Test cuts are not test pressings. Actually, they are a few steps before test pressings, and are never suggested to be a replacement for physical test pressings. Test cuts (available on 12″ orders only) consist of portions of your submitted masters being cut into an actual lacquer, and then played on a turntable and recorded into wav files for easy transfer via email. When possible, the cuts are made on the exact same part of the lacquer as where the grooves will ultimately land on a pressed record. Since these are actual grooves cut into a lacquer and then played on a turntable, it is about as close to a “pre-test pressing vinyl preview” you can get, outside of full reference lacquers. The fee we charge helps cover a portion of the costs of materials (lacquers, in particular). Once nice thing about test cuts is, since they are recorded on a well-calibrated turntable, it does remove the variables associated with finding the “right” turntable to use when listening to a cut lacquer.
Test cuts are not intended to be a replacement for physical test pressings, which are included by default on every order. Put very simply: test cuts are for checking how masters are translating to vinyl. Test pressings are checking for manufacturing issues such as track order, side placement, skips, loud pops, etc.
Call us with any questions! (800) 295-0171