We work from the assumption that your master is “vinyl ready”.  We do not alter your audio without contacting you first.  That being said, a couple of things generally happen when your audio is cut to a master disc. A low cut filter is used at 40Hz to control and maintain the bass frequency information of the audio.  This keeps the grooves from slamming into one another and helps fit your audio into the space provided by the lacquer disc.  A high cut filter is placed around 16Khz to help control high frequency information in the audio.  The vinyl medium does not “like” a lot of high frequency information.  Instruments such as hi-hats, cymbals and tambourines often cause distortion if all high end is allowed to pass through to the cutting lathe.  Vocals that contain a lot of “SSSS” sounds (sibilance) will also cause a distorted sound on your master recording if not properly treated.

Our mastering chain is clean and simple, in order to provide the highest quality and least alteration of your sound. 

What is a “Vinyl Ready” master?

For a master to translate well to vinyl, certain considerations need to be kept in mind starting from the mixing process all the way to the final cut.

1. Follow the general guidelines for proper mixing.

2. Leave headroom in your mixes to enable a mastering engineer to do his job properly.

3. Avoid the use of brickwall limiters or “Finalizers” in your mixes.  They destroy dynamics and cause distortion.  Let your mastering engineer use his/her tools to bring your mixes to their final levels.

4. Do not mix hi-hats and cymbals too loud.  They will cause distortion and/or trigger the high    frequency limiter in our rack.

5. Always center your bass frequencies.  Drums, bass guitar and low synths need to be in the center of the stereo image to ensure proper groove geometry.

6. De-ess your vocal tracks!

7. Have a professional mastering engineer familiar with the vinyl medium master your tracks.

Master Delivery:

If you are providing your audio master in a digital form, we prefer either 96/24 bit wav files or a data disc containing these wav files.  If all you have access to is redbook format (cd quality) audio, we can certainly work from that too.  But, the wav files mentioned above will render a higher fidelity record.

Other General Considerations:

1. A great rule of thumb is to put your loudest, heaviest tracks at the beginning of each side, and put your less dynamic and less high-frequency driven tracks at the end of each side (so, unlike with CDs, the order of your songs on the record is very important).

2. Keep your bass centered (Kick, Bass) if you have toms, be extremely careful of hard panning (can cause skipping/skating issues).

3. Keep your cymbals under control don’t mix them too loud or too bright.

4. Make sure all of your vocals are De-essed properly.

These four guidelines alone will help you through about 95 percent of the process.

With acoustic oriented projects, we have found that the less limiting you use on the master, the better. Our biggest suggestion with this kind of music is to mix and masters at levels that allow the music to sound natural and dynamic.

The lacquer cutter can turn the overall level up or down going to the cutting lathe, so overall volume is not really a major consideration when prepping masters for us; and heavy limiting really causes some distortion issues.

In terms of rolling off Bass and treble frequencies, don’t go too crazy on that end. Our lacquer cutter’s setup contains the needed EQ to do that job. Just mix according to the guidelines of proper mixing in general and you will be fine.

Side Length Considerations:
Ideal time limits for sides:
• 7″ @ 33 1/3 RPM: 6 minutes per side. (we can cut longer depending upon the music, however, please consult with us before placing your order). [NOTE: 45rpm is always the best choice for a 7", if side length permits. 33rpm is more of a "compromise", and can be more prone to distortion. Please call for more information.]

• 7″ @ 45 RPM: 4.5 minutes per side. (we can cut longer depending upon the music, however, please consult with us before placing your order).

• 12″ @ 33 1/3 RPM: 18 minutes per side is ideal, 20 minutes per side is still good, 22 minutes per side may cause issues depending upon the music, anything over 22 minutes – please call us before placing your order.

• 12″ @ 45 RPM: 12 minutes per side is ideal, 14 minutes is ok, anything over 15 minutes – please call us before placing your order.

Please Remember: The lacquer cutter’s job is to cut as flat as possible, in an effort to make the cut sound as close as possible to the provided master. Therefore, adjustments to the master to make it appropriate for the vinyl format need to be made at the mastering session — not at the point of the lacquer cut. If a master is provided that is pushing some element to the outer limits; such as vocals for example– chances are those pushed vocals are going to stick out much more on the vinyl record than on the digital master. For these reasons, it is very important that you provide a master that has been adequately prepared for the vinyl format.