Joe Caithness Mastering : Affordable and effective vinyl/turntable care (with links)

Hello there, over the last few years I have been trying all kinds of vinyl care / turntable maintenance products well within the affordability of anyone who, well, you know buys vinyl!

None of these links are affiliated with Joe Caithness Mastering in any way, these are just things I have personally had good results with.

Joe Caithness Mastering’s “Guide to Digital Audio for Musicians” Part 1.5 : The Two Types of CD production

“What the hell is the difference between CD replication and CD duplication?”

This is a question asked by almost every client who comes to me to master for a short run of CDs.

The rule of thumb is that if you’re making small amounts (usually up to 100 or 200) of CDs on a “make your own CD” type website it will be duplication.

Duplication involves copying 1 to 1 a CDr master of your album. This is basically the same as burning a CD in your computer CD/DVD drive over and over on a large scale.

This is a lower quality product for three main reasons.

  1. The CD you are producing is a copy of a CDr. As most people will know CDrs aren’t the most durable format ever and need to be burned from a CD drive/software in the first place. This introduces scope for errors which will then be duplicated along with the audio.
  2. CDr is a lower quality product as far as age and durability is concerned. Because these CDs have been effectively printed onto the layer on the top of the readable side is a lot less durable than a commercial CD. You may have even seen this peel off if a CDr is left in a car for example.
  3. As each individual CDr is burned from scratch in a new distinct drive, sequential CDrs are less likely to be consistent. For example if there is a problem with a drive within the stack of 5 used to make the CDr each time this drive is used you are potentially creating a dud product.

I have used this format for releases myself, and many people choose to still as it is a very cheap way to give punters at live shows a product to purchase. But be aware that you are rolling the dice to some degree just by using CDrs.

The standard for a commercial released CD Audio disc you will find a shop is a replicated CD.

These products which we are all aware of also include the risks of age and damage, but to a much smaller degree. Replicated CDs are manufactured in a similar way to vinyl, as in they are physically pressed as a virgin product using a glass master. When ordering a CD from a production company you will often this glass mastering as a cost as it is a bespoke production master made for your CD.

Replicated CDs are incredibly cheap now so my personal suggestion is unless you are making a handful for a show or tour consider making a replicated CD run and giving away any additional copies to fans or promo if you have any left over after the initial sale has died down. This means if someone pulls out your release to listen to or rip to their computer in ten years time it is a lot more likely to work as the day the master was made and therefore reconnect you to your listeners.

Spotify releases new specifications for loudness and mastering

From the Spotify for artists website:

( https://artists.spotify.com/faq/mastering-and-loudness#will-spotify-play-my-track-at-the-level-it’s-mastered )

Ensure your master stays below -2db True Peak (TP) to be optimised for the lossy formats we use (Ogg/Vorbis and AAC), which, like all lossy formats, do not handle loud peaks well.”

“Generally, you won’t benefit from mastering louder than -14dB integrated LUFS due to Loudness Normalization. There’s no harm in doing so, but the tracks won’t play louder than that.”

The above means we now have targets to aim for. How I will amend my services to meet these is still in development, but it sure is great to know now!