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Vinyl pressing plant dictating
Old 3 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Nut
Vinyl pressing plant dictating

Just thought I'd share this bizarre story. I did a mastering for a band last year. The album is pretty long so it's a double vinyl for sure. Three sides have a very healthy play time, while one is what I'd call "uncomfortably long", at 25:38. Problem is it's three songs that are joined so it's (artistically) not the easiest thing to alter the track list. It's a doom metal band, so basically all songs are long - the other sides consist of one song per side. It's luckily not very bass-heavy material so while far from ideal it's typically doable.

As always, the band and label were made aware of the issue with the long playing time and still opted to proceed. It's not uncommon that the masterings I work on will exceed 24-25 minutes per side. I always advice on the downsides of long play times and will assist with suggesting alternatives whenever possible. However, every single master I've provided has been printed without any complaints from the pressing plants.

Until now.

The band got back to me a couple of weeks ago, telling me the pressing plant had rejected the side in question and asking me what could be done to fix it. But to make things weirder, the plant had decided to already cut the other three sides! I told the band that the plant should not have proceeded with anything before consulting them or the label first.

After a bunch of back and forth, the pressing plant has agreed to redo all cuts with an alternate master. It's a big compromise for the songs that are joined but if the band oks it, I'll help them out. But the fun doesn't stop there! The pressing plant requires the sides to be no longer than 20 minutes. So I'm now asked to fade out a song basically right in the middle.

I have asked to be put in direct contact with the pressing plant, the band has asked them and they have declined. I don't know what to make of this, it's just bizarre... I've produced hundreds of masters over the years and I have never encountered anything like this before.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
I suppose the obvious question is: which pressing plant?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
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Thomas W. Bethe's Avatar
 

Verified Member
The "band" should find another pressing plant would be my erstwhile suggestion.

FWIW and MTCW
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
The first step for me would be to put the band and pressing facility on hold and send the vinyl premasters to a reputable independent cutter. The cutter will at least be able to communicate clearly if/why that side can't be cut at the full 25+ minutes. In my experience, to get a quality long cut, there's many more factors involved than low frequency information...dynamics/limiting/clipping, high frequency buildup, phase, dynamics of the song on the inner cut etc all play a role. Doom metal being the genre would definitely cause me to question a longer cut from the start.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sir hills View Post
Doom metal being the genre would definitely cause me to question a longer cut from the start.
I've cut quite a few long doom metal projects. As long as the bottom isn't too wide it's doable. Most HF issues disappear as the levels get quite low when the sides are that long.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering View Post
I suppose the obvious question is: which pressing plant?
The obvious guess is GZ Media.

Am I right?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Pindrive's Avatar
Shady work.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
The "band" should find another pressing plant would be my erstwhile suggestion.

FWIW and MTCW
That's the first thing I told them. Apparently the label has already paid the pressing plant and they refuse to pay back. It's in Mexico I think, from what I was told they can't get out of it. I've asked for the name of the plant, mostly so I could check references on their website. Still pending.

About other issues with the master: I always take great care to ensure that the master transfers well, especially when long play times are involved. The master is far from squashed, has tight low-end with minimal spread and has healthy dynamics. So I can safely rule that out as a contributing factor.

First thing the pressing plant said to the band was that "it will sound like chipmunks". Which makes me wonder what they're smoking.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
Gear Nut
I found out which pressing plant it is: United Record Pressing in Nashville. Haven't worked with them before but then again normally I wouldn't know where the client brings the work. Just had a quick look at their website for their recommended times:

Quote:
When cut at 33 1/3 you can hold approximately 18:00 minutes per side. [...] These numbers are not set in stone, they are just a suggested maximum. Going over these suggestions can result in a loss of sound quality.
18 minutes or less is what I'd call "ideal". The fact that they demand a 20 minute cutoff is just baffling.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Verified Member
I've seen suggested running times go down and down, I guess it's their sales teams (the brokers/plants) being conservative to avoid re cuts for people who haven't had a proper consultation about length with the mastering engineer (if there was one).
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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S_mask's Avatar
 

25.63 minutes of doom is doomed to being cut at pretty low a level, Zuma or not. The tediously long, three-song side should be cut down to two songs with a fade-out at around 17 minutes. That way, one of the three, other sides can have more than just one song, and the drive can be elevated. This is vinyl, and they're not playing classical, after all. Plenty of soul singles had the rest of a long A song fade up for the B side.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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misjah's Avatar
 

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Pretty vague story to me...did you cut the masters? If not it’s more an issue between cutting studio and pressing plant. It’s all about communication as well. Pressing plant/broker should explain to the band it will be low level/narrow/no low end kinda cut. If the band accepts then no backsies by either party. If it was me I would be happy to do a recut at normal rate as I always warn before doing long sides with heavy content.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
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25 minutes is going to result in a side that is MUCH lower in level and/or bass than the other sides, or the other sides might be cut at a less than optimum level to match the long side. Either approach compromises either the relative impact or the continuity of the project.
Anyone ever consider editing on a doom project? I would be very surprised if there isn’t five minutes of music on the long side that couldn’t be artfully edited out, possibly to the benefit of the project.
Heresy, I know...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #13
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
What is so feared about low level cutting besides the higher surface noise to useful signal ratio and pops clicks when the record is worn out?
Old 3 weeks ago
  #14
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Having cut many >25 minute sides, I agree. The content is what's important, especially in that genre. It's not like cutting a filler song on a rock album.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
Having cut many >25 minute sides, I agree. The content is what's important, especially in that genre. It's not like cutting a filler song on a rock album.
I of course agree, and this is why I always advise bands against cramming too much in on each side. But the fundamental oddities I find here are:

* Why on earth did the pressing plant go ahead and cut three of the sides and THEN contact the client about the long play time of the fourth?

