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Some helpful information to help resolve Test Pressing questions and issues.

 

recordblur.jpg (9093 bytes)Record Technology

Mastering Dance and  Hip-Hop Records

 Records intended for club play are normally cut at a higher volume than regular 12" LP records. It is important to realize that club records are cut hotter than vinyl records were ever intended to be cut.  They are "pushing the envelope" of acceptable distortion levels.  It is only possible to cut at "club levels" if the sides are kept to 12 minutes or so per side.  If sides are longer, the cutting level has to be lower to fit the side on the record.  In order to cut at higher volume without unacceptable distortion and skipping, a few factors must be taken into consideration. 

 The first factor is vocal sibilance, 'S' sounds.  This is caused by excessive 'S' levels creating curvature of the recorded groove which is smaller than the radius of the stylus which will play it back. 'S' "break-up" or distortion, is one of the biggest problems in playback.  Steps must be taken in cutting to prevent this.  A fast acting treble limiter is used to keep the 'S' sounds in check.  The amount used is the amount needed to keep cutter current to a known acceptable level.  If vocal tracks can be "de-essed" in recording and mixing, much less treble limiting is necessary in cutting. 

 The other big problem is low frequency bass sounds which cause the playback stylus to skip out of the groove.  Since hip-hop has so much low bass, it is not uncommon for information below 20Hz to be recorded.  Excessive boost below 40Hz will bring up the area below 20Hz to unacceptable levels.  This is also sometimes caused by "scratching effects" where the record is slowed way down and the playback stylus pushed back and forth.  It is actually possible to produce frequencies almost down to DC this way!  Since the resonance of most arm/cartridge combinations is around 10 Hz, any loud information near this frequency can easily throw the playback stylus out of the groove.  Have you ever played a hip-hop record and watched the whole arm wiggle on bass peaks?  That indicates bass energy near the arm resonance.  For these reasons it is necessary to filter frequencies below 30 Hz to keep this subsonic information out of the groove.

 The last problem is excessive stereo effects or out of phase information at bass frequencies.  These can cause overly deep grooves that waste space on the disk and are very hard to fill on the pressing.  This leads to decreased time or level, and increased distortion and noise.  It is better to keep things panned in from the sides.  It doesn't have to be mono, but is better if not TOO stereo.

 These three areas are the biggest problems.  If steps are taken to reduce these three problems when recording and mixing, the pressings will sound much more like the DAT or CDR.

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