Vinyl length & quality


I am about to release my next album on vinyl. It’s my first one on vinyl and I have to dive through all the myths concerning mastering, pressing etc. So I got a question concerning record length. Usually it’s claimed that you have to be below 20 minutes per side, otherwise you have to expect an deterioration of quality. The pressing plant told me everything below 23 minutes is fine and you even find info claiming maximum is 24 minutes, a friend told me Pink Floyd went way beyond that.
The thing is: My side A runs 21:46, side B 22:55. So what am I supposed to do? Cut down songs (which I really do not want to do as you can imagine) or stick to the 23 minute limit? It would be great if any of you could share their experience concerning record length… Any tip is appreciated.


I’ve used the Carvery in the UK, and I found that just giving them a call, explaining what you’re after and having a conversation as to whether the format will meet your needs is priceless.

From what you’re saying, though, there doesn’t appear to be much other option, unless you want to go over two discs. Listen to the test presses and let your ears set your mind at rest.


as i understand, the longer the side, the lower the cutting volume. i think 18 is the ideal, with 22/24 considered an acceptable maximum. as the levels of the cut get lower, the listener has to turn up their amp more, which introduces more noise into the mix.


Thanks for the tipps! @shellfritsch I really dig your record! unfortunately missed out to get hold of one… judging from the bandcamp time specifications, you were in perfect timing. Hmm, makes me want to rethink my lenghts… Somehow, I love these restrictions though. :slight_smile:


lots of factors at play (style of music, dynamics, mastering job, etc) but I think most people wouldn’t notice too much of a difference between 22 mins and 19-20 mins.

that said, I do notice and have made those tough decisions in the past to cut off a song or two on vinyl to get 18-19 mins per side - and even more extreme (and, in retrospect, kind of funny and unnecessary), cut a few off of an EP to get to 45RPM.


I believe the received wisdom is to sequence your lower energy tracks at the end of the sides, ie those with less high frequency content, and less absolute volume.


I have been told the longer you go over 20 you loose lower frequency in that area. Structures From Silence by Steve Roach is 29 min on one side and sounds epic. I would not work if under 23.


As someone that used to cut records, 22:55 shouldn’t be a problem. Obviously it depends on the lathe setup and whether the engineer cuts fixed pitch or not (no one really does). A good idea engineer will get a great sound on a 23min side, yeah it may be an easier job at 21mins but there shouldn’t be too much of a difference. What sort of music is it? You may want to find out if it’s being cut dmm or to lacquer.


@dermo thanks a lot for the info. As far as I know it’s lacquer. It’s basically “pop music” (it’s weird to classify your own music), some of the songs with a touch of italo disco, DX7s, Bleeps, Linn Drums, the other part more balladesque with storytelling vocals. The guys from the pressing plant told me to think like back in the 70s and 80s and place the more bassy and beat heavy tunes at the start of the record. It correlates with what @RoooAreee said.


Good luck with the release!
Any particular reason that you’re going vinyl this time, apart from the undoubted cool factor, (not that that isn’t reason enough)?


That was gonna be my next question but as you seem to know more about it I’ll ask it to you right away : what’s the difference here between DMM and Lacquer (if there’s one?). I’ve heard DMM is somehow more accurate sounding (and maybe for that reason, less interesting than lacquer, although I must admit I don’t buy vinyls for the sound quality anyway), does it mean you can go longer without destroying the sound quality too much?


Are the pressing plant cutting the master? Which plant is it? I’d be really surprised if a plant would cut a lacquer master as it’s more expensive and a longer process by at least a day to get the stamper ready.

If you haven’t come up with a tracklist yet then you could consider their comments, but don’t wreck or change the albums flow specifically for the vinyl release unless you really want to get anal about it.

Lacquer - grooves cut deeper, extended bass response, ‘smooth’, ‘round’.
DMM - shallower grooves, more mid-high focus, generally ‘hard’ sound (this doesn’t necessary mean unpleasant!).
Obviously the engineer can do things to push either format in the other direction to a degree, but that is generally my experience. We used to cut lacquer for everything.


@RoooAreee thank you! There are many reasons I do it on vinyl this time: I grew up with vinyl and have been collecting and djing records ever since I started with music. So it’s a kind of hommage to this vinyl culture. Call me old fashioned, but to me a music release has to do with something physical. I just want to hold it, have the lyrics while listening.I know, it’s a cliche, many artists have spoken about this feeling… I still try to buy the releases I love when I can afford. It’s strange and irrational, as streaming and youtube etc. are so much more comfortable. Little money, no space needed etc… I’ve posted about the irrationality of collecting records in this day and age elsewhere. It’s also that I’ve been really working on this record for a long time and it’s a coherent string of songs that mean a lot to me.That’s why I wanted to document it this way.


@dermo Yes, they are cutting the master. It’s a very small regional start up and I have heard good things about them:

I’ve already got a tracklist, that I started to overthink due to the bass heavy to mellow rule. Your infos give me peace that my time arrangement should be fine, even though I’m over the 20 minute limit.


Ah! It’s great that more manufacturers are opening. I have no idea what equipment they’d be using for their cuts, but, I’d assume it’s new equipment since they’ve started being made again.
Cutting records is just the same as mixing and mastering - the longer you have done it, the more tricks you learn, the better you become at combatting issues etc - knowledge on whether you really need to filtering off the highs/lows, elliptical EQ etc. I had the benefit of being trained by an engineer with over 20 years of experience cutting records for very high profile music from classical to jazz to slamming techno, house, rock and metal and every day.
To that end I think the best thing to do would be to engage in more discussion with that manufacturer - perhaps even see if you can talk to the engineer that will be doing the cut. At the end of it all, they should be providing you with information on how detrimental it will be to go over their set times and/or put bassier tracks near the centre, as it is they that will be completing the work.
All I can add is my own experience, but I’m not cutting your record :slight_smile:


is EEQ equivalent to narrowing the bass on the master buss before the highpass, or does it need to be “extra special elliptical”? genuine question


Yeah making the bass more mono… if you don’t have any phase cancellations in the bass in your mix then generally no need to use.
As for extra special - I genuinely have no idea about the design of a hardware elliptical eq, but as with any type of eq - plugin or hardware - they all have their own sound.