Master Cutting and Test Pressings
With all jobs, we recommend that test pressings be supplied so you, the customer, have the opportunity to ensure the plates and resulting pressed records are free from defects, intrusive pops, skips or excessive surface noise.
It is important to understand that the cutting engineer takes great care to ensure the best level is achieved when cutting the audio to the lacquers that will be plated and eventually press records. Our aim is to carry out a cut that will allow for the best translation of your audio master to vinyl playback.
From Preparing your Master page we state, and need to make clear again that:
Unless specifically instructed otherwise, we will cut your master exactly as it is presented. We can of course EQ, limit, compress, re-edit and if necessary we can cut a reference acetate / dub plate for your approval, at an extra cost.
In today’s audio production environment, most Mastering Engineers are fully conversant in how to best master your files for vinyl cutting and being able to predict how best your audio will translate into the vinyl format. For this reason, we cut masters flat without any additional mastering or frequency adjustment. Our cutting engineer will ensure he gets the best level out of your master, without introducing distortion.
It’s important to note that the volume of your final cut is determined by many factors at play like side length, high frequencies (prone to distortion if cut too loud) bass and sub bass artefacts etc.
Evaluating your Test Pressings:
● A test pressing is essentially a ‘proof’ of the plates we have made from the cut lacquers and which will be (hopefully) approved for final production
● The lacquers and plating are the most expensive part of the record pressing process, so whilst the test pressing stage is an opportunity to assess the pressing before we move into production, it is not an opportunity to request changes to the master unless the customer is prepared to pay for new cutting, plating and test pressings
● The purpose is to listen out for any MAJOR defects such as skips, loud pops or any other audible flaws
● We recommend listening to the tests on a couple of different playback set ups. It is important that the turntable you listen to your test pressings on is correctly levelled, does not have the speakers on the same surface (unless there is sufficient isolation) and is of a basic quality that has, at least, a tone arm adjustable counter weight. Cheaper USB style turntables are generally not recommended for test pressing evaluation
● Ensure the turntable is calibrated and the tonearm is correctly weighted (we recommend between 1.5 – 2 grams or refer to the specifications of the stylus / cartridge you may already have.
● Test Pressings can often be noisier and sometimes slightly warped owing to the limited press of 5-10 test pressings we run. When we run approved jobs, we ensure that the press is fine tuned specific to the plates we have on and the cycle times ensure consistently high quality pressings.
● Why 5 test pressings? We want to make sure the stamper is defect-free. So if you listen to one test pressing and hear a noise, we ask you to check all 5 tests to see if it occurs in the same spot
● If it does, let us know 1) the side 2) song number 3) timing of issue 4) description of issue
● If it doesn’t, this generally means the stampers are good and we can continue with production
● If the problem has occurred due to an error in our cutting or plating, we will produce new metalwork (stampers) or re-press the tests. If the fault is due to an inadequately prepared master or incorrectly supplied tracks, the customer will be liable to pay for new cutting, plating and test pressings charges
● Your approval / feedback MUST be given to us in writing via email