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SLS
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6th October 2006
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Vinyl Mastering Guidelines

I just had a project come up and they want to release it on vinyl. The audio itself is actually part of a contemporary art piece, it's not musical, so I'm not as concerned with the normal sound issues. I'm just wonering if anyone could make some suggestions on things to think about, and the overall process when going to vinyl. Maybe suggest a good resource to look at?

Thanks!
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9th October 2006
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[QUOTE=AdamONE;909610]I just had a project come up and they want to release it on vinyl. The audio itself is actually part of a contemporary art piece, it's not musical, so I'm not as concerned with the normal sound issues. I'm just wonering if anyone could make some suggestions on things to think about, and the overall process when going to vinyl. Maybe suggest a good resource to look at?

Thanks![/QUOTE
Ask the Vinyl ME that is going to cut it.
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9th October 2006
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the first mono basses then careful about highs I´m making high cut about 16kHz...
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9th October 2006
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depending on how great you want the vinyl to sound, i would really do
some research......
right now in the u.s., i think most vinyl is vanity vinyl: too much program
material squeezed onto one piece of vinyl and a signal path that involves
digital.......

that being said, if you know where to look, the best vinyl ever made, imho,
is being made right now........speakers corner...pure pleasure

if you have an amazing recording and it is well cut and produced, vinyl is
still (and continually evolving into) the most hi-fi playback medium around........



be well


- jack
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10th October 2006
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Vinyl Prep

Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamONE View Post
I just had a project come up and they want to release it on vinyl. The audio itself is actually part of a contemporary art piece, it's not musical, so I'm not as concerned with the normal sound issues. I'm just wonering if anyone could make some suggestions on things to think about, and the overall process when going to vinyl. Maybe suggest a good resource to look at?

Thanks!
okay, I am going to fu*ck up some ppl who hold "secret" knowledge for eternity .. but I am soooo bored of vinyl cutters not talking to clients about freaking technical details..

here are some important issues when vinyl cutting... (simple and ruff.. there is much more to the topic but I am in a hurry):

1)
cut off the infrasub below 15Hz.. tone arms resonate around 5-10Hz and the needle will jump when played back on turntables...

2)
check the phase alignment of everything below 500Hz .. should be very mono. how do you check? with a phase meter (keep it green) OR simply press MONO on your mixer / amp and listen if the bass is diminuished.. if so take out that cathedral reverb from the subsonics! ;-) .. kepp the stereo-wideners up of 500Hz!

3)
carefull with hihats around 8.4 KHz .. or "S"-tones in vocals... DE-ESS the shit out of it, really do... they will sound MUCH more aggressive on vinyl - you are going to regret it... the SHURE SM58 sounds like crap when recorded on vinyl.

for dance music I place a "safety" sharp butterworth 5 or 6 LO-PASS filter at around 18.5 or 19 KHz to avoid intermodulation of highs to lower frequencies (happens sometimes) ..

and the most important rule:

4)
keep it very, very slick and fat. weak mixes will sound terrible on vinyl.. good mixes will translate good even if the cutter is lazy or has a bad day.

5)
dont exagerate with loudness... that especially applies to vinyl. -12dB RMS is really hot enough.. the cutter should decide how hot he can print the whole plate...

6)
for 33 1/3 RPM (dance): keep the side under 15 mintes IN ANY CASE or it will sound like garbage. under 12 minutes will shine.

for 45 RPM (dance): keep the side under 9 minutes IN ANY CASE or it will sound worse then 33 1/3 (good 33 1/3 is superior to bad 45er cuts). for very loud an d crips records stay under 6 minutes for a 45er cut. these ones are my favourites..

7)
if you dont do much bass and you have a more "hifi-ish" recording try DMM (direct metal mastering) .. it sounds pretty close to heaven if done properly

just my few lazy answers...

I wish you phat tracks.

robert
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Last edited by bob humid; 10th October 2006 at 05:22 AM.. Reason: spelling
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10th October 2006
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NEVER try to second guess the vinyl mastering engineer!

