Is The Desktop Record Cutter The Future For Vinyl?

desktop-record-cutter-drc

The Desktop Record Cutter (DRC), now under development as a Kickstarter project, that’s designed to let you cut your own vinyl.

The DRC is automated using precision engineered technology for ease of use for new cutters, while allowing custom control, upgrades and modification for the experienced engineer.

desktop-record-cutter-project

The Desktop Record Cutter is available to backers for $7,000 AUD. Their goal is to get the production price to US $6,500 or less. The Kickstarter project is fully funded, with 20 days to go.

At that price, the DRC is out of the price range of most. But, if there’s any volume of interest in this type of device, it’s not hard to imagine technology improvements bringing ‘printing to vinyl’ within reach of a larger audience.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

94 thoughts on “Is The Desktop Record Cutter The Future For Vinyl?

      1. Talk about p.c gone demented. Its the plural of vinyl, where vinyl is a record ep lp etc. It is not a faux pas at describing the material they are made of. Many Djs and people under the age of 30 use the term.

          1. As someone who worked in record shops (the kind with real records!) for the better part of a decade, I can say, definitively, that anyone that says “vinyls” vs. “vinyl” for plural is immediately identifying themselves as someone who doesn’t know shit about records. Or grammar.

            Seriously, we’d make fun of you more than if you bought a Britney Spears cassingle if you came up with that shit.

  1. Probably, if people are going to pay for music nowadays they want a physical copy.. and i don’t mean a cd. vinyl still proves to be the chosen format for collectors and isnt going anywhere. I think its been established that paying for digital download is not the future of music like we all thought it would be. I’m not saying theres going to be a huge explosion in vinyl sales or anything, but it certainly has its place… enough to justify a contraption like this.

    1. ‘ I think its been established that paying for digital download is not the future of music like we all thought it would be.’

      Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention. I know there’s always going to be that fringe crowd who insists on having music on vinyl, but I don’t know anyone who buys CDs on the regular anymore.

  2. It would be great if this kind of device was manufactured by someone like Ortofon. I would start saving right away for one!

    I agree with the fact that vinyl is way better than a CD or a file, but I am still waiting for the reel to reel to make a comeback!

    1. What a big heap of bullshit. Vinyl is a very complicated method to make an inferior copy of beatiful music stored in digital form. Even direct to disk vinyl never reached the quality of a modern digital format. And Vinyl is not an ecologicaly acceptable product but more or less toxic. PVC!

      1. I do find it odd how people seem to insist that cutting a groove into a 12″ piece of plastic with a needle is the best way to listen to music. Let’s just take a random technology from a random point in time and pretend it is the best format, clouded with sentiment and nostalgia – seriously people?

        1. Apparently people feel very strongly beit pro-vinyl or anti-vinyl. I wonder if these anti-vinyl folks have ever had the experience of printing your first record and holding it in your hands… it rules. Finding a rare or limited pressing, or just a random gem you’ve never heard of rules. Records are little pieces of history and cant be deleted… records engage you in listening to them. Records don’t accidentally shuffle from bruce hack to bonethugs. Just a few reasons why records are collectible and your extensive collection of lossless digital is not..

          1. Vinyl was really cool when it was actually made out of vinyl. It’s all made out of cheap plastics now which makes the sound quality suck. Mostly cause they use cheaper needles as to prolong the life of the crappie plastics they use. True vinyl records were thicker and used better needles and the thicker vinyl pressed the grooves in better producing a better sound. Uneducated DJ’s call everything vinyl these days. Please know your shit before you pop off.

      2. Your music maybe stored digitally, but when you hear it, it is no longer digital. Do you listen to much music while it is still in digital form?

      3. I disagree, analog was before digital and recorded straight on vinyl. They didn’t have fancy computer programs back in the early ages of music, but they did have gramaphones to record music onto a master copy.

      4. Not so. Vinyl is high fidelity, which means high faithfulness. They used to run tests, a live band and vinyl behind a curtain. Audience members could not tell the difference. Cannot beat that. Google it.

