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A musician friend is wanting to have a record pressed. I'm sure this question has been asked before, but ... any recommendations as to manufacturers? Thanks in advance.
Try to have it pressed at Cascade Record Pressing
And perhaps your friend can start the journey at Telegraph Mastering. The Mastering Engineering there, working the lathe which cuts the lacquer, is a part-owner of Cascade Record Pressing.
United Record Pressing in Nashville has a very poor reputation as a manufacturer of vinyl records. URP pressings, that I have experienced/own, are noisy and crunchy sounding and frequently have non-fill. If I know a record has been pressed at URP or Rainbo in California, I don't buy it. There is a lot of information on them [URP] all over the internet.
The OP is correct in that QRP is far and away the best U.S. manufacturer of vinyl records. RTI is also pretty good. Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, OH are capable of producing good records too if not quite as good as QRP or RTI. Jack White's new venture in Detroit, MI is interesting. At least, he won't have to go to URP anymore!
If you are on a budget- United might be alright- their pressings are better than their mastering jobs IMO. One of my employee's bands did a project there mastering and all. It came off with a reasonable pressing, but the sound was compressed. I suspect they use a lot of processing so as to be able to turn projects out quickly.
So when we mastered a project for a local band that had their project pressed there, we were dubious, but it turned out well. We try to avoid processing when doing mastering projects. That usually means a lot more time spent with the project doing test cuts and the like.
RTI (Record Technology) in Camarillo, CA is a well-known record plant. They do excellent mastering and pressings; they are known for their 180-gram vinyl and do very well with thinner pressings too. We've done a number of projects through them. Some were for full services and others were for pressings only, all of which turned out quite well.
The best plant in the US IMO/IME is QRP which is the record pressing plant owned by Acoustic Sounds. They do mastering and pressings of exceptionally high quality.
We did a project through them and FWIW, when you cut a lacquer, it is usually so quiet (if you have a good stylus and the temperature is properly set) that the playback electronics will be the noise floor (because of this its hard to know what the noise floor of a good lacquer actually is, but it has to be in the -90db range; most of the surface noise that occurs on an LP happens during the pressing process and not the mastering). When we got the test pressings back they were as quiet as the test cuts we had made.
There's a lot of excitement about Jack White's new record plant in Detroit. I'm eager to hear how they do.
I'm wondering if some of these pressing plants aren't just dumping CDs (rather than high-resolution files) to vinyl. Some recent pressings definitely sound so - limited dynamic range and lack of the 'airiness' one associates with vinyl.
Here's the deal.
When we get in a project, quite often (more than not) its a digital file and **not** the CD- its the file the CD was mastered from. The problem is that is you go ahead and use that, its a file mastered for CD, which means it will be compressed as its meant to play in a car.
So I usually ask the producer to send us a file or files that aren't mastered for CD production, that lack things like EQ, compression or normalization. We can take care of that stuff on our own (if needed). The result is that we can turn out an LP that sounds better than the CD because it has less DSP in it.
Now I happen to know the studio that made the recording I mentioned earlier- and it was recorded digitally. The CDRs we heard of the project sounded pretty good, so I have to assume that United installed compression so they wouldn't have to worry about overcutting the project.
I appreciate your response. We're in Tennessee, so United was being considered. I think Disc Makers is also located in Nashville. Shipping would be less keeping this local, but there's also a 9.25% sales tax to consider.
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