Navigating The Vinyl Manufacturing Process
In the last 20+ years I’ve been lucky to have mastered over 1,000 albums and projects that have been released on vinyl and each one can be a learning experience to some degree. With the recent renewed interest in pressing vinyl, I’ve been sending the same email over and over to people who are either new to pressing vinyl, haven’t done it in decades, or just haven’t been happy with the results of previous efforts on vinyl.
The purpose of this page is to give you my recommendations for various things such as maximum side lengths (CLICK HERE FOR A SPOILER), where to have your vinyl cut and/or pressed, and some other things to be aware of. My research and info is tied to my own frustrations of some records coming back sounding great, while others come back sounding not so great. I knew there had to be some reasoning behind it and I will share my findings and suggestions with you.
I would also suggest reading THIS Pro Audio Files article I wrote about the importance of either hiring your own lacquer cutting engineer, or at least being aware of who is cutting your album because that can make or break the audio quality of your vinyl release, and happens WAY before the actual pressing of the vinyl.
Unlike pressing CDs which either play or don’t play, the audio quality of your vinyl release can range from terrible to amazing depending on who you choose to do the work. After the mixing and digital mastering is complete and what’s known as the “vinyl pre-master” for cutting is created, “the work” consists of 3 main steps:
- The cutting of the digital audio into lacquers (or DMM). More on lacquers vs. DMM later.
- Creating metal plates/stampers used to press the vinyl.
- The actual pressing of the vinyl records before they are packaged up and shipped to you.
If you contact a vinyl pressing plant directly, most pressing plants handle steps 1 & 2 for you without you really knowing it. Some plants have “in-house” cutting engineers and/or metal plating capabilities but often times, these two important tasks are unknowingly farmed out to other facilities. Often in other places far enough away to require shipping of these parts which can cause damage and slightly off topic here. Aside from physical distance, communication is one step removed as well should there be any issues, concerns, etc.
Even worse, some places such as Pirates Press pretend to be pressing plants but are actually vinyl brokers. This means they don’t even cut or press the actual records. They may handle some of the packaging duties but have nothing to do with the audio directly. They often farm out the entire process to what I would consider to be “budget” pressing plants that do fast and cheap work so there is room for them to take a cut, but this is usually not in the best interest for your project sonically speaking. This is a recipe for mediocrity.
Record labels and those who have been making vinyl for awhile are used to the process of hiring out your own cutting engineer and pressing plant but for those who are new to the vinyl process, it can be a little daunting but typically worth it vs. letting a pressing plant or vinyl broker handle it all.
Beware Of Vinyl Brokers
Vinyl brokers are interesting because while they are offering you a service by handling all the various aspects of making vinyl for you such as cutting, plating, pressing, packaging, etc., they also tend to remove a layer of communication with the people who are actually putting their hands on your vinyl project, and generally speaking need to cut corners in order to make being a vinyl broker financially viable, which can compromise the audio quality.
If you don’t see pictures of people enthusiastically cutting and/or pressing vinyl on a given website, it’s often (but not always) a vinyl broker (middle man) and not an actual pressing plant that you’re dealing with directly. Some vinyl brokers even put their own center labels on test pressings and jackets so the test pressings appear as if they are coming directly from them rather than what is likely to be a budget pressing plant.
Many vinyl brokers farm out the actual vinyl work to GZ Pressing in the Czech Republic which if you do some research, you’ll find that GZ is not typically known for amazing sound vinyl. Their cuts are done via DMM and with some degree of computer automation from my understanding. This does not mean that all GZ pressings sound bad but it’s my experience that when a pressing or test pressing does sound bad, noisy, or just not as great as it could sound, there is a good chance it was done at GZ either directly or via a vinyl broker.
That being said, a few albums I’ve mastered recently have been cut by a trusted lacquer cutting engineer (not GZ) and then pressed at GZ (since most pressing plants are extremely backed up right now) and they’ve come back sounding pretty good. This highlights how important the actually cutting process is before a single record is even pressed. If you are using a vinyl broker that presses vinyl via GZ Pressing, ask if they can facilitate having lacquers cut by somebody you know and trust.
When you let the pressing plant (or vinyl broker) handle the cutting process (either in-house or farmed out), you lose an important line of communication. These types of cuts are often done at a more conservative level to avoid any playback issues, but they often sound weak or not as great as they could sound compared to what somebody who you know will roll up their sleeves and get the absolute most out of the cut, so it sounds as great as possible on vinyl.
