Independent Record Pressing For Independent Artists.
On many occasions, we are asked why we want to make vinyl records in the 21st century. We believe that the vinyl record format is the last physical medium embodying sound recordings that will live for decades to come. With a few exceptions in the late 1990s, records have been at the merch tables of most artists and bands for over 60 years. Given the science behind how a record works (a mechanical operation dragging a stylus through a groove catching information sometimes as small as 0.1 microns and translating it to audio), it is truly a marvel that the format works at all. But, following a careful and regulated manufacturing process, the record brings a unique listening experience that no other format has done in the history of mankind.
Not all records are created equal. Our mission is to produce the highest quality vinyl records from both a sonic and aesthetic perspective at a fair price; and strive to provide industry-best customer service. We love to make and listen to records. No matter the size of the order, we provide personal service and strive for same-day responsiveness to all email and telephone inquiries.
We pride ourselves on being The Artist’s Preferred Pressing Plant. What does this mean? Well, our reputation that we earned of being one of the highest quality pressing plants has enabled us to work closely with many artists who have direct control over their work, even when labels and management companies are involved. We enjoy working with folks who care as much about putting high quality records into the marketplace as we do, and frequently, the folks who care the most about this are the artists themselves.
ABOUT GOTTA GROOVE RECORDS:
Gotta Groove Records opened up in 2009, and was the first new pressing plant to open in the United States in decades.
Through the course of GGR’s first five years of operations, it has become the first completely vertically integrated vinyl manufacturing and distribution operation anywhere in the world. Gotta Groove is the only pressing plant where every step of the manufacturing process (lacquers, plating, pressing, label/sleeve/jacket printing, download hosting); as well as a crowdfunding platform, wholesale distribution services, and consumer-direct fulfillment are provided by a single company.
Due to our “one-stop-shop” approach, our unparalleled proprietary quality control procedures, and our independent modus operandi, Gotta Groove Records is The Artist’s Preferred Record Pressing Plant. Click here to see some of the artists for whom we have worked.
Mastering With Care:
Applying proven traditional mastering techniques while using two completely restored Neumann VMS-70 lathes, our resident lacquer engineer Clint Holley and his team ensures that your music is translated to the vinyl medium in the most natural manner. At the new Well Made Music Studios, there is a one-of-a-kind floating floor upon which the lathe is set, which removes the ambient noises from cuts and any possibility of vibrations occurring in the cut itself.
When supplying digital masters, we prefer 24 bit wav files for the highest fidelity (unless our customer requests another format). For convenient and fast previewing of your digital source audio on vinyl, we can provide test lacquer cut samples electronically, or we can send traditional reference acetates for your approval.
For best results when submitting digital masters, we strongly recommend that you have them prepared specifically for vinyl by a seasoned mastering professional who is accustomed to working with vinyl. Our recommendations for this service can be found here. However, with whomever you choose to work, we welcome direct professional and open dialogue with your mastering engineer on all cuts.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cutting records. Every audio file we receive is cut during its own unique session, and care is taken to cut the lacquers in a way that is as close as technically possible to the source audio. Other considerations we take into account are potential pressing and plating issues we have found can be minimized with certain cutting techniques, depending upon the program material; as well as potential playback challenges.
Cutting from tape is an option, but please call us at (800) 295-0171 to discuss prior to submitting your order.
Attention mastering engineers — we would love to hear from you! Instead of relying upon our mutual customer to upload audio files when placing their order with us, we would strongly prefer to receive the files directly from you — along with any feedback on specific concerns you encountered with the client during the mastering process. Open-door communication will help all involved to make the best sounding records possible. When customers supply masters to us without direct communication from the mastering engineer who prepared them, the customer entrusts us to make professional judgments in how the audio should be cut. This works well for the vast majority of records that are cut in-house. However, it does always help when a mastering engineer uploads audio files directly to our website and contacts us directly to discuss them – particularly when special considerations need to be taken into account. We cannot stress our open-door policy enough.
Clint Holley & the Well Made Music Studios (located in 78th Street Studios in Cleveland):
The 2-step plating method is used by default for all standard weight and 7 inch vinyl orders, as well as 180 gram vinyl orders under 500 units. 3-step plating is the standard for all 180 gram orders of 500 units or more. You can also request 3-step plating for any order.
Records we plate in-house are processed using a combination of proprietary materials and procedures. To avoid potential issues with “shelf bought” chemicals, we mix all of the chemicals used in the process in our own facility. We plate lacquers at a lower amperage than most industry professionals. This means masters/mothers/stampers take longer to create, but are truer to the frequency response of the original lacquer cut than faster-speed plating can reproduce, and while impossible to mitigate completely, this lower-amperage plating approach does typically minimize so-called “pre-echo” effects, which are common on records in today’s marketplace.
Our equipment consists of a combination of new and old electroforming gear and ancillary tools, ranging from vintage Siebert and Europafilm equipment; custom-built electroforming tanks, spray booth, filtration and water systems; and brand-new forming equipment made by Record Products of America.
In most cases, and particularly when prior arrangements have been made (which we strongly encourage), lacquers processed in-house are sprayed within 24 hours of receipt. All lacquers processed in-house are stored in refrigeration prior to being brought to the temperature necessary for proper plating. Each of these measures increases sound quality consistency between the master lacquer cut and the finished pressed record.
