7", 10", 12", Heavy, Coloured, Etched, Picture Disc
Key Production offers a high quality vinyl manufacturing service with a full range of vinyl pressing, packaging and cutting options available. Despite the falling costs of CD manufacture and the arrival of affordable DVD replication, vinyl manufacture continues to survive and is actually on the increase with most vinyl pressing plants working at or near capacity.
7" Vinyl Manufacture
Vinyl pressing has increased greatly in recent years with the 7" single making a major return frequently used as a solid alternative to digital downloads. The collectable nature of a 7" vinyl pressing is the perfect foil to the disposable nature of the MP3 single.
10” & 12" Vinyl Manufacture
Whilst the 7" forty-five has enjoyed a recent resurgence, the 12" vinyl pressing continues to be the mainstay of the successful club track across all genres.
Meanwhile, as with the 7" single, many labels see vinyl manufacture as an integral part of marketing a prestige album release. You can also add an MP3 download to your vinyl package; see our MP3 Downloads page.
Supplying Your Master
We ask that you supply a CD-R master, or WAV files via our ftp site, along with a full tracklist & timings for vinyl manufacturing if you want us to do the cut. The master should be fully edited with all the tracks in the correct order for cutting the vinyl and with the correct gap between each track. It is important that you clearly state which tracks go on which side. The standard bit rate is 24 bit.
Please keep a back up copy of your master.
It is important to allocate your master with a catalogue number. This number should be unique and will be applied to your label and sleeve so that each part is correctly married up to ensure the final product is correct. Examples are PTDLP001 or ZXD12005. Check vinyl sleeves from your collection to see examples of this kind of number.
Cutting and Processing
Your music is then cut on to copper plates (DMM). These are cut on a special lathe which looks like a large record player and works rather like a record player's phonograph pickup in reverse, where the audio is converted to mechanical motion. As the cutting stylus, mounted in the head, cuts a precise spiral groove across the plate spinning at an exact speed of 33 1/3 or 45 RPM, it vibrates to transfer the recording. We also have options for cutting or receiving your own lacquers.
WARNING - Never play your coppers and if you cut your own lacquers, make sure you keep them cool!
The Coppers can be processed directly to stampers, however lacquers are processed through several stages to make stampers. Copies of the lacquers (masters or negatives) are made by an electroplating process and are made of nickel. The masters are plated again to give positives. These can be played to check the quality. These are then plated once more to form the stampers (negatives again), which are then used to press the final record.
TPs are supplied for you to check that there are no scratches, crackles and pops. Now is not the time to decide that the levels or track listing are wrong - that should have all been done before the record was cut. Key Production will not go ahead with your order until you have approved your test pressings.
For details on how to supply your artwork see Artwork and Specifications. Please take time to read this, as it will almost certainly save you time in the long run.
Please send your artwork on a separate clearly marked CD-R or use our FTP facility. Remember to allocate a catalogue number. Please keep a back up copy of your artwork
Your artwork is normally checked within 48 hours of it arriving at Key Production (extended times can occur during busy periods). Once it has passed checking we will create final proofs for you to approve, by an emailed PDF. Please take note that PDFs are not colour accurate, as they may look different on your screen to ours.
When the artwork is approved the labels and sleeve are printed and sent to the manufacturing plant. Once at the plant, the catalogue number on the print is matched to the one on the stamper. The labels must be baked to remove the moisture. The labels and stampers are put on the pressing machine and it's all systems go.
The vinyl is pressed by placing a small block of vinyl, about half the area and two or three times the thickness of the final record, between the two stampers (A and B side) along with the labels. (First a label, then a block of vinyl, then another label). Using hot steam at approximately 300 degrees, the vinyl is heated and forced under pressure into every groove of the stamper. At a predetermined moment the steam is replaced by cold water and the record is instantly hardened. After coming out of the hot press the newly made record has its ragged edge neatly trimmed by a circular cutting device.
Coloured Vinyl records are manufactured using different materials compared to solid black Vinyl, therefore the quality of sound may vary. This applies in particular to a possible higher noise level and isolated static sound (clicks) in the lead-in and lead-out grooves, in the cross-overs and at any quiet points of the recording.
In General the more transparent the colours are the better the sound quality. Opaque colours tend to show a higher noise level. Vinyl colours may appear in different shades depending on light, background and opacity. As coloured vinyl is produced from different batches of material small variations in colour do apply. Coloured Vinyl records may also show run-marks, spots or slight traces of other colours as machines cannot run 100% clean.
Your records are hand packed. Some vinyl presses pack directly in to a bag (a sleeve without a spine), but as vinyl manufacture is very old fashioned, most factories do all packing manually. Therefore, most vinyl runs will include a hand packing charge. Stickers and inserts are normally hand packed too. Hand packing is charged per movement.