At Lucky Lacquers, standard Lacquer pricing is for a Flat Cut. I highly recommend a Reference Disc with any 12" or 7" Master Lacquer order, because it's important to me that your music comes out right! Play it at home and let us know if there are any changes you want! I can also EQ it the way you like, because vinyl will never sound exactly like your CD. Well, it will sound better! Reference Discs are recommended and will help you save in the long run by testing your music on vinyl before spending tons more on the Plates and then needing it re-mastered if the Tests aren't approved. (Read section on Vinyl Pre-Mastering for Tests that will always be approved). It only takes one Reference Disc cut to really know the limitations of your mix on the vinyl medium. Once I get a listen to that, I will know without doubt, what if any additional changes will be necessary to bring out the most in your vinyl release. And also remember that the Plates and Lacquers can often cost more than the actual vinyl, especially on Limited Edition runs, so be careful and get a Reference Disc cut before going directly to test pressings. Test pressings should be for testing the metal plate formation, not the audio. In order to dial in your mix to sound the best on vinyl that it can be, you need Reference Acetate, and I want your release to sound as good as it can.
Making a Master Lacquer is the first step in any vinyl project, after mixing down and mastering the music to stereo or mono. The Master Lacquer starts as a solid, smooth disk with no grooves. The grooves that give you the phonographic sound are then cut into the Lacquer disc on a Record Lathe. Each side of the record is cut into a separate Master Lacquer. The resulting cut is what the metal Pressing Plates are made from. The Plates are what shape each piece of vinyl into the LP that is then sleeved, stuffed and sent out to record stores and you.
The sad truth is that too many producers never order a Reference Disc (Acetate). So after they've shelled out another $500 for metal plates and test pressings, then they discover that the Lacquer didn't come out as they hoped. And then they have to start all over again and pay twice what they originally expected for a second round of Lacquers, Plates and Test Pressings, which is usually about half of the bill for any first order.
Just remember, If you want to put out vinyl records, the Lacquer Master is the single and most important step in the process and this result will be the sound that you will have to live with on every record that is duplicated from it. To settle here, after all the effort and investment that you have put into your art would be ridiculous, but to start over after Test Presses, with a new Lacquer and new Plates, can cost as much or more than pressing the vinyl itself. This is why you should always get a Reference Disc.
Dub Plates and Reference Discs are Acetates. They are 12" or 7" records, cut on the lathe for you to take home and listen to on your home stereo, so you can reference your music on vinyl, before going to Plates and Tests. DJ's typically call them Dub Plates, for immediate turntable play of their own beats, loops and mixes. Be aware that they are not as durable or long lasting as a vinyl record and are intended for only a dozen or so plays. They also melt in the heat pretty quick, so keep them cool! A bit cooler than room temp is best and store them flat. They can actually flow and flatten at the bottom, if stored vertically.
Stampers & Metal Plating - I can have your plates made and sent to your record press of choice. I can also arrange to have all of your Stampers and Metal Plates sent back to you for your own protective custody. I put mine behind glass. Sometimes they make for great promotional pieces. Historically speaking, groups have been known to a number of nostalgic or even superstitious things when retiring their pressing plates or Mothers, rendering their LP or 7" Out Of Print and Limited Edition in the process. I've heard of circumstances where the Rat Pack buried the Mother plates from a record they put together, in the bottom of the Casino that it was recorded in, just before it was blown to the ground with dynamite. Almost like burying a person or loved one. It's also what they make the Gold or Platinum record out of, if you sell enough of them.