News

Plating bottleneck opening up. 2-17-2017

With several new pressing plants opening, the burden on the plating operations has caused severe backlogs. Plating is a difficult operation especially because of the dangerous acids and other chemicals involved. EPA regulations are high. Dealing with the sharp edges of the plates makes these operations buy band aids by the case. Clothing gets ruined by droplets of acid. Furthermore, the plating operations rarely get the credit that the mastering houses and pressing plants receive for the artists work. Is it any wonder why no one say "When I grow up, I want to plate records!" It's usually make the music, press records, or cut them.

In recent years a few plants have started to do their own plating. RTI and United have done so for decades. Gotta-Groove started their own plating a few years back, but only plate their own masters. Palomino had plating, but has shut that down.

The good news is that a new plating operation has opened up in California:
NiPro Record Plating
7 Marconi
Irvine, CA 92618
(949)215-1151
sales@niprooptics.com

Mastercraft has expanded adding several new tanks. Their backlog has dropped from about 5 weeks to about 7-10 days. I've used Mastercraft for over 20 years, and it's good to see that they have expanded.

Bill Smith Closure 6-1-2016

With great sadness, we bid farewell to Bill Smith Custom Records. They were a joy to work with. After over 35 years in the business, we wish them health and happiness.
For those who have stampers that were used at Bill Smith, here is a listing of pressing plants that can use their stampers:

Vinyl Boom, Backlog 9-7-2015

Vinyl is Booming!
That's not all great. Although Aardvark generally turns Master Lacquers within a week, there is still the metal processing. To my knowledge, three new pressing plants have opened this year. Not one has plating capabilities. Therefore, a bottleneck. The following pressing plants have their own plating: All the other pressing plants use the only independent plater in the US, Mastercraft. When talking with a few people at the various plants, the I gathered following information: The good news is that although Mastercraft is running about 4 to 5 weeks behind, they are working hard on expanding. Six new tanks are on order.

Back on Track 04-29-2015

Thanks to our loyal customers for sticking with us during these last few months of difficulty. Memorial service is planned for mid-June, estate is pretty much settled, and mom-in-law is settling in.

Additional difficulties over the last few months included issues at plating with chemical imbalances, cutting styli, and master lacquers, all contributing to noise issues at some level or another. All these issues are either solved, or being more carefully monitored.

Death and Taxes 03-13-2015

Over the last few months, we have been dealing with the slow decline of Barbara's father's health. He passed away today, Friday the 13th of March at age 95. Robert Schuman was born in 1919. He lost his father in the late 1920s to tuberculosis. His brother Phil was a Navigator of a B-26 Medium Bomber of the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, and was lost at the Battle of Midway. Bob's contribution to the war effort was the he was recruited to work on the Manhattan Project. After the war, he continued his education earning a PHD in Nuclear Chemistry. Bob leaves behind his young wife Ellen age 98, three daughters, 4 grand children, and 4 great-grandchildren. Ged, one of his grandsons, is Aardvark's chief mastering engineer.

This is also tax time, which means closing out the books for Aardvark, filing W2s and 1099s, and filing taxes. The first of the year is tough.

So I hope that explains some of Aardvark's delays. Things should return to normal soon.

Server & E-Mail Issues 11-26-2014

Our E-Mail has been restored, and we've upgraded our server to something from the late '90s. On-line ordering, File transfer through our HTTP and FTP systems, our Contact Us system, and Status of Recent Projects are all working again.

Server & E-Mail Issues 11-26-2014

Over the last few days, our E-Mail has been down. Now that it is fixed, our server crashed. The system drive died, but the data drive is intact. I plan to have this server back up over Thanksgiving.

What this affects:

Wish me luck!

Back on track! 11-20-2013

Aardvark has been back to it's normal one week mastering turn-around for a few weeks. Now Mastercraft, our plater is also back to their week to ten days turnaround time. Still, your process may be sped up a little by using us for the mastering, and one of the pressing plants that have in-house plating for the remainder of your project.

Backlog - Update 10-29-2013

Aardvark is finaly back to it's normal one week turn-around for Mastering. Mastercraft, our plater is still about 3 weeks or more behind. If you have a rush project, consider using us for the mastering, and one of the pressing plants that have in-house plating for the remainder of your project.