Please note: due to capacity restrictions, we also outsource some electroforming work to RTI (Record Technology) and NiPro Optics. We frequently receive metal parts from Mastercraft Metal Finishing as well. In any case, we do prefer to take care of coordinating plating for you – you do not need to be in contact with these other companies (and, in fact, things run smoother when you are not). Please always contact us and have your order submitted before having lacquers shipped to us, or to our third party plating colleagues.
The Gotta Groove Records Electroforming Lab (located in the historic QCA pressing plant building in Cincinnati):
A Modern Vinyl Record Pressing Plant:
GGR has implemented some technology and processes which (quite possibly, although we can’t verify) have never been used on record pressing equipment anywhere in the world.
We use several fully automated Hamilton and SMT presses, and we have one manual (or “semi-automatic”) press that we have designed and call the Groovebuilt press. Each machine has been meticulously restored, or is in the process of being restored. From the addition of all-digital temperature and pressure controls; custom-engineered molds for optimal record weight and sonic characteristics; PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) temperature-controlled pressing automation; and industrial integrated cooler system; to the consultation with NASA engineers on space-age machine improvements, all R&D and investment in our plant helps to further our goal of producing the highest quality vinyl records from both a sonic and aesthetic perspective at a fair price.
We increased the size of our factory by approximately 60% at the beginning of 2015, and have doubled our record plating capacity at the beginning of 2016. We continue to reinvest in machinery and infrastructure to expand our capacity and quality control.
We employ a full time mechanic, as well as more quality control workers than any other pressing plant in the U.S. — one quality control employee per every two pressing machines listening to approximately every 25th record off the press during every shift, regardless of order size. Notes are kept and pressing adjustments made, as necessary. This certainly does increase the amount of time necessary to manufacture records, but it has proven effective in shipping the highest quality records that can possibly be manufactured.
Before shipping test pressings to customers, each test is reviewed, typically on more than one turntable. Any imperfections are further inspected by our Quality Control Manager. In many cases, we make the decision to not ship test pressings and to further troubleshoot issues before the test pressings get into the customer’s hands. When required, we absorb the additional costs of remaking parts to correct test pressing issues. While this can add weeks to the time it takes to ship test pressings, it also maintains our 99% test pressing approval rating by correcting most issues before they can reach our customers’ turntables.
Every record we press is sleeved by a human being as a final visual quality checkpoint – at the end of a given order, usually at least 3 different sets of eyes and ears have inspected your records.
The black vinyl compound we use to manufacture records is a formula we specifically developed for our pressing machines in collaboration with U.S. based PVC manufacturer RIMTEC. The formula nearly eliminates all traditional molding/pressing issues such as stitching, non-fill, and material stamper scratches. Also, the compound itself is manufactured in the U.S.A., and is 100% lead-free.
We like to refer to our records as “vinyl perfect” — we are always striving for perfection in an imperfect medium, shipping records that are the best that they can sound/look given each project’s unique characteristics.
Gotta Groove Records Pressing Plant & Headquarters (located in the historic Tyler Village complex in Cleveland):
Print Services, Download Hosting, and Other Services:
We offer a wide range of print options to complete your vinyl package — from standard direct-to-board jackets (where the printing is done directly on the cardstock) to Tip-On jackets. We offer printed innersleeves with a special interior coating designed to protect records from scratches over time. We are a “one stop shop” for any sort of custom print option you can think of – from foil stamping and diecutting, to spot gloss treatments, “pop-up” displays and hardbound books. We have worked on a wide array of creative packages over the years.
We have a proprietary download hosting service that enables you to have a unique landing page for every record you release. Whether you want us to host basic 320kbps MP3 versions of your tracks for download, or higher res versions (or bonus material, videos, and art), our platform guarantees 99.8% up-time, and comes with consumer support for download code redemptions. Each code is hosted in perpetuity, but is only redeemable once. The standard download coupon we include has very simple instructions for redeeming the code, as well as a thumbnail of your cover art. Finally, for orders that are shrinkwrapped, we include a stock “free download included” sticker on the wrap.
Finally, we offer a vinyl-themed crowd funding platform called the GrooveBot; and through our sales consultant Clay Pasternack, we offer distribution services on compatible titles. Please inquire for more information.
The Bottom Line – Sound Quality Trumps All
Our quality control efforts go beyond making sure your records sound and look great, but also assuring that the accompanying print looks great too. That being said, our approach is sound quality trumps all. Therefore, with specific regard to labels, we strongly urge you and your graphic designer to read our art guide, and reach out to us with any questions. The manner in which we print record labels is very unique, and even the most seasoned graphic designer may have questions about this print process.
We try to make the design process as easy as possible for both experienced and novice designers, and provide an assortment of template versions on our website. However, we do recommend that you consult with a graphic designer if you are unfamiliar with the basics of commercial offset printing (virtually all of our print selection is offset print).
If you don’t see what you are looking for or have a question, get in touch with Matt firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 295-0171.
Diecutting record labels on the print shop floor in Cincinnati: