What's the difference between disc replication vs. duplication?

Depending on the size of your CD or DVD order there are two different ways your discs get made.

1) Replicated Discs

The most common way to manufacture CDs is to replicate them. This involves a process where we mold each disc from melted polycarbonate (plastic) pellets. Before we replicate your disc we create a metal stamper that contains all the data (music or video) that goes on your disc. This stamper gets mounted in the disc molding machine, and when we inject the liquid polycarbonate into the mold, the disc that is replicated already includes your music (or video) content! Disc replication is a highly efficient process, with a disc with your content on it molded every 3 to 4 seconds. However, there is a significant amount of setup work required to make the stamper, and for that reason there is usually a minimum order required of 500 to 1,000 discs. Because Disc Makers specializes in small orders for independent artists, filmmakers, and business, we are (to our knowledge) the only US factory that will replicate discs. Replicated discs are preferred for larger quantities (quantities of 500 units and up).

After your discs are replicated we will print on the disc surface using either silkscreen or offset printing technology, depending on the type of artwork you have.

2) Duplicated Discs

If you need less than 300 discs, we will duplicate them. Instead of molding a disc from polycarbonate pellets we start with a blank CD-R or DVD-R, and burn your content on it. We use automated duplicators that can burn multiple discs at once for a very fast and efficient process when you only need a few discs. We will also print on your discs using either an industrial inkjet printer, or using silkscreen printing.

Is there a quality difference between replication and duplication?

Your order size determines whether Disc Makers replicates or duplicates your discs. In terms of the audio or video quality a consumer experiences, replicated discs are identical to duplicated discs. However, there is a very small possibility that if your discs are duplicated there might be some older generation disc players (including in cars) that experience errors when playing the duplicated disc. That is because disc duplication is a more recently developed process than disc replication, and some older CD and DVD players that pre-date the duplication specification may not be able to read all the content.

It is very infrequent that this happens. And to make sure your Disc Makers discs perform better than anyone else’s discs we use only the highest grade blank discs for all our disc duplication needs.

There is a clear difference between replicated and duplicated discs, but they each serve useful functions in bridging the gap between your content and fans.

Why are vinyl records black?

Think back to the first vinyl record you ever owned. Reverently sliding it out of its sleeve for the first time, taking care to only hold it by the edges so as not to damage it, admiring the ambient lighting dancing off of the delicately crafted grooves. Your first record is uniquely personal, varying in artist, genre, album artwork, title, theme, and countless other things that make it special to you. Chances are, one thing remains near-universal: that record is black.

Why is it that vinyl records are generally black? PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the material that vinyl records are made of, is clear in its natural form, allowing records to be manufactured in just about any color imaginable. Despite this endless array of choices, black is still overwhelmingly the most common option, leaving the burning question: why?

The Theories

A number of theories have been suggested, but each falls short of a satisfying explanation. One theory is that the carbon black material that provides a record’s pigmentation also increases its structural integrity. In the late 19th and early 20th century, manufacturers used shellac, a brittle resin-like substance produced by insects, to press their records. In order to ensure that the shellac held up, manufacturers would add ground up stone and carbon black powder to the mix in order to strengthen the otherwise brittle material. Of course, this is unnecessary in modern record pressing. Vinyl is tough enough on its own. And even if such supplements were necessary, there simply isn’t enough carbon black added to today’s records to make a difference on its own.

Another school of thought, also perhaps inspired by the origins of record pressing, is that the deep black color hides flaws in the vinyl. While this may have been necessary in the days of shellac records , modern technology allows for perfectly clear, defect-free records. Unlike when manufacturers pressed records with a mixture of shellac and ground-up stone, modern vinyl makers don’t need to worry about bits of bugs and dirt making it into the final product.