Every cutting system has its own unique limitations as does the length of the material and its position within the sequence. If you don't have extensive vinyl mastering experience with the system being employed, all you'll accomplish is to screw up the sound of your record.

Other than watching the sibilance and p-pops, making sure anything that's centered is really well centered, leaving off the peak limiter and avoiding out of phase low frequencies, there's no reason a great sounding mix won't make great sounding vinyl.
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10th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
NEVER try to second guess the vinyl mastering engineer!

Every cutting system has its own unique limitations as does the length of the material and its position within the sequence. If you don't have extensive vinyl mastering experience with the system being employed, all you'll accomplish is to screw up the sound of your record.

Other than watching the sibilance and p-pops, making sure anything that's centered is really well centered, leaving off the peak limiter and avoiding out of phase low frequencies, there's no reason a great sounding mix won't make great sounding vinyl.
yes, you are absolutely right to say this if you cut in UK or US and the cutter is working properly. simon from the exchange in london does a great job most of the time and I am pretty sure you do to... but the situation in germany is very different. often there is no real sonic quality control, cuts are made on-the-fly with presets (even they claim they have quality control, I know most of them cant afford to actually perform it) so the client has to be very carefully with checking the cut for distortions.

also, over here if you are heading a certain impact on the dancefloor youll have to do a good part of the leveling yourself since the vinyl masterings here in germany dont have a very good sweetening / compression sound in my ears. some of them do cut good - but then, hey! they all sound the same! they carry a sonic signature that you have to pay for even if you want your material to translate as 1:1 as possible and you dont want to sound like all the others who go 2 the same cutter... its hopeless.

i dont want to generalise, I am sure there is someone who can cut a good plate ON THE FIRST TAKE in germany - but I didnt met her or him yet...

my recomendations have been made upon having to accept the fact that if I want a good vinyl cut Ill have to master it myself and try to avoid the possible traps and physical limitations from scratch... the first cut is ALWAYS bad over here, its after that 1st or 2nd reclamation cut that you start doing corrections, tweakings and then things get better... way better.

I wish I could trust the cutters over here but there has been too many messed up cuts in my life ;-)

and then simon is always louder and brighter... ha!

robert

Last edited by bob humid; 10th October 2006 at 05:19 AM.. Reason: detail
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10th October 2006
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simon has mastered some of my fav dnb tracks on vinyl ever.
period.
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10th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdg View Post
simon has mastered some of my fav dnb tracks on vinyl ever.
period.
... let me guess. MOVING SHADOW everything since 1994? ;-)

robert
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10th October 2006
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i agree with everything-definelty watch the hi-hats and s's. i blew a record with hi-hats that were too bright and loud. as far as the mastering engineers go, i find they are all different-make sure they cut the kind of music you are making. if you're cutting a breaks or d n b record, send it to someone who knows that sound. guys in nyc who cut records that i know aren't doing that often so i bring them references and hope they actually listen. ive played records that i likes and the ME said - "i don't like to cut that way but i will if you want". usually that is when it is breaks/d and b and really loud/squashed. for those genres and any in your face sounding underground beats, you can't go wrong by sending it to the uk - heathmans (shane), the exchange
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
so the client has to be very carefully with checking the cut for distortions.
The distortion you hear on playback can't be heard when you are cutting and will vary with the playback cartridge. The only way to be sure that you like the cut is to get a reference cut.

Quote:
i dont want to generalise, I am sure there is someone who can cut a good plate ON THE FIRST TAKE in germany - but I didnt met her or him yet...
If the mix is well prepared getting it right on the first take is easy. If it isn't then it's near impossible. It could be remastered but it won't be a great cut of the audio that walked in the door.
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If the mix is well balanced (No dog frequencys) has not been smashed or had the channels in the computer overdriven then any good vinyl ME should be able to make a good cut.There is no black art to vinyl mastering, You have just got to love what you are doing and take pride in your work.Finally you cannot expect to charge by the hour(for vinyl) those days are gone.......the returns for the indies are to small.
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10th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post

for dance music I place a "safety" sharp butterworth 5 or 6 LO-PASS filter at around 18.5 or 19 KHz to avoid intermodulation of highs to lower frequencies (happens sometimes) ..
But this shouldn't be for me to do, right? Are you saying that I should make sure the ME does this?

