disc replication

Disc replication vs. disc duplication: The Indie Music Minute

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The Disc Makers YouTube Channel has a great video series, “The Indie Music Minute,” that features Tony van Veen, CEO of Disc Makers, distributing bite-sized nuggets of information and actionable ideas to help you make the most of your career as an indie music artist. This video answers the age-old question: “What the heck is the difference between disc replication and disc duplication?” The video below takes you on a quick tour of our plant so you can see for yourself. When you’re done, head to our YouTube Channel for more videos, and keep checking back, because there’s always more to come!

Disc duplication technology has been around for a long time, but clients still ask us what the difference is between disc replication and disc duplication. Let’s go behind the scenes to the Disc Makers replication line to find out.

Disc replication

Disc replication is the original disc manufacturing process, where CDs are molded from melted polycarbonate plastic with your music or your video content right on it. We start with a glass master, an optical-grade glass disc that’s coated with a light-sensitive chemical. Your digital audio master is made up of ones and zeros — whenever there’s a “one,” a little hole is burned into the chemical layer on the glass master. Once your entire audio master is etched into the glass master, it is dropped into an acid solution — wherever a hole was burned, it etches a little pit in the glass.

The glass is then dropped in a nickel solution, and the nickel is electroplated — so it adheres to the glass. When there’s enough nickel on there, it’s peeled off the surface of the glass, the edges are trimmed, the center is punched out, and this becomes a stamper. The stamper has your content on it and it gets mounted into an injection molding machine.

Then, polycarbonate plastic pellets are melted, your glass master stamps your digital music/video content onto it, and every three to four seconds, a freshly made disc emerges. The clear plastic disc already has your music on it. After the stamped disc comes off the line, it gets cooled off and metalized, so it becomes reflective. Then it goes through a quality control step before the disc gets printed with the surface laminate.

That is how discs are molded. Every three to four seconds, a new disc with your music or video comes out of the machine. It’s a very efficient, high-quality process.

Disc duplication

When you need a smaller quantity of discs, they don’t go through the replication process — they get duplicated.

Because disc replication involves quite a bit of setup, making stampers and masters, it’s usually done for larger runs. Most manufacturers only replicate orders of 1,000 or more, but because Disc Makers specializes in independent artists and independent filmmakers, we replicate discs in quantities as low as 300. If you need fewer than 300 discs, we duplicate them. That process starts with a high-quality blank disc, which we print your label artwork on. Then, on our automated duplicator line, we transfer — or burn — your content, one disc at a time. It’s a high-quality solution or short-run discs.

Is there a difference in quality?

Is there a quality difference between disc duplication and disc replication? Well, from a perspective of the quality of the sound or video on the disc, there really isn’t.

The only area of difference that might arise is in playability. Because duplication is a newer technology than disc replication, on some older players, a duplicated disc might not play right. It is very infrequent, and to make sure this almost never happens with our discs, we only use the very highest-quality blank discs.

At Disc Makers, your order size determines whether we duplicate or we replicate, and either way, you can be assured you’ll get a premium-quality disc — whatever quantity of discs that you need.

Planning your album from beginning to end

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