Thursday, January 9, 2014



Of the many projects I have been involved in, very few have made their way to vinyl as a final product.

The process is long, unpredictable and very expensive (about $10 an album). However it can be deeply rewarding for a special project.

There are several places that can offer an all in one solution where they master, plate, press and package your vinyl. However, the quality may not be to the highest standards especially when it comes to mastering and it's worth exploring working with several people to get the final product you desire.

After speaking with many friends and label owners I decided to go a slightly less treveled path and worked with nearly half a dozen artists to make the final product.


Though much of the art had already been created for Echoes, I had my designer redo the art for the Vinyl so it all could fit on two sides of the jacket. The artist I hired, Deon also won an award for his stellar work on the design for the vinyl. You can read about his entire process here...


Mastering to vinyl is a very different process than mastering to CD. Mastering to vinyl really needs to be done all on it's own. The length of your album can effect the overall volume of your album as well as too much bass can cause the needle to pop off the record, so working with an experienced mastering engineer for vinyl is the way to go. 

There are many mastering engineers out there with experience mastering to vinyl. However, I would highly recommend working with someone who specializes specifically in mastering to vinyl, has their own lathe and has a lot of experience making a master lacquer.

I have heard stories of people getting a CD master done and then being told by that engineer the same master for CD will work on vinyl. If your mastering engineer tells you this, ignore them and do a second master to vinyl. You will thank me... 

I personally hired Dietrich Schonemann to master for mine and I couldn't have been happier with his work. He mastered the album as well as cut the master on a lathe to create a master lacquer.

Here's a picture of a Lathe for cutting a master lacquer.


Once your album has been mastered, it needs to be plated. I had Dietrich send my lacquer master to a company in NJ called Mastercraft. They specifically focus on making a mother plate to have the albums pressed from and did a fantastic job. 

Test Presses 

Once Mastercraft created a "mother plate" they then sent it to Bill Smith Records in Southern California. Once it was received, they shipped me several test presses. This was where I could finally hear the work Dietrich did for mastering and hear how the vinyl would sound. 

Fortunately they came back perfect and I was very pleased with how they sounded. This is a crucial step in testing your album as if there are pops and skips on the test presses, they will show up on all of your vinyl pressings. 

Make sure you are 100% happy with your test pressings!


Now that I had approved the test presses, it was time to have Bill Smith Custom records press the albums. He has several lovely colors to choose from and I decided to go with white.

Bill Smith also offers plating and mastering but after extensive research I choose to go a longer route.


Unfortunately Bill Smith does not do packaging so I hired yet another company to create the jackets for me. Dorado Packaging down in S. California did a great job on printing the jackets for me.

Bill Smith records was able to have someone print the stickers that go on the vinyl as well as assemble the albums into the jackets and shrink wrap them.

So after passing through six shops, being shipped from NY to NJ to California and eventually to me here in Oregon, I finally had the perfect product.

There really is a significant difference in the sound of the vinyl to CD and when I first opened my first copy of the vinyl and listened I was astonished to hear beautiful subtleties I did not hear on a CD.

You can view some videos of how vinyl albums are made here: 

And last but not least, to order your copy of Echoes on vinyl please follow the link...


  1. Rena, thanks for the great rundown on vinyl LPs. I posted about this on FB. Just a suggestion -- the gray background and reverse type make reading your text difficult. Might want to go with tried-and-true dark gray type on off-white background. Would be much easier on the eyes.

    I listen to you on and love your music. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks JRiden, I was having a hard time deciding what color scheme to use... Changed...