Gregg Juke wrote:
Seriously guys, keep the vynil info coming. I am very interested in the efficacy of a limited edition vynil pressing (from technical concerns all the way to "Did you sell any?")...
To share on the matter of 'small run' vinyl pressing...
When I pressed the record I recently was a part of, one thing I learned is that a surprising chunk of the cost was getting
A) a good mastering lacquer cut. In house stuff is just farmed out. It's like telling Discmakers to just master it for you.
No way! BS.
B) metal plating of the lacquer. the lacquer cut by the ME has to get a 'mother' plate created, and it can be done in a 2 step or 3 step process.
reference: http://www.recordtech.com/faq.htm#What% ... processing
The jist is that a 2 step plating creates just one 'mother' stamper, and can create about, oh, 1000 records.
A 3 step plating creates a 'father' that can subsequently create many multiple 'mother' stampers, each for a print run of 1000 each or so....I was told the 3 step process yields upwards to 10-20 mothers...which is a lot of records at 1000 or so each!
here, I'll share with you the rundown of the initial costs from RTI and Stan Ricker:
$450.00 two sides, lacquers cut, mastering, shipping to plant (from SR)
$400.00 for two sides of three step metal processing
$75.00 for test pressings
$1,200.00 for 1000 regular weight records
$150.00 for pink poly sleeves
$350.00 for 1000 solid white jackets
$33.00 tax on metal parts required by the state of California
$200.00 shipping for 1000 records
The result of this is a half speed mastered record cut by the founder of half speed mastering (Stan Ricker) on his Neumann lathe, cut without any compression/limiting on a 160g vinyl release in an awesome poly sleeve.
To quote Stan:
"I DON'T HAVE A COMPRESSOR OR LIMITER---NEVER HAVE WANTED TO USE THEM; THEY DESTROY WHAT MUSIC'S ALL ABOUT----THE DYNAMICS OF A PERFORMANCE-------------I DO ALL MY GLOBAL EQ AT THE TAPE REPRODUCE MACHINE ,AND THAT ALL I DO----------LESS FIDDLE-FARTING AROUND SEEMS TO BE BEST ~~~~~~~~"
(I think he's in his 70's or 80's and has to type in all caps...he's a living legend! He's still got his ears, though....I mean, this guy cut the Beatles catalog. Come on.)
Other than giving people tape copies, this is the closest that I found I could deliver people the sound of the master tapes. I must say, the vinyl playback is MUCH more '3D' sounding than the 24/96 copy of the tape I made. Go figure! I don't even have a crazy expensive turntable + needle combo.
It's interesting to note that for this initial cost, the setup of the lacquer master, mother stampers and shipping/test pressings of them thereof is about 1/3 of the total cost. From there, the cost of a vinyl record is $2 each to the label/artist. Since the 3 step was done, a good 20,000 records or more can be churned out from that 3 step 'father' stamper.
So.....and here's the manifesto....
Everyone made the decision that, knowing a CD costs about, what, $1 each to duplicate, is already a lower quality than even modern digital is producing, and that even a DVD quality audio file is outpaced in the current studio world...
It just made sense to give people the best available sounding method of hearing the record. The vinyl costs about $2 each to us on 160g.
People need to buy turntables. If they want it on an iPod or computer, well, it comes with a download code for either the .wav or the .mp3. And that half speed Neumann cut vinyl will sit there on the shelf and stare at them.
And, for those that will take care of the record, if anyone ever loves it, it'll be cherished for it's lifetime. I've got records cut from the 50's and 60's that still sound better than (most) any modern mastering and are in great shape.
Records are lasting even longer due to the needle tracking force getting SUPER light. Needles back in the day on people's stereos would track at 3.5-6 grams. Nowadays, most needles track at 1.2-2 grams. Like a feather.
Even then, both pressing plants and lacquer ME's are cutting better records than they ever have been. More precise machinery and cutting tracking are causing my ears to love especially the new Sundazed 'straight from the mono analog tape' reissues to downright SMOKE most all original pressings.
If y'all haven't heard the Dylan mono analog reissues on LP of 'Blonde on Blonde' and 'Freewheelin', you're missing out. Talk about a ghost coming into your living room. It defines transparent. Those are what I call 'control room reference playbacks'. Or, blow you head off to the first Traffic record "Heaven Is In Your Mind". Steve Winwood will change your soul forever. Oh, wait, you haven't heard Marley on vinyl either? I guess you haven't had the pictures shaken off the walls of your house as you and your old lady get down like you never have before.
So, it's to the point that to issue on CD is the argument to only to give someone something 'tangible', in their hands. However, since it's already on it's way to getting eclipsed, is it something 'tangible' they're going to hang onto? Or will it be pitched, or circulating in Goodwill in 5 years? Will people be hunting for the 'original CD masters' 10 years from now?
To print a CD these days is seemingly just creating waste for a landfill or for a dusty shelf in the near future.
A turntable is a mechanical motor with a diamond floating in the grooves, vibrating in wax, and if it was sourced analog, it's a completely unsampled wave, frequency responses that show no Nyquist dithering or limitations, and that when China and the march of computers (and the horrible manufacturing conditions that create all of our ever-so-loved digital equipment) either stops, crashes or chokes the world...
I'll be sitting on a mountainside with direct analog copies of my favorite records and laughing as people buy the same record for the 10th time on the 14th format and landfills keep piling higher.
Oh, and, after the lacquer plating, it's $2 a record, cost. Did I mention that?
And, creating vinyl records doesn't make sense....how? Because it's something that seems to NOT be replaced...how? Because it's the only apparent modern solution to mass audio reproduction that is both most true to the master tapes AND offers a place to roll your joint on?
I say, inspire people and offer them a vinyl record with a free download. That's something tangible they can have sit on their wall, and when they do go to their friends house and say 'hey! i've got this record to play!', they bring it over and get their heads turned inside out.
Create only the best in the world and only the best will surround you.
And, out of the 1000 we pressed, I think there's only about ~150 left. Why? Actually, telling people at shows all of this flips their head out. The scenesters and hipsters love it. They feel like they're in the 'in' crowd. Many people buy two.
Don't get me wrong - I think there's lots of music that I'm glad was created that wouldn't have existed without digital technology (The Books are one of them). However, even with a digital master....I've heard the difference, back to back....if you get a good ME, and don't go with the bargain basement pressing plant...and you don't have a bargain basement turntable or a worn out needle that costs $10...the difference is super clear.
Yet, yes, people just don't have time, or care to put effort like that into music - you know, cleaning off a record and not scratching it. But, that's cool - that's why I feel offering a download of either .mp3 (or better) or .wav, while still giving them something tangible (the record, and the artwork that makes someone buy a CD at least)...