    2. It needs a comeback? I have my reel tape machine still working and ‘not – hard – to – find’ tapes at right prices. But maybe a comeback for servicing and spare parts will be great 🙂

    3. If ortofon made it you would end up paying about 50% more to cover the extortionate price of their styli (or whatever the correct name for the cutting tip would be)

    1. wrong! the best mp3 you can have will never reach the sound quality of original vinyl; so press it is like to waste money. You don’t remain delighted by the mp3 powerful sound because if you compare the same track from downloaded mp3 (bought from regular net dealer) to record (right cartridge allowing) you feel the difference in dynamics: more clear frequencies, the real bass not rumble, clear high not harsh. Mp3 is a toy, it’s the greatest invention after cassette deck to listen music on cars (no theft, no bulky players.. only a soket and a display like cell-phone and all other portable toys. With mp3 you are forced to be a mediocre listener. I know 4 the vinyl you need a lot of money for the entire chain system and records are still a little bit expensive but in spite of click, pops & noise, sounds better than most cds too 🙂

  3. a lathe cutter? future?

    (vinyl is great but this technology is one of the older forms of vinyl manufacturing and not known for it’s fidelity, it’s more on the level of a cassette)

    1. Vinyl offers a lower signal to noise ratio than digital. But analog basically offers infinite resolution vs digital, which will always a sampled approximation.

      1. Simply not true.
        A vinyl record is bandlimited by design. They are noisy, mechanical objects that are subject to instant damage and degradation. Every time you play one, you’re baking dust into the grooves and wearing out the high end frequency.
        I love vinyl, but I don’t pretend vinyl is “higher quality” than a CD.

        1. not to mention the fact that (to my knowledge), most cutting machine use analog to digital converters for the purpose of digitally “delay” between the axis of the cutter….

        2. we don’t pretend but I’m trained to listen. Most cds are over compressed so dynamics says “hellooooo!” Sound became aggressive, annoying and harassing

  4. What’s interesting about this is hopefully to begin seeing a huge selection of ’boutique’ cutting companies, removing the big (and expensive) players from dominating the vinyl manufacturing scene. Otherwise, Vestax already attempted this, and it tanked, if I’m correct.

    1. Actually record cutting machines existed from the ’50s. Not famous for their quality,they were suggested for home recordings on vinyl against reel tape way before the coming of the cassete.

    2. this lathe cutter will never replace the quality of the whole process of creation of a record, we will be lucky if it get to cut frequency from 80/16000 (I think) but like mike mat says will be good for home recording, for promo, demo of personal tracks. no tapes, no cds.. a record!

  5. there have been a number of products like this before. the idea is pretty straight foward but historically the ouput has been of pretty low quality more like a dub plate. and too expensive to really make money on. but good for one offs you might use as a dj.

  6. The only way to create a long-lasting commercial quality record is to press a puck of hot vinyl into a properly cut metal master plate.

    Until someone invents a way to creates a “write to plate” mechanical system and lets you press hot wax, you’ll never have anything that sounds better than a rapidly-degrading fuzzy dubplate.
    Maybe the plate would have tiny nano-scale pixel pins that retract, forming the 3-D impression of the groove. Or a high-res 3D printer than can print the record from little gobs of hot vinyl.

    But this is crazy future talk. In the meantime, me no want 7k dubplate machine.

    1. @ Astro Spy: both the methods you suggest for producing a record (“pixel pins” and 3D printing) are digital and as such would defeat the object somewhat if getting away from digital is the goal here.
      The minute an analogue audio signal has been converted to digital you may as well leave it there, it won’t degrade any further – the loss has already happened. Convert that digital signal back to analogue you invite more loss during the process and then even more just from the accepted inadequacies of vinyl such as wow, flutter and rumble / resonance that can mostly be eliminated but only by throwing huge amounts of money at your local Hi-Fi dealer. Add to that the degradation of the media either over time or from heat or a relatively small impact and it soon becomes obvious that vinyl is a thing of the past unless you happen to be a collector of vintage records in which case this machine would be irrelevant anyway. If you wish to use tracks that are already in digital form and still have the versatility that DJs require then you need look no further than the Pioneer CDJ-1000. You can buy a second-hand pair AND 100 blank CDs and still have change from £700

  7. Nice idea, but I remain a bit puzzled over any adherence to vinyl. I can understand the “warmth” imposed by the necessary compression; I bought plenty of LPs that were very well-produced. I especially loved it with anything jazz-like for its subtle intimacy. I can also recall dropping a record on a dog-hair-festooned carpet and trying to clean it off (what a joy), sneezing at a bad moment and gouging one with the needle and picking at accumulated needle-fuzz that looked like a Bigfoot hairball. I’m not dissing the format. I’m just happier with digital means. They offer more options in production tools and USB sticks are a welcome change from a crate of records that need a dolly to move.

