This is the third and final article by Mark Smith our Director of Technology here at Duplication Centre; helping you to understand some of the terminology and abbreviations used in the industry.
Unlike the disc image formats above, these are just individual audio files used by computers. They require ‘Authoring’ to a disc. Authoring a CD means taking the audio (in any of the formats) and writing it into a format and structure a simple CD player can understand and play
These are high quality audio files, very similar to standard CD-Audio. This is a very common format used in recording studios .
This is a digital music format created for sending audio over the internet. The great attraction of the MP3 format is its ability to compress files, allowing them to use much less space. Technically lower quality than the above audio formats, but not really in any noticeable way
The Free Lossless Audio Codec. This is a newer format which is able to compress audio to take up space just like an MP3, but does so in a ‘lossless’ way. This means the audio quality should not be degraded in any way, but the file size will be noticeably smaller. A useful format that has only seen uptake in technical and audiophile community.
This section may appear a bit short, but I had to draw the line somewhere. There are a very large number of video formats that have existed over the years, far too many to discuss here. In practice there are 2 very common ones.
All video formats will require ‘Authoring’ to make a standard DVD-Video disc (OR a Blu-Ray-Video disc) to be player in a standard player. Simply burning a video file on a disc will not necessarily allow it to play in a standard player.
A modern high quality video format widely used in consumer and professional markets.
Another modern high quality video format widely used in consumer and professional markets. Developed by Apple.
This article is the second in our series to help you understand some of the terminology used in the duplication process
Beware, we are now moving into the area of artwork and the word image no linger relates to a disc image! When talking about artwork, and image is simply a picture, a graphic or photograph
PDF stands for “portable document format.” Adobe Systems designed this format, which has become the standard for exchanging electronic documents. Its a very complex and powerful format used extensively in artwork design and printing, perfect for supplying your artwork supporting the other artwork formats below, as well as special print formats, colours and vector graphics.
JPEG, TIFF, and PNG
These image formats are ideal for photos and similar images containing many colours offering good quality and acceptable sizes are possible. The quality / file size of a jpeg can be altered through the use of compression.
The three formats all vary slightly in the way they apply compression to the images, each with its own advantages. For printing its best to keep the compression at a minimum so the files are larger and better quality.
This format is only used by the graphics programs Photoshop. The files are generally large and contain lots of additional information and layers which are not needed for print. The complexity of the files make them perfect for editing and designing, BUT not ideal for printing. You should save your artwork to PDF or JPEG when ready to submit for printing.
As in most Industries there are many terms and abbreviations which are used in duplication, that have become part of our ordinary language. For the uninitiated these terms can sometimes appear complicated and a bit daunting. This is especially true of file formats as some terms are used to define different entity’s even when working in the same markets!
Our Director of Technology Mark Smith has written a series for articles that we will publish over the next 3 weeks explaining some of the most used terms,in relation the the optical media (CD, DVD and Blu-Ray) market. With links for more detailed explanations:
This simply means a hard copy CD or DVD which we can use to duplicate from.
Disc Image Formats:
The type of images here are not photographic images. The term relates to a ‘snapshot’ of the contents of a disc, the format and the exact layout.
The most important thing when working with disc images is you are sure you have formatted them correctly. Failing to do this will result in any discs made from them to be faulty. If there is any doubt, or you are new to this area, ask for help and advice.We have a team here who are always available for email, phone or online chat and will be very happy to help and advise you.
An .iso image is a computer file that is an exact copy of an existing file system. ISO files are typically created through a software application that will extract the contents of a CD or DVD, and then write then as an exact electronic copy of the original disc to a file (a .iso file). This allows us to burn to burn an exact copy of the original onto CD or DVD.
Iso files are perfectly acceptable for CD-Rom and DVD-Video, but should not be used for CD-Audio due to technical restrictions
This format is very similar to a .ISO image with a few subtle changes and features which are beyond the scope of this article. For our purpose they can be used the same as an ISO, but more in depth information can be found in this article should you wish to learn more.
Like ISO files, .img should not be used for CD-Audio discs.
These files are a relatively new proprietary optical disc image file format. NRG files are used in the same way as other image formats, but are a more advanced and very versatile.
