Guidelines & Best practices for Vinyl masters?

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Guidelines & Best practices for Vinyl masters?

Post by alexdingley » Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:28 pm

Pretty exciting stuff is happening around a project that I've been working on over the last several months... they might actually do a vinyl release. It's not a music album, it's a comedy record. It's definitely stereo material, and thankfully there's no dominant info in the sub 200Hz range, so I don't think we'll have much to worry about there... but I'm curious about the target levels (both Peak & RMS / LUFS?) for the SideA / SideB .wav files I'll deliver.

Also, I've read that info with heavy clipping typically needs to be pushed down in level to survive on an LP... and some of this material was captured in the field by folks with less expertise than myself, so some of the tracks are a little on the rough-side... with a little bit of clipping (especially during applause breaks). So, as we near the final stages of the job, I want to see if I'm going to have a ton of re-work to do in preparing vinyl master "side" files.

Suggestions on places where I can read something more useful than the first SOS article I found (was good, but pretty top level). Any AES article numbers that are worth looking up, or even better... any cutting houses have someone who wants to let me bend their ear for a few minutes?

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Re: Guidelines & Best practices for Vinyl masters?

Post by losthighway » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:44 pm

I've had two people cut vinyl for me:

Carl Saff (who's also a regular mastering engineer) and Aardvark Mastering (just lathe work).

Both can be found online: Saff Mastering and Aardvark Mastering.

My guess is a comedy record that sounds normal (no crazy peaks or dynamics which I'm sure you've already assured) is even less prone to some of the technical challenges that cutting music has. You are probably going to be in good shape.

Also plating is about as important as cutting masters, well shit pressing is important too. I like Master Disc (who Aardvark recommends) and Burlington (who Saff recommends) and they also press records there too. After always pressing records at United, we switched to Burlington and I noticed a huge difference putting that LP next to other ones our label had made over at United. Much cleaner and clearer, and not as obvious of a slow degrade as the tracks get closer to the center label.

** Oh, and Bob from Shellac has a lathe over at Chicago Mastering. I've heard good things about them.

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Re: Guidelines & Best practices for Vinyl masters?

Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:42 am

Most pressing companies will have a page buried in their websites that go over how files should be formatted and delivered. It'll usually give some technical requirements about levels and all that as well. Probably not as detailed as you're looking for but likely a good place to start.

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Re: Guidelines & Best practices for Vinyl masters?

Post by drumsound » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:51 am

If you mix the crowd peaks down just a tad you should be fine.

I like using Jeff Powell in Memphis to cut and then Welcome to 1979 for plating, or just having both done at '79. The real bonus is that the plating gets done very shortly after the lacquer is cut, and that can be critical. Lacquer, by it nature, continues to "shift" (I know there's a better word here...) and if you wait to long before plating the lacquer itself starts to go bad. I've talked to Powell, and Cameron at '79 about this many times. Often people send off the lacquer and there's too much time before the metal plating is done and then the record sounds terrible. The reason '79 opened its plating facility was to prevent this. They can cut a lacquer and literally walk it upstairs and begin the metal plating. Powell, being in Memphis, can have it to '79 in Nashville in less than a day.

Carl Saff, and Bob Weston mentioned above are fantastic guys and both a super talented as well.

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