Before the actual vinyl pressing process starts, you receive test pressings that are usually a set of 4 records. Obviously, approval process of test pressing is such an important step for vinyl releases. Final products sound exactly same as the test pressing that has been approved. I would like to share how I usually check my test pressings.
When I check my test pressings, I do two things; checking the sound quality and making sure there is no skip.
1. Checking the sound quality
As I check sound quality, first I go through all tracks listening to pieces of each track comparing it to the CD master. CD master is the master that is created for CD or digital download. Vinyl may sound better than CD master, but it is not easy to make that happen. I especially pay attention to the last track of each side. Sound quality becomes worse as it gets closer to the center of vinyl. Because of that reason, I usually try to avoid having key tracks at the end of each side.
To evaluate the sound quality of test pressing, I always compare the test pressing with other records. I usually use People Under The Stairs “Tuxedo Rap” 12 inch as a reference. It is one of the best sounding vinyl title we have put out.
I also choose different records to compare with depending on the length and type of the album. For example, I used House Shoes “Let It Go instrumentals” LP as a reference when I checked the test for our new release, “Doronko Beats.” Both of these records have about 20 minutes on each side and they are both instrumental albums.
When I make sure there is no skip on the tests, the listening condition is very important. My turntable set-up is two technics SL1200 mk3 turntables and a rane TTM56 mixer. As many DJs do, I usually put the most weight on the tone arm so that it is hard to skip when I scratch or cue up a song. When I check a test pressing, I adjust the weight to make it regular weight so that I can assure the record will not skip on a turntable with regular “non DJ” setting. I usually set the weight at 2 gram for this purpose. Portable turntables are not the best device to check test pressings because records skip easier on them than on Technics or other high-end record players. After the turntable is set for it, I listen to the record from the beginning to the end twice. No texting or checking instagram during this time. I focus on what I hear on the test.
Test pressings for Tres’s new release and my first beat album, Chikaramanga (of Giant Panda) / Doronko Beats will be available for sale here on the Tres website at 7:00pm on Friday, April 13th (Los Angeles Time). Only 4 copies of this test pressing exist in the world. I will keep one for myself and rest of them will be available for you! Be one of 4 people who owns this test pressing! The official release of “Doronko Beats” (vinyl and digital) is May 18th, 2018.