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Gotta Groove Records

The Artist's Preferred Record Pressing Plant

Glossary of Common Vinyl Terms

These are some common terms used in vinyl manufacturing.  If you don’t see a term that you are looking for, please contact us and we’ll help you out (and maybe even add it to the list below).

2-Step Plating:  The Electroforming process which yields a set of Mothers and a set of Stampers.  At Gotta Groove, other than 180 Gram vinyl, the default plating option is 2-step (and is included in our record pricing).  Mothers are able to make additional stampers, as needed.

3-Step Plating: The Electroforming process which yields a set of Fathers, Mothers, and set of Stampers.  At Gotta Groove, 180 Gram vinyl pressings of 500 or more units include 3-step plating by default, as well as orders of larger quantities of 7inch or 12″ Standard weight records.  Fathers are able to make additional Mothers.  Mothers are able to make additional stampers.

4/4, 4/0, 1/1, 1/0 Print:  In commercial offset printing (not just record-related printing), you will find numerical descriptions like this pertaining to print items.  We use these terms on our price cards for the various insert printing options.  The numbers refer to the print plates being used to print the image onto the sheets.  In process offset printing, there are four print plates — Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y), and Black (K).  When you see a “4” or the acronym “CMYK”, it means full color print.  When you see a “1” or “K” only, it means black and white (B&W) print [when printing B&W, the printing press is only using the K (black ink) printing plate — no C, M, or Y].  So, when you see “4/4”, it means full color print on both sides of the sheet; “1/1” means B&W print on both sides of the sheet.

Biscuit: The sandwich that is ultimately pressed into a record.  A biscuit consists of a hockey-puck shaped piece of extruded vinyl between a Label on the top and bottom.  The biscuit is compressed by the Record Press into the shape of a vinyl record.  You can view biscuits being pressed into records in our company video.

Direct Metal Mastering (DMM):  (see also Lacquers and Lathe below).  This is a technology developed in the mid-1980’s for cutting masters for record manufacturing.  Instead of cutting into a blank lacquer, grooves are cut into a blank copper disc via a specially equipped lathe.  Since DMM was developed during the time period when vinyl was being overtaken by cassette tapes (and ultimately, compact discs) as the dominant consumer music formats, use and R&D work was not extensively implemented in the technology.  Most of the DMM lathes that were built have since been converted to cut lacquers instead of copper discs.  In the United States, there are no currently operating mastering facilities using the DMM method of cutting masters.

Downloads / Download Codes:  Many modern records include a coupon inside the record jacket with a unique code enabling the consumer to redeem a digital version of the Program Material embodied on the record, and/or other bonus material.  Gotta Groove provides an inclusive download hosting service for digital audio and video content as an add-on item to orders.

Electroforming: The forming (or growing) of a metal onto the face of a substrate.  This process is used in many industries where very accurate replicas of a substrate are a requirement.  In record manufacturing, the substrate is the cut Lacquer.  The cut lacquer is cleaned and then sprayed with a silver solution.  This sprayed lacquer is then put into a bath of nickel sulfamate solution.  When an electric current is run through the bath, nickel atoms are drawn to the face of the silvered lacquer, and a nickel layer “grows” on the face.  When this nickel layer is removed from the lacquer, the removed layer becomes the father or stamper.

Fathers: A Father is the inverse of a cut lacquer – instead of playable grooves the face of the father consists of the inverse of grooves — peaks.  A father is used to create a Mother, and is then either stored for future use (in 3-step plating) or, converted to a Stamper (in 2-step plating).  Fathers are sometimes called the Metal Master.

Innersleeve:  Also referred to as a “dust sleeve” or “bag”, this the the paper sleeve that the record is directly inserted into.  Gotta Groove Records record pricing includes blank innersleeves by default.  But, you can also order printed artwork and/or text on innersleeves.  Blank innersleeves most commonly have a diecut hole on each side so the record Label can show through.  Printed innersleeves can be produced with our without diecut holes.  Plain paper innersleeves can cause surface scratches to the face of the record, which over time can sound.  Cardstock innersleeves exacerbate this surface scratch propensity, and therefore are not recommended by Gotta Groove.

Insert:  At Gotta Groove, we refer to anything that is being inserted into a record jacket other than the sleeved record and download codes as an insert.  Our standard inserts are 11×11″ (for 12″ records) or 7×7″ (for 7″ records).  But, inserts can really be many different sizes and formats – stickers inserted into jackets, postcards, cds or dvds stuffed into a jacket, etc.  Some folks refer to Innersleeves as inserts, but we prefer to use the term “insert” for anything that is not an innersleeve but is going into a record jacket.

