Many years' experience has shaped the Key Knowledge Base, designed to help make the ordering process and your product the very best it can be. If you cannot find the information you need below please contact us.
Your audio masters for vinyl pressing can be supplied as zipped WAV files via our ftp upload site (contact us for details), by wetransfer, dropbox or via CD-R/retail-ready CD—along with a full tracklist, timings and side splits.
The standard bit rate to press vinyl is 24 bit/44.1KHz. The master should be fully edited and as you want it to sound, with all tracks in the correct order and with your desired gaps between each track.
It is important to allocate your vinyl pressing master a catalogue number (you create this). This number should be unique and will be applied to your label and sleeve artwork so that each part is correctly married-up to ensure your final product is correct. If supplying your master as WAV files, place the track information text file and audio files within one single zipped folder before uploading.
Tracklist and side splits
We need a complete tracklist supplied with every record pressing master. The list should contain the names of all the tracks, each track’s duration and the side splits for correct separation into side A and side B. These are mandatory requirements.
Hidden tracks and unusual features
When pressing vinyl with hidden tracks or any unusual features this should be clearly communicated to us at the ordering stage. Provide the track number, name and time and details of your special requirements. Examples include long gaps between tracks, very quiet passages or deliberate use of electronic buzz, distortion etc.
The quality of vinyl audio is directly affected by the distance between the record grooves and therefore the playing time of the record. Exceeding the maximum recommended playing lengths below can compromise the audio quality of the record, with bass heavy recordings particularly problematic:
At 33 rpm:
At 45 rpm:
Once your vinyl record masters and order are received, we cut to copper plates known as Direct Metal Masters (DMM). These are created on a special lathe which looks like a large record player and works rather like a record player's phonograph pick-up in reverse, where the audio is converted to mechanical motion. 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 45rpm, and vibrates to transfer the recording. If preferred, we also have the ability to cut to lacquers or to accept your own lacquers.
WARNING: Never play your coppers and if you cut your own lacquers, make sure you keep them cool!
The coppers can then be processed directly to stampers—used to press, or stamp your records. However lacquers are processed through several extra stages to create stampers: copies of the lacquers known as negatives are made using nickel and an electroplating process. These masters are then plated again to create ‘positives'. These are then plated once more to form the stampers (negatives again), which are then used to press the final records.
Vinyl is pressed by placing a puck of vinyl, sized roughly quarter of the area and three times the thickness of the final record, between the A & B side stampers and sandwiched by printed labels. Using steam at approximately 300ºC, the vinyl is heated and forced under pressure into every groove of the stampers. At a predetermined moment the steam is replaced by cold water and the record is instantly hardened. After coming out of the hot vinyl press the newly made record has its ragged edge neatly trimmed by a circular cutting device.
Test Pressings (TPs)
We will automatically assume that TPs are required unless you tell us to bypass this stage. TPs are supplied for you to check whether the A & B sides are correct and the music is in the right order. It is too late to change levels and EQ at this stage. Key Production are unable to further your order until you have approved your test pressings.
Your records are hand-packed. Some vinyl record pressing plants pack directly into a ‘bag' (a sleeve without a spine), but as vinyl manufacturing is very old fashioned most factories pack manually. Therefore, most record manufacturing runs will include a hand-packing charge. Stickers and inserts are normally hand-packed too. We require an accurate description of the required sticker position. You should always consider where any shop placed pricing stickers may appear (usually top right). Hand-packing is charged per movement.
Coloured vinyl record pressing is undertaken using different source material to solid black vinyl and the quality of sound may vary slightly because of this. In particular, higher noise levels and isolated static sounds (clicks) may appear in the lead-in and lead-out grooves, in the track crossovers and at any quiet points of the recording.
In general, the more transparent the colour, the better the sound quality, with opaque colours tending to display a higher noise level. Vinyl colours may appear to vary depending on light, background and opacity. As coloured vinyl is produced from several batches of source material, small variations in colour may appear throughout a run. Coloured vinyl records may also show run-marks, spots or slight traces of other colours as machines cannot run 100% clean. It is no longer possible to match vinyl to Pantone colours. It should also be noted that colours seen on websites and print-outs are for guide purposes only and may not closely resemble the colour of the pressed records.
Please supply all native (original) file formats along with your final print ready PDFs. Experience has shown that there are a wide variety of potential pitfalls in outputting PDFs for press and so it is important that you use the templates we provide. Templates are available in Quark Xpress, Adobe InDesign and as Acrobat PDFs from your allocated planner or by contacting us to request them from firstname.lastname@example.org. All artwork should conform to the specifications outlined on the templates to avoid extra charges.