    1. DJ-wise: I used to gig with a crate. It was heavy, the turntables were heavy. I suppose you could show up with a stick or a phone and plug it into the house system. But you instantly have less credibility. You look like a a random clubgoer.

      A proper analog rig provides you with a stagecraft. A vinyl record and a pair of headphones is the universally accepted uniform of the DJ.

      When everything is cloud, what will being a DJ look like then? Saying track names into your smartwatch and have them stream directly to a PA? You could do that from your house and watch the dancefloor from a webcam. Heck, the dancers could be at home too, mix their own drinks.

      Being a fisherman is hard. You have to get a raincoat, squint at the horizon, steer your boat into cold waters. But then again, everyone understands your role and identity.

      1. > “When everything is cloud, what will being a DJ look like then? Saying track names into your smartwatch and have them stream directly to a PA? You could do that from your house and watch the dancefloor from a webcam. Heck, the dancers could be at home too, mix their own drinks.”

        Well put. Most of e-music production now is so easy that it takes the sweat out of it to some extent. It takes added care to make sure there’s enough You in your work. Playlists you can punch in casually (including a list of 3000 synth patches) can be a bit of pestilence if you get lazy about it. DAWs and Live clips are totally seductive. I have zero problem in seeing why the physical realm of turntabling persists. Its a bit of a reach to call it Big “A” Art, but OTOH, there’s no questioning the engagement involved in pulling it off well. Its sort of like having a pal suddenly pull out a clarinet and an echo pedal you never knew he had, wherein he proceeds to deliver the goods. Vinyl’s best charm lies in walking the tightrope of its delicate mechanical nature and not falling off. Still, I generally committed anything good to tape before the inevitable buildup of scuzz began eroding the fidelity. Now the frequency range is so crisp, it’d take a dolphin’s ears to catch it all. Wacky world, ain’t it!

      2. Yeah, people care how you look when you perform – it has been proved that in general a audience responses more to performance than sound, if you look like you are doing something complicated people respond to that. But that isn’t an issue with vinyl or digital performance, it is showmanship. You can look effective performing any format, just put on a good show regardless of technology.

      3. Your essentially saying that it’s better to DJ with vinyl because it looks cool? You want to conform to the status quo and make sure everyone knows your a proper DJ?

        Your trivializing digital technology and the skills and techniques that go along with it. Respected digital dj’s don’t just plug in a smart phone. There are many types of midi controllers, human interface devices, and advanced software that they use to put on a show.

        The key is progress. Time goes on, new tools are developed, people adopt them, life goes on. That’s not to say vinyl isn’t cool or there isn’t room for vinyl dj’s. If you have been dj’ing with vinyl, keep doing your thing. Their is even new technologies being invented to integrate vinyl and digital technolo together. As long as your entertaining the crowd, then it’s all good.

        The part about”role and identity” makes my head want to explode. Your identity is determined by who you are, not some fabricated persona. If I like punk music then I have to have Mohawk, a leather jacket with patches, and some doc martins etc. so everyone know I’m a punk? And the fisherman example? Really? If getting out on a boat is like dj’ing with vinyl, what’s the digital equivalent? And who, besides the worst posers, does things a certain way just to establish their roll and identity?

    2. To each there own. No one is trying to convince anyone to dump their current music collection and completely transfer to vinyl. My digital collection is huge, but…… There is no amount of pride attached to it like there is my modest vinyl collection. If I’m going to spend money on a physical album, it’ll be vinyl 100% of the time. (Who even buys CDs anymore? Car visor CD case anyone?)

    1. Over 20 crates of dope and growing …..ghetto Djs and hoodrats will using wax till whenever ….hands on djing ain’t going nowhere.

