Vinyl FAQs

Please don't hesitate to contact us by phone (503) 610-2929 or email if you can't find the answer to your questions below.


What does a vinyl package include?

Our vinyl packages are completely retail ready and includes the following:

  • Record(s): Each vinyl package includes a record, and for double albums, you'll obviously receive two records. For quantities over 250 the color of the vinyl can be chosen to suit your liking and can have multiple effects and combinations.
  • Printed Labels: The record(s) come with printed labels, allowing you to personalize the design and information displayed on each side.
  • Inner Sleeve: A protective inner sleeve is included. It can be unprinted, white or black and it can be poly lined for added scratch protection. You can also get custom printed inner sleeves. (250+ qty only.)
  • Outer Packaging: The package also consists of an outer cardstock packaging, which can be printed with artwork or designs of your choice. This outer packaging serves as an additional protective layer for the record(s). For 250+ quantities we can do both jackets and gatefolds. For the Atomic Express Package jackets are the only option.
  • Shrink Wrap or Polybag: To ensure the package remains sealed and protected, it is finished with either retail shrink wrap or polybags.
  • Optional Additions: You have the option to include additional items to complement your customized vinyl records. All vinyl packages can have an additional 2 panel insert and for quantities over 250 you can add download cards and stickers.

What is the maximum or recommended playtime per side?

  • 12” VINYL MAXIMUM TIME: 23 minutes per side at 33 1/3 rpm
  • Best quality - up to 18 minutes per side
  • OK quality - 18-21 minutes per side
  • Less quality - 21-23 minutes per side

When you exceed around 20 minutes per side, volume needs to come down, noise level tends to go up, and bass frequencies might need to be cut.

If your album is under 15 min per side we recommend manufacturing at 45 rpm for maximum sound quality.

  • 7" MAXIMUM TIME: 5 minutes at 45 RPM
  • Best quality - up to 3:30 minutes per side
  • OK quality - 3:30-4:30 minutes per side
  • Less quality - 4:30-5 minutes per side

It is not recommended to cut 7" at 33 1/3 rpm because it might cause distortion.

What does RPM mean?

RPM is short for rotations per minute and indicates how fast the record is spinning on the turntable. It can be either 33 1/3 RPM or 45 RPM. Higher RPM results in better sound quality, but since the record is spinning faster, you can have less content on it.

The determining factors for how many minutes of audio you can have an each side of a record are RPM, but also the overall volume and frequencies. Higher volume takes up more room, so does low bass frequencies and wide stereo signals.

What is the difference between standard 140 gram and heavy 180 gram vinyl?

A standard 12" vinyl record weighs approximately 140 grams, but there can be slight variations from record to record. Records can also be made slightly heavier at roughly 180 grams. The grooves of 140 grams and 180 grams are the same, but some believe that the thicker, heavier 180 grams help absorb vibrations during playback, hence resulting in less noise, but this potential sonic difference isn't noticeable for most listeners.

180 gram records are less susceptible to warping, both when coming off the press and during shipping and storing.

What is the difference between lacquers, stampers and DMM?

There are basically two ways of making vinyl records; using lacquers or DMM. Both methods includes stampers.

DMM - Direct Metal Mastering is the process of using a vinyl cutting lathe to cut grooves directly into a copper metal disc. Then a stamper is created from this metal master.

Lacquers are made by first coating a metal disc with a plastic lacquer. Then a vinyl cutting lathe etches grooves into this plastic layer. Next is a 2- or 3-step electroplating process where the lacquer goes into a chemical bath or two to create the stamper.

We utilize the DMM process which eliminates one, if not two steps. This uses less resources and speeds up the process.

The stampers are what is used to "stamp" out each record using hydraulic pressure and steam to squeeze the vinyl biscuit and melt the grooves into it.

Are vinyl made from lacquers better than DMM?

DMM cuts are generally more precise than lacquer cuts. It tends to be clearer in the treble range and the overall volume can often be slightly louder than what can be achieved with lacquers. Since it eliminates one plating step, noise is often lower on vinyl made from DMM versus lacquers.