Great thread, everyone.
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10th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Gold View Post
The distortion you hear on playback can't be heard when you are cutting and will vary with the playback cartridge. The only way to be sure that you like the cut is to get a reference cut.

If the mix is well prepared getting it right on the first take is easy. If it isn't then it's near impossible. It could be remastered but it won't be a great cut of the audio that walked in the door.
I know that. there is the cutter and the pressing plant. 2 different companies most of the times..

but there is what I call quality control: cutting a dubplate as a reference cut (by the cutter)...and then listening to the dubplate on standard systems which are used in the club.

one of my former cutter whose name I dont want to drop cause they have been very nice with me after all and finally managed to get me a good cut (after I tweaked the mastering again and again) wasnt able to reproduce the distortion that I was haveing on their turntable at first (with the reference cut). none of the pressing plant nor the cutter wanted to accept the mistake at first. I had to send in the artefacts that I was hearing as WAV-files.

if you use the best pickup available on the market you dont hear all the distortion that 90% of the clients will get (in worse case) cause they use ortofon crap pickups, which unfortunately is the standard in clubs...

plus my pickups where SHURE white labels which I like.. (they had the distortion too) ..

after I placed a LOWCUT (butterworth 6) on 19KHz + they reduced the level about 1dB and we agreed to change from 33 to 45 RPM everything was super shiny. the cut is VERY good now...

vinyl is so demanding...

robert
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10th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper View Post


But this shouldn't be for me to do, right? Are you saying that I should make sure the ME does this?

Great thread, everyone.
hmm... it totally depends on your style of music

in case your masters are very, very dense and carry a lot of mid+high energy then do it.. the background of this is that certain high energy around 18-22 KHz can intermodulate with lower frequencies and sometimes you get strange effects.. in my case I had the borders of the vinyl groove jagged like the grand canyon.. you could see it under the microscope! so if the needle was going deep into the record (expensive hifi pick up) you woudnt hear the distortion, but on the robust yet unsensitive club pick-ups there was a terrible rock n roll ish distortion all over the record cause the needle was getting crossmodulation from this jagged borders... dig me?

but take care that the filter is not changing the colour or tone of your record... the EQ should be high-class.. Cambridge, Oxford EQ, Linear Phase EQs will do... look for a high-pass = BUTTERWORTH class 5 or 6

if your mix is pretty warm or either pretty minimal, without much distortion in the mids and highs then dont do it...

my music is kind of superdense frequency wise.. its sounds very crips but is so dense that the vinyl media is really used to its physical limitation...

if you go to a renown cutter let him decide to do that filtering... if you go to a vinyl cutter that has mediocre reputation do as much as you can do yourself. I learned this lesson by painful experience.

I do prepare digital masters for further vinyl pressing for a living and if I hear something that begs for this treatment I will do it.. sometimes you can also use a simple HF-filter (dynamical).

as I said: I am in germany and the situation is delicate over here..

In case you dont know exactly what I am talking about (frequencies and stuff) dont do it...

robert

Last edited by bob humid; 10th October 2006 at 11:50 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fat larry View Post
If the mix is well balanced (No dog frequencys) has not been smashed or had the channels in the computer overdriven then any good vinyl ME should be able to make a good cut.There is no black art to vinyl mastering, You have just got to love what you are doing and take pride in your work.Finally you cannot expect to charge by the hour(for vinyl) those days are gone.......the returns for the indies are to small.
Jason
can we please clone you and let those clones infiltrate some of the german vinyl cutting places? ;-)

I like what you said about loving what you do...

respex for your attitude

robert

Last edited by bob humid; 19th October 2006 at 11:07 PM.. Reason: spelling
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11th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
but there is what I call quality control: cutting a dubplate as a reference cut (by the cutter)...and then listening to the dubplate on standard systems which are used in the club.

