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What causes pre-echo / groove-echo?

What causes pre-echo / groove-echo?

Pre-echo on a record is somewhat of a phenomenon, it is not commonly known what causes a faint audio signal on a record slightly before the main recording.

It is often the result of excessive groove swing and depth changes on the lacquer from stereo width in the bass frequencies.  This is one of the reasons as to why bass frequencies are mono’d on a vinyl record.

ElectronMicroscopeImageOfDirtyVinylRecordGroove
So what actually is pre-echo or ‘groove-echo’? It is a result of the transmission of sound from one record groove to the next.  It is caused during cutting, but can also be made a lot worse during the processing of the lacquers.  A decent lathe will cut a groove that just touches the previous rotation, whereas some of the later lathes actually nestled part of the groove into the previous one.  The cutting engineer would have to use the ‘add land’ button to create more space between the groove artificially.

The acetate or lacquer is pretty much a living thing, and how it electroplates is a result of how well cured it is.  This is determined by the amount of oils used, how long it was cured, and how long it was given to acclimatise at the cutting room.

Once the lacquers are used on a lathe then the pre-echo starts to build up, the first 24-hours are crucial so it’s important to get the lacquers into the electroplating bath as quickly as possible.

It is often thought that the cutting engineer could only be responsible for groove-echo, though galvanic process does have a big part to play, and it’s often this procedure that causes the biggest problem.  To reduce the possibility of this, the plating process needs to be very slow and cold to reduce any effects that could be evident on the lacquer.  Rushing the plating process during busy periods at a pressing or having the bath too hot can result in greatly exaggerating problems evident on the lacquers.

As a vinyl producer trying to get the best possible product out the door the best thing you can do is have the Cutting Engineer post out your lacquers immediately, and make whichever plant you are using aware that they are on the way and you have your order actually in place.

 

 

Record Store Day 2015 – RSD2015

Record Store Day 2015 – RSD2015

recordstoreday2012Although most of you are still thinking about your Christmas and early 2015 schedule, it is wise to start planning your Record Store Day – RSD2015 release for 2015.  For those of you not planning on releasing a record for RSD2015 you should bare in mind that manufacturing times during this period become  longer.

Record Store Day 2015 will take place on April 18th and finished product will need to be with your distributor ideally last week in March.   To ensure this date is met the pressing plants will need lacquers no later than 23rd January.  With this in mind you should really think about getting the mastering session booked in.

Traditionally the months of February through to May become affected so this needs to be taken into account when planning releases in this period.  To ensure release dates are met during this very busy time please speak to us as soon as possible.

Manufacturing Times for the production of Vinyl Records

Manufacturing Times for the production of Vinyl Records

Here at Well Tempered we work with the three best pressing plants in Europe to ensure that your records are pressed to schedule and cost, and also of optimum quality. The standard turnaround time from all three suppliers is seven weeks from receipt of lacquers – this is industry standard.

We hear that a lot of artists and labels elsewhere are getting frustrated with production times of up to twelve weeks. This should not be the case, there is simply no reason to wait this long for your product.

delayed record productionWe understand the need to make the process as quick and easy as possible, and our commitment to looking after the customer means that we have methods in place and capacity at pressing plants to ensure a very smooth and professional service.

If you’re waiting twelve weeks for your records then you should be asking yourself just how long can your business sustain this inefficient relationship.

Releasing a record should not be headache though sadly for many it’s simply too much of a hinderance to their release schedule. Here at Well Tempered we offer you cheaper prices and swifter production times than if you were to go to the manufacturer directly. Releasing a record should be an exciting physical representation of your creative output, and in no way be a chore.

Press & Distribution Deals (P&D) | A Good Idea?

Press & Distribution Deals (P&D) | A Good Idea?

For many new record labels starting out there are three main choices for vinyl manufacturing.  A label may wish to handle the manufacturing themselves, or they may wish to use a broker such as Well Tempered. Though for most records labels the most attractive option is a P&D (press & distribution) deal offered by their distribution partner.

