One of the most important steps in vinyl manufacturing is the cutting of your vinyl-mastered audio onto a disc to create your album’s or single’s master.
In this article, we will be talking about the two different cuts available for Direct Metal mastering (DMM). There are several of these cuts, but we’ll be focusing on the LOUD CUT and SAFE CUT.
After choosing DMM as your mastering and cutting method, you will be allowed to choose the type of cut you want. The default option is the standard cut where minimizing the risk of distortions and surface noise is the goal.
There are only minimal edits done on your audio. But keep in mind that this will be quieter compared to the usual lacquer cut.
If you want that loudness, then DMM has the loud cut to accommodate you.
The overall loudness and volume would be on par with most typical lacquer cuts.
The downside of this is that it has a higher risk of distortion in the loudest parts of the audio and near the center of the record. Playback time is also shortened when you choose this cut.
If you ask me if you should just choose lacquer cut instead of this DMM loud cut, all I gotta say is that’s all up to you. It depends on your preference, really.
Here are the pros and cons of still choosing the DMM loud cut instead of the lacquer cut:
- it’s cheaper
- more environment friendly
- faster turnaround time
- may have reduced playback time, but might still be longer than lacquer cut
- might have almost the same playback time as lacquer cut
- is still quieter than lacquer cut
- higher risk of distortions
If the loudness is what you’re after, not the playback time, then it might just be better to choose the lacquer cut.
Not particular with the loudness and want lesser risk of distortions?
Then this cut might just be the one you’re looking for. This DMM safe cut just means that your record is safe from distortions.
As mentioned, it will have less distortions and quieter sound. There will be higher surface noise with this cut though, so keep that in mind.
Given that the standard cut already reduces both distortions and surface noise and already has a quiet sound, you might be wondering why this cut is an option at all.
Well when I said that it is safe from distortions, it means it is safe from distortions on all types of playing styluses and cartridges.
This means that the cuts done on the record will be done with the goal of minimizing the risk brought about by playing using any stylus or cartridge.
LOUD CUT OR SAFE CUT: WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE?
Let’s say lacquer cutting is not an option for you, leaving you with DMM.
If you want that loud sound or the volume is really an important factor of your album, then you better choose Loud Cut.
Just know that there are risks that come with it. If you’re hesitating, you can ask for a test press so you can decide better.
If your music’s already quiet and doesn’t really need that loudness, then you might want to choose Safe Cut. It’s better than the standard one since it minimizes the risk of distortions.
If you’re worried about the surface noise, then think about how the standard cut doesn’t really eliminate surface noise and has distortions. With Safe Cut you get to have far lesser distortions and surface noise.
Whatever you choose to have, just make sure that it meets the needs you have.
Different cuts cater to different needs.
So for you to decide better, just list down the most important things and the things that you can forgo. From there, you will be able to decide on the best option.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.