DUBPLATE // ONE-OFF RECORD FAQ

How does a record work?
A vinyl cutting lathe cuts a groove into a blank record or lacquer whilst simultaneously transferring the audio signal onto the groove. The super-sharp stylus is attached to the cutterhead, which in turn plays the audio signal and vibrates as it cuts the groove, hence producing a series of complex ridges. The playback stylus then reads these ridges, in a similar way as a stick running along a railing.

 

How should I present my tracks/masters?
Try not to use too much overall compression. Compression reduces the dynamic range of the track, which is needed to give punch and clarity. When looking at the VU meter on your computer or desk, make sure there is as much movement in the meter as possible.

Leave us at least 2db headroom on the master so we have room to add frequencies and compression in the mastering stage.

If you want to know why… Imagine your track is a glass of water. If you give it to us with it filled an inch or two below the rim it gives us ample opportunity to add all kinds of flavours to make it into a tasty drink. If however you give it to us filled to the rim there is almost nothing we can add to it without the liquid spilling over the sides. Simple!

Try and use stereo signals to increase the width of the mono signal not as a standalone signal.

 

How much music can I fit per side and how loud will the record be?

12″ single 9 minutes +9/12db
12” EP 15 Minutes +3/6db
12 Album 20 minutes 0/3db
10″ 45rpm 6 minutes +9db
10″ 33rpm 10 minutes +6db
7″ 45rpm 4 minutes +3db/6db

What should I bear in mind?
The strength of the signal is directly related to the oscillation in the groove; therefore the stronger the signal, the greater the oscillation so the more space it takes up on the plate. To avoid skipping, the grooves must never touch or at least merge, so tracks with a lot of bass, volume and stereo signals, which produce the most movement in the groove, have to be shorter due to increased distance between the grooves.

If cutting more than one track on a side, try to place the most demanding tracks at the beginning of the side of the vinyl record not at the end. As the conditions for recording and subsequent reading on vinyl records get worse with the decreasing diameter towards the middle of the record.

 

What does phasing mean?
When a recording is “in phase”, the cutter stylus moves nicely from left to right. When it’s “out of phase”, the stylus moves up and down, causing it to jump out of the groove given half a chance.

Check the master by using a correlation meter, where it should stay in the positive field. If you do not have access to this type of thing, please send your tracks in to us and we would be happy to check them for you.

 

What happens if my bass is in stereo?
If the bass is in stereo, it will make the needle cut very deeply into the record when the bass signal occurs, which in turn will make the playback needle jump out of the groove. If the bass is in stereo we have two options: We don’t cut the track or we make the track mono below 300 Hz. On these occasions, we would contact you to discuss the problem.

 

What mastering do you apply when cutting dubplates?
In preparation for cutting a dubplate your tracks will be treated with any necessary processing to make them cuttable. If there is something glaringly wrong in the sound spectrum we will normally correct it. If there are elements, which are too loud or too quiet, we will adjust them accordingly. We will then do a short test cut to make any changes before cutting the master plate. If at this stage we are not happy with the results we will contact you to discuss the options.

If you are re-cutting material that has already been on dubplate and needs a lot of attention you can also take advantage of our reconstruction service, where we delve deep into the spectrum of the track and attempt to pull out as much of the original track as possible. This service includes a full de-click, hiss and crackle service.

 

What about bass? Do you cut dub, dubstep & drum & bass?
Yes, we cut very loud, super-heavy bass tracks. Normally, these will be cut at 45rpm on either 10” or 12” plates.

 

How long will a vinyl dub last?
Like all things it depends on how well you treat them. We have records that we cut three years ago that are still going strong. You are far more likely to be sick of the record than the record dying on you.