GrooveCoated ™ Stampers:  This is a specialty stamper available through Gotta Groove Records, which were developed by NiPro Optics for Gotta Groove Records in 2017-2018.  These stampers have a specialized lubricious coating applied after nickel formation that reduces surface tension while increasing surface hardness.  Depending upon the cut, this combination can dramatically increase the lifespan of the stamper, and reduce high frequency loss as pressing cycles continue over the course of manufacturing.  With traditional record plating technology, over the course of the cycles of a pressing, the high frequencies tend to diminish first as the cycles go on.  While this is always going to be a natural phenomenon in the course of pressing vinyl records, GrooveCoated stampers dramatically strengthen the grooves on the face of the stamper, and allows better material flow.

Jackets: Also commonly referred to as a “cover” a jacket is the outer pocket that records are inserted into – records first go into an Innersleeve, and are then inserted into the record jacket.  Jackets are most commonly made of cardstock, with the printing done directly onto the white cardstock (this is called Direct To Board print–  also see Tip-On Jackets below. ).

Label: The paper circle in the middle of a pressed record.  Sometimes referred to as a “sticker”, a record label is actually not adhered to the face of the disc after pressing – it is an integral part of the pressing process, and serves to cool the middle of the record while it is being pressed.

Lacquers:  A blank lacquer is an aluminum disc that is coated with a nitrocellulose lacquer layer.  There are currently two manufacturers of blank lacquers in the world – Apollo/Transco and MDC.  A lacquer is also the first step in the vinyl manufacturing process – grooves are cut into the face of the blank lacquer via a machine called a lathe.  While a lacquer can be played on a turntable, master lacquers that are going to be used for a real pressing job are never played – they are sent directly to an electroplating facility to be used as the substrate in the Electroforming process that makes the metal parts which are eventually used to press records.  Cut lacquers are sometimes called the Master.

Lathe: A record lathe is a machine used to cut the grooves into the face of a blank lacquer.  This machine is not a record press – this is a machine designed to make single cuts of master recordings into blank lacquers, not to mass produce pressed records.

Matrix Inscription / Matrix Number: Sometimes also referred to as a “scribe” or “scribe number”.  The alphanumeric identifier that is etched into the lead-out (matrix) area of the record.  Most frequently, this number matches the “Catalog Number” or “Selection Number”, but it is actually arbitrary – it just has to be something that is somewhat unique.  The matrix inscription is important to both the plating dept and the pressing dept, because it is the only way of visually identifying lacquers and metal parts.

Mothers: The metal plate that is two steps removed from a cut Lacquer — a mother has grooves on its face, and can be played on a turntable.  A mother is used to make Stampers.

Nonfill:   (See also, Stitching) – Nonfill is a PVC molding-related challenge when pressing some records.  Nonfill is difficult to see with the naked eye, but can be visible under magnification.  When it is audible, nonfill can cause a crackly type sound.  Some records are more susceptible to issues such as stitching and nonfill than others, depending upon the program material and the physical characteristics of the grooves.

Overrun / Underrun:  In the vinyl manufacturing world (and in the manufacturing world in general), you will see terms like “10% Overrun or Underrun Constitutes A Complete/Acceptable Order”.  This means that the final shipment quantity make be 10% more or 10% less than the purchase order quantity that you order.  The reason for this common policy is that scrap rates can vary at each point in the manufacturing process.  Each “part” in your record project (the term “part” meaning the separate components – records, jackets, inserts, etc) may have different scrap rates.  So, after final assembly/inspection, there may be plenty of good records done, but jacket scrap was a bit higher than normal, so there are more records than jackets.  Or, there may be something in final inspection that causes records to be scrapped which were initially passed in the pressing stage.  Efforts are made to run extra of each component, when each component is in its own unique manufacturing process.  But, the final count is never known until all inspection/assembly is complete.  A very common example is when there are multiple color variants run in a single order.  For example, and order for 200 black / 200 green / 100 blue — each color may have its own individual scrap rate, and the final count would be 225 black / 195 green / 105 blue.  This would be considered a complete and acceptable order.   At Gotta Groove, we make strong efforts to always ship at least the purchase order quantity.  In most cases, there will also be extra copies.  GGR does not charge for these extra copies (with the exception of assembly tasks, such as shrinkwrap or stickering- you are charged per-unit based upon the actual quantity assembled for these items).  There are some cases where slightly less than the ordered quantity may be shipped.  While these situations are extremely rare, they are a possibility in the manufacturing world, and should be taken into account when ordering vinyl record manufacturing.

