Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) sounds like a music band already. However, it describes the way a vinyl record master works.
Important to realise, in vinyl production, not much has changed since the heydays of the ’70s and ’80s. This is why most of the tech is old and somewhat outdated.
Hence, it is prone to errors and accidents. The biggest in modern times was surely the fire in the Apollo Masters in Banning/ California. Nearly one year ago on the 9th of February, a massive fire broke out in the lacquer manufacturing factory.
Despite the drama of the lacquer cutting industry, there is an alternative. Clearly since the Apollo Masters fire, not much has happened in terms of a rebuild.
This is why DMM is a real alternative. Want to know the best part? Here are 3 things to know about Direct Metal Mastering!
#1 Direct Metal Mastering is somewhat eco-friendlier!
For the traditional way of lacquer mastering, you need a lot of chemicals. For once, cutting into the lacquer in order to transform the music into rills is already a chemical-heavy step.
Next, you need to galvanise the master in order to cut the so-called ‘Mother’. Until the final vinyl products are finished it needs an awful lot of chemical in nearly every step of the process.
Yes, with Direct Metal Mastering you still need chemicals. However, since you cut directly into the metal you can skip some of the harmful chemicals.
Rather than cutting the audio to a lacquer-coated disc, the DMM lathe cuts straight into a copper-plated master disc.*source: Abbey Road
#2 With Direct Metal Mastering you can achieve a much more brilliant sound
Here’s the thing: the good old lacquer mastering is great for very deep sounds and bass-heavy music. However, if you want to really work high frequencies of your music, Direct Metal Mastering could be a very good choice for you!
Since you cut straight into the cupper metal plate, there’s much more precision in the process.
Also, you’ll have much less background noise and a better ‘signal-to-noise ratio‘.
#3 You get more playtime out of the vinyl
One of the most common problems with vinyl is limited playtime. This is crazy, most music nowadays is produced digitally and also mastered digitally.
If a band or artists decides to release an album on vinyl as well is most often a nice add-on. The original music however was not meant to be on vinyl in the first place.
This is why the capacity of vinyl is often an issue. You simply don’t fit that much music on it. If you want to go up to 40 minutes on each side of the LP you are looking at a much compressed sound.
Why should you go to the troubles of cutting vinyl LPs if the sound isn’t good at all? That’s where you can use Direct Metal Mastering.
Here, you can really use the total space available on the record. Hence, a longer playtime for your music!
You can also use the Direct Metal Mastering for ‘high-quality audiophile 45rmp records‘.
Which mastering technique should you use?
This is by no means a blog post against the traditional lacquer cutting master technique. On the contrary, there is a reason why it was the most popular way of producing a vinyl master.
For once, the warm and velvet sound of traditionally cut vinyl is very special and hard to reproduce. Next are the long story and history of this technique.
Much of vinyl collecting has to do with a love for music history. You can’t simply exchange this with a different technique.
Here’s the deal: if there isn’t going to be a change in the lacquer production it will end ultimately. May it be for environmental issues or for the lack of skilled personal.
Embracing Direct Metal Mastering may be the way forward for at least some of the music released on vinyl records!