if you use the best pickup available on the market you dont hear all the distortion that 90% of the clients will get (in worse case) cause they use ortofon crap pickups, which unfortunately is the standard in clubs...

change from 33 to 45 RPM everything was super shiny. the cut is VERY good now...

vinyl is so demanding...
I agree with all of this. I use an ortofon cartridge for playback. It has a very flat frequency response but very low compliance. It is very sensitive to high frequency distortion. If it sounds good with this it will sound good under most conditions. There is a lot of mental calculation that has to happen when you cut to guess what you're going to get on playback. 45 rpm gives you a lot more wiggle room.
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11th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob humid View Post
o
3)
carefull with hihats around 8.4 KHz .. or "S"-tones in vocals... DE-ESS the shit out of it, really do... they will sound MUCH more aggressive on vinyl - you are going to regret it... the SHURE SM58 sounds like crap when recorded on vinyl.

robert
is the area of 8.4 khz a known area for problems? i recently had some 808 hi-hats loud in the mix. i had cut everything below 6 k so they were nothing but high end which sounded good in the specific mix. i also had them loud-above the mix a bit. the master sounded great on cd but the hi-hats jumped off the vinyl in a way the annoyed me. now, im de-essing bright hi-hats above 7khz or so but would like to watch out from overdoing it. that is why im asking about your 8.4khz remark. i will continue to de-ess but would love to know any specific hi-end frequencies that seem to cause the most problems. thanks for the tips. ive also been rolling off a bit at the top.
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Hey, I listen to vinyl almost exclusively. Would you guys, while we're all together here, be willing to recommend an MC cartridge for reference listening? Just curious.

I usually use a Denon 103 or a Dynavector 10x5 on a Michell Gyro

Thx, and I hope it's not too o/t.
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11th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshelevator View Post
is the area of 8.4 khz a known area for problems? i recently had some 808 hi-hats loud in the mix. i had cut everything below 6 k so they were nothing but high end which sounded good in the specific mix. i also had them loud-above the mix a bit. the master sounded great on cd but the hi-hats jumped off the vinyl in a way the annoyed me. now, im de-essing bright hi-hats above 7khz or so but would like to watch out from overdoing it. that is why im asking about your 8.4khz remark. i will continue to de-ess but would love to know any specific hi-end frequencies that seem to cause the most problems. thanks for the tips. ive also been rolling off a bit at the top.
in my case 8.4 KHz was the problem. but dont stick to it.. i had very loud peaks coming from the male voice recording (actually holger czukay's fantastic voice) which made VERY annoying frequencies on the reference cut. this is a typical frequency that can get annoying when you record with a SHURE SM58 which was the case.

here is one rare case where analyzers are VERY useful...

just use a good one and check for occasional peaks that jump out of the curve. a good mix that will probably make not much problems usally "rolls off" towards the high-end.. for vinyl cuts it should not have blasting peaks at the high freq range at all! note that a mix can translate to CD pretty good and then the vinyl version has these clipping hihats.. i have heared that effect many times.

i am using Vincent Burel's Frequencies Analyzer ( www.vb.audio.com ) which gives me graphical control over peak and average energy...

since the CD sounded nice I had no reason why to look at the analyzer.. but after I had this problem I switced it on and found the peak quite immediately.. obviously jumping high and laughing at me.

also I had less problems with that particular track by dynamically and SUBTLY HF-limiting up of 3.6KHz with the good old Waves C1 (i am not a waves fan though, but the C1 is really useful sometimes).. you will still need a notchy de-esser for the particular peaks...

but be careful when HF-lmiting.. that is usally the cutters job...

robert
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11th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper View Post
Hey, I listen to vinyl almost exclusively. Would you guys, while we're all together here, be willing to recommend an MC cartridge for reference listening? Just curious.