  8. I would love to see companies like Kinko’s invest in this sort of thing.

    Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to send them some tracks and then drop by and pick up your custom LP?

  9. Vinyl is one of the worst methods to store and hear music! lol
    The analog freaks go full retard on this one. 😀

    We have wonderful digital methods to store and hear music and it becomes fully analog after the D/A circuit. We have also S/P-DIF outputs and inputs on modern devices no one seems to use! All my modern synth are connect to my Fantom G6 fully digital for best dynamics and sound quality and some idiots think I should use the analog outputs instead because of the analog quality and rout them through my analog mixer. wtf is wrong with you guys!

      1. Of course it matters because I save the external synths on audio tracks as samples inside my Fantom. If I took the analog signals I would introduce big amounts of noise into the signal and have to resample what my synth produced digital to begin with. I just wish my Fantom had 4 SP DIF inputs so I could play all external synth simultaniously and live through the Fantom.

  10. Yes, vinyl is interesting. And I know there are DJ moves with vinyl that are difficult to duplicate with digital simulations and controllers. But we talk about “more resolution” and “analog quality” when we are using .mp3 as our digital storage medium. If we listened to digital music at 24/192, then the resolution issue would be a much weaker claim. But we listen to .mp3s which are far inferior to CDs which are far inferior to 24/96 or 24/192. The technology for 24/96 is common; I have had a card capable of 24/96 for 12 years or so, and I often record my own music at that resolution.

    Also, if you are listening to music primarily consisting of samples or digital (i.e. wavetable) synths, that resolution will not benefit you that much. However, if you are recording true analog synths, or acoustic/electric instruments or voices, then 24/96 may provide some benefit.

    -Fred

    1. Are you talking about 24 bit for dynamics and 96 kHz frequency range?
      From a physical standpoint it’s utterly useless to include so many frequencies you cannot hear. The signal you hear just includes 20kHz. You only need to double the frequency you can hear or your synth can produce. 48kHz sample freq are more than enough.

      1. You don’t understand the Nyquist frequency. If you sample a 20kHz sine wave at 44.1kHz, you will get a triangle wave because you are only getting one sample per cycle of the wave. I don’t think I have to tell most people on this board that a triangle wave does not sound like a sine wave.

        1. haha sure….but run this triangle through a decimating filter and you get ….a sin wave….that’s how it work and how all the DAC are implemented……..you just forgot the filtering process…

        2. Dude, no you won’t…all wave shapes are ultimately made of sine waves…if you go past nyquist you will just get a lower frequency sine wave because you will be missing samples and the lowest sine wave that hits all the points is going to get played…it’s always surprising how the most hardcore pro analog people rarely seem to even understand what is going on with dsp. 96khz isn’t “snake oil” but it isn’t audible either, it’s just there to give extra space for mixing and mastering, maybe like taking all your video in 4k but you intend to only distribute a 1080p bluray…the 4k footage just give you a chance to crop shots or add post-production effects without risking any quality loss.

          1. Another way to illustrate nyquist is maybe like when you see a car rim in a movie and it seems to stop and go backwards even though the car is accelerating…this is because the rotation of the tire is going faster than the frame rate of the camera so it is “losing samples”. The car tire doesn’t start looking like a different shape, it just looks like it’s slowing down or going backwards i.e. appears to be lower frequency.

        3. Except you don’t understand how a DAC works. An essential part is the filter, which turns your triangle into a sine wave. This is actually a major reason why early DACs weren’t that good, and hence why early CD systems got the format a bad rep. Today though, that is a solved problem, and has been since the 90s.

          That with a perfect filter on the DAC you’ll get out exactly what went in, is a theorem. It’s mathematically proven, like Pythagoras and sides of a triangle. You can’t argue about it, any more than you can argue about 2+2. You can only argue about whether the DAC accuracy and filter are good enough – but these days they are. And you can’t do any of that if you don’t know how it works. If you don’t understand it, you don’t get to slag it off based on your misunderstanding. 🙂

        4. I used to make the triangle vs sine argument as well, but it’s hogwash. A triangle and a sine sound the same at 20kHz, because the triangle includes the sine at 20kHz and then a whole bunch of partials above the fundamental that you have no chance of hearing, even if they aren’t filtered out in the DAC.

