, establised 1997

Here are a few tips on how to manufacture CD's on your own. Use this information as a guide only. When you actually start the process, have someone knowledgeable in this area to supervise or just learn it yourself !

Many artists today have chosen this route to ensure a place in the marketplace. They also self-distribute to ensure a high technology quality level, sometimes demanded by discriminating musicians.

Mastering - How Important is it To Master Your Project?

We believe that it's the single most important step you can take to improve and enhance your project. Too many times clients who haven't bothered to master end up complaining that their project doesn't sound as good as their favorite CD. Why? Don't find out the hard way.

Mastering mastering....common mistakes to avoid:

  1. The most common mistake is sending your master out without listening to it first. Unfortunately, audible clicks and noises on DATs and CD-Rs are frequent. Most of the time, these problems can be fixed in out pre-mastering suites but this can create delays or unexpected extra charges.
  2. Uneven or overall low audio levels are another thing that could be easily corrected BEFORE sending the master out. We receive some masters that are as much as 10 or even 12dBs below what they should be.
  3. Incorrect, incomplete or missing track sheets almost always cause delays. Although we usually discover what's missing, we will always seek customer approval before going into production. Track sheets should be clear and include any pertinent information, such as noises, print-throughs, abrupt starts/stops, hidden tracks, etc.
  4. A problem that is showing up more often with the growing number of CD-Rs that we receive, involves PQ code errors. The most common problems are track start/stop indexes that are incorrectly placed. What we sometimes encounter is 10-20 seconds of silence after the last track, probably put there by the recorder or the software being used to create the CD-R. To fix the more serious problems, the disc must be dubbed and PQ coded again or the customer must provide a new master.
  5. If a customer chooses to send PQ encoded masters, such as a CD-R, 1630 or 8 mm tape, it is assumed that PQ codes have been verified and approved by the customer PRIOR to sending it to us. We will check and go to great lengths to report and fix any apparent problems, however, because some ID placements can be subtle, FINAL RESPONSIBILITY MUST LIE WITH THE CUSTOMER.
  6. A new problem relating to CD-R masters is scratch marks on the music side of the disc, caused by writing on the label side. ONLY SOFT PENS SHOULD BE USED TO IDENTIFY CD-RS. EVEN BETTER, WRITE ON THE CLEAR PLASTIC IN THE CENTER OF THE DISC.

...Which do you prefer, a DAT, a CD-R or a 1630?

All three formats provide the same quality, but the 1630 tape is still, to this day, the format with the best reliability and the least problems. The worst format to use as a CD master is definitely a DAT. Even though a DAT is a useful tool in the studio environment, there is unfortunately no guarantee of proper playback whenever it is used in a different player. This obviously can and will cause a lot of problems. ...How much recorded time is allowed for a CD and for a cassette? For a CD, you can record up to 78 minutes and for a cassette, up to 45 minutes per side.

The Four Color Printing Process

The first impression we make when looking at a new release, whether it be CD or cassette, is usually based on THE PACKING. Don't settle for second best -- you only have one chance to make a first impression so you had better make it count. Remember, this is an industry where we do "judge a book by it's cover."

  1. There are three ways of providing jackets to us:
    1. You supply the printed jackets
    2. You supply the final film and color proof ( be it color key, chromatin, etc..) and we print for you
    3. We design and supply final film with color key and we print for you
  2. All customer supplied film must be accompanied by a color key or proof.
  3. All booklets (8 page, 12 page, 20 page, etc..) must have mockups supplied with each order.
  4. All of our printing is "FOUR COLOR PROCESS" printing. This simply means that colors must be made up in the final film, and if they aren't, you'll be paying an additional charge for special Color.
  5. All of our printing is ganged up on one sheet. We print approx. 20 cassette or 5 CD inserts all at once. This means that for the same price as a one color jacket, you can now have a four color jacket.
  6. There are two very important steps BEFORE the printing process... the design and the film output. If you're supplying your own film and color key, only give you back what you give to us. This means garbage in is garbage out.
  7. It takes about 5 working days at the best of times to print jackets, so build this into your delivery time (*this is an average turn around time and will vary depending on the time of year). "YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY! Any design work completed by us will not be printed without your authorization first!!"

Thinking About Doing Your Own Printing? Read Between the Lines... what could possibly go wrong?

  1. the wring paper weight (too thin, too thick)? RESULT: Delay in your order because CD's or cassettes have to be and packaged at an extra cost to you.
  2. CD tray card not perforated? RESULT: Delay in you order and an extra cost to you.
  3. CD jackets folded wrong? RESULT: CD's open the wrong way and have to be hand packaged at an extra cost to you.

Printing Checklist:

  • use the right weight of paper (approx. 100 lb. weight), and remember that extra panels, for both CD & cassettes, require a lighter weight of paper.
  • fold all inserts (make sure that fold is at the leading edge of the cover).
  • all tray cards must have spine perforated: scoring not acceptable.

Supplying your own graphics?

Final Film:

Film which is sent directly to the printer for plating and printing. Needs no additional work.

Camera Ready Art:

Boards which have every element of a job pasted into correct position, including text, logos, photos or "for position only" windows. Also includes colors breaks and crop marks to show where the printed piece will trim.

Computer Generated Film:

Most commonly used graphic layout programs today are QuarkXpress, PageMaker, Corel Draw, etc. If you're going to do it yourself (especially if it's you're first time), call us first before you send the files on disk. Remember, service bureaus will not check your files before imaging you film. If your files are incorrect, your work will have to be corrected and sent back to the service bureau. This will result in costly film output charges and lost time. (It's not always cheaper to do it yourself!)

Common Problems With Sending Computer Files To Service Bureaus:

  • incorrect layout sizes for CD covers, tray cards, discs, cassette j-cards, u-cards, etc.
  • not allowing sufficient bleed
  • colors chosen are not converted to process separation
  • scanned images and/or chosen colors do not reproduce exactly as seen on computer monitor
  • color scans not converted from RGB to CMYK
  • color scans not properly color corrected
  • scan resolution too low resulting in unsharp images
  • improper line screens
  • incorrect trapping
  • fonts are missing or corrupted
  • font conflicts resulting in type movement
  • imported EPS and/or TIFF files not supplied

by: Joe Wood, RDR 1800-557-3723 OR

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