Vinyl records now in crisis: Apollo Transco Mastering lacquer plant is a total loss*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by SoCalWJS, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. richbdd01

    richbdd01 Forum Resident

    Has anyone started panic buying vinyl yet? I bought ten Enya records today and i cant even stand her, but i want to be safe in case i run out :nyah:
  2. violarules

    violarules Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    My guess is that plating a wax master might involve different chemical processes or solutions than electroplating a lacquer disc. Which means all pressing plants would have to figure that out and re-calibrate. It's such old technology, who knows what might have to be re-learned.

    Also, are modern cutting lathes capable of cutting wax? It's a different substance, after all.
    Walter H likes this.
  3. MielR


    Georgia, USA
    That's amazing-- I wish them luck!
  4. Radagast

    Radagast Forum Resident

    Last time I looked at some of my beloved old Kodachromes under a microscope, I couldn't believe how grainy they were. :)

    Ektachrome was relatively easy to develop; Kodak even sold kits for developing it at home. Now if Dwayne starts developing Kodachrome, he will definitely get some attention...
    rxcory and DRM like this.
  5. MielR


    Georgia, USA
    It snowed in Atlanta today--- I went to the grocery store and ALL of the bread, milk and Enya records were gone! :D
  6. rebellovw

    rebellovw Forum Resident

    Prescott, AZ
    Shouldn't be a problem to get existing vinyl (stamps likely exist) - it would be new albums coming out on vinyl.
  7. A6mzero

    A6mzero One foot in the grave, one foot on the pedal

    Spartanburg sc
    The way boomers (including myself)are dying off there will be plenty of good used vinyl on the market. My daughter was asking me last night if my will leaves all my vinyl to her. I said better you than a Dempsey dumpster parked outside my home for them to be emptied into. Yes I’m a cynic.
    WithinYourReach likes this.
  8. polchik

    polchik Forum Resident

    in the intervention records thread, the owner, said kevin gray has a different supplier ..... so i'm assuming that is MDC in japan. ....
  9. krisjay

    krisjay Forum Resident

    If it ends up with the quality of most Third Man pressings, no thanks. Just saying.
    art likes this.
  10. brianplowe

    brianplowe Forum Resident

    Time to bring out the Beatles stereo masters and cut them to lacquer AAA right now.
    FashionBoy and domesticmachine like this.
  11. Peter K

    Peter K Forum Resident

    I am devastated, but hopefully nobody was injured or worse! I still believe that people like Chad Kassem will find a solution. But it's funny, I visit the record shops here in Dublin and worry that they have over stocked on vinyl. I suspect the situation is similar worldwide. I often think retailers are over optimistic. There never seems to be enough people to buy@@
  12. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    The machines are gone, the Kodachrome chemistry was VERY caustic and would never pass environmental regulations even in this political climate. It was beautiful, but it’s never coming back.

    Maybe this is a harbinger for the lacquer process? I really hope not. But it’s going to be an uphill battle for certain.
    dan c
    Radagast likes this.
  13. Channel Z

    Channel Z Forum Resident

    The original 1987 U2 Joshua Tree vinyl is DMM. Sounds great to me.
  14. nosliw

    nosliw Azunyan! にゃーーー!

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I've been reading some comments on a few social media platforms and it seems some are not properly processing the news or had their head-in-the-cloud solution to deal with the destruction of Apollo Masters. Some think that "technology" will somehow fix this issue or think it won't affect the vinyl record industry at all.

    As @MrRom92 and @Steve Hoffman have already stated, that news cannot be understated and people should watch the videos of how records are made and where lacquer disks come into place. This is the vinyl record equivalence of the mass dying of pollinating bees from the animal and plant food chain. And not to mention that DMM technology is still antiquated by today's standards with no new equipment being manufactured these days, followed by knowledge transfer issues from staff attrition and loss of proper blueprints and plans, and a lack of economic scale and viability.

    What we're dealing with is mid-20th century technology that is stretched to their absolute limits from a loss of knowledge, skills, and equipment breakdown and cannibalization in the realm of 21st century demands and revival of the vinyl record trend.
    Ash76, zombiemodernist, MielR and 5 others like this.
  15. Dougthesnail

    Dougthesnail The Big Gabagool

    The only thing we can hope for is somewhere there is equipment that can be repurposed. It will be extremely dire if all new equipment is needed.
  16. jwb1231970

    jwb1231970 Forum Resident

    Dumb question but why can’t there be a new plant built?
  17. alarickc

    alarickc Vinylholic

    Portland, OR Area
    I was more throwing out photo film as something much harder than this.

