picture cannot be combined with a recording. The etched picture can be with a label or without a label. The center ring on the records is blank. The size of the displayed detail depends on the size of the etched area, respectively on the etched / non-etched area ratio. For guidance: if the ratio is higher than 0.5 the smallest detail possible is equal to a font size 18 and higher. If the ratio is smaller than 0.5 a detail equal to a font size 12 and higher can be displayed.
There is a possibility to engrave other characters on customer request, using the capital letters only. The maximum number of characters including spaces is 60. See appendix #2 for allowed characters.
2 MASTERING MATERIAL REQUIREMENTS
2.1 Acceptable Input Formats
Limitation of Liability for damages: In the case that a physical master you provide is damaged or lost, our plant will cover the value of the medium, but not the content.
Any physical masters provided must be readable throughout the length of the program. In the event that the supplied medium contains read errors which cannot be corrected, processing of the order(s) will be suspended. The customer will be requested to supply a new data.
Each master must be clearly identifiable in accordance with the supplied documentation and order (catalog number, customer name, artist, title, etc). The description must also define exactly what is stored on the data carrier (e.g., vinyl master, CD-Audio DDP master or WAV files). The medium needs to be clearly
If a physical master includes files for more than one title, the files must be stored in separate folders and named according to the catalog number of each title, and must match the information contained in your order forms. We recommend storing the tracks for each side in separate subfolders.
Recommendation: ONLY send a COPY of your original master to us for production. It is advisable to send two identical copies clearly marked as a “master” and “back-up”. In the event that any problems occur, we will use the “back-up” copy, thus avoiding potential delays associated with sending new data.
2.1.1 Audio files
Audio files can be added to physical media or uploaded to us. Audio files cannot be used as-is for DMM cutting directly. The data is examined to see if they are suitable for vinyl master cutting, and the tracks will be split between sides of the record and, if necessary, corrective actions will be taken internally to improve the sound quality of your vinyl.
220.127.116.11 Recommended formats:
Bit resolution: accepted 16, 20, 24 and 32 bits.
Sampling frequency: accepted 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz.
We generally do not re-sample files with a sampling frequency higher than 44.1 kHz – only in cases when all files for one side do not have the same sampling frequency. These particular files would be re-sampled in our studio to the highest frequency of all frequencies used. Lower sampling frequencies (for example, 22.05 kHz and 32 kHz), are also accepted but we do not recommend them due to the possibility of degraded sound quality.
We recommend sending the files in the same quality as what has been recorded or received from the studio that produced, mastered or mixed the recordings. We recommended to contact the studio in advance regarding recommendations mentioned in this section as well as recommendations for the preparation of vinyl masters mentioned on our plant’s website.
We do not recommend any additional conversions or transfers.
18.104.22.168 Non-recommended and inappropriate formats:
22.214.171.124 Unacceptable formats:
• Files with DRM protection to prevent unauthorized playback, for example, files with the extension m4p (AAC format with DRM protection)
(Unsupported formats may be accepted upon prior consultation)
126.96.36.199 Division of tracks by side
We recommend saving the audio data for one side in a single file, forming a continuous and uninterrupted track, including gaps between songs. A track list with the running times for each song will serve as orientation of the audio content. We assume that your audio files contain the standard 1-2 gaps in between each track. Typically, our plant DOES NOT add or adjust gaps between the tracks. If you would like to have gaps added, or need them adjusted, please note that on your tracklisting form, and let your account manager know as clearly and accurately as possible when placing the order. Otherwise, we will cut the record according the master supplied.
There is a high risk of error due to:
– Confusion when the name of the files and/or folders are not labeled correctly
– Not specifying when files actually contain the silence for unorthodox gaps between the tracks. (ie. live albums)
If you are concerned about the track spacing on your album, please discuss the issue with your sales rep during the ordering process to ensure your titles are cut the way you desire.
188.8.131.52 Name and location of files
Appropriate file naming and file location helps us locate the supplied data quickly as well as enabling a smoother and hassle-free ordering process.