If you choose one of the above pressing plants to handle your plating in addition to your pressing:

Floods and Pestilence 9-25-2013

Colorado has suffered its share of floods and other problems. Aardvark was not directly affected other than some water in the basement, and one of our cutting rooms. Fortunately, no electronics, customer orders, or computer equipment was damaged. Only about an inch of water affected one cutting room, the restroom, and access to the other two cutting rooms. Our primary cutting room was unaffected.

Our garage was broken into over Labor Day at 3:00 a.m. Nothing of value was stolen as the alarm probably scared of the perpetrators. Damage to two doors had to be repaired.

Aardvark also suffered some issues with two of its computers. The server, which handles all the orders and FTP transfers, was unaffected. The computer that is used for high-definition audio had some operating system issues. The computer used for editing and preparation of audio files suffered a hard drive crash. This was a mirrored volume, so all should have been fine, but wasn't. Each drive had bad sectors, but in different areas, so all audio files were retrievable.

There have also been some health issues among the staff and family. While riding my bike along the Cherry Creek path, I hit some submerged rocks and took a header. No broken bones, no damage to the bike, I just hurt my dignity. My in-laws have moved to Denver so they can be closer when needs arrive. Both Mom and Dad are OK, and in their 90s. My father-in-law needs a walker, and sometimes a wheelchair. He's not exactly a rocket scientist; he's a nuclear chemist. Both need some assistance concerning medical appointments, and getting their TV to receive Lawrence Welk.

We are working as hard as we can to get back on track, and get the backlog down to our usual one-week turn-around for mastering. Plating is still suffering a hefty backlog, so consider using alternate platers listed in the 7-29-2013 section below.

Backlog 7-29-2013

Vinyl is booming, which is great! Except that the industry has not quite caught up. Currently, Aardvark uses Mastercraft Metal Finishing in New Jersey. They are one of the finest independant platers in the world, and used by most US and Canadian pressing plants. They are running about four weeks behind. This creates a problem for you, the independant record producer. Aardvark usually gets your project mastered and shipped to plating in about a week, sometimes two. Plating backlog can take three to six weeks.

If you have a rush project, we can still master you project in that week or so turn around, and get the master lacquers to one of the following pressing plants:

If you choose one of the above pressing plants to handle your plating in addition to your pressing:

Passages 10-30-2012

Aardvark has recently lost two important people:

Phone and Internet troubles 12/8/2011

Aardvark had connectivity issues on Wednesday, December 7th through the 8th. Everything is almost back to normal, other than the voice mail. It will take about 7 rings to get to the message.

Plating Price Increase Effective 11-1-2011

Aardvark's plating prices will increase effective November 1, 2011. Below are the new prices:

Two Step Processing

Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$86.00$184.00
Plating$190.00$270.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$301.00$479.00

One Step Processing

Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$86.00$184.00
Plating$160.00$180.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$271.00$389.00

Aardvark is now 25! 11-26-2010

Twenty-five years ago, Paul drove a U-Haul from Nashville TN loaded with a Scully lathe, various outboard equipment (mostly Urie) and a Westrex cutter system. The system was in use at Hilltop Recording Studio, a Country/Gospel studio that also mastered their own records. Before Hilltop, the lathe was used at Columbia Records.

Initially, we were looking for a secure building with a solid floor to house Aardvark, however, as we continued the search, we felt the best place was in the basement of our home, a decision that was most beneficial.

Since 1985, the record business has gone through many changes with the overtaking of CDs, and now mp3s. Vinyl somehow has survived all these changes, even the nickel panic of June 2010.

Aardvark moved 1/2 mile from it's Zenobia street location back in 1994 to it's present Utica street location. Aardvark is still housed in my residence, and the equipment is completely paid for. Therefore, with the lower overhead, we are able to keep the prices down, and help keep vinyl reasonable for the indies.

Nickel Problems June-2010

Back in June, 2010, there was a problem with getting the proper nickel used for plating records. This initially caused the plating prices to double. After a week or so, the platers throughout the country realized that this could spell the end of records, and lowered their prices to a loss with the hope that the nickel would return to normal once the strike ended.

In July, the strike did end, and the nickel prices dropped to a reasonable price, although higher than before the strike.

