by Claudio

Apr 01, 2020

So you want to press vinyl records and you have a ton of questions? How much does it cost? How are vinyl records pressed? All answers are in this article.

How Do Vinyl Records Work?

The sound waves are first transformed into electricity. The changes in electricity are transformed into movement by a coil connected to a needle. The needle’s movement engraves a spinning lacquer disc underneath it, creating a physical representation of the sound.

By putting tonearm on the disc the process can be reversed: the needle reads the movements from the spinning record, transforming the movement back into electricity and back to sound through a loudspeaker.

How Does Vinyl Pressing Work?

The process starts with engraving the music onto a lacquer disc, using a lathe cutter such as this:

Once the lacquer disc has been engraved it then gets covered in metal particles (through electrolysis) which produce a negative stamper of the record, a process commonly known as “metal work”:

The stamper then is pressed against molten vinyl which produces a positive vinyl record

What Is A Test Press?

A test press is a short run of 4 or 5 vinyl records for you to check the quality of the sound. If you’re unhappy with the way it came out you may have to ask the lacquer disc to be cut again and for a new metal stamper to be produced

Should I Mix Or Master Differently For Vinyl?

There is no substantial difference, except you have to remember that vinyl records don’t like stereo bass, so you should make sure to make your very low end mono in the mix. Also heavily compressed masters don’t go well with vinyl. You may want to read this article regarding this subject.

How Much Does It Cost To Press Vinyl Records?

It depends on a few factors: size  and weight of the record, type of sleeve, amount of artwork colours.

Vinyl records come in 3 sizes: 12inch, 10inch and 7inch:

The type of sleeve also impacts the final price of the vinyl. The cheapest choice is a simple disco bag which has a large hole in the middle, to reveal the record label artwork:

If for example you press 300 copies 7inch colour print label + disco bag you’re looking at about £2.50 (British Pound) +VAT (*£3) per copy. For a  12inch colour print with full colour print sleeve + inner sleeve you’re looking at about £3.50 +VAT (*£4.2) per copy.

Remember that a substantial part of the cost is for the lacquer and metal work, therefore pressing more copies reduces the cost per copy dramatically.

For example if you press 1000 copies, then each 7inch (same specs as above) goes down to around £1.20 +VAT (*£1.44) per copy and 12inch will be around £2.50 +VAT (*£3) per copy.

Prices may vary depending on manufacturer, country, currency and additional services offered.

How to create vinyl record artwork?

There are several places for artwork on a vinyl record. The simplest solution is to just produce art for the label itself

This is the cheapest solution and all you need is a program like photoshop or illustrator to create the artwork itself. If you don’t know how to do it you can hire somebody on for a very reasonable amount of money.

If you have a bigger budget you may want to consider a full sleeve artwork:

It is possible to fit even more artwork on a record if you choose the gatefold sleeve:

Most vinyl record pressing plants have photoshop templates available for you to ensure the size and margins of your artwork are correct.

How much music can fit on a vinyl record?

This depends on a few factors: the size of the record (12, 10 or 7 inch), the playback speed of the record (33 or 45 rpm) and the how loud you want your record to sound.

Here’s a table of suggested maximum playback time for each vinyl size and rpm:

For club and dance music I recommend 12 inch at 45 rpm as it offers the best quality and the most amount of bass. 33 rpm is generally for 12 inch albums, where you want many songs on the same record. 7 inch records at 45 rpm are great for non house music, they are the cheapest and they make great pieces of merchandise for artists.

Difference between 140 & 180 grams?

Vinyl records can be thiner or thicker. There is no difference in quality, however heavier records last longer and they feel better to the touch.

Can I Press Colour Vinyl, Instead Of Black?

Yes, records don’t have to be black. Most vinyl pressing plants will offer all kinds of possible colours, including transparent and picture discs:

How long does it take to press vinyl records?

Once you have the music and the artwork prepared it can take anything between 6 to 12 weeks, depending on how busy your manufacturer is. For example the months before Record Store Day in the UK (April 18) tend to be the busiest for record manufacturers, so you may want to keep that in mind.

How do I sell vinyl records?

Vinyl records are great to sell at gigs! They are nice objects that the audience can take home after the concert. But also you can sell them directly on your website, which means you’ll have to manually post them. There are also distributors available online: they will take your records in their warehouse (for a fee) and distribute them to shops and individual customers for you.

Is there a simple solution to press vinyl?

Yes, great one-stop-shop solution is Qrates. They will produce the vinyl for you and allow to setup a pre-order, so that you can start selling it before it’s printed. They also have an option for crowd funding, so that your audience can support your vinyl pressing project or you can create interesting promotional campaigns with this option! They will also distribute your records so that you don’t have to worry about delivering them to shops or clients.