We recommend choosing a name and the location of the files by following these instructions:
2.1.2 Physical masters
Analog or digital mediums containing the continuous recorded information. The division of the program into tracks is defined by the technical conditions of the particular player (ID marks in time sequence) or according to the time mentioned on your order forms.
If one physical medium is to be used for multiple sides, the tracks for each side should be separated by a silent pause which is long enough (at least 3 seconds) and defined by using tags (track number, ID, …) and track times which are in accordance with the accompanying documentation. The order of the songs on the supplied medium must match the desired order of the final product to avoid having to change the song order (rewind, skip to another track,…). If they are not, the customer must state in written documentation the specific requirements to change the song order
We accept the following formats:
184.108.40.206 CD Audio disc
Fully functional pressed or burnt discs in CD Audio format playable on desktop CD players. We do not accept shaped CDs, business cards CDs, etc.
ABS time (A time) and ID START marks
220.127.116.11 Analog media
1/4″ tapes, speed 38, 19 cm/s, EQ CCIR, NAB, Dolby A, Dolby SR. We recommend to record test signals to control the tone and frequency values while setting the azimuth sensor heads on each reel or spool tape. Specific technical data must be clearly specified in the attached tracklist.
(We will accept other media, after prior consultation with our mastering department.)
18.104.22.168 Other Mediums (after consultation)
U-Matic, SACD, DVD-Audio
2.1.3 Complex CD audio masters, in file form
This data contains all data in a format which is used exactly how it is supplied for mastering without making any unnecessary changes. The studio will only check the supplied files and, in case and if necessary or suitable, the studio will correct the master according to Phillips/Sony CD Audio format standards.
22.214.171.124 DDP (Disk Description Protocol) format
This is the global standard for transmitting data for production of optical disks, as supported by all manufacturers of equipment for mastering CDs and manufacturers of professional workstations for audio processing.
Recommended version: 1.00. Version 2.00 also accepted.
Select the setting option for storage of audio tracks in one file if your authoring software supports it.
126.96.36.199 CMF (Cutting Master Format)
Similar to DDP and is transferable to DDP. If your workstation supports both DDP and CMF, select DDP.
188.8.131.52 Image data (ISO image) CD Audio
Files that can be used without any adjustments to burn a CD Audio master. Please refer to 2.1.1.
184.108.40.206 Optical discs CD-R(W), DVD-R(W), DVD+R(W) containing data
Discs in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM format. Discs must contain a compatible file system (ISO9660, Joliet, or UDF).
220.127.116.11 Hard Drive
We accept all sizes of hard drives (3.5 “, 2.5”), all applicable possibilities of connection (IDE, SCSI, SATA, eSATA, USB, Firewire, LAN). We recommend using external discs but also accept internal.
2.1.5 Mass storage media
Accepted memory cards: SD, SDHC, XD, MMC, Compact Flash, Memory Stick and USB Flash storage media. A single storage medium may contain data for multiple titles.
2.2 Sending data electronically – FTP (http://www.piratespress.com/upload)
Materials submitted for production via FTP must be accompanied by control elements for verifying the data integrity prior to production. Without these control elements, it is not possible to verify if the customer supplied files are the exact same files which the manufacturer has received.
Orders which do not contain the necessary control elements will be blocked until the data is resent in an acceptable format. If the customer insists on the usage of non secure data, they must assume all risks associated with possible changes (errors) to the data during transmission.
Control elements can be supplied in one of the following ways:
2.2.1 Archived materials
Files which represent a disk image, DDP, CMF or individual audio files containing control elements (e.g. WAV), must be packed in one single file which can also contain documents.
Accepted formats of archive files: ZIP, RAR, SIT, 7Z, ARJ, ACE, others on request.
2.2.2 Using formats with built in control elements
APE, FLAC – compressed audio formats with control elements
UIF – a compressed video format audio CD with the control elements
2.2.3 Check code supplied
Files which do not contain control elements and are not packed into a compressed archive file must be accompanied with control codes that can be used to verify any possible data corruption or unauthorized manipulation of the data.