I usually use a Denon 103 or a Dynavector 10x5 on a Michell Gyro

Thx, and I hope it's not too o/t.
well, the reference is the one that most ppl will use. so in the case of clubmusic it'll be the ORTOFON line... the SHURE WHITE LINE will do the trick too...
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thanks for the info bob. very helpful. im sending my next single to heathmans in the UK and am interested to see how it goes.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshelevator View Post
is the area of 8.4 khz a known area for problems? i recently had some 808 hi-hats loud in the mix. i had cut everything below 6 k so they were nothing but high end which sounded good in the specific mix. i also had them loud-above the mix a bit. the master sounded great on cd but the hi-hats jumped off the vinyl in a way the annoyed me.
By the time you get the level right there will be distortion on the hi-hats. No way around it. It's part of the sound that people seem to like but could be perceived as increased level. My comment on mental calculations alluded to this. I'll let the hi-hats distort a little but I won't let a voice do it. No one likes that. You can guess at this by keeping a careful eye on the current meter.

The amount of distortion on playback has almost as much to do with the dynamic behavior of the high end as the frequency content. Very highly dynamic material won't cut as well.

It's counter intuitive but a peaky and bassy bass drum can increase the high frequency distortion. Low end causes large swings (velocity) in the groove. The high end causes small squiggles (acceleration) within the large velocity swings. This stuff is hard to track.
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I have been doing this everyday for the last eight years but i still do test cuts of all my work cos you never know.I thought this was the norm.
Jason
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It also depends what lathe is used to cut the record. IMHO the Neuman lathes are a bit crap for cutting loud dance stuff, the HF limiter kicks in too quick.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Hz View Post
It also depends what lathe is used to cut the record. IMHO the Neuman lathes are a bit crap for cutting loud dance stuff, the HF limiter kicks in too quick.
7hz,
I think you are sufferring with a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing syndrome.Ok what in your opinion is not a crap lathe for Dance stuff(Your words).
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The Scully lathe is better (to me).

I didn't mean to be as dismissive about the Neuman, it is a great lathe, but for those extra loud dance cuts, the Skully sounds better to me. The HF limiter on the Neuman just kicks in too fast on extra loud stuff, and also introduces some of that nasty distortion I beleive.

Further, I feel the Neuman was designed for cutting microgroove LP's, not loud 12".

To qualify, I have spent many hours on a Neuman, but I haven't used or been in the same room as a Scully. I am basing my opinion on trying to get a Neuman lathe to match cuts done on a Scully.

AKAIK, no one knows everything, so we all suffer from the 'little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing' syndrome, IMHO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Hz View Post
The Scully lathe is better (to me).

I didn't mean to be as dismissive about the Neuman, it is a great lathe, but for those extra loud dance cuts, the Skully sounds better to me.
The sound of the lathe would have more to do with the Westrex part of the system than the Scully mechanics. Can you be more specific about what types of Westrex amps and what series cutterhead you like?

Quote:
The HF limiter on the Neuman just kicks in too fast on extra loud stuff, and also introduces some of that nasty distortion I beleive.
There were three generations of Neumann amplifier racks and two basic types of HF limiters. Which types are you talking about?

Quote:
Further, I feel the Neuman was designed for cutting microgroove LP's, not loud 12".
Anything that is stereo was designed for microgroove. Westrex invented the stereo format that is used in disk cutting today.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Hz View Post
The Scully lathe is better (to me).

I didn't mean to be as dismissive about the Neuman, it is a great lathe, but for those extra loud dance cuts, the Skully sounds better to me. The HF limiter on the Neuman just kicks in too fast on extra loud stuff, and also introduces some of that nasty distortion I beleive.

Further, I feel the Neuman was designed for cutting microgroove LP's, not loud 12".

To qualify, I have spent many hours on a Neuman, but I haven't used or been in the same room as a Scully. I am basing my opinion on trying to get a Neuman lathe to match cuts done on a Scully.

AKAIK, no one knows everything, so we all suffer from the 'little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing' syndrome, IMHO
You are right nobody knows everything.But i try to speak only facts that can be backed up. How can you compare the two systems if you have not done test cuts on both systems based on the same track/engineer/signal path(Procesors)/ batch of lacquers.
Sorry if my tone is offish but there are too many inaccuracies and myths floating around about vinyl.
Jason
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