Musicians all over the world have been using us for vinyl pressing and more than a couple of them have encountered a lot of challenges but this is expected as vinyl manufacturing isn’t really something many musicians do often.
If you’re considering to have vinyl pressed with us, here are some tips from our CEO so everything will run smoothly.
# 1. First of all: have a separate master for you vinyl.
It’s not going to sound the same. It’s just not. If you use the master you made for your CD as the master for your vinyl, that’s fine but don’t expect it to sound the same. That is why we suggest to anyone pressing vinyl that if you have the money, make a vinyl master.
#2. Choose a good mastering engineer. If your current one’s got no clue and you know you want to do a really good vinyl record, use someone else. You’re producing something that’s known for its quality so you better make sure you get good quality. There aren’t too many vinyl mastering engineers who are great at what they do. You gotta seek them out. Look for the ones who’ve already mastered a vinyl, to start.
With a vinyl record, there are variations in mastering and pressing of different editions. You can influence potential quality for better or worse by your choice of vinyl edition. Here’s a rundown on the difference between vinyl and CD audio recording and mastering.
#3. Don’t go past 17minutes. From my experience, if you’re vinyl pressing a 12-inch vinyl (with max 22 minutes per side), don’t use up all 22 minutes. In fact, don’t go past 17 minutes. I hear you, and yes I have lost many a customer to this issue. You can, in theory, go up to 22 minutes but people, please, the risk of DISTORTION goes up every minute you go past that mark.
So what if you really have to put 22- 30 minute of audio per side? Yes, I can get your 22 – 24 – 30 minute of audio onto SIDE A or SIDE B, but you know what “m going to do to achieve that? It’s something you might not like. I’m going to compress the sh*t out of it…which I won’t do. Why? Because it changes the integrity of the music. It would just sound like an MP3, but the most expensive MP3 in the world. Why make a vinyl is you won’t make it sound like a vinyl? Just make MP3 and save your money.
#4 Put the loudest tracks to the end. The Record has more GRRR / bandwidth to it towards the end. More bandwidth means you can get a much fuller sound. Basically, the louder tracks have more air to breath. It also reduces the risk of distortion which is what we are all worried about at the end of the day.
5. Don’t make artwork dark. Please, please, please don’t make things dark. This applies to all physical packaging because we, the printer, are going to make it darker! No joke, we make things 10% darker over here. Anything with shadows, bad lighting…trust us, we are going to screw it. Lighten it, people. Always go about 10% lighter on your files knowing that whoever you work with is going to make it 10% darker. Instruct your designer to do so. On this note, always ask for a hard copy proof if you can. Trust me, as the printer, nothing pains our hearts more that when we see our clients faces when they see their artwork and they hate it. Look, it’s almost impossible to know what the press is going to do exactly that is why (and I repeat): HARD COPY PROOF PLEASE.
These are just some of the things I remind new clients who come to Unified Manufacturing for vinyl pressing. There are still, of course, 100s of other things we should pay attention to so that your vinyl would come out with professional quality and without you spending one more buck. If you have any questions, even if you won’t order from us yet, don’t hesitate to contact me directly: [email protected]
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/vinyl and merch company in LA.