Upcoming Price Increase 2-1-2010

As noted on the main page, new prices will go into effect on orders postmarked after February 22, 2010.
These prices are for the cutting and plating of both sides. If you want quotes for single sided records, please use our
Price Calculator

Two Step Processing

Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$86.00$184.00
Plating$168.00$196.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$279.00$405.00

One Step Processing

Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$86.00$184.00
Plating$99.00$114.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$210.00$323.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $99.00 for 7" and $114.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no guarantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning skipping and noise on a one step project must be reported to Aardvark within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply after 45 days of mastering.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

Information concerning United Record Pressing 3-26-2008

This is a continuation and expansion of the 1-18 section on replacement stampers. Please see the Considerations when using United Record Pressing page for details.

Policy Change concerning replacement stampers 1-18-2008

Aardvark has covered the replacement of stampers that have broken before pressing 1000 records.

Stress to the stampers is caused every time they are mounted in the press. They are mounted twice for a normal run of records, once for the test pressing, and again for the first set of pressings. Aardvark will still guarantee the stampers up to 1000 records on the first run only. If the stampers should break on a re-order, the replacement of the stampers will be at the customer's expense.

Changing color on a first order may requires the stampers to be moved to another press. Only the first 1000 records on the first press will be guaranteed. If the stamper should break when moved to another press, the replacement stampers will be at the customer's expense.

E-Mail acting up 12/30/2007

Aardvark's E-Mail service is iffy. We stongly suggest you use the Message system to get ahold of us. We can E-Mail out, but we can't get E-Mails back.

E-Mail back on line 12/27/2007

Aardvark's E-Mail service is back to normal. You may use either our original E-Mail address or the Message system to get ahold of us.

E-Mail issues 12/25/2007

The aardvarkmastering.com site was down for a few days. It was temporaraly moved to a different server until our standard web service returns. At this point, the E-Mails from our customers are being bounced back. Don't panic, this is just a temporary web-glitch. If you need to get ahold of any of the Aardvark crew, please use the Message system. We all have alternate E-Mail addresses, so we can get back to you. Please include your phone number.

Noisy Vinyl Issues 10/14/2007

I have been in contact with a few pressing plants and my plater concerning an increase of noise problems on records over the last few months. It appears that the main manufacturer of vinyl has closed it's doors. Therefore most pressing plants are adjusting their presses for a different manufacturer of vinyl.

With some plants, the noise issues are only at the edge of 12" records. For these plants, Aardvark is starting the cut 1/8 inch further in. This reduces the cut time as little as 20 seconds on short records, and up to 2 minutes per side on very long 12" records. Although this deviates from the RIAA standard, the record is still playable, even on automatic changers.

During this transition, us mastering engineers and the pressing outfits continue to work together to keep the quality of vinyl records.

If you have a noise problem with your record, please contact us right away so we can check the metal parts. If these parts are clean, we'll work with the pressing plant to get the issue resolved.

Plating Price Increase 3/24/2007

The plating prices effective March 26, 2007 are as follows:
3/1/2006Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$75.00$160.00
Plating$157.00$182.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$257.00$367.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $94.00 for 7" and $106.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no gaurantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning problems with skipping and noise on a one step must be made within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

Web Server Restored 3/23/2006

The web server has been restored. All of the HTML files have been reloaded, and the pictures haven't changed since the last backup. If there is a problem with a picture, please leave us a Message.

Web Server Crash 3/22/2006

Our web provider attempted to make the web server more stable by installing a mirrored drive, and it crashed the system. At this point, Aardvark Mastering is running off of our business server, not quite built to handle the volume. As a result, our E-Mails are temporally down as well. You can still leave a message via our Message System. We can get messages through there, and send E-Mails back to you. We expect this issue will be resolved within a few days. Your patience is greatly appreceiated.

Plating Price Increase 9/5/2006

The plating prices effective September 1, 2006 are as follows:
3/1/2006Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$75.00$160.00
Plating$137.00$160.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$237.00$345.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $85.00 for 7" and $95.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no gaurantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning problems with skipping and noise on a one step must be made within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

Plating Price Increase 2/2/2006

The plating prices effective March 1, 2006 are as follows:
3/1/2006Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$75.00$160.00
Plating$125.00$145.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$225.00$330.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $75.00 for 7" and $85.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no gaurantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning problems with skipping and noise on a one step must be made within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

New Return of Source Policy 11/12/2005

With the extreem number of customers sending in CDRs, which cost about fifty cents, beginning January 1, 2006, Aardvark will not be returning source materials. If you want your source material returned, weather it be a CD or reel, there will be an additional $5.00 charge. This only applies to orders received after 1/1/2006.