If you are using a vinyl broker, just ask them to be honest about who is really doing the work so you can prepare yourself to ask the right questions, and manage expectations.
Vinyl Manufacturing Is Not Cheap, Or Worth Cheaping Out On
Be aware that pressing vinyl isn’t cheap, even bad sounding vinyl. The setup costs involved to press even ONE vinyl record are fairly high. This is why you don’t see many places offering low quantity orders such as 75 or lower. It’s fairly cost prohibitive to make just a few copies of a vinyl record due to setup costs, time, etc. Some places will offer 100 or 200 quantity options but with the recent stress on the vinyl manufacturing industry, those smaller jobs can often get pushed back and some places now have higher minimum quantities such as 500 copies.
Also, be aware that anybody doing great vinyl work is going to be fairly backed up right now. Prior to 2016 or so, you could get finished copies in your hand in a couple months no problem. In recent years, it’s not uncommon to hear of turnaround time of up to ONE YEAR or more. Not all pressing plants are backed up that much but the ones doing the best sounding work tend to be more backed up than the ones that aren’t known for great sounding vinyl.
There are some very high end pressing plants such as RTI, QRP, and Optimal but they largely do audiophile releases and high level artists. Often times, they are not taking on any new clients or individual customers because they are busy with back catalog work from major record labels and artists.
While there are a few different ways to navigate the vinyl process, my suggested “one stop shop” for independent bands, artists, and record labels is Gotta Groove Records in Ohio.
I am normally leery of pressing plants that offer in-house or farm out the lacquer cutting process for you, but Gotta Groove Records uses the same trusted team of cutting engineers at Well Made Music for every 12″ vinyl release, and another trusted place for cutting all 7″ records. They are also very open about who is doing the cutting work. This is not true for all or even most vinyl pressing plants.
I am always happy with the audio quality of records I’ve mastered after they’re cut by Well Made Music and pressed at Gotta Groove. They both have a high standard for audio quality and quality control. You can hear more from Matt Earley from Gotta Groove Records via THIS great podcast if you’d like.
If for some reason Gotta Groove is not an option for you due to turnaround times, colored vinyl choices, cost, or anything else, you can still have one of the excellent cutting engineers at Well Made Music cut your lacquers and have the vinyl pressed at your pressing plant of choice. I’ve had great results with this process as well.
Here is a short list of some cutting engineers who have cut albums I’ve mastered that I can recommend to cut yours:
- Well Made Music
- Black Belt Mastering (Levi Seitz)
- Chicago Mastering Service
- Carl Saff
- Nashville Record Productions
- Chris Muth
- Jeff Powell / Take Out Vinyl
- Golden Mastering
- Townsend Mastering
- Chris Bellman At Bernie Grundman Mastering
I’ve sent projects to all of these cutting engineers. They all do great work in all genres but you may want to research some of their credits to see if any of them might be a great match for your release based on some known albums they’ve cut.
They may also be able to help advise you as to where to have your project pressed to vinyl which may also dictate where the metal plating is done.
If you choose your own lacquer cutting engineer, I’ve had good luck having the records pressed at United Record Pressing, Blue Sprocket Pressing, Smashed Plastic, Optimal Media, Record Industry, RTI, Pallas, Memphis Record Pressing, Precision Record Pressing, Quality Record Pressings, and Archer Record Pressing.
That’s not to say that others aren’t good too, I just don’t have any first-hand experiences or good experiences to speak of other than what I’ve mentioned here. As you may have noticed, most of these suggestions are US based so if you’re outside the US, maybe ask around as to who is doing great cutting work in your region (if location matters) and you can usually find out who cut the lacquers for some of your favorite releases on Discogs.
Cutting Engineers & Pressing Plants Around The World
HERE is a pretty complete list of cutting engineers, pressing plants, and vinyl brokers around the entire world. Whether it’s my recommendation or your own research, you may want to consider a pressing plant in your area that does great work so you can pick up the finished copies in person to save on shipping costs, and prevent damage during shipping. This is not always possible and I would definitely favor quality over location but it’s something to consider if you have a great pressing plant in your area, and can have the lacquers cut by a reputable cutting engineer elsewhere.
At this time, my recommendations are primarily US based due to the physical nature of making vinyl. As time permits, I hope to add some UK and European suggestions as well.
There are a number of new pressing plants popping up in recent years and it’s hard to keep track of them all, who is doing great work, and who is the least backed up at any given time but most lacquer cutting engineers are in tune with what’s going on out there if you need a suggestion.