Still others think carbon black could reduce friction inside the groove and improve audio quality. Carbon is used as a dry lubricant in a variety of fields, but there is simply no documentation of such usage in records. This theory may have come from the fact that shellac records contained a small amount of other lubricants to ensure they released from the mold easily. One of the reasons that PVC is a perfect material for pressing records is its smoothness, which minimizes friction between the record grooves and the needle and eliminates the need for additional lubrication (although groove lubricant does exist).

The Electric Truth

While none of these popular theories hold up to scrutiny, Furnace Record Pressing Staff Engineer, Willem Ytsma, dug a little deeper to provide an explanation. Researching the pigmentation of records, Willem stumbled upon a patent for a conductive phonograph record, and in that patent lies the answer.

PVC is a natural insulator, meaning that it will build up a static charge over time as it’s handled and interacts with other objects. Due to the fact that static electricity attracts dust, that insulative property could be potentially disastrous for records. Any dust that accumulates in a record’s grooves will grind in between the needle and the groove wall when played, wearing down both the groove and the needle, and potentially even becoming permanently lodged in the wall.

Carbon has conductive properties, so adding it to the PVC increases the overall conductivity of the material, lessening the accumulation of static, and therefore, dust, on a record. By coloring records black with carbon-based pigment, manufacturers ensure their records last longer and sound better.

So if you ever pull out a record and someone asks about its color, you can tell them that is why records are black.

How does the pricing work?

Pricing is based on the artwork and packaging of your project.

A popular example is a full-color CD, 4-page insert (think of it as a booklet — a piece of paper folded in half, the cover and back are pages one and two, and the inside are pages three and four), a tray card (the very back of the CD — under the tray holding the CD) assembled in a standard jewel case and shrink wrapped.

Another popular package is a 5×5 CD full color sleeve and disc, assembled and shrink wrapped. Many bands choose this option when their main goal is using the CD as a demo to submit to potential venues.

The possibilities and packaging options go on from there. If you have a specific idea in mind just let us know and we'll be happy to put a quote together for you.

What do you need to provide in order to place a CD order?

We need your CD master or DDP file and the electronic art files in our templates. Accepted formats are Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign files. You can also provide hi-res pdfs.

If your project doesn't consist of all original music, then you do need to have mechanical licenses for any cover songs. Make sure you give credit on any song to the writer.

Need help with the graphics or layout?

We can help there too! We offer both graphic design and layout services, and the pricing is based on your needs and specifications.

What information do you need to include on your graphics?

Short answer — anything you want. It's your project. Things that are commonly included are artist, album title, photos, bios or special thanks, credits for everyone that participated on the project, and copyright information. Booking or contact information should be included if you are using the CD as a demo for potential venues.

How Do Vinyl Records Work?

Vinyl record players are electromagnetic devices that change sound vibrations into electrical signals. When a record spins, it creates sound vibrations that get converted into electrical signals. These signals are fed into electronic amplifiers. Electric amps vibrate and feed the resulting sound into speakers, which amplify it and make it louder. Record players still use the whole needle and groove methodology that a phonograph used, although record players today are much more high tech.

So how do they work exactly? The needle, or stylus of a record player is one of several parts that make up a transducer. A transducer is what changes mechanical energy into electrical energy and changes electrical energy into mechanical energy. The whole system contains a stylus, magnets, coils, cantilever, and a body within a cartridge. The mechanical energy from the sound waves is converted into electrical energy, which is then sent into the amplifier and out to the speakers.

When a vinyl record is made, a needle is used to create grooves in the vinyl that is basically recorded information of the desired sound or music. A needle (or stylus) is also used to read the information contained in the grooves, playing it back so that we can hear the recorded information. On the left side of the groove and on the right side are channels of audio information that makeup stereo sound.

Fun factoid; once upon a time, records were made of rubber. Now, they are vinyl. Another fun factoid; the little grooves in a record would be roughly 500 meters long if you were to unwind it into a straight line.