There are a few distributors still offering P&D deals, though it may be required that they manufacture a few releases themselves first, and the sales generated be used to assess whether a P&D is viable.  So that leaves two choices initially for the label; manufacture themselves, or use a broker.

Well Tempered or any other broker would give the customer cheaper prices and faster turnaround times than if the customer were to go to the plant directly. We handle the production process from start to finish meaning far less work for the customer, so there is often little reason for the customer to handle manufacturing themselves. Pressing plants are busier now than ever before so have little time to deal with labels directly, the quality of service and attention to detail is far greater when using a broker service.

the_oneThough when a P&D deal is on offer is it really the best choice for the record label? The main attraction for many is that all production costs are paid for by the distributor and subtracted from the revenue generated from the sale of the product. With the vinyl manufacturing process taking 2 months, and the distributor’s payment terms being 60 days it relieves 4-5 months worth of cash flow which is incredibly attractive for a new business in any industry. Though what many fail to recognise is that it’s only really much like an overdraft facility – it still has to be paid for. And like an overdraft you’re spending money which isn’t yours.

If the distributor is fronting the money for releases then it is their best interest to make sure that the costs aren’t out of control, and caution is taken when deciding on the quantity of records manufactured. These choices will be in the interest of the distributor not the record label, as ultimately it is their money being spent. So obviously this relinquishes some degree of control. Will the customer get the final say on the number of copies pressed and also the specifications of the product? Possibly not.

So for the sake of an overdraft facility the record label is handing over many decisions that perhaps they don’t feel comfortable with. Independent record labels have become very much more empowered over recent years, they’ve taken back control of their business and one of the biggest changes has been the significant rise in direct-to-fan sales. An increase in sales can be seen month on month through the artist or label’s own store. How would this affect the P&D agreement? The distributor’s primary aim is to recoup costs, and as more and more sales are migrated over to direct-to-consumer platforms it makes it increasingly harder for the distributor to recoup their costs from distribution sales.

One advantage of a P&D deal has traditionally been that the distributor will have a dedicated team and production department working closely with the pressing plants so ensure all queries are answered swiftly, deadlines are met, and all projects are to cost. However, how many distributors currently offering this service actually work with the pressing plants directly? The answer is a surprisingly small amount. A lot of the distributors offering P&D cannot get direct deals with pressing plants, or do not have the knowledge and experience to handle the orders themselves – which leaves them having to go through a broker service. The second middle man in this chain can often cause inefficiencies – scheduling becomes harder, prices are subject to an extra margin, questions from the record label could pass to the distributor, to the broker, and then to the pressing plant. And back again.

There are distributors who deal with suppliers directly, though many are so focused on low prices that they confine their supplier list to one cutting engineer and one pressing plant. Well Tempered use the three pressing plants in Europe for the simple reason that one size doesn’t fit all. One pressing plant could be the best choice for coloured vinyl but not for download cards. Another plant might have an extensive range of stock sleeves but doesn’t offer short runs of white labels. If a distributor is working with a range of artists and labels with different needs and ideas then it simply doesn’t make sense to limit the options available.

Before accepting a Press and Distribution it is important to consider all of these factors and decide what is best for you. And could you actually be sacrificing quite a lot for the sake of an overdraft facility. From the distributor’s point of view if they can recoup costs then it benefits them – they make money from the manufacture of your product as well as distributing your product and they gain more control over your record label.

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times

In the run up to Christmas the pressing plants will get very busy with orders from the major record labels with their Beatles reissues and Metallica box sets.  

It is important to plan your release schedule properly and make sure your December releases don’t end up materialising in 2015.

At Well Tempered we work towards our standard production time of seven weeks from receipt of lacquers, with your test pressings being delivered three weeks into that seven week cycle.  It is advisable to factor in an extra one or two weeks for releases being manufactured in the last quarter.