There is also a process between the lacquer cutting and actual pressing called metal plating or electroplating. This is a difficult process and there probably less than 10 places in the entire US that can do it. This means that even if you want to have your records “pressed locally”, the electroplating process is probably getting farmed out to one of the few places in the US that can do it so doing 100% of the process locally is usually not a reality. In the US, some electroplating facilities include Mastercraft, RTI, Welcome To 1979, Symcon, and Nirpo.
This means that despite all the cutting engineers and pressing plants we now have in the US in various locations, all the records being pressed must go through one of the few electroplating facilities which are often located in another region requiring the lacquers and metal stampers to be shipped around which is part of the delay and bottleneck to some degree. I think most people don’t realize that the entire process of cutting, electroplating, and pressing a vinyl record is usually NOT all done in one place.
There are times when all the above options are too costly, too time consuming, or hard to navigate. In recent years, as a “Plan B” and more economical option, I’ve had pretty good results using a place called Mobineko for vinyl pressing. I honestly don’t know a lot about their process and don’t have as many cases to study as other trusted cutting engineers and pressing plants but for smaller projects on a budget and/or tight deadline, Mobineko has been a solid option for vinyl. The important thing when creating your order with Mobineko is to choose lacquers and “Black Belt” if that’s an option so you can be sure Levi at Black Belt Mastering will cut it. This will ensure it starts off on the right track.
Mobineko typically isn’t my first choice, but I think it’s much better than using a vinyl broker that will likely use GZ pressing or some unknown cutting/plating/pressing combination to manufacturer your vinyl. With Mobineko being somewhere in-between a vinyl broker and pressing plant because they use a handful of different cutting engineers, you can still run the risk of getting a slightly quieter than expected cut (depending on the audio material) so they can minimize playback issues and potential distortion complaints, but the sound quality itself has been pretty good from Mobineko when cut by Levi at Black Belt Mastering.
As mentioned, there are a growing number of pressing plants these days so just be sure that whoever you are using is open/transparent about who is cutting the lacquers (or DMM), and be aware that for best sonic results (aside from Gotta Groove or Mobineko/Black Belt), you will likely want to hire your own cutting engineer, rather than letting the pressing plant farm it out to unknown parties.
Communication and transparency are key.
DMM vs. Lacquers
The topic of DMM vs. lacquers comes up a lot. DMM stands for Direct Metal Mastering which means instead of cutting the grooves into a lacquer (a more traditional approach) to start the vinyl process, a DMM lathe engraves the audio signal directly onto a hard metal copper-plated master disc.
You can do your own research to learn more about the two different approaches but here is my two cents:
- Cutting lacquers tends to sound better for music that largely contains real instruments, and is particularly pleasing for most genres of music as long as the sides are not too long because longer sides need to be cut lower in level and are more subject to the noise floor of the lacquer cut and downstream processes.
- DMM can be a bit more favorable for music with largely electronic and synthetic elements such as hip-hop, EDM, etc. and when done well, can have a lower noise floor. That being said, I’ve heard some pretty noisy vinyl from GZ Pressing who is known for DMM cuts.
- Regardless of genre, DMM can be more favorable for material that is very dynamic because the noise floor of DMM cuts can be lower, meaning you hear less surface noise in the quiet sections. DMM can also be more favorable for longer side lengths (22 minutes or longer) because longer sides often have to be cut at lower levels, and the lower noise floor of DMM cuts often makes the record sound cleaner and less noisy in quiet sections and between songs.
- For most rock, punk, metal, jazz, pop, and other music with real instruments, DMM can sometimes sound a bit harsh, brittle, and lifeless.
- If noise floor is a concern such as for ambient, classical, and other material with sparse moments, DMM could be the better choice due to the inherent lower noise floor. That being said, I’ve heard some records that were cut to lacquers that have a VERY low noise floor.
These are all broad statements and generalizations and as previously stated, so much of how the vinyl actually sounds depends on who is doing the cutting work and with what tools.
Content Is Critical, Preparation Is Key
The nature of the material being cut and pressed to vinyl also plays a big role. Extended bass, excessive vocal sibilance, longer sides, and other things that aren’t really a problem in the digital realm can be an issue or hindrance for vinyl.
Too often I’m asked to master an album for vinyl that has already been mastered for the digital realm. In most cases, I can’t do anything with the existing digital master and have to start from scratch. At that point, they may as well have had me do the CD/digital master too because then it would have been very easy to make the vinyl master based on that.