However you supply your files to Key Production we strongly recommend you download our Artwork Guide PDF. It is full of essential information for correctly supplying your artwork to us and provides all sorts of assistance that will also improve the quality of your printed material.
You can supply your artwork to our FTP upload site (contact us for details), on CDR, via email, Dropbox or an online file delivery service such as WeTransfer.
Before your artwork is printed we will send you PDF proofs of your designs for final approval. In order to proceed with the order, you must reply by email to approve the PDFs. This PDF is NOT to be used for colour approval due to variances in screen settings and resolution. Please check all other aspects including, but not limited to: position, spelling, fonts, bleed, barcode, vinyl a/b sides, overprint and knockout.
Digital proofs are available at cost on request, digital proofs are not available for reverse board printing (see below). Wet proofs are available at cost on request. Press passes can be arranged for UK manufacture at cost, UK manufacture is not included in the prices quoted on the website.
Please be advised that any additional proofing will increase production turnaround times.
If you are manufacturing 2 formats (CD & LP) then additional manufacturing time is required to ensure consistency across both formats. Failure to provide additional time means that we are unable to guarantee that both formats will match. On some occasions it is possible for us to manufacture both formats at the same printers, this may not be included in the prices quoted on the website.
Reverse board print involves printing on the uncoated (or reverse) side of the board as opposed to the standard coated side. As it is uncoated, the ink will sink into the board creating a ‘duller’ printed finish. Comparing reverse board printing to standard coated board printing will show a marked difference in the end result. If you choose reverse board, be aware that your PDF proof will not take this effect into consideration. Also be aware that if you are printing over two formats where one is on reverse board and the other is on standard coated board or gloss art paper, you could achieve very different results. If you are unsure about the final printed effect of reverse board, you should consider a ‘Wet Proof’ to ensure that the end result is how you envisage it to be.
The PDF proof approval service is included in our package prices and our standard price list. We take your native files or PDFs and prepare them for printing. If we detect a problem that we are unable to correct we will ask you to re-supply your artwork and apply a re-supply charge. You will be charged each time your artwork is re-supplied. The re-supply charge is £30.00.
In this instance PDFs are sent directly to the printers. If the files you supply are incorrect and are caught prior to printing you will be asked to re-supply and will be charged. The Straight-To-Press re-supply charge is £40.00
We have templates to cover all of the many formats that Key Production manufacture and we have listed the basic ones below. For templates not listed here, please contact your account manager to obtain the correct one for your order.
We provide templates in Quark Xpress or Adobe in Design that are specifically set up to fit into our printers CTP (computer to press) workflow. If you are designing your artwork in another program, such as Photoshop or Illustrator, then we will provide PDFs that clearly show the required specifications.
As there are such a wide array of different print formats available it is important that you use the specific templates we send for the job that you are ordering.
We ask that you supply a DDP file that contains an MD5 checksum. Alternatively a Red Book CD-R along with a tracklisting. Remember the final CD you receive will be an exact replica of the one you supplied. Please keep a back-up copy of your CD master and your artwork.
It is important to allocate your master a catalogue number (you create this). This number should be unique and will be applied to your CD label and artwork so that each part is correctly married up to ensure the final product is correct.
CD text is something that can be written in to your DDP or CD-R master and can be viewed on players that display CD Text eg CD & Car CD players. CD text does not affect iTunes or Windows Media etc.. To populate listings on iTunes and Windows Media you need to contact Gracenote - http://www.gracenote.com/project/itunes/
The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) system is the international system for the identification of recorded music and music videos. Each ISRC is a unique identifier that can be permanently encoded into a recording or music video. Encoded ISRCs automatically identify recordings for PPL payments for radio plays.
PPL is the appointed sole agency for ISRCs in the UK. You should request an ISRC 'stem' (or first registrant code) when you become a PPL recording rightholder member. This stem is three letters allocated in sequence from PPL's database that are specific to each recording rightholder member.
Key Production is unable to generate ISRCs, but can add the codes you obtain from the PPL on to your CD master for a small fee.
A glass master, used for CD replication, consists of glass, optically ground and polished, then coated with photoresist. A laser exposes a pattern of pits – the digitised sound information – into the photoresist coating. Exposed pits are etched away (developed) to generate the final pit structure. This is then coated in silver to form the master. Electroforming replicates the master layer in a nickel-plating bath, forming a negative (father). Multiple positives (mothers) are made in order to produce negatives (sons/daughters) which are used as stampers in the moulding process.
