CD Replication & Duplication

LnL Recording is an authorized studio partner with Disc Makers - one of the top CD replication/duplication companies in the industry. If you ask me where to go to get your CD pressed and duplicated, I would recommend Disc Makers.

Just for the record: Replication and Duplication mean the same thing, but the words have different meanings when it comes to compact disc production.

Replication refers to the commercial style discs which involve a sophisticated plastic molding and manufacturing process. Generally speaking, compact discs you buy at any large retail store have been replicated. Replication is the way to go if you're considering a large production run of 300 pieces or more. Check out this video if you want to see the entire manufacturing process.

Duplication refers to CD-R (recordable) type compact discs which are created with standard CD-R burners. CD-R duplication is also referred to as "short run duplication" because typically they are produced in smaller quantities (anywhere from say, 10 to 300 piece runs). Check out this video for an example of the duplication process.

CD replication/duplication costs vary wildly (that's true for any CD manufacturer). There are so many options in terms of volume and packaging and artwork and such that it's difficult or impossible to quote a generic price for anything. An order can be as simple as bulk CD-R's with color printing on top that you burn yourself as needed, or the whole enchilada with booklets, artwork, bar codes, shrink wrapping, etc. My advice is simply this: 

Click here for Disk Makers on-line quotation and ordering service. You can pick and choose the options you want and get an immediate quotation including shipping costs. The entire order can be done through their on-line system. They offer various turn-around times (including 24 hour turn). 

Btw: Disc Makers now offers vinyl LP production. 200 12" albums for around $1600.

Based on feedback from my clients, it makes sense to give yourself 2-3 weeks lead time on the larger replication orders. Short run duplication lead times are usually in the 3-5 day range. It depends on what you're ordering (bulk CD-R's on spindles or CD-R's with the full jewel case and artwork) and how fast you need them.

You will probably be asking yourself which direction is best for you - replication or short-run duplication. Let me offer some ideas and concepts worth considering before you make a final decision.

* Replication is the way to go if you're sure you can move 300 pieces or more. 

* Duplicated CD-R's are generally more expensive because you're normally ordering them in smaller quantities. But "short run" means you can order just enough to get by until you run out and need more. If you're not sure you can move (or need) more than 300 CD's, short run duplication is the best way to go.

* Replicated CD's are more robust than duplicated CD-R discs and would be more universally acceptable or "playable" in CD players. Some CD players don't like duplicated CD-R discs (usually the older models found in cars). So if 100% compatibility is an issue for you, replication is probably the way to go. You're going to weigh this decision based on your budget obviously. If you can't afford to pay for a thousand piece run, then your decision is already made. You'll just have to live with the fact that some of your fans might not be able to play your CD in their cars (or whatever). If you're sending discs out to agents or managers or other record company execs and you want absolute certainty that they aren't going to have a problem auditioning your material, then go with replication.

Disk Makers also sells the CD-R duplication machines and blank media if you want to "roll your own".  I know plenty of clients who made their own CD's at home using standard CD burners and ink jet printers. You can go to Kinkos and get booklets printed up affordably. Neato makes special die-cut ink jet papers that can be printed in any ink jet printer for CD jewel cases. The final result looks almost as good as a professionally made retail CD and is good enough to hand out at gigs.


Authoring is the term used to describe the process of creating the layout of the audio on the final CD master disc - the disc that you would send to Diskmakers from which all the copies are made. Special software is used for this purpose. I typically use Sony CD Architect to do this work but there are other programs on the market such as Roxio and Steinberg Wavelab. With the authoring software you can specify the order of the songs on the CD, adjust the amount of quiet time between songs, add CD Text and/or ISRC codes (read about that below), arrange track index markers and various other things.

CD Text and ISRC codes

These are two separate issues related to compact disc production. You don't need CD Text or ISRC codes to get your discs replicated but you should at least familiarize yourself with this business before going to press. 

1) CD Text - most modern CD players have a front panel LCD screen which will display the album and artist name and song titles (technically referred to as "metadata"). Not all CD players on the market can display CD Text but many can. Most PC audio software (Windows Media Player for example) can usually display this information. This metadata is encoded onto the CD during the authoring process. You don't necessarily need metadata to get your CD's replicated but it doesn't cost anything to include it so why not add it?  More info here. I will need you to provide the exact spelling of each song name, the album title, and your artist name exactly as you would want it to appear in the open public. Once it gets added to the master and sent out for replication, that's it. It's carved in concrete. Make sure you get this right before ordering 10,000 pieces ha ha.

2) ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) - ISRC codes are basically like serial numbers for each song on the disc. The ISRC codes are used to track airplay for radio stations or certain broadcasting companies. This is how you would obtain royalties assuming your songs are licensed through ASCAP or BMI. The ISRC code itself has to be ordered and paid for before you send your CD or songs to be replicated. I think it takes about a week or so to get the ISRC code after you've placed an order for one. If you think you might need this, then I would definitely get one. You can find all the ordering information here. Once you get the code (via email) you provide that to me and I include it as part of the CD Text programming that is included on the premaster disc you send to Diskmakers. It's not mandatory that you obtain an ISRC code in order to get CD's replicated. You only really need a code if you think you will benefit by having your songs played in heavy rotation on a radio station or some other broadcast entity that tracks song plays and reports that information back to ASCAP or BMI (not every station does that).

If you are placing an order through Diskmaker's on-line service, you will have to manually type that information into the ordering system when you upload the files. If you are sending a master CD to Diskmakers, all that information will have been included on the premaster CD I create here. 

Bar Code

Every CD sold in retail stores has a UPC bar code on the outside packaging. The UPC code is for retail sales and tracking inventory. If you've ever bought groceries, then you've seen the cashier scan UPC codes on the outside of the packages. The numeric UPC codes are stored in a database so when the item is scanned, the cash register responds with the correct price and changes the internal store inventory so they know when to order more merchandise. As far as on-line downloads are concerned, I'm not sure what usefulness a UPC code offers (if any). If you think your CD might be picked up and sold retail (including on-line retailers like Amazon), then you need a UPC code. If you're still not sure, err on the side of buying one and sleep better at night. There is a modest charge to obtain and add a UPC bar code to your CD artwork.

Good luck and much success to you!

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