Whenever you are pushing the limits of suggested side lengths, or pushing the physical boundaries and limitations of the vinyl format, hiring your own cutting engineer or making sure the pressing plant is using a trusted engineer you can communicate with becomes even more important.
Sometimes, even the best cutting engineers don’t always know what will happen with certain material until they do a test cut. This is different than a test pressing. I’m referring to a test lacquer (or DMM) cut which happens before any metal plating is done, or test pressings are made.
This again is where hiring your own cutting engineer can help get the most out of your vinyl, and even avoid test pressing issues that can be costly and delay your project even more.
Something to be aware of is many vinyl pressing plants are VERY aggressive about scanning the audio material for samples and unauthorized audio. The authorities find it easier to target the pressing plants since there are relatively few compared to the thousands of bands and artists releasing music, so pressing plants are extra careful about pressing records with potentially unauthorized material. Sometimes sound clips from movies, TV shows, and other stuff fly under the radar but I recently mastered an album that had a sound clip of a local news broadcast from the late 1980s. This seemed like something that nobody would object to being on vinyl and would fall under “fair use” but the pressing plant refused to press the album until the sound clip was removed. This meant removing it from the digital vinyl pre-master, then having a new lacquer cut for that side, and a new metal stamper made. This ended up adding to the cost and delayed the vinyl release. So, be smart and think ahead if your vinyl album contains audio contents that you don’t own the rights to to avoid delays and added costs. If you plan to include something questionable, be prepared to provide evidence that you have permission to use it on your vinyl release
Use An Experienced Digital Mastering Engineer
It’s important to use a digital mastering engineer who is familiar with preparing the approved digital master for the vinyl realm as well. I see too many posts on various audio forums from people asking how to “make a vinyl master” who have never done it before and while you have to start somewhere, experience is everything so choose your digital mastering engineer wisely if you are planning to release on vinyl too.
In most cases, sending your loud, heavily peak-limited digital master to another mastering engineer for vinyl preparation, or directly to the cutting engineer or pressing plant will not yield great results on vinyl. It’s much more economical and sensible to use a digital mastering engineer who can confidently and competently prepare your project for vinyl as well after you approve the digital mastering. In most cases, this only requires minor to moderate adjustments from the digital master and does not require starting over.
What is not cost effective is cheaping out and having your mix engineer or friend do the CD/digital mastering, and then ending up having to pay an actual mastering engineer to master it again for vinyl from the unmastered mixes. This ends up being more expensive and also, your digital master probably isn’t as good as it could have been.
Reference Lacquers & Test Cuts
Prior to COVID-19, as well as the tragic fire at the Apollo lacquer plant in early 2020, it was somewhat common to receive a physical reference lacquer (earlier in the process than a test pressing) that you could actually play on your turntable to hear how it sounds before committing to the metal plating and test pressing process. This was a great place to decide if any changes are needed to the vinyl pre-master files that the lacquers (or DMM) are cut from, or any settings or things that the cutting engineer is doing during the cutting process could be better.
Waiting for an actual test pressing to hear your project is a bit late in the process for any fine tuning unless time and money are not a concern. Test pressings are really meant to be more of a dummy check, not the first time you hear your project in the vinyl realm. However, due to the stress on the vinyl manufacturing industry, and lack of knowledge about the process, test pressings (if they are even ordered at all) are becoming the first time people hear their project in the vinyl realm which is not ideal if you’re going to be critical of the results.
With lacquer shortages, supply chain issues, shipping delays, and other global events, receiving a physical reference lacquer is not as much of a reality as it once was.
However, what is more common in current times is to receive a digital capture of a test cut from the cutting engineer so you can hear what the cut sounds like before committing to it. This is still a great way to verify that things sound great at the cutting stage and in some ways is better because you can rule out the chance of your mediocre or bad turntable causing playback issues that don’t really exist.
Most cutting engineers use a mid-level turntable to play back the test cuts for you to hear. Nothing too fancy, but nothing too cheap.
Often times, things that can cause real issues with a test cut (or actual production cut) are things that trace back to the recording and mixing stage, not so much the digital mastering stage. However, the digital mastering stage and vinyl pre-master should be prepared in such a way that doesn’t exaggerate such issues, as well as calls out any red flags that are guaranteed to be an issue on vinyl so they can be addressed before the expensive and time consuming processes of manufacturing the vinyl.
