The Ultimate Guide to Properly Evaluating Your Vinyl Test Pressing
An important step in the record making process is vinyl test pressing. You get a chance to listen to your vinyl album before it is produced, and the record maker can ensure everything sounds good.
If you are not paying close attention at this stage, then it can be challenging, as there is a high probability of overlooking crucial information that can impact how satisfied customers are with the finished product.
In this guide, we will walk through each step of the vinyl test pressing process so that you know exactly what to expect when your test pressings arrive.
What is Vinyl Test Pressing?
Vinyl test pressing is a method used to evaluate the quality of a vinyl record before mass production. It is a term used to describe the first run of vinyl records that are produced by a pressing plant. The process is like that of a traditional record manufacturing process, but it is done on a smaller scale.
The purpose of producing a vinyl test pressing is to ensure that all elements are working properly and to produce a high-quality product. It is important that you take the time to properly evaluate your vinyl so that you can catch any potential issues before they become serious problems.
Important Points to Look for in a Vinyl Test Pressing
When listening to your custom vinyl records, keep an ear out for any strange noises. Pops, clicks, and repeating noises are some examples. These are usually triggered by dust stuck between the scratches or grooves on the records, which will appear on every printed version of your vinyl record.
When recording or mixing, try to avoid these issues by ensuring that every song is properly balanced and that no instrument overpowers another in intensity level (i.e., the bass does not overpower vocals).
If you hear any noise on the record that is unlike other records, this may indicate a problem with the vinyl pressing process. It could be something as simple as a loose screw or it may be something more serious like an improper melding of the center label. Either way, it is important to note this and let the pressing plant know so they can investigate further. This will help ensure that your final product is perfect and free from defects.
One of the most common recurring problems while pressing your vinyl records is the distortion. If needle stylus is used, chances are that it might be damaged or completely worn out. An erroneous needle can produce more disturbing noise than any other forms of disturbances. So, watch out for the clean, dust free and new needles.
Distortions can also depend on the type of surface material that is used for vinyl records. Let us take for instance, you are using an aluminium press for your test pressing and you notice that there’s significant distortion in certain parts of the record (like during loud passages), then the aluminium may be causing some sort of interference between the stylus and groove wall, causing audio artifacts like popping sounds or clicks.
Distortion can be used due to many other reasons such as:
- The wrong cutting speed was used
- The wrong amount of compression was used
- The wrong amount of EQ was used
Ensure that each track starts at the appropriate moment and there are no gaps or pauses between songs. This can occur when the operating system is not properly syncing with the machines of vinyl manufacturers or due to other problems with their software. Make sure that all your songs start at the same place on each side of a custom vinyl record.
Ask yourself the following question when you are reviewing the test pressings.
What is the flow of this album? Is it going in a logical order, or does it jump around too much? Are there any songs that should be placed in different spots on the album?
How long are these songs? Are they long enough to be interesting, or do they need more development? Are there any songs that could be shorter without losing their impact (or vice versa)?
What instruments are used in each song? Is there anything unique about this album that sets it apart from other albums you have released in the past few years (either through production techniques or artists involved)?
At Impress Vinyl, we can help you with the entire process of evaluating your vinyl test pressing. We will answer all your questions, make sure you understand exactly what we are doing and how it helps, and then work with you step by step down the line to address any issues that may arise.
When you are investing in an album, you need to know it sounds right. Our professionally trained ears will take care of all the reviews for you at Impress Vinyl, leaving you with a product that exceeds expectations and the satisfaction guaranteed.