A question about vinyl stampers

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by aoxomoxoa, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    How does a record pressing plant know when a vinyl Stamper is worn out? Why do some LPs have -2/-4 matrices (just an Example)? Wouldn't both sides of the record stampers wear-out at the same time?
     
  2. Smartin62

    Smartin62 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cleburne, Tx USA
    I'm not completely sure - someone will correct me ...

    I'm sure they did "Quality Assurance" and test-listened to random LP's through each pressing run. I'm also almost positive that they had a specific pre-determined target number of pressings in a run where they knew they needed to stop and check the sound quality and then re-do the stampers, as needed. I'm sure it was an LP side-by-LP side decision.
     
    john lennonist likes this.
  3. MikeyH

    MikeyH Stamper King

    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    Plain old quality control. Sample test pressing, or just count. Both mostly work.

    Your other question misunderstands matrices. That number, the one we care about on most LPs, is the number of the lacquer. Many stampers are made from each lacquer, and not all have a marking or numbering scheme particularly in the USA.

    A sensible pressing plant will know how many impressions a stamper set has made, but that's not always a guarantee of it's condition as the manufacturing methods tend to leave much to be desired. It's only just a precision process.
     
  4. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    Ok, that makes sense.
     
  5. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    What your're seeing there is usually the lacquer numbers, not the stamper. A metal master that bears that code is used to make mothers, which are used for making stampers. So there could be be a large quantity of stampers that were all sourced from the numbered lacquer or master. Times that by several lacquers being cut for a particular album - and throw in the fact that the employees stamping LPs didn't try to 'match up' stampers from the original masters they were sourced from. And why would they? They needed a side 1 and 2 is all.
     
  6. aoxomoxoa

    aoxomoxoa I'm a "Citizens For Boysenberry Jam" Fan Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ohio USA
    So how does one achieve a "hot stamper"? Is that one if the first pressings made from the stamper?
     
  7. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    No, not at all. It's the specific cutting that sounds the best (to someone). It could be the 25th lacquer cut, five years after the album was first released, doesn't matter. All opinion.
     
  8. lukpac

    lukpac Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't disagree with you at all Steve, but Mr. Port might:

    http://dccblowout.com/dept.asp?dept_id=14-015-034

    Not saying I agree, but I'm assuming that's where the idea of "hot stampers" came from.
     
  9. aberyclark

    aberyclark Well-Known Member

    I'm sure the plants many times went beyond the optimal amount of pressings for the stampers. When I use to travel to automotive plants, we would audit the various processes to make sure tooling was changed at proper intervals. Guess what, more times than not the tooling was well beyond the limit. Thus, poor US made cars. Maybe that is why Pressings from Japan have a high degree of quality. Japan's manufacturing culture is way more disciplined
     
    john lennonist likes this.
  10. vadthebad

    vadthebad Active Member

    Location:
    World of Music
    In terms of QA, how many stampers (at maximum) is allowed to be made from one mother?
    I mean if I see stamper number 3 or 333 made from one mother, does the number make any difference in terms of quality? If yes, then what stamper number should be considered as a critical one?
     
  11. empirelvr

    empirelvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    I've read in the past (my memory is that The Abso!ute Sound reported this) that sometimes you have a situation (usually related to RCA) where all lacquer cuts were officially numbered, even if not used for production. So if a 1S cut were rejected and remastered for whatever reason then the next sequential number was used. Example: you can have a verified first pressing LP from RCA where the lowest lacquer number on one side was a -1S, while the other side was a -3S with no known other copies having anything lower for the -3S side, meaning that cuts 1 and 2 for that side were made, numbered, and rejected and never used for production. And conversely, you can find later pressings where you see gaps in lacquer cut numbers meaning a reject along the way.

    At least that's how I remember the article explaining it.

    If this IS true I think RCA was a bit unique in that respect, as many other labels called the first approved lacquer cut a -1 or similar and always called an approved recut the next sequential number or however they notated it.

    I've also read (Stereo Review this time as I remember, from YEARS ago) that heavily modulated LP sides tended to require more frequent recuts, so that could explain a lacquer number disparity between the sides of an LP further in a production run.
     
    john lennonist likes this.
  12. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle

    I believe this is so. One example coming to mind being Jefferson Airplane / After Bathing At Baxter's. The early stereos from Hollywood (bearing the H code) can be found with a 1S / 1S, but many of them use 1S / 4S . And if I recall right, no 2S / 3S show up as side 2.

    Another variant in pressings is the RE code in the dead wax indicating a revision or recutting - but no known copies of the commercially released record without the RE.

    Nevertheless, once lacquers/metal masters are made and metal parts made from them, it seems the parts (stampers) used for pressing have a tendency to get 'mixed up' as time goes on. Hence Steve Miller Band's Fly Like An Eagle with one side an early Kendun, the other side Mastered By Capitol. Tommy James Crimson & Clover with one side cut by Sam Feldman at Bell Sound, the other side marked -1A with the 't' for Columbia's Terre Haute plant. Two masterings for the price of one! *frustrating*
     
  13. vadthebad

    vadthebad Active Member

    Location:
    World of Music
    The lacquer cut (matrix) number is just an identification for the pressing. It does not reflect a quality (unless the cutting technology have been changed since then). So what is the difference whether it starts from -1 or -3?
     
  14. kevintomb

    kevintomb Forum Resident

    Hmm......Interesting I think...

