vinyl cutting!!

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by nu dubs, Jul 31, 2003.

  1. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    Hi Guys :)

    im new to vinyl mastering and just trying to find my feet!!

    problem is when try to cut sometimes it skips, and other times it wont skip but the then the cut will not sound very good at all!

    do you think im trying to cut too loud??

    im trying to cut at @ 4 to 6db with a 100-120 um width and about 60-70 um land.

    can give me any good tips on cutting vinyl??

    also how stylus and plates did you wreck on your first cuts??

  2. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Dear Nu Dubs,

    Welcome to the wonderful world of disc cutting! Without a list of gear in the chain, it's tough to say whats going wrong exactly. Are you just setting up your own lathe / studio? Are you training with some one who can show you the ropes?
    This is one area of audio where it definately helps to have guidance. Perhaps the person who is installing your system can give you some pointers.

    Do you use a low frequency crossover? Filters? Anything to control stereo information in your chain? What sort of program are you cutting? Side lengths? What sort of lathe do you have? Wrecking styli is never a good sign. Perhaps you are cutting too deep? So many variables....
  3. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    If +4 dBu= 0vu and you are peaking at +4 to 6VU than you will not track properly at a groove depth of 100-120um. 100um is usually reffered to as 1 mil in the US. You should be cutting a 3 to 4 mil groove for those levels. For LP type levels I never cut smaller than a 2 mil groove for a base depth. A 1 mil groove is too small for anything.

    As far a trashing styli-how do you know you've trashed it? Do you get a noisy cut or do you have problems with chip pick up? Get yourself some acetone and a pith. You can clean up the styli by cleaning it with acetone and scraping with the pith. I went through a bunch of styli and lacquers when I started. I'm self taught and it was an expensive way to learn.
  4. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Nu Dubs,

    I gave you some bum advice. A mil is 1/1000 inch. So looking in a manual I have 100 um is equal to 4 mil. That's plenty deep for a cut. remember that the material on a lacquer is 7mil deep so if you go that deep you will surely trash a stylus. Other than that I can't tell you what's going wrong.

    Do you have the machine calibrated properly?

    You start by playing back reference record. If you haven't done this you are groping in the dark. You need to start with a known level. Just like a test tape you then record a tone(s) and make sure everything matches.
  5. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    Cheers paul thanks for the help!!! :) :)
  6. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    Of course, I had forgotten....yes, the lacquers DO have to dry out. I remember at all the studios where we used them, we had a room set aside with wooden dowels set up as racks to dry the lacquers, hanging on the wall. They dried for about a week before they were ready to use.

    If you have chip on the stylus it can be cleaned by GENTLY using a cotton swab with denatured alcohol. This dissolves the collected chip. You can then continue to use the stylus, after the alcohol dissolves & dries.

    Back when I was cutting lacquer, Apollo was the better choice (quieter). But I don't know the current situation. Pyrals from France were also very good, but I don't know if those are still made. Transcos were good everyday lacquers.

    I have been cutting DMM for 10 years now, so I'm sure things have changed.
  7. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Problems with chip pickup are due to both not letting the lacquer sit out and cutting with a gummed up stylus. Along with the tank of helium to cool the cutter head I use a tank of nitrogen with a spray nozzle to clean any dust of the surface of the lacquer. The nitrogen is also handy for clearing away any strands of chip that don't get sucked up by the vacum system. It can save your arse.

    I prefer acetone to alcohol to clean the stylus. It's a stronger solvent so you have to be careful but it works better. I dip the pith in not too much acetone, and then scrape the stylus. I let the acetone soak in for 15 seconds or so. Pith, as in pith helmet is a soft wood. It can be ordered from Transco. Cotton swabs just leave strands on the stylus. I hate them. Just so you appreciate the advice, it took me over a year to figure out that I could ressurect styli that looked terrible. I went through a lot of them costing me many hundreds of dollars.

    They are not made any more. I'm sure that's not a surprise. I know of three brands. NAB,CBS labs and DIN. DIN is German NAB and CBS are American. I bet the BBC put out one too. The only tone you absolutely can't do without is 1kc@7cm/sec stereo. THIS IS THE REFERENCE LEVEL FOR 0VU. You must calibrate the machine. Stop, do not pass go until you get this sorted out. Check ebay. I picked up a CBS one with a few other test records for $25. They come up every so often.

    What machine do you have? Do you have a manual for it?

  8. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    Thanks again guys some good tips there!! :)

    im using a vms60 that me and a mate picked up very, very cheap in the uk!

    sadly i dont have a manual (i bet i cannot pick one up very easy either) and i dont have anyone to show me what to do, so its a bit hit and miss at the moment. :D

  9. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    Do you mean VMS66 or VMS62? I don't think there was a VMS60.

    Oh my. You are in for a long and painful learning curve. If you picked it up cheap I'm sure you got what you payed for. It probably needs a lot of work. I have a VMS62 and was told it ran like a Porche. Six months and many thousands of dollars later it actually did. Yours should be recapped if it hasn't been in the last ten years.