New Parent Survey 4/26/2005

My daughter Laura McCarthy is doing a survey concerning the transition to parenthhod. If you or someone you know is a new parent, please participate in her survey.

http://plaza.ufl.edu/lmccarth/survey.htm

United Suggested Time Limits 4/6/2005

United Record Pressing has asked us to pass onto our customers their suggested time limits.
United's suggested times

Plating Price Increase 12/7/2004

The plating prices effective December 27, 2004 are as follows:
12/27/2004Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$75.00$160.00
Plating$115.00$135.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$215.00$320.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $65.00 for 7" and $75.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no gaurantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning problems with skipping and noise on a one step must be made within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

Aardvark East scheduled to open June 2004... 4/17/2004

Aardvark East will be headed up by my step-son in the New York City area. He will be using European equipment that has been carefully gone over by Aardvark's finest, uh, only technician, oh, that's me! Although the cutting system is mono, it's about the finest mono cutting system designed. Aardvark's stereo dub plate cutting prices have already increased, so check out Aardvark East for your next dub order. High end mono dubs at a reasonable price!

Web ServerBack to normal...11/7/2003

All E-Mails and web pages are back to normal.

Web Server Problems 11/3/2003

The Web Server that Aardvark uses for hosting the aardvarkmastering.com crashed on Thursday October 30th. It is mostly up, but not entirely stable as of today (11/3/2003). It should be solid by the end of the week 11/7/2003. E-Mails to Paul and Louis are not stable at this time so please leave us messages via the message server.

The system had a hard drive crash that was beyond the damage of the disk. The failed hard drive failed electrically, and overwrote information on the mirrored drive, rendering both the primary and secondary drives useless. A full rebuild of the web server including E-Mail had to be done. Backups of the data were there, but not of the server system, hence the full rebuild.

Plating Price Increase 8/25/2003

The plating prices effective September 22, 2003 are as follows:
9/22/2003Seven
Inch
Ten/Twelve
Inch
Mastering$75.00$160.00
Plating$105.00$125.00
Shipping/Handling$25.00$25.00
Total$205.00$310.00

We still offer, but discourage, doing your project with One Step plating. These new plating prices for One Step processing will be $60.00 for 7" and $70.00 for 10/12". The precautions are as follows:
  1. There is no gaurantee concerning the life of the plates. This includes breakage at the plant.
  2. All problems concerning problems with skipping and noise on a one step must be made within 45 days of mastering. The lacquers are discarded after 45 days, and therefore no tracing of errors are possible. Full price for re-mastering and plating will apply.
  3. No stampers can be re-ordered on a one step process.

Slammer Virus 2/12/2003

The slammer virus has been effecting web servers around the world, and Aardvark is not immune, nor ammused. This effects the ability to see this page, and also receive E-Mail sent to us. Remember that our phone number is (303)455-1908. We generally let the phone go to the messages since we concentrate on mastering, and don't want to be interrupted during our projects. We will get back with you by phone or E-Mail. Our outgoing E-Mail server is uneffected at this time.

Bill Smith Custom Records doing 10" 10/2/2002

Bill Smith Custom Records is now doing 10" records. This should give Erika and Rainbo some competition.

United's New Policy on Samples 07/14/2002

United Record Pressing is now copyright certified, and in being so, now checks all test pressings for the possibility of copyright infringment. This includes samples such as phrases from TV shows and movies, and other copyrighted recordings. United is still my first choice as a pressing plant as their quality is good, price great, and easy to deal with. However, there are several plants that we deal with very well. If you have material that may violate United's new policy, please send me a message with any questions.