Accepted codes: MD5, CRC32 and SHA1. Each file must be calculated separately along with documentation of the checksum code for each file. Control codes can be generated using free software such as HashCalc.
2.3 Location and identification of data and audio files
In the case that the customer delivers the order documentation via a data medium or electronically (FTP), the files must be clearly labelled and obvious as to which order they relate to. This prevents possible delays, streamlines the production process and reduces the risk of the wrong data being used.
2.3.1 File Location
Data stored on either our customer allocated FTP server or saved on a data medium must be saved in a folder labelled with a name that matches the catalogue number of the title being ordered. Any file or folder (even inside an archived folder) must not contain invalid characters according to PC and Apple Macintosh operating systems.
In the case that each track is saved in a separate folder, please create a sub-folder named SIDE A (for example) and save all individual tracks into one single folder.
2.3.2 File Names
In the case that the entire audio content is saved in one file for one side, please label it according to the side + number of tracks, for example: “A_01-05.WAV” or “B_06-09.AIFF”.
In the case that you are providing individual tracks, please label them according to the side + track number, for example: “A_01-Song_name.WAV”.
We recommend that compressed folders and disc images should be labeled according to the catalogue number of the purchase order with no additional information (date, etc.) added.
Your master must match the tracklisting you provide us on your vinyl order form, unless you are providing a more detailed PQ sheet instead, which also must contain all of the information requested on our tracklisting form. The supplied documentation must be clear and match the supplied data exactly. A track list must accompany all orders including the names and running times of all tracks, as well as which side of the vinyl they should appear on. We also recommend specifying the lengths of the pauses between tracks.
18.104.22.168 Special requirements
Any special requirements (locked grooves, endless loops, lives tracks intended to bleed together, etc) need to be clearly specified and agreed upon in advance.
3 SUPPLIED LACQUERS, MOTHERS, FATHERS & STAMPERS
We do not accept 7″ lacquers; lacquers have to be 12″/14″ size, with grooves made for 7″ record.
3.1 Supplied pressings instruments
Although we don’t prefer it, we can certainly press using customer supplied materials. We accepts lacquers or nickel metal works called fathers, mothers or stampers. Any supplied production parts must be without any visible damage, cannot be soiled (stains on nickel metal works for example) or showing signs of corrosion. We recommend that all supplied metal work, especially lacquers (which are very sensitive) are packed carefully to avoid any damage during transport to our plant. Stampers have to be supplied as unprocessed, uncut originals – not shaped & beveled.
We are not responsible for the quality of records produced from customer supplied materials. Sound defects such as distortion, noise, etc. and defects caused by incorrect cuts (grooves) will not be accepted and all claims rejected.
4 CENTER LABELS
Records are usually labeled on both sides. Center labels on vinyl records are made of a paper material with an especially high clay content, and are a key structural component in the pressing of the vinyl. Our center labels are made from paper with a glossy finish only (140gsm paper for 10″ and 12″ and from 120gsm paper for 7”s).
Customers can also choose to produce the records without labels, or with labels only on one side, however this may result in dish warping, as well as deformed, and/or oversized/larger center holes. These potential defects are an inherent risk in making these unconventional products, and cannot be subject to claims.
All labels are subject to a drying process at high temperatures in order to remove the redundant moisture and to prevent from a bubbling of labels during the vinyl pressing. Due to the drying labels may change the coloring. This effect is more visible on light and PMS colors. For example, a light blue label may change to green. We cannot be held responsible for slight color changes on the labels during the drying process. This cannot be subject to claim.
There is a possible risk that the labels will be slightly contaminated when ordering splatter vinyl (for example) during the application of powdered or granulated material to the vinyl during the pressing process. In this case, claims can only be accepted when the contamination is obstructing the text or exceeds 1% of the total label area.
We cannot guarantee the exact orientation of labels on standard records. We guarantee that the orientation of labels on picture discs is so that the text on the labels will be readable when the product is rotated at an approx. 180˚ axis perpendicular to the text. This means that the relative rotation of the label does not exceed 20˚.