Please note that within the prices quoted and charged, we are offering the service of providing a glass master as a means to press CDs or DVDs. The Glass Master remains the property of the pressing plant and cannot be released to you to store or press elsewhere.
The stampers are then used to replicate CDs in an injection moulding process. Hot polycarbonate is forced under high pressure into a circular mould containing the stamper and then cooled so the polycarbonate takes on the mirror image of the mould. A thin metal “reflective layer” is added to one side of the disc. This reflective layer allows the laser to read the digital data that is created by the pits. Finally, a lacquer coating is added to protect the replicated CDs. This process makes about 100 CDs per hour.
The pressed CDs are then moved to a printing machine where, using the label artwork with your catalogue number, silk screen or litho onbody printing is applied. From there the discs are moved to the packing area and depending on the packaging are either machine or hand packed. Booklets, inlays and wallets are usually all machine packable, but items such as digipaks and stickering are hand packed and a charge is made per hand pack movement.
CD duplication is the process whereby blank discs are copied for low quantity manufacture. For quantities smaller than 500 (the minimum for CD replication), Key Production offers a CD duplication service. This service provides a cost effective, yet high quality alternative for small runs and fast turnaround.
Supply a DLT (Digital Linear Tape) or a DVD-R for DVD replication. If you require CSS encryption please supply ensure we are aware before you master as we can advise how it is applied. Please keep a back-up copy of your DVD master and your artwork.
The standard DVD has a capacity of 4.7GB in a single layer, single-sided form known as DVD-5. This is over seven times the capacity of a CD and allows full color printing on one side of the disc. Greater capacity can be achieved using DVD-9 (8.5GB) and DVD-10 (9.4GB) formats.
A glass master consists of glass, optically ground and polished, then coated with photoresist. A laser exposes a pattern of pits - the digitised sound information - into the photoresist coating. Exposed pits are etched away (developed) to generate the final pit structure. This is then coated in silver to form the master. Electroforming replicates the master layer in a nickel-plating bath, forming a negative (father). Multiple positives (mothers) are made in order to produce negatives (sons) which are used as stampers in the DVD replication moulding process.
Please note that within the prices quoted and charged, we are offering the service of providing a glass master as a means to press CDs or DVDs. The glass master remains the property of the pressing plant and cannot be released to you to store or press elsewhere.
The stampers are then used to replicate DVDs in an injection moulding process. Hot polycarbonate is forced under high pressure into a circular mould containing the stamper and then cooled so the polycarbonate takes on the mirror image of the mould. A thin metal "reflective layer" is added to one side of the disc. This reflective layer allows the laser to read the digital data that is created by the pits. Finally a lacquer coating is added to protect the disc. This process makes about 100 DVDs per hour.
The replicated DVDs are then moved to a printing machine where, using the label artwork with your catalogue number, silk screen or litho onbody printing is applied. From there the discs are moved to the packing area and depending on the packaging are either machine or hand packed. Booklets, inlays and wallets are usually all machine packable, but items such as digipaks and stickering are hand packed and a charge is made per hand pack movement.
DVD Duplication is the process whereby blank DVDs are copied for low quantity manufacture. For quantities smaller than 500, Key Production offers a DVD duplication service. This service provides a cost effective yet high quality alternative for small runs and fast turnaround.
Our standard delivery offered is within mainland UK. Deliveries to UK islands and also the Highlands of Scotland will cost extra and take longer.
Key Production fully supports the Anti-Piracy Compliance Program (APCP), which has been developed by the Content Delivery and Storage Association (CDSA). The program specifies the most important procedures for piracy screening.
In practice, this means that Key Production performs extra checks on copyright information on audio, data and artwork. We will require you to confirm that you own these copyrights and if not, it will require us to send label copy and licensing documentation together with your parts and/or data to the CD/DVD/Blu-Ray replication plant or vinyl pressing plant. Licensing documentation indicates that full rights are obtained for producing the specific audio and/or information data.
The program is designed to protect the rights of the owner of the sound recording and/or content and therefore differs from the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) who protect the rights of the writer and publisher. Therefore a valid MCPS license or indication of no claim from MCPS is required, but is not proof that you have the right to manufacture the sound recording or data.
Mechanical rights entitle you to earn money whenever a song or composition that you have written is reproduced. This includes when your works are recorded onto a physical product (such as a CD or audio-visual product), or listened to or downloaded off the internet.
Key Production are PRS for Music recognized manufacturers and will not proceed with manufacturing unless we are fully satisfied that you have obtained a license, or have at least contacted PRS for Music to acquire a license. We, along with all recognised manufacturers, send monthly reports to PRS for Music for all discs manufactured.