SH Spotlight How records are made; shows the making of the lacquer, etc. Youtube. New. Must see!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Steve Hoffman, Jun 28, 2006.

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  1. Andrew T.

    Andrew T. Out of the Vein

    I really enjoyed watching those video clips, Steve.

    Record making is a process that is both intensive in terms of labor and machinery and fascinating. It's great that the finished product is so beautiful.
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    Seeing it in action (as many of you have on our RTI field trips) it's amazing that it works at all, but it really does; we've all heard amazing sounding records...
  3. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    Yes, that was funny. I did learn something from watching that video, though. I always assumed that the vinyl "biscuit" was more or less the same diameter and thickness as a pressed 12" record, but it is actually a small, thick bit of molten vinyl the same diameter as a record label. :eek: The force of the press flattens it out to the 12" diameter. Weird, wild stuff. I never thought about that.

    One side question I've always wondered about: when one is cutting the lacquer on a lathe, how does one create the visible "bands" that separate the songs? Does the lathe operator have to manually widen the groove spacing on the fly, and then narrow it again in time for the next song, or does the lathe somehow automatically do this?
  4. CaptainOzone

    CaptainOzone On Air Cowbell

    Beaumont, CA, USA
    OK, I've got a question.
    The video shows a completely flat lacquer being cut, plated, etc. But almost every LP and a handful of 45s I have feature a raised edge, and often a raised (thicker) section where the label is. I know the video is simplified and leaves this part out, but how and when are these raised sections done?

  5. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    During the "squashing" of the vinyl to the stamper.
  6. SamS

    SamS Forum Legend

    Thanks for sharing.

    What impresses me most is that this complicated, involved process got (gets) used on on thousands of tiny, independant releases in low batch runs.

    I mean, it is boggling to think that the whole process is completed from start to finish for not only big label releases but also for some of the ultra-low quantity pressings. I have some bootleg 7" colored vinyl singles (pressings of ~500) and it just facinates me that all this trouble, effort, and technique gets put into the process of making an LP that could only hope to sell a few hundred copies.
  7. Wilkie

    Wilkie New Member

    Richmond, VA, USA
    And they make nice souvenirs...after they cool off.
  8. Another Side

    Another Side Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    What I had also always noticed is the ridge that each record has as its edge. That is where the record is trimmed, which I did not realize until now.
  9. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    That someone invented this whole process approximately a century ago is a testament to the power of the human mind. It's amazing how much fidelity is preserved through all of the steps necessary to record and press a record.
  10. Not wanting to get off on a crazy tangent, but I didn't realise that the phonograph and cinema are roughly the same age. Perhaps the phonograph is a more impressive invention, whereas cinema evolved as an innovation that combined still photography with automatic mechanisation to enable the successive exposure of multiple frames. Apparently the mechanisation was based closely on the operation of early machine guns!

    Most film scholars suggest that cinema in the broadest sense was innovated around the mid 1890s, with the Lumière brothers'. "Arrival of a Train at a Station (1895)" often called the first real film produced to be distributed theatrically, rather than just shown at fairs, expos and scientific forums.
  11. jerryf

    jerryf New Member


    Thanks for posting these videos. They took me back a few weeks ago to the HES convention trip to RTI pressing plant, which was absolutely interesting for me. I still cannot believe that this process has remained about the same since 1898!

    Jerry F.
  12. Dusty Chalk

    Dusty Chalk Grounded Space Cadet

  13. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    The mastering engineer does it with his little button. He sees the white leader coming up or the splice, etc. and "expands" the groove a bit (or should) to prevent echo, etc. and then hits the button. The cutting head moves up just a bit and it's on to the next song on the side. One mistake and the entire side has to be redone. We've blown many lacquers that way but it's got to be right!
  14. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    If you watch that RCA-Victor film that I mention in my first post you can see the way that they did it in 1942 is basically the same. The only difference is that the press was less automated and of course there was a live orchestra behind the cutting room glass instead of a tape of an orchestra being recorded on to beeswax instead of acetate.. Every time the orchestra blew a take they had to start over with a new wax disc; no editing...
  15. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    I've seen to the transition from one band to the next referred to either as "crossover spirals" or "spread grooves" (the latter term from one of the United Recording & Affiliates' 1966 newsletters). I also can see about the tricky situation of timing when mastering; my original Apple copy of Paul McCartney & Wings' "Jet," for example, has the lead-out groove start just as the song is ending. Sure, it does end before reaching the locked groove, but it's thisclose. I've also some copies of records where the song starts before the lead-in groove ends. (The worst example: a lacquer of the original issue of Part 2 of James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" on King single #45-5999; the Godfather of Soul's "Hey" at the fade-in just before the sax comes in, is right at the edge of the record!)
  16. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    Thanks, Steve. I had often wondered about that. Sounds like a pretty high-stress process.
  17. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    It's not a walk in the park, that's for sure but the end result is sometimes breathtakingly amazing for such an old technology.. That really makes it all worthwhile..
  18. Driver 8

    Driver 8 Senior Member

    How did they achieve the banding effect on albums with seamless segues between songs such as Sgt. Pepper?
  19. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host Thread Starter

    If you are speaking of the USA Capitol version, by pushing the button. The Parlophone LP had no banding at all.
  20. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Bangor, Maine
    That was very cool! Thank you Steve for posting those links!
  21. johnny33

    johnny33 New Member

    At the very end of the process of the vinyl being pressed where it drops down to the other records in a giant stack it looks kind of rough. Doesnt that have the possibility of damaging the vinyl?
  22. Drew

    Drew Senior Member

    Grand Junction, CO
    I would've thought everything would be on some kind of battery backup/inverter system just in case of a power outage. If we have one to keep the gambling degerates betting and cashing tickets at the 14 racetracks connected to the "hub" that I work at, I'd think RTI would have one.
  23. Heh. I remember that one very well.
  24. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    And while on YouTube, I also chanced to see the 1942 Command Performance film, where I saw a c.1938 Scully lathe in use at the studio where "Blue Danube" was recorded. Having some RCA 78's of the 1940's, I can see that the kind of pitches associated with these particular type Scullys were used - 88, 96, 104 lpi etc. The only thing not on YouTube of interest in that respect was The Sound and the Story about the "Living Stereo" recording of Romeo and Juliet by the Boston Symphony (I presume post-1948 Scullys, with a different layout of buttons and make, were used by then). And unfortunately, my PC isn't equipped with QuickTime.
  25. proufo

    proufo Forum Resident

    Thanks, Steve!

    When you look down the groove with the microscope in the cutting equipment, what depth of field do you get?

    How many Xs?

    Thanks in advance.
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