4.1 Types of labels
Basic labels are produced in the following sizes:
a) For 7″ records (17.5 cm) diameter of 84 mm.
b) For 10″ and 12″ records (30 cm and 25 cm) diameter of 100 mm.
PICTURE DISC labels are produced in the following sizes:
a) For 7″ records (17.5 cm) diameter of 168 mm.
b) For 10″ (25 cm) diameter of 242 mm.
c) For 12″ (30 cm) diameter of 292 mm.
For etched, one-sided records, and other specialty records, we also offer small 25mm center labels that can help protect against warping and deformed/oversize center holes. These can be printed as normal, ordered unprinted (white), or flood black.
The text on center labels should be placed so that it does not interfere with the cutting of the labels. We recommend all labels have at least a 2mm gap between the text and the outer edge of the label, and text should not be placed within 10mm of the center of all labels, for all formats (40mm for 7″ labels with big holes).
4.3 Supplying labels
We will make records with customer supplied center labels in special situations ONLY. This must be agreed upon beforehand between a customer and sales rep. Supplied labels must be produced on paper with a weight of 150gsm and printed with colors which are resistant to temperatures of at least 150°C (302°F). The backside of the labels must have lines indicating the direction of the paper grain, and the colors used on supplied labels must not bleed through to the opposite side of the label.
Please note: You must supply more sets of labels (10-15% more) than the amount of records you request!
We prefer to produce your center labels internally, as we cannot assure the quality of customer supplied labels on the finished product. If you supply labels, and there are any problems during the production of your records, you may be required to supply additional labels, or pay for us to print more. This is an inherent risk of supplying your own labels, and cannot be subject to claims.
5 COMPLETION OF PROJECT
With the exception of certain special products, all of our vinyl records are shipped inside inner and outer boxes. The box lots (qty per box) are determined by the type of product ordered, and how many will safely fit into the boxes we use. Both inner and outer boxes will be labeled with your catalog number, as well as additional product information as specified on a given order.
All information used on the carton labels must be provided at the time of ordering. Any special boxing requirements must also be specified when ordering, and must be specifically noted on the sales order – We cannot make changes to packaging instructions order once it is in production.
Making any changes to packaging after a sales order has been confirmed carries with it an inherent risk of error and/or delays; neither of which is subject to claims.
6 OPERATING SPECIFICATIONS
Records are sound carriers which require special care upon handling and playback.
7 STORAGE, HANDLING, AND TRANSPORT
8 STORAGE OF METALWORKS
We store plates for 3 years at no cost to the customer, in case a repress is desired from the original metalwork. If a customer needs plates to be stored longer than 3 years, they will have the option to pay in advance for additional 6 month periods, at $40 per record (or $80 for a double LP), per 6 month extension. If a title is repressed within three years, the “clock” reverts to zero, and they will be kept on hand for an additional 3 years, at no cost to the customer.
Although we have an unbelievably successful track-record of pressing wonderful sounding records, there is always the potential that issues can occur. Whatever the problem, our goal is always the same as yours; to resolve the issue(s) and get your records pressed and out into your customers’ hands as soon as possible. If you’re not happy with your tests, neither are we.
Before placing a claim, make sure that multiple people listen to (multiple) test pressings on multiple record players, independent of each others’ critiques. After comparing notes; if there are definite consistencies in your analyses, please proceed with initiating the claims process. This is the only way to isolate these variables as the source of the problem – not isolating them can result in the rejection of your claim, and may cause severe delays to your project unnecessarily.
When placing a claim, remember that you are helping us (and our studio) determine if your record should be recut and/or repressed (depending on the issue), and if so, what to focus on when doing so in order to achieve results that you will be happier with. Please be clear and detailed, and we will do our best to use that information to analyze our copy of the tests, as well as the plates, to provide you with a timely, informative, and productive response. Thank you.
You can fill out a test pressing claim form HERE.