Vinyl Side Lengths
Sometimes when I suggest to a client that their 23 minute (or longer) side is likely too long to sound great on vinyl, they cite a Pink Floyd or other classic album that has long sides and sounds great. It might be true that a given album with longer sides sounds great but consider this:
- They likely had the some of the best of the best engineers in the world working on the album in the recording studio, and cutting process.
- You never know how good it could have sounded if the sides were shorter!
- Some classic albums that were originally a single LP with longer sides are now being reissued as double LPs so that each side can be shorter in length and generally speaking, sound better.
I really don’t like being the bearer of bad news but sometimes I do need to at least let clients know if I think their album is too long to sound great on vinyl. When this happens, the options are:
- Remove a song or a few songs to create shorter and more even sides.
- Edit a few songs in length to create shorter and more even sides.
- Do a 3 or 4-sided double LP to shorten the length of sides.
- Live with what is likely to be mediocre sounding vinyl, with some inevitable distortion and graininess on the last couple songs of each side.
Songs that are removed for the vinyl release can still be used for the CD release, streaming release, and even be made as their own 7″ vinyl or EP if you want them to be available on vinyl.
3-sided double vinyl can be a bit less expensive to manufacture than 4-sided double vinyl because a few less parts need to be made. I’ve had cases where it makes more sense to split the songs into 3 sides instead of 4 for aesthetic reasons. Sometimes the empty 4th side can be used to do something visually on the blank vinyl side.
However, some albums are so long that all 4 sides are needed to keep the sides under the recommended maximum time and somewhat even in length and I’d say 4-sided double vinyl is more common than 3-sided, but 3-sided is an option.
It’s not required that both or all sides of a record be even in length but if you have a 16 minute side and 22 minute side, from a technical standpoint it would be better to even that out two 19 minute sides (or close to that) because the longer 22 minute side would mean both sides need to be cut at a lower level, unless you wanted the sides to be different in loudness too which I think most would not want that. Whatever produces the shortest and most even sides is usually best from a technical standpoint.
Generally speaking, softer songs fare better at the end of sides than louder and more dense songs. If possible, it’s great to sequence the album in a way that any softer and less dense songs are at the ends of each side, especially for longer sides.
People love to buy and sell colored vinyl but believe it or not, you can make a case that black vinyl will sound better than some or most colored vinyl. Listen to THIS podcast episode for more info on that.
At the bottom of this page is a list of recommended side lengths for vinyl sides depending on the size of the record (7″, 10″ or 12″) and the speed (RPM) of the record (33 1/3 or 45).
These are generalizations to some degree and so much depends on the nature of the material and who is cutting it, but most agree that the shorter the sides, the louder they can be cut, more low end can be retained, and the noise floor and surface noise of the vinyl will appear to be lower. Longer sides are typically cut at a lower level, with some bass removed, and have a higher perceived noise floor due to being cut at a lower level.
With vinyl, it’s all about balancing trade-offs and managing expectations. I’ve had some clients who don’t really care how the vinyl sounds because they think most people who buy it will never even listen to it. They’ll use a budget pressing plant, do 22 minute (or longer) sides, and not worry about it.
I have other clients who are highly critical of how the vinyl sounds and expect a lot from the process. Vinyl can sound amazing if all parts of the process are well done. That includes everything from the recording, arrangements, mixing, song sequencing, side lengths, mastering, lacquer or DMM cutting, metal plating, and ultimately, the pressing which is what you came here to read about.
If you’ve been researching vinyl, you may have come across something known as a lathe cut. Lathe cuts can be an affordable option for small quantities compared to pressed vinyl but generally speaking, lathe cuts don’t or can’t sound as good as traditionally cut and pressed vinyl. Lathe cuts often have a higher noise floor and a slightly less clear or high fidelity sound. Some argue that lathe cuts are mostly used for novelty, promo, one-offs, etc.
The reason lathe cuts can be done more affordably is because there is a bit less involved in the process. Somebody literally cuts each lathe cut disc manually, one at at time, puts a label on it, packages it, and it’s done. There is no lacquer or DMM cutting, or metal plating involved. This is why it can make sense to do super small quantities of lathe cut records, as low as 1 copy, 10 copies, or sometimes up to 150. After 150 or so it becomes cost prohibitive to do lathe cuts because remember, a single person is cutting them one at a time so you reach a point where it’s not realistic to do lathe cuts.
Many lathe cut options are in mono rather than stereo so it’s important to choose a place that specifies stereo lathe cuts unless mono is your thing. Two commonly used options are Little Elephant in Ohio and Red Spade Records in Calgary.
