The Vinyl Pressing Process
Want to know how Vinyl Records are made?
Here's the step by step process.
Before you Press - Prepare your music for vinyl
It starts with you. Pressing records is a little different than recording music to be released digitally or on CD. The music needs to be mastered in a particular way to ensure both the sound quality is maintained but more importantly to ensure there are no errors, distortion or skips on your record.
1. Cutting your music onto a Lacquer
Using a lathe, our engineers begin with a test cut to ensure everything is working properly. This cut is inspected under a microscope.
When the recording is started the sapphire tipped cutter etches the sound onto the lacquer disc. The music is recorded in real time from start to finish, this creates one continuous grove in the lacquer.
You should note that making the music fit can sometimes be challenging. Heavy bass creates wider groves and can reduce the recording time. This is also true if the levels are too high. As a general rule, the longer a side is, the quieter the record will be. Our guideline for maximum side length is 20 minutes for a 12" 33 rpm record and 14 minutes for a 12" 45 rpm record, but again these times can vary depending on the music provided.
Once the lacquer is recorded, it's far too delicate to play. It has a nail polish like finish and has solely been produced to act as a mold.
2. Creating the Metal Stamper
The lacquer is sprayed with tin chloride and liquid silver. For rigidity the metalized lacquer is dipped into a nickle bath, where an electro charge fuses the nickle to the silver.
We remove the metal layer from the lacquer creating our 12.5" metal stamper to press from.
3. Test Presses
From the newly minted metal stamper we produce 10 white label test presses. This gives you a chance to listen to the final product before we commit to the full run. Production stops here while we await your approval.
Most don't realize but the labels are actually applied within the press. After your artwork has been created, supplied and approved, we make sure to have the labels printed, cut and ready for the next step.
5. Vinyl Manufacturing
Black polyvinyl chloride pellets are fed into a hopper, the liquefied pellets are fed through an extruder creating hot rubbery patties called "biscuits".
Placing the labels on the top and bottom of the biscuit the 2 stampers (Top - Side A and Bottom - Side B) press down applying 100 tons of pressure at 200 degrees Celsius creating the vinyl record.
There is a quick cooling cycle that solidifies the vinyl and bonds the labels. Any excess vinyl is trimmed off the edges and the record is ready.
6. Printing and Packaging
We can print, fold and glue the jackets much more quickly than we can press the vinyl records so they are ready well in advance. This allows packaging and shrink-wrap to be completed in only a day or two after the vinyl records come off the press.