Christmas Vinyl Manufacturing Times If you still have releases scheduled for 2014 then they should be getting mastered now to avoid disappointment. Well Tempered has reserved capacity at three major European pressing plants and can ensure that your records are pressed to schedule and cost.

Please also make sure that you plan your January releases properly.

Most European pressing plants are closed for two weeks over Christmas and New Year, so this must be considered when scheduling early 2015 releases.

If you would like advise on planning and scheduling releases over December and January then please get in touch.

Ownership of Metalwork – ST Holdings Closure

Ownership of Metalwork – ST Holdings Closure

Dear All,

I’ve been contacted by many labels this week asking about the ownership of metalwork now that ST Holdings has announced it’s closure at the end of the month.

The following is a extract from an email that many of you will have received recently from ST Holdings.

“Metalwork & Paper Parts
All metalwork is owned by yourselves. To claim control of the metalwork please contact the relevant pressing plant direct. Contact me to get the relevant pressing plant details”

Firstly, I would just like to make you aware that this is not entirely accurate. The metalwork is not owned by the label. The rights to the metalwork is owned by the pressing plant that manufactured them. The rights to the masters embedded into the metalwork is owned by the record label.

If you would like to know the whereabouts of metalwork then please let me know. I work with all three pressing plants that ST Holdings worked with, and have records of all of the orders placed.

metal work ownership

Please don’t panic and feel the need to have to ‘claim’ ownership of the metalwork – it will not be going anywhere. The pressing plant will not destroy it. I have agreements in place whereby I can take control of ST Holdings related metalwork, sleeves and labels when needed. This is by no means a complicated procedure.

 

To ‘claim ownership’ of the metalwork would result in substantial release fees, and it is often not necessary at all to move metalwork from the pressing plant, especially as it can be damaged in transit.

If you would like more information on this please do not hesitate to contact Well Tempered.

You can reads more about this topic on Complete Music Update

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs Lacquer. Which should you choose?

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs Lacquer. Which should you choose?

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) vs LacquerDMM (Direct Metal Mastering) became popular during the 80’s but was soon less favourable as more cutting engineers went back to lacquer.

 

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) was co-developed by Neumann and Teldec, and in stead of engraving the groove into a soft metal lacquer-coated aluminum disc, a DMM lathe engraves the audio signal directly onto a hard metal copper-plated master disc.

The difference between a DMM cut and a lacquer cut is that the DMM is more precise, with sharper transients and better image “edge definition,” while the lacquer cut is smoother, warmer and more pleasing on the ears.

DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) cuts always appeared to have a brighter and more defined top-end. Upon early inspection of DMM discs, this appeared to be due to a higher frequency modulation in the groove, caused by an ultra-sonic carrier tone. However there is no carrier tone on DMM cuts and the modulation is simply caused by the vibration of the cutter head.

Many critics often describe a DMM cut as too bright or too ‘edgy’. Often the reason for playing a vinyl record is to have the warm and analogue sound that is often not present in a DMM cut.

DMM did though eliminate the problem of pre-echo sometimes audible on a lacquer. Pre-echo is caused by the cutting stylus unintentionally transferring some of audio signal into the previous groove wall, causing a faint audio signal, a pre-echo.

Another argument for the use of DMM is that it removes the need for one stage of the galvanic process. Since the DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) is cut onto copper the first stage of electroplating is bypassed, resulting in cleaner processing with less surface noise and less chance of error during processing.

Although the warmer sound of lacquer could arguably be put down to the cuts not sounding as bright as DMM, the fuller sound of lacquer could be credited to the depth of the grooves on a lacquer. Lacquers can be cut much much deeper than DMM which is essential for music with a prominent low-end signal. As well as giving the fuller sound, a deeper groove is needed to avoid jumps and skips on a turntable. And even though DMM has much brighter more defined frequency response in the top end, this certainly isn’t the case with the bass frequencies, evident in most of today’s electronic music.