We appreciate that sometimes we use terms that can be unfamiliar from the outside. In order to make sure we're all on the same page, here is an extensive list of terms and a brief description of what they mean.
Catalogue number – Used as standard within the music industry to track and identify orders. CD and record manufacturers, labels, retailers and distributors use them to give every release a unique identifying code.
CD Text – Stores additional data such as Artist, Album and Track Names which will display on the majority of newer hi-fis and car stereos.
Cellophane-wrap – A stretchable plastic film that holds a package tightly together when wrapped. Also see shrink-wrap.
CMYK – Combining four separate colour plates - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black – this is the industry standard method and colour model for full colour offset printing. CMYK printing is also referred to as four colour process.
4/0, 1/0, 4/1, 4/4 – This relates to the number of colour plates required to print to each side of the stock. For example, 4/1 would print full colour CMYK; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black), on the front with Black only (K) on the rear.
Digital printing – The methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media using laser or inkjet printers, allowing for short turnaround times and printing of variable data sets.
Discobag – Disco bags are card sleeves that require no inner sleeve to protect the record. These can be printed or unprinted, and can feature none, one or two label holes as desired.
DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) – A comparatively newer vinyl cutting method. Instead of engraving the groove into a soft metal lacquer-coated aluminium disc, a DMM lathe engraves the audio signal directly onto a hard metal copper-plated master disc, bypassing the first stage of electroplating and resulting in cleaner processing with less surface noise and less chance of error during processing.
DMS – Disc Manufacturing Services; the friendliest team around - producing quality discs, vinyl records and custom printed packaging for happy clients worldwide since the turn of the century.
Download Cards – Printed cards with unique download codes allowing you to physically sell your digital release, or feature a free or bonus download as part of your vinyl package.
CD Duplication – The process of recording the CD content into a reflective layer on a CD-R, using a laser drive. This service provides a great quality and cost effective solution to the demand for small CD runs and/or a fast turnaround.
CD Replication – The lengthier process of physically creating discs by injecting polycarbonate granules into a mould cavity that is compacted with a metal stamper containing a negative image of the disc data. Replication is the way to go for orders over 500 units.
Embossing / Debossing – Embossing and debossing are two techniques used to raise ink from or stamp ink to the print surface respectively.
Gatefold – Popular since the mid-60s, gatefold sleeves are a folded cover providing a means of including artwork, liner notes, and/or song lyrics which would otherwise not fit on a standard record cover. These are also perfect for double LPs, as a record can insert into either side of the sleeve.
Glassmaster – Creating of original carrier for stamper production. Input data from the master modulates a laser beam recorder, which writes to the photoresist layer coated on a glass disk.
Gloss Lamination – A thin polypropylene film is heat-fused to the printed surface forming a layer of protective coating while also improving its sturdiness and water resistance. Gloss lamination is more reflective than a gloss varnish, making it particularly perfect for bringing out the vibrancy of colours.
Gloss Machine Varnish – Our default option for printed parts, a liquid gloss varnish layer seals the ink and adds impact to your print as the coating reflects back the light, making colours appear richer and more vivid.
Gloss UV – An eco-friendly option, ultraviolet-cured coatings are applied over the printed surface and dried by exposure to UV light. Due to the normally high solids content of UV coating, the surface of the cured film can be extremely reflective and glossy, deepening and enriching the ink colours.
Graphic Design – The process of visual communication and problem-solving using typography, photography and illustration. Graphic designers create and combine symbols, images and text to form visual representations of ideas and messages to appeal to certain tastes or trends.
GSM – An acronym for grams per square metre. An industry standardised measurement of paper and card quality. The higher the GSM number, the heavier the stock.
Hot-foiling – The process in which metallic foil is bonded to the print surface using heat and pressure, often with striking results. Gold and silver are the most popular foils, but there are many other shades and effects too including glitter and pearlescent.
ID Ring, Special Text – This relates to the underside of replicated CDs and has unique identifiers to recognise aspects of the CDs production. This is also an area where you can include a personalised message, website, logo and or catalogue number.
Insert – Often a single sheet that fits into the outer sleeve, inserts are a great way of including extra information, such as lyrics or additional images, without compromising the sleeve design.
Insertion/Sleeving/Assembly – This is the physical action of packing one part of a product to another.
ISRC – The International Standard Recording Code system is the international system for the identification of recorded music and music videos. Each ISRC is a unique identifier that can be permanently encoded into a recording or music video.
Jacket (Outer Sleeve) – A single pocket sleeve constructed from a single piece of folded card and comprising a front and back panel, it is also possible to include the addition of a spine. These sleeves can also come with a variety of die-cut holes if you wish to expose the records within.
Lacquer – A soft acetate-coated aluminium disc that contains all of the grooves that represent the final mastered sound of your recording. The exact same grooves that will end up on each and every record that is pressed.
Lead Time (Turnaround) – The time between the initiation and completion of the production process. Lead times can vary as production demand fluctuates, so serve only as a rough guide. For current lead times please give us a call or drop us an email.