          I think a more valid complaint might be the phase distortions up near Nyquist caused, if not by filters on recording and playback gear, then at least by filters on commonly used softsynths that are trying to avoid the aliasing (foldback) from the frequencies above Nyquist, and the piles of old 44.1k prerecorded samples people use all the time in music making and production. I think it’s more likely that people would be able to hear weird phase changing up there than judge the amplitude of the near-Nyquist range. But even that, well, I doubt it. At the volumes people listen to music nowadays, a lot of us have lost much of 14kHz and up anyway, including even teens now.

          So I don’t think Nyquist or sample rate is the proper argument to make. For me, the biggest argument against digital is what it allows producers to do. It inevitably leads to the loudness wars. Compression and limiting let people make arbitrarily loud (distorted) music.

          Sure, it sounds great and loud, but it removes finesse, and in the long run it grates, it exhausts, it stresses. It’s music you want to lean away from rather than lean into.

          1. I’m not even saying that most people could tell the difference , given their playback equipment, between 24/96 and 16/44.1 (and I;m not saying that there are no posters here who can hear the difference either) ; just that if you complain about the difference between analog and .mp3 or CD quality, if you can really hear any digital artifacts, then you should be thinking about higher sample rate/bit depth before saying that analog is inherently superior to digital. And I am not saying that it is not possible that analog may be superior in some noticeable sense to digital, even though I may not hear that myself.

            HOWEVER: The part about digital allowing even low-budget producers like myself to brickwall limit and stack hundreds of quantized samples under auto-tuned vocals, is another story. It is sort of the “fallacy of composition”; when one nation gets better weapons, other nations follow and you have bloodier wars that inflict more long-lasting environmental damage. What is the point of having 80 db of dynamic range at your disposal when you have compressed the audio to a dynamic range of 20 db simply to push up the apparent loudness:-) Back in the analog days we dreamed of having that much dynamic range. Of course, the loudness wars started in earnest with Orban and radio stations wanting to ensure that people scanning the dial would unconsciously simply select the loudest station! -Fred

  11. My father made one of these in the 1950’s from a kit. You connected XLR cables and played while it cut the record. It was like a gigantic iRIg.

  12. wow, if i could afford this i would absolutely love to try this out. As it stands, there’s a shop near where i live that has a vinyl cutting service, and i’m going to take a CD or usb of my shit and get it pressed. They do 7,10 or 12, and it’s about $45 for the 12″. Bit more expensive, but a great thing to have personally. The last year has seen vinyl and cassette sales at an all time high (and modular synths too). Yes, CD’s sound brighter but trim off the lowest freqs for 16bit. Your 24bit wavs/aiffs should be able to sound better than a CD, but it seems that most people hear some extra dimension when listening to vinyl (on good players). Obviously i can’t scientifically explain it, but i’ve heard more than a few ‘audiophiles’ say this (and not because they prefer vinyl, they were just stating what the not only heard, but also felt).

    1. How on earth can you say “The last year has seen vinyl and cassette sales at an all time high”?
      Nobody makes cassettes any more and I haven’t seen one on sale ANYWHERE in a good many years.
      Who is out there selling tapes in this sort of quantity? … and more to the point, what idiot is out there buying them?

  13. It’s a cool concept, sorta makes me think of the old 78 cutters. It’s not likely to really amount to much in tersm of vinyl LPs, which are still cut with things like Newmann lathes with Westrex heads, e.g.: http://www.manley.com/lathe.php

    The precision is intimidating.

    Vinyl cut from hi-fi recordings made on 15 or 30 IPS analog tape or hidef PCM/DSD sound fantastic.

    Too much music is mastered with redbook as its target format, lofi as its target listening spec. I haven’t really purchased music sourced from 44.1 PCM in years. Also don’t forget that you can sense differences in stereo-timing between your left and right eares at a finer quanta than nyquist can represent.

    It’s most noticable on more raw recordings, e.g.: accoustic performances, live performances. analog synthesizers jump out better with the upper harmonic content intact, hihats have more presense, etc etc.