New Web Provider 11/25/2001

Welcome to the new web host, Tas Computing. I am hoping that all will go well in the transfer. Needless to say, I became rather unhappy with Chisp, my previous ISP, when they let my domain name lapse. If you have sites out there, check to see when your's will expire, and make a big nasty note of it, or suffer the same fate as me. Never trust your site to someone else. Make certain that you control your domain name. To check your domain name, there are a few simple steps:
  1. Check with a registrant to see who registered your domain name. Use this Link to find out.
  2. Look at the "record expires on" date, and make certain that you note it on your calendar, databank, something to allow you at least a month to contact who you need to in order to renew.
  3. If you are not the administrative contact, do whatever it takes to become the administrative contact. Be certain that your registration service recognizes you.
Tas Computing is run by Russ, a friend of mine from back in the '80's. He also has a business of The Alchymist's Shelf, specializing in powdered incenses, essential oils or other products.

New URL 11/1/2001

Due to a bookkeeping error, my domain name of www.aardvark-mastering.com has expired. To make matters worse, there is some greedy company in the Netherlands that has bought the old URL, and is willing to sell it back to me for $550.00. Since I don't want to pay for such an expense, which wasn't my error, and therefore pass it onto my customers, I have re-registered the URL without the dash, and let the greedy bast**ds keep the old URL, which they are now pointing to a phoney porn site.

Hence, the web address is now http://www.aardvarkmastering.com . It takes a few days for the new URLs to propagate, so the new site might not be available in your area yet. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to send me a message.

Bicycle Accident 6/6/2001

Paul had his annual bicycle accident on his Hi-Wheel bike. This time, he didn't need hospitalization. Paul was hit by a car while on his High Wheel, and went ovet the top. The bike had about $800.00 in damage. Paul is back riding, most people are saying he is suicidal, or dumm as a month that keeps flying into the flame.

Plating Price Increase 2/8/2001

The new plating prices are now in effect. This is the first price increase since 1996.

Wedding 1/1/2001

Paul and Barbara have finaly tied the knot. See the wedding pictures for their Ordinary Wedding.

Bicycle Accident 6/6/2000

Paul Brekus, the owner, and main guy here at Aardvark has revovered from his bicycle accident on his Hi-Wheel bike. After hospitalization, dental work, damaged 2 teeth, lost one, Paul had to slow down for a period, and Aardvark got a little behind. Between Louis and Darien, we hardly missed a step, and things continue to be right on schedule. E-Mails are checked several times a day, so that's one of your best ways to contact us.

When bicycling, always wear a helmet. This is the third time my life has been saved by that goofy chunk of styrofoam.

Room two is operational. The second room is also a Scully system with a HAECO (westrex clone) head driven by a SD-240 amplifier. The system is nice and clean. The head can be seen on the cutterhead page. The system also employs a computer system developed by Vinylium GmbH in Switzerland. This system is about the smoothest system I have ever seen as far as total avoidance of groove collisions. As a result, we are able to squeeze a little more onto a dub plate. Most recently, we added Urie 1176-LN clones to the room eliminating the DBX limiters that were there. At this point, we now feel like the room is in full production. The next project on the Aardvark task list is to get the Neumann AMD-30 running for mono dub plates. Flo from Switzerland will be arriving in December to set of the Neumann with a Grampian head. Once the Neumann is operating satisfactorily, mono dub plates will be priced at the old rate of $30.00 for 10" and $40.00 for 12". Stereo plates will remain at the $40.00 and $50.00 rate. Dub plate customers, please see the Dub Plate page. This page includes a link to a dub plate order form.

Vinylium is a new cutting and pressing operation in Switzerland. I had the opportunity to have Flo Kaufmann visit for a few weeks while he installed the computer system for room two. I can highly recommend his work not only in the technical working of lathes and cutterheads, but also in the art of mastering. This guy is good. If you are in the European marketplace, contact Vinylium. You won't be sorry.

Additionally, Flo is developing a cutting system for CUTTING DUB PLATES. For all those who have asked me if I have extra equipment for sale, contact Flo concerning a simple system for cutting your own! See his page concerning the dub plate cutter. So far, it looks pretty nice.

Flo has also developed a low cost cutter for you hobbiest. The cost of the machine is about $5.00.

I Still haven't heard any plates cut on the Vestax system, and only head rumors of it's existence, nor have I been in contact with any DJs that have. I've seen their web-page, and have seen the system go through about 3 changes. Once I get some feedback on this system, I'll let you know.

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