    It's nitrocellulose, it's not that hard to make or work. Just dangerous. In recent years pen companies that haven't made it in decades restarted production to use in high-end fountain pens where it has returned to vogue. Nitrocellulose has also returned as a popular material in high-end glasses frames. It's a primitive plastic spread on a disk. I really don't think it will be the end of the world to re-invent their production. (As an aside: Many of those companies newly making nitrocellulose are in Italy and Japan, not countries known for their particularly lax environmental regulations.)

    Actually, I find it much more concerning that the only line to produce certain cutting-diamonds was also destroyed. That sounds much more technically challenging to recreate; more on par with commercial grade color film.
  18. Trash Panda

    Trash Panda Forum Resident

    Atlanta, GA
    This question was answered a few pages ago; scroll back to those posts and you will find the answer.
  19. c-eling

    c-eling I never dreamed another way.

    Have some great sounding old mastering's found using direct metal as well. :)
    XTC-Oranges & Lemons, (analog)
    Steve Winwood-Chronicles (Ted Jensen digital)
    Duran Duran-Notorious (Masterdisk analog)
    Winger-S/T (Sterling Ted Jensen analog)
    The Cult-Electric (analog)
    Tracy Chapman-S/T (Masterdisk digital)
    Midnight Oil-Diesel & Dust (Precision analog)
    Eurythmics-We Too Are One (Masterdisk digital)
    Roxette-Joyride (German digital)
    Papi Hipbone323 and uzn007 like this.
  20. Mr. Bewlay

    Mr. Bewlay The autochanger switched as I filled my sandwich..

    Denver CO
    This. You could easily see somebody with a ton of cash see an opportunity. Somebody like Jeff Bezos, for example.
    Cat People likes this.
  21. Dougthesnail

    Dougthesnail The Big Gabagool

    I don't think anyone ultra rich has an interest in investing capital into technology from a bygone era. I love LP's it's all listen to at home, but we account for a very small share of the global music market. Vinyl is like a nice bonus for the industry not a main revenue source.
    MielR likes this.
  22. hammr7

    hammr7 Forum Resident

    As a summary:

    Before Apollo does anything they need to determine exactly what went wrong. That may influence their financial situation and determine whether they can rebuild. And determine what documentation they have and don't have. They have some options on how to rebuild, depending upon how comfortable they feel about finances and the market going forward.

    Locally, any new plant needs to be allowed into a locality. Nitrocellulose use will need to be disclosed and be approved by the locality. If they were upfront in their business operation they may be able to rebuild at their existing site.

    Apollo needs to determine what, if anything, is salvageable. From a State perspective, depending upon the amount of VOCs (solvents) involved, an environmental (air pollution) permit would likely be required. And while existing facilities (and their equipment) are often grandfathered in, any "new" facility usually has to meet more stringent pollution control standards. It may turn out that a rebuild of the existing equipment may never meet newer requirements. It may be that designing and licensing a new set of equipment may never be cost effective.

    Given that no employees were hurt, all Apollo's expertise to operate the original equipment is still readily available. This expertise will degrade with time. My recommendation would be for Apollo to do everything they can to formally memorialize every aspect they can of their processing, including extensive interviews with all key employees. They should have records from all suppliers, and hopefully had formal operating procedures, formulations, and maybe even engineering materials related to their equipment. While OEMs may have long since vanished, they can certainly reconstruct or even modernize their equipment with enough documentation.
  23. Walter H

    Walter H Santa's Helper

    New Hampshire, USA
    Fundamentally, cutting and plating are the same process for wax vs. lacquer, but the details will differ. One thing they learned in the thirties when switching from wax to lacquer was that the shape of the cutting stylus that worked well on wax was not the best for lacquer. It may be that some material other than sapphire is optimal for a stylus that cuts wax. Wax may be a reasonable thing to try, but I don't think anyone has used it in the microgroove era, and a lot of experimenting would be necessary.
  24. Pinknik

    Pinknik Senior Member

  25. domesticmachine

    domesticmachine Resident forum

    Portland, OR
    yeah if there’s only so many lacquers left the world should have a chance to vote on what albums they get used for. God forbid they’re used to cut RSD versions of the Top Gun soundtrack.

Share This Page