Swift Mastering & Press On Vinyl

David Todd (left), Danny Lowe (centre), Alex Balzama (right)

I am excited to announce that Swift Mastering and Press On Vinyl have entered a partnership where we will oversee all their mastering and lacquer-cutting quality control duties at their pressing plant.  

Press On Vinyl is a brand-new state-of-the-art vinyl pressing plant facility based in Teesside, in the North East, and quickly established itself as one of the most respected and reliable pressing plants in Europe.  

Our joint objective is to create a high-quality, no-compromise music hub where creativity meets the record industry’s demands by emphasising artistry and not just productivity.  

Our commitment pushed us to design and build a new mastering suite inside their plant, next to their pressing departments. Press On Vinyl trusted me to design and help develop both mastering and cutting rooms, and in January 2022 we finally started to work (thanks to Mark Russell and his team at recordingrooms.com for their help and initial guidance).  

On September 2022, we moved all our gear to the new mastering room in Teesside.  

Having Swift mastering inside a pressing plant gave us unique inside knowledge and technical support needed to achieve constantly optimal results on wax.  

Master Lacquer Cutting and Vinyl pressing

sx74 cutting head on Neumann VMS 80

Master lacquer cutting is where your music is carved into wax (well, nitrocellulose nowadays) by a lathe machine. The operator of this machine and the one responsible for the quality of this process is the cutting engineer or cutter.  

It is paramount for the lacquer to be of the highest quality/fidelity, and that’s why at Press On Vinyl have one of the best lathes ever made (a Neumann VMS80 fully reconditioned by the expert hands of Crispin Murray and John Goldstraw) with a custom built transfer console built for us to specs by Alessandro Benedettelli (Side-B studio).  

Once the music is mastered digitally (or on tape), it gets transferred/cut onto a nitrocellulose-coated aluminium disc called master lacquer.  

Later, this disc is coated in silver (and then in nickel nitrate), creating the stamper. The stamper is placed in big industrial presses to manufacture the final vinyl record.  

All jobs mastered for vinyl at Swift Mastering and then booked in at Press On Vinyl will be cut by yours truly, to make sure you won’t have any surprises and that your sonic vision is kept intact.  

No triangulation, delays, communication breakdowns and multiple couriers involved. It will all be done under one roof, from mastering to vinyl records delivery!  

For lacquer cutting or pressing/capacity inquiries, please get in touch with Press On Vinyl here  (or here for their online quotation page)

Please remember that I will only cut projects that will be pressed at Press On Vinyl.  


Cutting Room | Press On Vinyl 2023

I’d say that 60-70% of masters we cut are not optimised for vinyl. Often, they are the digital masters created for CD/download release sent over to be cut on lacquer.
Some of them are just fine as they are. We can cut them flat straight to wax with no problem. Others need a lot of work and sometimes even require a full re-master.

It is never pleasant being told by the cutting engineer that he can’t go ahead because the masters you provided are not cuttable or that they will require a very intrusive intervention from him/her side.
(e.g., some cutters won’t even contact you and go ahead with heavy de-essing, EE filtering, and limiting).