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HOW TO PREPARE MUSIC FOR VINYL RECORD

This page contains general information and tips for professionals and DJ disc jockeys doing their own mastering or mix for multiple track albums. If you don't have the means or knowledge to process your music as described below please DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT as we will process the music for you on our end - if even needed.

 

Tips to remember when making your CD master are:

  • Do not over compress, over EQ or over process your program. Make your mixes sound satisfying to you.
  • Normalize all track peak levels to about -1db
  • Try to make all tracks have same average sound levels (unless a certain track is meant to be way soft)
  • For best vinyl sound place your loudest brightest most important music on the outer tracks and quiet subdued material on the inner tracks.
  • Do not include loud level out-of-phase signals in your master. If using a phase meter keep it in the positive range.
  • Watch out for ultra high frequency signals. WARN US of any abnormal sustained high frequency content.
  • Keep sibilance ("sss" and "shh" sounds) to a minimum by de-essing where necessary.
  • Blend or mono-ize the bass frequencies. Do not pan low bass frequencies left or right.
  • WARN US of any surprises such as loud sudden transients, deep low bass, longer than normal silent passage, etc.

Why is it so important for mixes to be mostly in phase and the bass being in mono?

Phase is more or less irrelevant to CD but when mastering to vinyl it's very important.

If the mix is in phase (mono), the cutter stylus will move from left to right - if the mix is out of phase (stereo) it causes the stylus to move up and down. Too much up and down movement (out-of-phase) will produce a groove that's too shallow or interrupted. This will cause the playback needle to leave the groove or jump. 
If the low bass is in stereo (out-of-phase) the cutter stylus might leave the surface of the record thus leaving the plate unusable.

How do I know if my mix is too much out of phase?

Most software has a built in phase meter which should stay in the positive range.

Try listening to your tracks in mono, ideally there shouldn't be a big difference when listening to your tracks in stereo vs mono. If you switch between stereo and mono, kick/bass should stay in the center.

Is there anything I should do when making an LP album with multiple tracks?

Place the brightest loudest most important tracks first as every record sounds best at the beginning (outer grooves). The quiet more subdued tracks should be at the end of the record. Please note a 12" disc will always sound better than a smaller plate due to higher groove speed at the outer grooves. Try listening to any 12" record and compare the beginning of the plate with the end, there will be much more hi-end at the beginning. Also, 45 speed will sound better than 33 speed per same size disc.

For loud dance music with lots of drum & bass or loud hi-hats we definitely recommend a 12" DJ dubplate vinyl record (12 min per side) -- particularly for drum & bass and hip hop, where loudness and lots of bass are most important.

 

If you'd like to read more about record cutting and the best way to prepare your music for commercial vinyl pressings please visit
Producing Great Sounding Phonograph Records


 


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