NRG files can be used for any type and format of disc, CD-ROM, CD-Audio, DVD-Video, Blu-Ray, etc.
This stands for Disc Description Protocol and is commonly used for delivery of disc pre-masters for commercial Glass Master Replication. The DDP format is compatible with all CD and DVD discs and is the industry professional format used in mass manufacture of discs. Although becoming more common, its a relatively unknown format used mainly within the optical media industry for transporting discs electronically between production facility’s and mastering houses.
DDP files can be accepted the same as all other listed image formats for duplication, but are not a specific requirement in any way. Further more detailed information on this format is available here.
This is a versatile image file format particularly useful for CD-Audio. The consist of two files,
a binary data file (.bin file), This is the raw data of a disc, a solid block of information with no organisation.
a Cue sheet (.cue file). This is a descriptive file, used to give structure and organisation to the raw binary (.bin) file.
Each of the Bin & Cue files are meaningless on their own, and must be provided together with their specific and matchingpartner, never mixed or edited. Further information of this file type can be found here.
This year we celebrate 15 years of successful business.
We grew from a Recording Studio into one of the UK’s leading Duplication Company’s.It has been a great help to us when we work with musicians that we understand the importance and value of each individual recording /duplication order we receive, and have extensive knowledge among our staff who can advise, help and guide you through the process.
As we celebrate our success we are happy to offer 5 FREE units with every order placed until the end of June 2019; just add the words FREE5 in the special code box as you go through the check out.
Everyone at Duplication Centre wishes you a Very Happy New Year.
We are here to help with both duplication and replication services and are happy to chat about new projects or old re-runs on 01702 530354.
You can get an instant quotation or learn more about the duplication process; just select the section you want to learn more about on the home page. Our news section has lots of useful and informative articles we have written to help you.
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We are looking forward to working with both new and existing customers in 2019
Getting started releasing my own music was a learning curve. Not only did I have to write all the music (which was fun!), but I had to look at everything that a record label traditionally does, and take figure out how to implement it myself. One aspect was figuring out how to ship a CD. I looked over the different options and figured out a solution that works for me.
I’ll give you a quick overview of those options and why I chose the method that I did.
Options for shipping a CD
There are three options available to you:
Third party fulfilment
I’ll quickly outline what these different options are:
Drop shipping is when a third party company creates and ships a product on a per order basis. For example, let’s say Fred buys your record. Your drop shipping company will print a record just for Fred, and ship it to him.
Drop Shipping Pros
You have to do almost nothing
Everything is automated
Low upfront costs
Drop Shipping Cons
Per unit cost is expensive, so you make less profit per sale
This is when you take care of every aspect of order fulfilment yourself. Your turn your office / bedroom / house into a warehouse to store and ship your records / merchandise. If you choose to do self-fulfilment, then you need to consider:
Online purchasing system / storefront
So as you can see, there is already a lot for you to consider.
Online purchasing system
How are your users going to buy your CD online? You could use third party solutions such as Bandcamp or Shopify; or you could use a solution which integrates with your own website, such as Woo Commerce. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation and what you want to achieve. I’ll write an article in the future about these options. I’ve tried Woo Commerce and Shopify myself, and personally, I prefer Shopify.
You need to find a company that will physically create a CD for you. When it comes to CDs, you have two options:
Duplication is for small jobs (usually up to 1000 copies). This is the same process as you would use to ‘burn’ a CD on your home computer, on a more industrial scale. Duplication also has a fast turn around time.
Replication is for bigger jobs (500 units upwards) and while it has a higher setup cost than duplication, at higher volume it is cheaper. Replication involves creating a glass ‘master’ disc and then physically stamping blank CD. It takes longer than duplication.Please see our sister company www.replicationcentre.co.uk for more information on this.
The best company I have found in the UK for duplication is The Duplication Centre. They usually ship my order within a couple of days and they give things a once over to make sure the order is ok. They also keep your order on file, making it really fast and easy to get a second printing done. If you sign up to their mailing list, they usually send out some special offers for free extra units every few months.
If you are in the UK, they are highly recommended and you can check them out here. Check them for yourselves – their policy or approach may have changed since writing this article.