    Is it the VG66 amplifier rack with an SX68 or SX74 cutter head? I can scan and email you the calibration procedure for it. If you don't know what you are doing you have to be VERY careful. It is easy to blow up the cutterhead if you don't have it properly damped. The cutterhead repair would be $5000. Do you have the HK66 High frequency limiter module and the EE66 elliptical EQ module? Does the pitch and depth system work?

    You absolutely need a manual with schematics. If you get the correct model number and serial number of the drive package I might be able to scan the most important parts for you. You will also need to source parts for it. It took me months to locate parts. If the object is to assemble a great sounding system you don't know what you have got yourself into. Beleive me I know. You shoud really have someone who knows their way around a circuit. They are complicated systems. If the system has been sitting unusedand/or neglected for any length of time you have a lot of work ahead of you. If you are not near London it would pay to have a qualified tech come look at it.

  10. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    im pretty sure its a vms6o, cant be 100% though as im not sitting in front of it!!

    $*^t sounds like i got a bit of work to do then!!! :(

    i coudnt tell you what amp rack it has like i said im very new to this area, but i know its a sx74 cutter head. :eek:

    and yeah its been sitting in a studio unused for years! along with loads of other gear that also got sold off very cheap (wish i bought the tube techs aswell now!! :D
  11. Gold

    Gold Active Member

    You don't know the half of it. :eek:

    I would just have someone come over for a few hours. He could go through the machine and tell you what needs to be done. The amount of work will make your head spin. A hundred pounds/hr maybe. Try Metropolis,Exchange,Porkys,Sony ect. for a tech.

    It's a sure bet that the electrolytic capacitors have dried out. They can't be reformed just incase anyone tells you to d try this. This will cause a lot of problems. There are at least 200 electrolytic caps to be replaced. The tantalum caps should be replaced with electrolytics as well. It's a huge amount of work. I know, I did it. I hope you are good at working on PCB's because you can't afford to hire someone to do it for you.

    Damped is the term for taming the resonance of the cutter head. A feedback signal is applied to flatten the frequency response of the cutter head. Without feedback the cutter head will vibrate to the point of destruction.
    You need to do a lot of reading about the technology. The New Audio Cyclopedia published by SAMS is a good reference. The AES also has a compendium of articles wich is good.

    I completely restored/rebuilt my VMS62 Special. It took about six months of work and a lot of money. I did all the work myself with some breif consultations. You should be good with a solderng iron and know how to read a schematic. You can't afford to pay someone to work on the machine.


    PM me.
  12. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    check your pm's paul :D
  13. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    also Don this DMM sounds wicked, i heard very little about this type of cutting!

    all i know about it is that you cut direct to a copper blank!!

    can you use a normal Neumann lathe for this with a different cutter head??

    what sort of material is used cut the blanks is it a diamond??

    and is the sound better than with a laqucer??

    also can you actually play the blank back with a normal TT??

    and does this type of cutting cost more than normal cutting?? like are the blanks more expensive??

    sound very interesting mate!! :D
  14. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member

    A tip of the hat to Paul who obviously has lots of time in on his Neumann.

    DMM is indeed cool. Copper is coated onto a stainless steel backing plate. I cut the mother directly to copper, removing the master & father steps from the plating process. It makes for a quieter stamper. Also because copper is solid, it doesn't deform in heat & over time. You can strike lots of stampers from a single copper mother. The cut is more accurate for the same reason (the copper doesn't change once cut). You don't lose as much high end, especially on the inner groove.

    The cutterhead is an SX-84, the rack is an SAL-84, the lathe is a VMS-82. It uses a diamond stylus. You can play the cut copper without damaging it. I also cut copper reference discs which are on 12" blanks that can be played on any regular TT for evaluation purposes. I just listened to one on a friends $8,000.00 TT & Cartridge last weekend. It sounded great! Cutting is more expensive than lacquer, but plating is less expensive , so it more or less evens out. We make our own copper blanks here at Europadisk, and supply other lathes as well, although there are not many operating anymore.

    I love cutting DMM.
  15. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    WOW!!! do people ever ask for a copper dubplate??

    if so how much would it cost to cut one?? :)

  16. Don Grossinger

    Don Grossinger Distinguished past mastering moderator Active Member


    Yes, I do cut "dub plates" but we call them copper refs. They last virtually forever- no wearing out like conventional plates. They are $65 to 14 min. & $75 over 14 min. with a pressing order (we do record pressing here as well as cutting).

    Without a pressing order the cost is $125 to 14 min. & $150 over 14 min.

    They look really neat- a copper disc & are very heavy. They'll play on any TT.
  17. nu dubs

    nu dubs Guest

    ah cool i want one!!!

    can you do me a deal on one!! there only two 5 minutes tracks ;)

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