HOW TO PREPARE FILES FOR VINYL PRODUCTION
Please read the following instructions carefully. Before sending audio material, make sure it meets all the technical requirements. The audio we receive goes into the production queue and is checked by our technical department only when its turn comes. Therefore, you might be notified about any incompatibility with the required criteria even several days after placing an order.
Technical requirements of the vinyl records
12-inch vinyl pressing:
→ 33⅓ rpm – recommended/optimal: 19:30 min per side (maximum length: 23:00 min per side)*
→ 45 rpm – recommended/optimal: 12:00 min per side (maximum length: 14:30 min per side)*
10-inch vinyl pressing:
→ 33⅓ rpm – recommended/optimal: 13:30 min per side
→ 45 rpm – recommended/optimal: 10:00 min per side
7-inch vinyl pressing:
→ 33⅓ rpm – 6:40 min per side*
→ 45 rpm – 5:00 min per side*
*If the optimal time is exceeded, we reserve the right to refuse a complaint concerning the sound quality.
Maximum level of digital source signal:
The maximum level of the digital source signal should not exceed 0.0 dB True Peak. The True Peak Level is not the Peak Level.
Approved frequency bandwidth:
Both ends of the audible bandwidth (below 30 Hz and above 18 KHz) should be kept at a decent level (without exceeding the rest of the audible spectrum). It should be noted that the bandwidth of high frequencies is limited towards the end of a disc side, especially on 7-inch discs played at 33 1/3 rpm. This phenomenon is inevitable and cannot be corrected by pre-emphasis/de-emphasis means.
Demanding music tracks should be placed at the beginning of the side, rather than at the end. Playback conditions worsen as the needle approaches the center of a record. In other words, important works should be positioned closer to the outer edge of the disc. The playback quality is lowest for 7-inch discs recorded at a speed of 33 rpm, as the linear speed of the record decreases towards the center. This affects the sound and worsens high frequencies, altering their characteristics. The quality will then depend on the technical capabilities of playback devices.
A high level of sibilants (e.g., sss, shhh, zzzz) and upper-band contents (e.g., hi-hats) are not suitable for vinyl and could cause cross-modulation effects, resulting in distortion and an unstable stereo image. It is strongly recommended to keep these sounds at a decent level by using de-essers and other means during the pre-mastering process.
Phase and correlation:
The overall correlation of stereo should not exceed 90%. 0% represents mono, and 180% represents anti-phase. The correlation of the bandwidth below 200 Hz should be even narrower, and below 100 Hz it should be 0% (mono). Overriding these specifications can lead to additional clicks, crackles, and distortions.
Dynamics and non-linear distortion:
It is strongly recommended not to excessively use maximizers during the pre-mastering process. A loudness level of -10 dB LUSF seems to be enough for a loud and undistorted vinyl. The cutting and vinyl reproduction process is analogue by nature, introducing its own non-linear distortion to the reproduced sound. Therefore, all non-linear effects can result in unpredictable variations on vinyl and should be taken into account.
Approved vinyl audio format (and tracklist for lacquer cutting):
We approve two types of files: .wav and .aiff. Sampling frequencies and bit depths: 44.1 KHz (16, 24 bits); 48 KHz (16, 24 bits); 88 KHz 24 bits; 96 KHz 24 bits (on special request we approve files of 192 KHz 24 bits.) The preferred files for vinyl are 24-bit single wav files for each side (2 files per single double-sided vinyl disc).
If you submit separate files, they should be named in a way that allows the computer browser to alphabetically line them up in the correct sequence. For example: A_01 A_02 B_01 B_02 C_01 C_02 D_01 D_02. This ensures that when the files are placed in one folder, the order and allocation to side A, B, C, or D of your album are clear. The names should not contain diacritic characters.
The files should be submitted with a filled-out Vinyl Master Specifications for Lacquer Cutting tracklist document. This tracklist determines the positioning of VTMs (Visual Track/Time Markers) – the “visual” breaks between tracks on the record in the form of widened grooves. By default, VTMs are placed on every vinyl production. If you do not want to place VTMs, please indicate it in the order form.
NOTE: Pauses between tracks should be included in the sent files, built into the audio material. VTMs do not cause any breaks in the audio signal, and uninterrupted music will play over them.
Any interference into the material (including adding pauses or equalizing pauses) must be agreed upon with MonotypePressing. If the order form does not include any information about these modifications, the ordered material will be pressed according to the original files submitted by the client.
Please prepare the artwork for the vinyl covers, labels, booklets, and any other printed elements using only the templates provided by MonotypePressing.
After receiving the files, they will be checked by our graphic design team, and you will receive PDF previews for approval or be asked for corrections.
Please note that we will check the artwork twice, and if it’s found to be faulty for the third time, we will proceed to charge an additional fee for every subsequent check.
Below you can find the comprehensive list of aspects checked by our graphic designers and those that are not within our scope of review.