Can I send you my own lacquers or metal work?

No, unfortunately we will not accept any third-party lacquers or stampers. Our presses are set up for the metal work we make. Re-configuring machines for different specs would slow down the production process.

What is a test pressing and do I need one?

A test pressing is a very small batch of 5-30 finished records (no print work) that are sent to you for approval before we run the whole job. For larger runs of 250+ quantities test pressings are highly recommended.

Test pressings are not available for the Atomic Express packages to make the production process as streamlined and expedient as possible.

What should I listen for on my test pressings?

Ideally you should listen to all your test pressings on a well-maintained and calibrated turntable. How good a vinyl record sounds, depends largely on the quality of the stereo system.

Checklist for listening to your test presses:
  • Verify the side breaks and that the tracks are in the correct order
  • Check that the rpm is what it is supposed to be
  • Make sure the song breaks are right and the visual markers placed properly
  • If you hear any issues with the audio or experience skips, please verify that it occurs in the exact same spot on multiple of the test presses. Ideally, listen on more than one turntable. Some noise and minor pops are to be expected.

Is there a difference in sound quality between black and colored vinyl?

Black vinyl sounds slightly better than colored vinyl. They are a little harder and less susceptible to noise.

Where are your records made?

We work closely with several vinyl pressing plants in order to ensure quality and the fastest turn times possible. The majority of our vinyl is made in Europe.

What is the minimum number of vinyl records I can order?

We can make you as few as 100 vinyl records. Our Atomic Express Package is either 100 or 200 quantities. For more customizable vinyl packages you can order between 250 and 1000 on our website.

Can I order vinyl records only without packaging?

No. We are currently only offering complete, retail ready vinyl packages.

What does baking the labels mean?

To avoid that LP labels stick together during the pressing process, they are literally baked in an oven to extract all moisture from the paper. This can result in a slight color shift.

What is an overage allowance?

Since the vinyl production is so complex with so many steps in the process, we always make a few extra, knowing that some will not pass quality control. To cover the cost of this we charge you for up to 10% extras. This is very industry standard. Normally the overs are around 3% to 8%. Occasionally the order comes out with a few percent less than what was ordered. When it is all done, we will refund you the difference, so you only pay for what you actually receive.

Will there be any extra shipping costs?

No, the shipping is quoted within your order. This is only for delivery within the US. We can currently only send vinyl within the US. We offer both air shipping or the economy of going by sea from our plant in Europe. Please not that this adds 5 to 6 weeks of transit time.

Can I add download cards to my vinyl order?

Yes, we can host your digital audio files and print download cards to include with your vinyl order.

How does the sound quality between vinyl and compact discs compare?

There is much debate over the sound quality between vinyl records and compact discs.

On a technical level, compact discs offer many advantages over vinyl records. Compact discs yield better frequency response and a higher dynamic range resulting in a more accurate representation of what was recorded and mixed in the studio. Vinyl records can have noticeable pops, crackles and a lower signal to noise ratio. Vinyl records also have a more limited frequency response, most notably in the low end (bass), depending on the length of the material which determines the width of the “cut” or groove.

This all being said, people still love the sound and experience of vinyl records. They are tactile in your hands, have “a sound”, and offer the listener with a much better artwork experience with the oversize front and back cover and insert for extra photos, credits and lyrics.

Compact Discs:
  • Digital format
  • Higher dynamic range
  • Better frequency response
  • Consistent playback quality
  • More accurate representation of studio intentions
Vinyl Records:
  • Analog format
  • Lower dynamic range
  • Lower frequency response
  • Crackles, pops and more noise can be apparent
  • Playback quality is reflective of the turntable and stylus quality
  • Has “vibe factor” - a more pleasing sound to many

Are there any projects you won't do?

Yes, we will not run projects with audio, or graphics that blatantly represents sexual violence, misogyny, bigotry, homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and plain hate. Such projects will be canceled.


How long until I get my final product?

After we receive all of your elements (audio and graphics files) it takes approximately 7-11 weeks for the Atomic Express Package. For larger quantities, we're estimating 2-3 months after test press approval.