    Accurate, I dont know. He says there are very dramatic changes between almost every record made, not small tiny differences.

    And later he states that records that "Used to sound bad, now sound good"......maybe im not understanding, but sounds like he is bashing the quality control of stampers and records pressed from them.
     
  15. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle

    The matrix generally gives you the overall sound for that cutting. After all, it has a certain mastering built into it. Another matrix may sound a tad different if a different engineer cut it or it was done on a different lathe or a different tape was used. Generally, and most of the time, I've found the earlier the matrix the better the balance/sound/mastering/presence, but thats only a generality because as Steve says, it depends on the quality of the cutting. And we all like different flavors for our music.

    Take a bunch of copies of the same record with the same lacquer code or matrix. Put a particular passage on one by one and sit back and listen to a minute or so of each, then change them out quickly, playing the same passage. Even with the very same matrix you may hear differences - one that sounds more present or in-the-room, another might sound overall a tad 'smaller', one might have a touch more low end, or, lack the vocal clarity of the last pressing you heard. Or...for inexplicable reasons...one pressing may just not sound 'right.' These differences could be the result of the stamper used, or the amount of the vinyl in the puck, or the temperature as it was pressed and cooled. Down at the micro level, every record is unique. Theres a lot of things going on as records get churned out in droves. Get a record hot off the press after a new stamper is in place and compare it to one that comes from the end right before the stamper needs to be replaced, and you'd probably hear some audio deterioration and/or differences.

    To me, a 'hot stamper' is simply the one record of many I compared that I like best.
     
    aoxomoxoa likes this.
  16. gazatthebop

    gazatthebop Well-Known Member

    Location:
    manchester
    i once read the number per stamper was 2000 unless it breaks first
     
  17. nolazep

    nolazep Forum Resident

    Tell that to SST. :laugh: :thumbsdow
     
  18. Combination

    Combination Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    A long time ago, I once read (in a book - not on the internet!) that pressing plants in Japan always stopped it at 500 for consistency reasons.
     
  19. empirelvr

    empirelvr Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    There isn't any difference (when dealing with an initial mastering...usually,) but many collectors and audiophiles have it stuck in their heads that all first pressings must start with a "-1/-1" pressing (even if such a coupling doesn't exist) and that a "-1/-1" pressing must, by default, sound better than any other.

    The truth though, as frequently discussed on this forum, is more complex especially when dealing with older material.

    And most importantly, whether the discs in question came from the first batch of discs pressed from a particular stamper and ones pressed from the same stamper hundreds of discs later.

    There is no way to give a definite quantification like that. There are too many variables that determine how long a stamper can be used. The quality of the plating, the kind of vinyl used in the pressing machine, and the way the heating/cooling cycle is implemented all enter into it. It is even said stampers that feature very heavily modulated content seem to wear quicker than those that are more "sedate." So I can't see how there could be such a hard and fast rule. It's why all the major labels/pressing plants used to sample discs during production runs. I'm also sure a seasoned press machine operator could tell visually when a stamper may be nearing the end of it's useful life by the look of the discs made from it. I bet there are more tricks to determining stamper life then we even thought possible.
     
  20. vadthebad

    vadthebad Active Member

    Location:
    World of Music
    What I read is:
    1 lacquer makes 1 father.
    1 father makes 10 mothers.
    Every each mother makes up to 10 stampers.
    Every each stamper makes up to 1000 pressings.
    Meaning from 1 lacquer could be produced 100,000 records maximum. True or false?
     
  21. Jim B.

    Jim B. Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    So for big sixties albums that sold millions the mastering engineer would have needed to cut the record, what, over ten times? Would they have done a number at a time?
     
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    They made much, much more than the above in the 1967's on pop records. Double everything after lacquer to master and let's say one stamper to make 10,000 records? Blows the mind.
     
    McLover and mikeyt like this.
  23. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle

    Either that or a number of copy tapes were made of the master and sent out to facilities so additional lacquers could be cut. The basic process of manufacturing seems to offer a number of ways of duplication. Its clear that some popular records had several initial master cuttings done at one facility at once. Look at the Led Zep II by Ludwig at Sterling Sound: three lacquers appear to have been cut right from the start (A, B, and C). And it was not uncommon for larger labels, say Atco/Atlantic, to send lacquers to a facility like Long Wear plating for the metal processes (hence the 'LW' scribe seen in so many Atco/Atlantic Lps). From there, metal parts could be farmed out to pressing facilities.
     
  24. KevinK

    KevinK Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    So say I look up Thin Lizzy's Black Rose on discogs. The first UK Vertigo release 9102 032 was not repressed. When I go on eBay and see various copies that have matrix numbers on side 1 with 1Y//1, 1Y//2, ... and on side 2 with 2Y//1, 2Y//2, ..., are they all first pressings from different lacquers?
     
  25. Neilson77

    Neilson77 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Nottingham UK
    I've just purchased a 2nd copy of Black Sabbath's Sabotage which has 1Y2 / 2Y2 matrices. My other copy has 1Y1 / 2Y2. Both are original UK 1st pressings with the textured cover. Should the 1Y1 copy have the same mastering/cutting as the 1Y2? I think it's interesting that with the original UK Vertigo of Paranoid on Side 2 with the 1Y2 matrix version there are only 3 bands between the tracks whereas on the 2Y1, there are 4 separating the songs.
     

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