Polybags:  No-Flap polybags are clear plastic “sleeves” which a jacketed record is inserted into.  Most record stores will polybag their used records.  No-Flap polybags are open at the top.  Resealable polybags have a flap at the top and an adhesive strip which enables the end purchaser to open and re-seal the flap at the top of the polybag.

Polylined Innersleeve:  An innersleeve with a plastic liner on the inside, designed to better protect the face of the record from surface scratches.

Premaster:  In the digital age, many records are cut from a digital source.  In most cases, a high resolution source is eq’d / mastered specifically for vinyl.  This new file is called the vinyl premaster.  Gotta Groove strongly urges all customers to have a vinyl premaster made by a reputable professional who regularly works with the vinyl format before submitting audio to be cut.

Program / Program Material:  The underlying subject source audio embodied in a record.

Record Press:  A hydraulic press that compresses the vinyl Biscuit between two stampers and produces pressed records.  Pressed records are not made from blank discs.

Reference Lacquers:  Similar to lacquers above in that these are aluminum discs with a nitrocellulose coating, grooves are cut with a lathe into the face of these for listening instead of for electroforming.  Reference lacquers are used to ensure that the program material is translating to the phonograph medium in an acceptable manner.  (Also, see Test Cuts below).  Neither test cuts or reference lacquers are a substitute for Test Pressings.

Shrinkwrap: The clear plastic wrap that, when ordered, seals the record.

Spine:  This is the thin “face” of a record jacket which typically has artist/title text printed on it that you can see when records are sitting on a common bookshelf.  All GGR jackets have spines, and text is encouraged to be printed on spines.

Stampers: The metal part that is affixed to a record press, which stamps grooves into melted vinyl Biscuits.  Stampers are the inverse of grooves — peaks instead of grooves.

Stitching:  (See also, Nonfill) – Stitching is a PVC molding-related challenge when pressing some records.  Visually, it appears like lines perpendicular to grooves, sometimes even resembling a scratch.  When it is audible, stitching can cause a “zip” type sound.  Some records are more susceptible to issues such as stitching and nonfill than others, depending upon the program material and the physical characteristics of the grooves.

Stock Marks: Sometimes also referred to as “dimples”, these are visual blemishes sometimes on the face of a record.  Many are purely visual and do not cause a sound issue.  Some may cause a “heartbeat” type thump when the stylus travels over them.

Test Cuts: This is a service offered by Gotta Groove for 12″ orders, similar to Reference Lacquers in that they are used to ensure that the program material is translating to the phonograph medium in an acceptable manner.   However, instead of being a physical lacquer disc embodying the entire program material sent out for approval, instead only samples of the program are cut into a lacquer and then played back and recorded into a wav file to be emailed for approval.   Neither test cuts or reference lacquers are a substitute for Test Pressings.

Test Pressings:  These are actual pressed records, but typically are the first time that records are being pressed from a set of Stampers.  They are made from the same material as production records, and have the same groove information.  They typically have labels which designate them as test pressings.  They are the “final approval” mechanism before productions copies of a particular program are produced.

Timelog:  This is a document which shows the start/end/duration of each track or “song” on a record.  Very similar to a PQ log for CD audio – however, the document should start over at zero at the beginning of each side.  This document is particularly useful when cutting lacquers from a digital source, and is needed to accurately place Track Bands.

Tip-On Jackets:  This type of record jacket is commonly viewed as a deluxe upgrade.  In this type of printing, the actual print is done on a separate sheet of text paper which is ultimately wrapped and glued to a thick corrugated core.  Gotta Groove tip-on jackets use extremely thick corrugated cores, and include matte or gloss lamination.

Track Bands: These are the visible “spaces” or track breaks on the face of a record.  Contrary to common believe, track bands do not add any silence to the audio – you are seeing the spacing between the grooves.  So, songs can segue from one to another without any sort of audible silence, but you can still have the ability to drop the stylus between tracks upon playback of the record.  Noting track times to the cutting engineer is extremely important, to ensure that track bands are placed visibly on the record where they should appear – they are not automatic, so just having silence between songs does not automatically cause the visible spaces.  Track information is typically communicated via a Timelog.

UPC/Bar Code:  As with most any consumer product, many records have bar codes.  You can order these from GGR.  If you have a bar code on your record at all (some records do not), it does need to be unique to that record — not the same as your CD release.  Also, if you work with a distributor, most distributors prefer each color/variant of the same release to have its own unique bar code.

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