In general our turn times are some of the fastest in the industry. However, please note that vinyl production times are always subject to change. Try to get us all of your elements at once to expedite your order. For further information about the production timelines of vinyl you can read more on our blog: Why Does It Take So Long To Make Vinyl?


What audio format should I submit my audio as?

Uncompressed audio formats are preferred (WAV, AIFF, AIF). The highest possible bit depth and sampling rate is recommended, up to 192kHz and 32-bit. However, upsampling won't improve sound quality, so send us the highest rate your files were recorded and mixed at.

The digital sampling rate of audio files meant for vinyl cutting can be higher than those for finished CDs. However, we can cut vinyl from digital CD masters. If heavy limiting is used on the CD master, this might result in lower volume vinyl.

Do I need my audio mastered for vinyl?

Our price already includes prepping your audio, DMM cutting and stampers. This does not include a proper mastering session specifically for vinyl which many projects may benefit from. Vinyl records differ from CDs greatly with their reduced frequency response and and susceptibility playback issues because of too much bass and high end (treble). Often times it is beneficial to create different masters for vinyl versus CD and streaming purposes. Please read our mixing recommendations below.

What are your mixing recommendations?

  • Keep your bass frequencies centered (Kick, bass, synths). Limit frequencies below 300 Hz.
  • High frequencies such as Hi Hats, cymbals and vocal sibilance should be controlled and not too bright. Ideally limit or cut frequencies over 18 kHz.
  • Vocals should be properly de-essed.
  • Audio can peak around 0 dBFS with headroom of 0.1-0.5 dB for D/A conversion.
  • Dynamic range is recommended to be around DR12, but if the projects is mixed and mastered well you can get it up to DR8 for some genres of music.
  • Use of hard limiters like brickwall and peak limiters are not recommended.
  • Everything should be in-phase, as out-of-phase audio might cause playback to skip.
  • Skips and distortions are less likely to happen on the outside of the record. Therefor louder tracks and tracks with larger dynamic range are recommended to be at the beginning of each record side. Quieter tracks are better suited for the inside grooves.


What kind of paperboard stock do you print the vinyl packaging on?

We utilize offset printing on 350 gsm (approximately 20 pt.) C1S for our jackets and gatefolds of 250 quantity of more.

For the Atomic Express Package of 100 or 200 units, we print digitally on 300 gsm (approximately 18 pt.) C1S.

What format should my artwork be?

Artwork should be saved as high resolution editable PDFs. Export your files as Press Quality. Please use our templates when creating your artwork and don't crop the final file. Remember to delete the template layer before flattening and saving.

What should the resolution of my graphics files be?

Graphics should be at least 300 dpi at full intended print size. Lower resolution might cause pixelation and blurriness.

What color mode should my graphic art files be?

You should create and save your artwork in CMYK color mode. The only exception is if you want black and white printing, in which case you should save in Grayscale mode.

What is the difference between Standard Gloss, Matte Varnish and High Gloss UV Varnish?

  • Standard Gloss is an aqueous coating that protects the jackets and gatefolds from scuffs and scratches. It's more semi-gloss, really.
  • Matte Varnish will create a softer look and feel, yet still protect the printwork from scuffs and scratches.
  • High Gloss UV Varnish is really shiny. The varnish is cured under UV light which hardens it and makes the gloss really pop.

What does reverse print mean?

When printing Vinyl packaging the entire print is done on one side of the paperboard. The paperboard used is coated on the side we normally print on. Reverse print means we would print on the uncoated side of the paperboard. No finishing is added after the print so this is a truly matte look.

However, please be warned that due to the more porous texture of uncoated paper more ink gets absorbed than with coated stock. This often results in a darker, less crisp print than when printing on the coated side of the paperboard. We do not recommend this, unless you or your designer have experience with reverse board printing and know how to properly compensate for the difference in ink absorption. We will not be able to refund or reprint if you are not happy with how this turns out. But, when its done right, it does create a very cool, vibey print. If you're looking for a fairly matte, yet more color accurate print finish, we would recommend a Matte Varnish.