Available vinyl label printing methods:
We offer full-colour (CMYK) vinyl labels, single-colour Pantone labels or unprinted white labels.
If you choose Pantone labels for vinyl records, please note that during the pressing process, under the influence of high temperature, the Pantone colours on the labels may lose their saturation and fade, resulting in a final result that may not meet expectations. For this reason, we do not recommend Pantone labels. If you decide to choose this option, please acknowledge that you do so at your own risk, and any changes to the Pantone colour on the label due to heat will not be subject to complaint. Additionally, the pressing plant reserves the right to refuse the use of Pantone labels in certain cases.
Please consider the following points while preparing files for printing:
→ Use PDF 1.3 or TIFF format; JPG, PNG, or GIF formats are not accepted
→ Keep the total ink amount (CMYK) up to 300% on coated paper and 260% on reverse board
→ Ensure a minimum ink amount of 6%; anything below won’t be visible in print
→ Consider ink contrast for dark elements; what is visible on the screen may not be visible in print
→ Remember that the image on the screen appears brighter than in print
→ Use letters larger than 6 points; below that size, sharpness may be compromised, especially for Thin or Light fonts
→ Use CMYK colour mode; if using Pantone colours, specify the numbers used
→ Do not embed ICC profiles
→ Make sure the artwork fits the template; use our provided templates or contact us for custom templates
→ Add 3mm bleeds around the artwork
→ Flatten transparency
→ Rasterize gradients
→ For hot stamping/embossing/debossing/spot UV, use vectors on a separate PDF page, marked as an additional colour or 100% K
→ Ensure a minimum thickness of 0.3mm for hot stamping lines
→ Delete the template layer, leaving only artwork and crop marks
→ Bitmaps should be at 300 DPI
→ Keep in mind that finishing processes may slightly alter colours: matte foil reduces contrast, while gloss foil intensifies dark colours
ATTENTION: Please thoroughly check and label masters before sending them. The number of tracks, their sequence, titles, and times must be the same in the description of all components (master, label, printing parts). Folders and files transmitted via the Internet must be clearly marked with the information regarding the element they include. Information about materials sent via courier or through the Internet must be provided to the Sales Department of MonotypePressing. Claims related to errors and defects in the source materials will not be considered.
The client may request a personalized matrix name on the disc. The number of marks on a matrix cannot exceed 60 characters. This alteration incurs an additional charge.
In some cases, vinyl can alter the way your digital pre-master sounds due to its physical nature. Sometimes it is a positive change, while other times it can be unusual. In the digital realm, sounds can be produced that vinyl cannot fully reproduce. If this happens, you have two options: embrace the change or produce your sound with the above specifications in mind.
The vinyl production has a tolerance of -/+ 5%, meaning you may receive slightly more or slightly fewer discs, but not exceeding 5% of the overall quantity.
Accepted files delivery methods:
The mastered files should be sent to monotypepressing.wetransfer.com, or the link to the files should be pasted in the “Additional Comments” section in the order form.
→ Use the correct template
→ Ensure correct page orientation (not upside down)
→ Check the correct page order for booklets or properly number files
→ Double-check cover text for typos (file changes after digital previews confirmation might incur an additional fee for new exposure)
→ Ensure letters and objects (especially dots and thin lines) are large and thick enough for accurate printing
→ If you require precise colour representation, consider sending a print proof created using a professional, calibrated printer or including proof printing with your order (the proof will be shipped to you for colour assessment and confirmation prior to the main printing). CMYK proofs we offer are based on composite files, made according to the FOGRA 39 standard.
→ PANTONE colours are referenced to the PANTONE® pattern; values being compared to the proof.
What We Check:
→ File type (TIFF, PDF)
→ Colour mode (CMYK)
→ Design compatibility with our template (proper placement of spines, presence of bleeds)
→ Total ink amount (300%)
→ Resolution of print file (minimum 300 dpi)
→ Rasterization of gradients
→ Suitability of hot stamping/embossing/debossing/UV printing
What We Don’t Check:
→ Content correctness (e.g., typos, language usage)
→ Page orientation on templates
→ Correct page order
→ Flattening of transparency
→ Hidden layers
→ Size of letters/fonts/graphic elements (in terms of ink flooding)
→ Clearness/brightness of the artwork
→ Presence of overprint in the artwork
→ Bitmap resolution embedded in the file (must be 300 dpi)
These checks can be done for an additional fee.
With an additional fee, we can:
→ Add bleeds to the artwork
→ Adjust the artwork to fit the template
→ Reduce the total ink amount
→ Set the page order
→ Convert the file to CMYK colour mode
→ Convert Pantone colours to CMYK if Pantone was not ordered
Please note that our file verification focuses solely on technical aspects and does not account for content-related errors. We are not responsible for content accuracy.
Covers are printed using offset or digital print techniques, and our printers apply their own ICC profiles (Fogra37 or Fogra39).