CD/Vinyl Replication & Duplication

LnL Recording is an authorized studio partner with Disc Makers - they are one of the top replication/duplication companies in the industry. If you ask me where to go to get your CD or vinyl record 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 injection molding and manufacturing process. The term "glass master" refers to the mold used to press the copies. Generally speaking, album releases you buy at any large retail chain have been replicated. 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 robotic 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 (that's true for any manufacturer). There are so many options in terms of volume and packaging and artwork and such that it's difficult to quote a generic price for anything. An order can be as simple as bulk CD-R's with printing on top, 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). 

Disc Makers offers vinyl LP production. 200 12" albums for around $2,300.

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. Here are some things t consider:

* Replication is the way to go if you're looking for a larger quantity. 300 is the minimum threshold for replicated discs. Anything less than 300 is going to be duplicated on CD-R.

* Replicated CD's are typically more robust than 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 older players found in cars or low-end boom boxes). So if 100% compatibility is an issue for you, replication is probably the better way to go. Weigh this decision based on your budget and needs. If you can't afford to pay for a 300+ piece run, or just simply don't need that many, then your decision is already made. 

Disk Makers also sells CD-R duplication machines and blank media if you want to "roll your own".  I know plenty of clients who make their own CD's at home using standard CD burners and ink jet printers. The final result can look almost as good as a professionally made retail CD. Certainly good enough to hand out at gigs.

Authoring

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 the replication company from which all the copies are made. Special software is used for this purpose. I'm using an older version of Sony CD Architect to do this work but there are other programs on the market such as Roxio and Steinberg Wavelab. Authoring software allows you to 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

We're talking about "metadata" that is added during the authoring process. These are primarily technical 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. Not all CD players on the market display CD-Text, but many can. Metadata is encoded onto the CD master during the authoring process. As stated above, you don't 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 title, the album title and your artist name, exactly as you would want it to appear to the general public (or copyright submission material). Normally I'd request that you send this information to me in the form of an email message. 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 lol.

2) ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) - ISRC codes are basically like serial numbers for each song on the disc. ISRC codes can be used to track airplay for radio stations or certain streaming services. This is how you would obtain royalties assuming your songs are licensed through ASCAP or BMI. Disk Makers can provide ISRC codes free with your order. 

If I'm doing the CD authoring, then you would have to buy the ISRC codes from the ISRC website ($90 I think). A new ISRC code is needed any time there is a change/remix to a song title. 

 

UPC Bar Code

Virtually every retail product has a UPC bar code on the outside packaging. The UPC code is for sales and inventory tracking. 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, UPC codes are also used for digital distribution and submitting sales data to Soundscan.  There is a modest charge (around $20) to obtain and add a UPC bar code to your CD. The bar code is printed somewhere on the CD packaging (usually the rear cover or tray liner).

Vinyl

Vinyl has made a comeback and some of my clients are pursuing that option for their album releases. Many of the technical aspects of CD replication don't apply to vinyl. Vinyl is... well it's vinyl. It's analog. There's no metadata or anything like that encoded into the record grooves. An album jacket could have a UPC code for retail sales. But that's about it. There are serious mixing/mastering limitations with vinyl. Way outside the scope of my FAQ section. If you're thinking vinyl,  talk to Disk Makers directly. I'll need to know who you're talking to in order to prepare the audio for vinyl mastering. Your audio will sound different on vinyl (some think it sounds better, but that's very subjective).

Good luck and much success to you!

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