Not sure whether you need to look at duplication or manufacturing using a glass master? This information is designed to help you navigate which you should consider.
By the way, this entire topic is typically moot for CDMaker clients because we offer replicated CDs options at a low quantity of 300. At that point it is actually cheaper to press than to duplicate. So its really more a question for those that need less than 300 or those that are doing DVD formats where the minimum quantities to press are higher, for example DVD-9 manufacturing as of 2014 still requires a minimum quantity of 1000 pieces.
The number of discs from the same master is the primary factor in determining which one is best suited for you.
Duplication or Replication is all about the economics
What you need to understand that the work to replicate a CD or DVD requires hours of glass mastering – preparing an exact replica of the physical master to then have stampers made so that thousands of pounds of polycarbonate pellets can be melted down and injected into the molds that will form your disc and then have some nickel oxide spun on the disc and then have the finished discs silk-screened.
All that time and labor to create the glass master and stamps is spread throughout the number of discs that are manufactured now. Previously in the early 1990’s you would have paid a separate glass mastering fee.
If you only have 100 discs made by glass master, even by spreading it out on a per disc charge would make those 100 discs almost as expensive as pressing 1000 discs. The labor and materials for the glass mastering and the step up on the machine and testing is a lot easier to spread out over 1000 or more discs without causing coronary issues!
Duplication, where a pre existing round blank disc is placed in a duplication machine for copying, is much better suited for runs up to 200 – 250. You do pay more PER disc for short runs compared to replication but the OVERALL price is less.
How do you choose CD Duplication vs Replication?
Usually this is a question asked by our audio clients who are concerned about the sound quality of duplication. We do have clients who insist on only doing replication and will press the minimum amount because they want the stability that a pressed disc by nature holds.
You see,what makes a CDR or DVDR able to be copied is also what makes them easy to be damaged when compared to a replicated disc. Not that a replicated disc is indestructible by any means, this is all relative.
How about sound quality for music discs?
First and foremost, your master and how it was created plays an enormous role in this process. Manufacturing is going to be an exact replicate of your master. So there are fewer opportunities in manufacturing to “mess” with your sound. This is best understood if you realise that manfacturing is a physical process and everything up to your master has been an AUDIO process. For for the duplication process there are many ways the sound can be depricated.
For instance, the main way this happens is depending on how fast your music CDs are duplicated. CDMaker duplication for audio CDs is set to 16X – no faster. This is typically lower speed than most duplication facilities who are more interested in scheduling vast numbers of discs rather than a lesser number of better sounding discs.
Another factor is are the computer chips in the players – car stereos vs home systems. Some CD players have a hard time with different media – the brand of the blank disc – and it can be a high end automobile that spits out your duplicated disc. While duplication and replication has standards it must meet in order to be an audio CD, CD players are not held to the same standard – they can use any set of standards for playback which may not be a full range of Red Book Audio.
UPDATE: In response to the comment below, DVD-R and DVD+R blank media are two entirely different animals. We do not accept any rewritable media as masters because of the possibility that they were used before and could have digital “events” that are not apparent in playback but potentially could get noticed in the glass mastering phase which makes an exact copy.
A DVD-R is a non-rewriteable format and it is compatible with about 93% of all DVD Players and most DVD-ROMs.
A DVD-RW is a rewriteable format and it is compatible with about 80% of all DVD Players and most DVD-ROMs.
They both come as single-sided, single layer as well as double sided,single layer and double-sided, double layer formats.
But which is best?
Well, you have to realize that while you want to always have an archive of your best copy, producing a commercial CD or DVD either by duplication or replication shouldn’t also be confused as archival quality. You may only want 100 copies and the question to you is – if you don’t want duplication – are you willing to pay the higher price per unit for manufacturing? Because what we’ve found is that once a client can obtain pressed copies of their music at a price that is lower than duplicated discs, economics turns the tide in the decision-making process.
Best bet is to talk with your representative and tell them what you need, what your concerns and priorities are so they can provide you with a complete range of options so you can make an informed choice whether or not you want to duplicate or replicate your project.