From a pre-mastering standpoint, there is not really anything different to be aware of than normal vinyl. The only thing to change is your expectation of audio quality a little bit.
Lathe cuts can still sound pretty decent if you use a quality place/person to do the work, but don’t expect it to sound as great as some of your favorite pressed vinyl records.
Generally speaking, lathe cuts have a shorter wait or turnaround time than pressed vinyl but with the growing vinyl backlog, shipping and supply chain issues, even lathe cuts can take a little bit of time right now and are more backed up than usual.
I’ve had some clients order 50 or so lathe cuts to sell at their album release show to hold them over until the pressed vinyl is ready months later. The lathe cuts can be considered a collector’s item.
Lathe cuts can serve a purpose and sound pretty great but again, they’re not a replacement for well pressed vinyl if you have moderate to high expectations for audio quality.
Last but not least, we need to talk about vinyl playback. So many concerns about issues with test pressings end up being playback issues due to incorrectly setup turntables, cheap turntables, and low budget components. Correctly setting up a turntable is an art in itself.
In most cases, I’m happy to not only listen to your test pressing, but record it back to digital and send it to you so you can hear what it actually sounds like.
Aside from having a nice turntable setup including a VPI Prime 21 turntable, Ortofon 2M Black Cartridge, and Knif Phono Preamp, I also have a modified motor and tachometer system that is made by SOTA. Using a magnet under the turntable platter that travels over a sensor on the plinth, and a tachometer that talks to the turntable motor, this system ensures that no matter what, the turntable is spinning at 33.333 or 45.000 revolutions per minute or VERY close to it. With every revolution, the motor speed is adjusted to keep a consistent speed. It’s an incredible invention.
Many entry-level and even higher quality turntables can (or do) play at the wrong speed. The speed can also vary based on incoming power fluctuations, and as the components in the turntable change temperature due to operation. Even the tracking force of your stylus can have an impact.
When you buy a new album from another artist and listen to it casually, you are often not super critical of playback speed and do not detect a speed issue with your turntable.When you have spent A LOT of time recording, mixing, and mastering a project, you become very intimate with how it sounds. Changes to the pitches, the timbre, the groove, for example, can be very concerning and easy to notice when you play your test pressing and it sounds like it’s a little too slow or a little too fast. However, 99% of the time, this is not an issue with the cutting or pressing, it’s a playback issue with your turntable that you have never noticed before.
So for various reasons, I am happy to supply you with a solid digital capture of your test pressing if needed to approve it and hear what it really sounds like.
Hopefully this page provides you with some information and tools to get the most out of your next vinyl project. As you can see, it’s MUCH more complex and sensitive than making CDs so it’s important to plan ahead when it comes to things like mixing decisions, song sequencing, and choosing wisely when it comes to your digital mastering engineer, lacquer or DMM cutting engineer, and ultimately pressing plant that you choose to use.
Don’t just take it from me though. There are TWO great podcasts dedicated to the art of making vinyl. One is co-hosted by Scott Hull of Masterdisk, and you can listen to all the episodes HERE. Start at the start.
The other is the Women In Vinyl podcast and while the entire podcast series is great in covering all aspects of making vinyl including packaging as well, I suggest starting with THIS great episode of tech talk featuring Jett Galindo of The Bakery.
See below for a suggestion of vinyl times based on info from the very talented cutting engineer and equipment builder Paul Gold from Salt Mastering.
Vinyl Side Lengths at 33 1/3 RPM
- 10:00—12:00 = Excellent
- 12:00—19:00 = Very Good
- 19:00—22:00 = Good
- 22:00—24:00 = Fair
- 24:00+ = Not Recommended, due to quality trade-offs
- 0:00—12:00 = Good
- 0:00—7:00 = Not Recommended, due to quality trade-offs
Vinyl Side Lengths at 45 RPM
- 6:00—8:00 = Excellent
- 8:00—10:00 = Very Good
- 12:00—15:00 = Good
- 0:00—9:00 = Good
- 3:00—3:30 = Excellent
- 3:30—4:00 = Good
- 4:00—4:30 = Fair
- 4:30+ = Not Recommended, due to quality trade-offs
In addition to this page, you can also check out this helpful article I wrote for The Pro Audio Files on the importance of lacquer cutting for vinyl. This may help you as you plan your project as you proceed in producing vinyl.The Importance of Lacquer Cutting for Vinyl