practical Vinyl preparation tipps

(calimerox) #1

Usually when I make a pre master for a CD production I prepare everything in the timeline, set CD markers, and export to wav 16bit generating .cue markers for later splitting the file into single tracks.

Now I m preparing a Vinyl release and I am wondering: with the .cue file I couldnt figure out how/if I can split tracks for the pressing plant, because i want to deliver in 24bit, and afaik this is not possible to treat later with a .cue file.

I could create one range per track for every track and export that. But I have a lot of tracks that fade into each other so time accuracy is crucial… any ideas about a good workflow for that? Thanks!!

(Paul Davis) #2

In the CD world, there’s disk-at-once recording, in which there are no gaps between tracks. This is physically different from track-by-track recording/pressing, where there is a defined gap between tracks.

By analogy, I would have expected that if the tracks fade into each other, you would deliver a single audio file to the vinyl pressing guys. But that’s just a guess, I know nothing about this stuff.

(Paul Davis) #3

Well, I suppose two audio files, one for each side of the pressing.

(calimerox) #4

Thanks Paul, I had the same guess as you, one file for each side. But the pressing facility i talk to right now needs single tracks with no pauses, to make the wider groove at the beginning of each track so you can find each track later on the vinyl…

(calimerox) #5

I got it!! There is a tool called FLACON, it can split also 48kHz/24bit files based on a .cue sheet .

(Chris) #6

Thanks for the tip on flacon, I was not familiar with that utility before you mentioned it (although it is in the Fedora repositories).

(Robin Gareus) #7

16bit (~96dB undithered) is more than sufficient, theres’ no need for 24bit since a vinyl record has roughly 75dB S/N. I highly recommend to read if you have not yet done so.

(Alex W Mitchell) #8

@x42, I’m still at a loss (with those figures) why CD isn’t the new Vinyl.

(Paul Davis) #9

@alexmitchellmus: tape cassettes are the new vinyl! TDK SA-X FOREVER

(calimerox) #10

Checking prices for SA-X and Sony UX-S on ebay tells you Paul is not too far off :wink:

@ x42 thanks for the link, I will read it now. I was pretty sure 16 bit is enough as well , but as the vinyl facilities ask for 24 bit all the time I was wondering…

(calimerox) #11

great read x42, thanks!

There is also the never ending discussion about how to treat the bass. the company making the records recommends to mono the bass below 100Hz (wondering how i would do that in Ardour on a final stage…), other companies I saw just recommend “checking the phase” of the bass… (I attach their vinyl faq for the record)

I found the airwindows plugins (now working on linux and free!!) and their ToVinyl4 plugin to control the bass and testing it right now on the tracks ( which can act for “cleaning up the bass region”. Anyone has experience with this?

here the recommendation from the company. I will write them and ask for the reason for the preference of the 24bit format…

vinyl faq from the company (monotype pressing):


Maximum lenght

12 inches
33⅓ rpm – 23:00 min per side
45 rpm – 12:00 min per side

7 inches
33⅓ rpm – 7:00 min per side
45 rpm – 5:00 min per side

Maximum level of digital source signal
The maximum level of digital source signal should not exceed 0.0 dB True Peak. The True Peak Level is not Peak Level.

Approved frequency bandwidth
Both ends of audible bandwidth (below 30 Hz and above 18 KHz) should be kept on a decent level (not exceeding the rest of the audible spectrum). One should also realize the bandwidth of high frequencies is limited toward the end of a disc side. Especially on 7’’ discs played with 33 1/3 r.p.m. This phenomenon is inevitable and can not be cured by pre-emphasis / de-emphasis means.

Too high level of sibilants (like: sss, shhh, zzzz etc) and the upper band contents (like hi-hats) are not suitable for vinyl and could cause cross-modulation effects. It sounds like distortion and unstable stereo image on such signals. It is strongly recommended to keep these sounds on a decent level, by using de-essres and other means during pre-mastering process.

Phase and correlation
The overall correlation of stereo should not exceed 90%. 0% – means mono, 180% – means anti-phase. The correlation of bandwidth below 200 Hz should be even narrower, and below 100 Hz should be 0% (mono). It is highly probable that additional click, crackles and distortions occur, if these specs are overridden.

Dynamics and non-linear distortion
It is strongly recommended to not overdose the usage of maximizes during the pre-mastering process. The loudness level of -10 dB LUSF seams to be enough for a really loud undistorted vinyl.
The process of DMM-cutting and vinyl reproduction is analog by its nature. It brings its own non-linear distortion to reproduced sound. So, all non-linear effects could get its new sometimes
unpredictable flavor on vinyl. So, it should be taken into account.

Approved file formats
We approve such files: .wav and .aiff. Sampling frequencies and bit depths: 44.1 KHz (16, 24 bits); 48 KHz (16, 24 bits); 88 KHz 24 bits; 96 KHz 24 bits. We do prefer 24 bits. On special request we approve files of 192 KHz 24 bits. On a special request and by additional fee we approve analog tapes (1/2’’ and 1/4’’).

Files management
We do not put pauses between tracks on a vinyl plate. Thus if one song should seamless go into another (atacca) there would be no unwanted break in sound. But still there will be a visible Virtual Track Marker (widen groove) to show where next song begins. If you intend to have a silence between two songs, it should be appended to the end of the first one file. Your files should be named in a way so the computer browser could line them alphabetically up in a right sequence. For instance: A_01 A_02 B_01 B_02 C_01 C_02 D_01 D_02. Thus when you put your files into one folder everybody would know what is the right order and which songs belongs to side A, B, C or D of your album.

Final notes
In some cases vinyl change the way your digital pre-master sounds. Sometimes it’s change for good,
Sometimes it’s change for strange. In digital realm we can produce sounds vinyl cannot retrieve. If this happens you got two ways to take: love it or produce your sound with the above specs in mind.

(Chris) #12

@calimerox: traditionally a mastering engineer was responsible for creating any modifications needed for best vinyl results, usually after a lengthy apprenticeship working with an experienced mastering engineer who understood the limits of both the final vinyl product as well as the lacquer cutting equipment. You are trying to deliver files without the benefit of being able to ask someone who has been doing it for years, and without the benefit of having the lathe in the next room so you can stand and watch it cutting chips out of the lacquer. You’ll pretty much just have to wing it and hope for the best unless you can find an old timer to ask for advice.

Regarding why they would ask for 24 bit files, I suspect it is because it is hard to screw up a file if you are just exporting straight out of your DAW. If you truncate it there are a few settings to worry about, so why add extra work for themselves of answering questions about the best settings to use for truncation when they can just say send us your 24 bit files and we’ll use those. It’s not like anyone is going to cry about using a few extra MB of storage space these days.

If you are using software that uses any kind of reasonable definition of correlation just completely ignore the units they give for correlation. I’m not sure who wrote that garbled description, but if you look at any mathematical or signal processing texts, 0 would be uncorrelated, 1 would be completely correlated (mono), -1 would be completely correlated in opposite polarity. Anti-phase (opposite polarity) as “180%” correlation makes no sense in any kind of rational system so if you have software that reports correlation between channels don’t expect there to be any relation between values reported by your software and what is recommended in that document from Monotype Pressing.

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(calimerox) #13

just for completing the information here: Finally all the mastering and pressing process went well and I am happy with the results. What I did in the final pre-mastering step before delivering: I treated some very heavy bass regions slightly with the xt-mastering-equalizer and applied the tovinyl4 plugin from airwindows, which is a Elliptical EQ and applied that to the low end (something like from 250Hz on…) to “push” loud moments in bass into the center. This changed slightly the sound of the lower region, but I liked it so this was not an issue…