How are you going to post your CD? You need some sort of packaging. You want to balance having something low cost, with having something that can protect your product – if your CD turns up smashed, scratched or damaged; even if it isn’t your fault, your fans will be pissed off.
The best packaging solution I found are card wallets from lil packaging. They are durable, protect from light impact, scratches and drops. They also ‘expand’, so you can put a thin card wallet promo CD in, and have a slim package; or you can put a full size jewel case in there and the card wallet will ‘expand’ a bit. Check out the photos.
Here are some photos of what the CD mailers look like (got a big box of 150 I think it was, to hit the price break and get a cheaper per unit price):
There are a few options for this. For most people getting started, taking a bag of packaged CDs down to the local post office is probably the best solution. Get yourself a sharpie and write the addresses on the front of your card wallets by hand. You will want to check postage rates so you don’t get any nasty surprises and set up your shipping on your website / online store appropriately.
A great way to check the weight of your item is to grab a cheap set of digital weight scales that are accurate to roughly 2g (and if you use imperial will switch to ounces). Then you can accurately measure the weight of your CD / merch and make sure you don’t get any surprises at the Post Office.
As you might have noticed, one aspect of self fulfilment is that, when compared to drop shipping, there are upfront costs to handle. Rather than having a CD made per order, you now have to buy 20-100 units at a time and the packaging to go with them… and your sharpie. So you start to need a bit of capital. However, you will find that your profit margin is much, much higher per unit, than drop shopping.
You should be able to get the CDs created and packaging for less than £3 per unit, so if you are selling your CD for £10-£15, that is a profit per unit of £7-£12.
Self fulfilment pros
More profit per unit – this is a LOT cheaper than drop shipping, so for a given product price, you will make much more money
You can customise the user experience more
Better control over data
Self fulfilment cons
Your house turns into a warehouse
You have to do more planning, to source your products and packaging.
You have to pay a lot more upfront
Self fulfilment conclusion
While it is a bit more work, this is probably the best way for most musicians getting started to go. The work involved is not really that much at all, and you make more money per sale.
Third party fulfilment
Third party fulfilment involves setting up your own supply chain. This is similar to taking self fulfilment, and taking it to the next level, turning it into a miniature business. You take your manufacturer and you connect them to a shipping company, or, you take self fulfilment and you pay someone to run it for you. Paying someone to run your self sfulfilment is pretty simple so I’ll give you a quick overview of third party fulfilment using an external company.
Orders come through from your website and are automatically sent to your shipping company. The manufacture(s) ship directly to your shipping company, who put your items into warehousing. Shipping company takes incoming website orders, takes the appropriate items from the warehouse and boxes them up (this is referred to as “pick and pack”) and ships to the consumer. They sometimes have in house packaging solutions, so you don’t have to worry about that either.
A third party fulfilment will typically charge you a warehousing fee and a ‘pick and pack’ fee.
Third party fulfilment pros
If you have the order volume, you can scale to huge levels
You still keep a high profit margin per item
Automated, so you have very little to do. Shipping 10,000 units per month with this method will be less work than shipping 100 units a month with self fulfilment.
Postage is cheaper. The shipping company gets preferential shipping rates that are much cheaper than you can get at a Post Office, due to the volume they do.
Third party fulfilment cons
You have to be highly organised with stock management
You have a lot of costs to organise and figure out
You have to organise two companies to work together
You have to integrate your order platform with the shipping company
You need to be shipping a high volume of products to make this worthwhile
I would have thought for most independent musicians (if you have a record label, all this is taken care of for you), starting with a self fulfilment model and then ‘graduating’ to a third party fulfilment model will work best for you. I’m still in the self fulfilment phase.
This is a quick round up of the companies I’ve used that offer a great service with a great price (that are UK based):
These guys offer solutions for all your packaging problems, not just CDs! They do boxes for shipping your merch, boxes for books, boxes for this and that. They got you covered. A vital company for any band (or individual, small business) shipping their own products. Check them out
Whether you want card wallet CDs, digipaks, jewel case CDs, these guys have you covered. Their website looks a little bit old school… but it works. You can get a fully customised quote in minutes. Price per unit decreases with order volume which is nice. Check them out