A master copy of a record is made using a stylus to cut grooves into a round disk. It's sent off to be formed into a master copy of the record. The master copy is ridged instead of grooved. It's basically the “negative” imprint of the record which is formed into a stamp of sorts. The stamp is pressed into steam-softened vinyl, using a hydraulic press. The vinyl disc is cooled with water and viola… a finished vinyl record is born.

Once a vinyl record is made, it is played on a record player. A record player is sometimes called a turntable. Turntables spin wheels using an electric motor. Some are called direct-drive turntables, which use gears to turn the table, and some are called belt-drive turntables, which use a rubber belt and central axle to turn the table. It's important that the turntable spins at just the right speed, because a turntable that spins too fast makes a sound resembling The Chipmunks, and a turntable that spins too slowly makes a sound resembling Eyore.

The cartridge and stylus of a record player trace the groove in the record to reproduce the sound information contained there. The tip of a stylus (also called the needle) is made of industrial diamond, a hard, impure substance that's molded into a point that's shaped like a cone and attached to a little strip of flexible metal.

Mechanical Recording

Long before the digital age came along, devices like Thomas Edison's phonograph were born. The phonograph is considered the granddaddy of modern record players today. The word phonograph actually means sound-writer. Essentially, the phonograph recorded and stored sound mechanically by etching sound waves (or more accurately, the electrical signal of the sound waves) with a needle, onto tinfoil cylinder.

The cylinder was rotated by a hand crank and the needle moved to cut a groove into the tinfoil, recording the sound wave signal. A needle and amplifier were used to reverse the process (in the case of the phonograph, the amplifier was a horn) and the recorded sound was then played back. Of course, the phonograph had many limitations, but it was the early vision of what would later become known as the record player.

Originally, Thomas Edison created the phonograph as a way to record dictation, with intentions for using it in office work and as a way for teachers to record lessons. His very first recording was said to be a recording of the nursery rhyme “Mary had a Little Lamb.” Unfortunately, phonograph recordings weren't very practical as the tinfoil didn't last very long and the phonograph device itself was too complicated for most people to use.

Not long after Thomas Edison set aside his vision to work on other projects, Emile Berliner came along and developed similar technology, except instead of etching grooves to record sound waves into a tinfoil coil, the grooves were cut into a flat disk using a needle. Another needle was used to read the grooves and it was called the gramophone. It has a much closer resemblance to record players today.

Unlike the phonograph, which could record and play sound from one machine, the gramophone could only playback sound. Disks (or records) to play on the gramophone were made separately, which opened the door to recordings being produced in mass to be shared with listeners over and over, using the gramophone to play them. Sometimes the terms gramophone and phonograph are used interchangeably, but both are considered early precursors to modern-day record players and used the needle and groove design that has lasted through the ages.

The main difference between the phonograph created by Thomas Edison, the gramophone, and the record players that are still around and used today, is that the phonograph and gramophone were both completely mechanical technology. Record players, however, especially modern-day record players, use a combination of mechanical and electromagnetic technology to record and reproduce sound waves.

The needle is attached to the tone arm of the record player and is the part that rests in the grooves that have been cut into the vinyl and traces them, following line as the record spins on turntables. The vibrations that result run through the cartridge and converts the vibrations into an electromagnetic signal that is amplified and ultimately produces the noise that we call music.

Vinyl records and record players became more popular over time, but originally, they were only designed to produce monophonic sound. With the advent of stereophonic sound technology, it made it so that two sound waves could be recorded to play tracks at the same time. This dual playback of sound waves created a richer, more robust sound that could be pumped through two speakers instead of just one.

The history of vinyl record players and how vinyl records work is long and colorful. Ultimately, vinyl records and record players sparked revolutions that allowed listeners to experience greater diversity in the music they listened to, giving people wider access to different styles and varieties of sound. Plus, records gave musicians the ability to share their art with more than just the locals, which helped to grow the music industry into the behemoth it is today.

  • Created: 11-03-22
  • Last Login: 11-03-22

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