  14. i love vinyl. but having your own cutting machine is such a complete waste of time its rediculous. unless youre cutting your own masters from tape that never touched digital. not likely.

    anyways they are already 3D printing records. that is most likely the solution in the future if you really want a piece of vinyl made in your bedtroom

  15. For a moment I thought someone had invented a scratching robot that would put all the DJs out of work. Finally. No such luck. I keed. It’s just easier to daydream about pulling one plug and seeing all the clubz go dark in one instant. Ah. Quiet.

    1. I don’t think 3D printing will have the resolution to print a vinyl record with precise musical grooves in place for at least twenty or thirty years, maybe longer. That is molecular precision, and even the hundred thousand dollar industrial printers can’t do that. You would still have to cut the record, so all you would be printing is a vinyl disk, and why do that when you can buy them in bulk for pennies? Besides, only the master is cut. Then metal dies are cast and they are used to press all subsequent copies. For one shot home record making, you will always have to cut. There has to be at least one cut at the beginning, always.

  16. Nothing good or or convenient about vinyl.. I had a big ole record collection when I was a kid.. Half a record and you had to tiptoe across the floor or it would jump, they hissed along with, crackling and popping, when cd’s came out we were amazed, total silence between tracks and no hiss crackle and pop, not to mention the ability to make Identical copies… Why would anybody want to go back to that garbage… I’m a photographer and filmmaker of 28 years.. There are stubborn knot heads that still think that film is superior, it isn’t…

  17. Vinyl is the last format of music that I pay for. Nothing else seems worth it. If it’s not vinyl, it’s all just a bunch of bits I can stream.

    I think my favorite part is that LP are pretty much immune to the loudness wars. If CDs had not have succumbed to the loudness wars, they would remain more appealing to me.

  18. Vinyl records sound better because the needle is physically creating the continuous sound wave with natural harmonics and that makes for warm, rich tones that digital playback does not have. Yes there are pops and you can skip it if you jump… But with a nice tube receiver and well matched speakers you can tune the sound of your stereo to your room and it just sounds better. Of course it may be negligible to many people and some may prefer the “perfect” sound of digital … But to me it’s the physical nature of the way that continually fluctuating sound wave is building on itself with the natural harmonics – it is organic in the way an acoustic guitar makes a sound wave and it just sounds better. It’s not a rule, it’s an opinion.

  19. Harrison, i think you’ve summed it up perfectly.
    Fluctuating sound (analog/vinyl) compared to still sound (digital/cd).
    That is what i think must give it a more dimensional sound/feel
    that i referred to.

  20. Yes may be this one is a nice machine, but really vinyl mastering is a job and it takes some years to find out how it works.
    To create a good record everything depends on the source material you got, temperature, angles, pressure, adjustments, your ears and much more…
    Perhaps there could be a machine out there one day where you just have to push a button and it works, but the price …
    Why some people prefer vinyl than digital recordings…because vinyl grooves !

  21. I have over 500 vinyl records from the 60s through to the 80s. I love music, but since the digital revolution I’ve re-purchased digital copies of my albums and 45s to get truer sound. I have two very expensive turntables with S shaped arms and magnetic cartridges with diamonds. Sorry, but digital still comes through better. No pops, no distortion at times, and no real estate being consumed in my house. I think people long for the good old days and records were part of the fun we had in our past, but saying they sound better? I’d say you are likely using a superior amplifier on your turntable than you are on your CD player. I still play records. It’s fun putting the needle on and being able to physically see how much time is left before the song ends. I hope vinyl does come back for those who prefer it, but it does not sound better. It sounds very good, but it’s not better than digital if the digital version has a high bit rate and was created properly.

  22. Why would we make our own vinyl? So we can print the artwork of the album and have something lousy to look at?
    I want to buy vinyl in a store. It’s about a period in life that will get back to me when I grab the album
    DIY is nothing, it is like burning CDr’s
    Boring

  23. Vinyl
    Pros:
    Continuous frequency and amplitude if the whole recording, record production, and audio reproduction chain is extremely high quality analog.
    Cons:
    One scratch and all that quality is toast (Old school remedy: tape a penny on top of the needle and that’s fixed).
    Dust degradation of reproduction and pops.
    Warping.
    Storage requirements.
    Lack of accessibility.

    Other regardless of reproduction media:
    Crap content.

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