* The band/label is aware of the downside of cutting at a lower volume, but pressing plant refuses to do it, in fact refuses anything over 20 minutes.

* The pressing plant will not reimburse the client based on that they already made cuts, client can't get their business elsewhere.

I'm not trying to start a discussion about what's best for vinyl. I ALWAYS suggest solutions when playtime is painfully long, usually tell them they need to make it a DLP. Sometimes they do it, sometimes the label (usually indie) can't afford DLP and they just go with what they have. I've had countless masters go to press with anything from 22-23-24 minutes, probably up to 28 minutes even in the absolutely worst cases. I have always informed the client of the issues and it's been up to them to decide how they want to proceed. I have also always warned them that the pressing plant might reject it, but in my 25 year career this is the first time that it actually happens. And under the weirdest circumstances.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #16
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S_mask's Avatar
 

If the band are willing to make this a triple-LP pressing, each of the six new sides, having only one song, could be cut at 45 rpm, for best fidelity and also max level. ...a 2-fer for the A doom dub.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgs View Post
* Why on earth did the pressing plant go ahead and cut three of the sides and THEN contact the client about the long play time of the fourth?

* The band/label is aware of the downside of cutting at a lower volume, but pressing plant refuses to do it, in fact refuses anything over 20 minutes.

* The pressing plant will not reimburse the client based on that they already made cuts, client can't get their business elsewhere.
From your description, your client's best options seem to be:

1. Have the master lacquers re-cut at an independent mastering studio. (And in the future, you should develop a relationship with one and insist all your clients use them.)

2. In order of preference:

a) Insist (again) on a full refund and send the re-cut lacquers to a new plant. (I can't imagine why the plant would refuse to do this. This is what I would do if it were my project.)

b) Accept the loss for the 3 sides already cut and ask for a refund for the remaining costs. Then send the re-cut lacquers to a new plant.

c) Accept the loss for the 3 sides already cut and send the re-cut lacquers to the current plant for plating and pressing only.

Only option a) is really acceptable, but the rest can be considered the "cost of an education" I guess?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post

The obvious guess is GZ Media.

Am I right?
Isn't it unfair?

Why would we reject a 25min. long side when we use DMM cutting lathes and our dedicated software with a possibility to simulate cutting with various cutting levels and various settings (HP, EE, limiters) for longer sides. We regulary cut 25 or more minutes per side - just 23 sides this month. And near 100 sides with length more than 22 minutes.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
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Greg Reierson's Avatar
 

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Maybe. Past experience placed it as a good bet.

This very moment I have a client with two jobs on hold because the source master files were rejected by GZ. I cut the US releases for both (with some effort, but that's why independent mastering shops exist!) and both were approved here. The European release has been stalled because someone at GZ doesn't like the supplied master files. Too much effort required?

Yet another reason to have a personal connection with the cutting engineer.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
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ionian's Avatar
A label I work routinely for uses Pirates Press Records. They've never given us any problems as long as we understand the potential problems. Last year they pressed a vinyl release of a soundtrack for a film which averaged just over 26 minutes a side and it all went without a hitch.

The bigger, and stranger issue from tgs' post that I don't really see mentioned is that he asked to be put in contact with the pressing plant and they denied the request? Seems counterintuitive to reaching an understanding.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ionian View Post
he asked to be put in contact with the pressing plant and they denied the request? Seems counterintuitive to reaching an understanding.
Seems extremely paranoid...or perhaps they don’t want you going around them and complicating their package deal with the pressing plant
Old 1 week ago
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Verified Member
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Reierson View Post
Maybe. Past experience placed it as a good bet.

This very moment I have a client with two jobs on hold because the source master files were rejected by GZ. I cut the US releases for both (with some effort, but that's why independent mastering shops exist!) and both were approved here. The European release has been stalled because someone at GZ doesn't like the supplied master files. Too much effort required?

Yet another reason to have a personal connection with the cutting engineer.
That's why I'm here
Send me the catalogue number or any claim email you have received and I will ask my colleagues or our customer service dept.
1) We require audio files/DDPs to be either packed in an archive file (zip, rar 7z, sit) or accompanied including MD5 (CRC) checksums.
2) 44.1-192kHz/16-32bit PCM accepted in WAV, AIF(F), APE, FLAC and also CUE/BIN,DDP,NRG etc. CD images mountable into Daemon Tools.
3) Audio files are sometimes claimed due to extreme amount of HF or out-of-phase LF content where our corrections/changes would radicaly changed the sound.
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