Mastering – The final step of audio post-production, balancing the sonic elements of the stereo mix and optimising playback across all systems and media formats. Mastering was traditionally an analogue process requiring specific studio equipment, nowadays there are also many digital solutions available. We offer full CD and vinyl mastering services.
Matt Lamination – A thin polypropylene film is heat-fused to the printed surface forming a layer of protective coating while also improving its sturdiness and water resistance. Matt lamination also improves the tactile feel of the of the printed surface, lending it a smooth finish.
Matt Anti-scratch Lamination – Especially useful and highly recommended for applying a matt finish to darker coloured sleeves where scuffs and scratches would otherwise tend to show.
Matt Machine Varnish – A matt varnish gives the printed surfaces a non-glossy, smooth look. Darker colours can look more subdued in comparison to a gloss varnish due to the reduced amount of reflected light, but used correctly matt finishes can really hone that subtle, classy look.
Matt UV – An eco-friendly option, ultraviolet-cured coatings are applied over the printed surface and dried by exposure to UV light. Matt printing enhances artwork contrast and provides a more subdued colour set.
Metallisation – Polycarbonate discs are completely transparent after the moulding process. In order for the microscopic pits to be read, a mirrored aluminium layer is ionised to the active surface of the disc. Silver is the standard for all replicated discs, but it is also possible to use gold metallisation or even have coloured poly-carbonate discs. Please contact us for more information.
Moiré – Each of the colour screens are set at a different angle and printed as microscopic dots, known as halftone printing. The alignment of these dots can cause interference patterns when two patterns of similar wavelength overlap. Our design team always keep a keen eye out for potential moiré risks within your artwork and will warn you if they identify a potential risk.
Offset (Litho) Printing – A method of mass-production printing in which the images on metal plates are transferred (offset) to rubber blankets or rollers and then to the print media.
Outer Sleeve (Jacket) – A single pocket sleeve constructed from a single piece of folded card and comprising a front and back panel, it is also possible to include the addition of a spine. These sleeves can also come with a variety of die-cut holes if you wish to expose the product within.
Overbag – A clear poly or PVC plastic bag that helps to protect the record sleeve from scratches, moisture and some UV damage. Overbags are often favoured over shrink-wrap for vinyl packaging as they are reusable and can even be screen printed.
Pantone Colours / PMS (Spot Colours) – Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardised colour reproduction system, recognised globally as an industry printing standard for accurate colour reproduction. Pantone colours are printed as a single solid layer, as opposite to multiple CMYK plates, thus providing a more exact colour match and a more crisp and accurate edge.
Paper Inner – The protective record sleeve that the majority of vinyl records are inserted to after pressing. White or black paper inners are most popular, although there are a variety of options and finishes for printed inners too, as well as poly-lined options.
Polycarbonate – A group of thermoplastic polymers used in the manufacture of compact discs due to their durable and optically transparent qualities.
Raster Images – Raster graphics, also called bitmap graphics, a type of digital image that uses rectangular pixels arranged in a grid formation to represent an image. Because the format can support a wide range of colours and depict subtle graduated tones, it is well-suited for displaying continuous-tone images such as photographs or shaded drawings, along with other detailed images. Raster graphics typically have larger file sizes than their vector counterparts.
Reverse Board – Printing to the reverse (uncoated) side of the board. The texture of the card fibre often lends a raw and rustic feel. Due to its uncoated nature, colours in general are more muted as more ink is absorbed into the printable media.
Shrink-wrap – As opposed to Cellophane, shrink-wrapping is applied loosely around a product and shrinks tightly when heat is applied.
Spot Gloss UV – Sometimes a varnish isn't applied to the entire surface but only used to make certain elements stand out. This is called a spot gloss varnish.
Spines – Generally recommended, especially for albums, LPs or if you'd like to print the band name and release title on the side of the sleeve.
Split Spines – We always recommend shipping orders with shrink-wrap or with the vinyl outside of the printed sleeves, both packed into a poly overbag as this helps reduce the risk of damage in transit due to the movement of the vinyl within the sleeve.
Templates (Guides) – A guide detailing the dimensions, fold and cut lines required for each printed part.
Test Pressings (TPs) – The first records pressed from the metalwork are used to evaluate the quality, volume levels and listen for any untoward pops, clicks or excessive hiss before mass record production begins.
Art Paper – A variety of paper grades manufactured especially for offset lithography printing. Standard art paper is coated and then has either a gloss or matt finish applied to protect the inks.
Uncoated Paper – A variety of paper grades manufactured especially for offset lithography printing with a rough textured feel, similar to copy paper.
Vinyl Pressing – A pre-heated vinyl 'puck' is closed between two nickel stampers, which are negative impressions of a master disc, under a pressure of about 150 tonnes. The process of compression moulding forces the hot vinyl wax to fill the grooves in the stampers, and take the form of the finished record.
Vector Graphics – Vector-based images are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. These paths are essentially mathematical shapes that can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality. This makes vector graphics ideal for logos and text, which can be small enough to appear on a business card or increased to billboard size without pixelation.