Precious Sound and DMM

Precious Sound and DMM

By Olivia Yokubonis

We have some exciting news, Precious Sound is in possession of one of the most innovative tools in vinyl production: A DMM Lathe. If you have had the pleasure of listening to a DMM cut record, you understand first-hand the treat that it is, but for those of you who have not, let me paint a picture for you: You are drinking a nice cup of black tea on a Saturday morning, you grab your pristine copy of The Beatles White Album Germany 1985 White Vinyl that has the letters stamped “DMM” on the right hand side. You place it on your turntable and instantly hear the bright, well-defined sound with very little surface noise. You sit back, and enjoy the innovation that is DMM.

Now that you are curious, lets dive a little deeper into what DMM is, starting with its history. 

Let’s begin with a little history: DMM stands for Direct Metal Mastering. It was developed by Teldec (Telefunken- Decca), to deliver the frequency bandwidth needed for a video disc product that ultimately never took off. The technology was then retroactively applied to audio records, and Teldec and Neumann released a DMM lathe to the general public in 1982. Due to the introduction of CD’s, the vinyl industry almost completely vanished in the 1990’s, and was already proclaimed obsolete. Many lathes were discarded, and several of the few existing DMM machines were repurposed for lacquer cutting. As it stands today, there are very few machines left in the world that can cut DMM, but the resurgence in demand for vinyl has made them highly sought after pieces of technology.

DMM cutting offers many benefits in comparison to lacquer. It eliminates three complicated steps from the production process, because the copper master can be directly galvanized and turned into the stamper that presses the vinyl records. The use of Lacquer masters requires more production steps that involve dangerous chemicals, and is prone to introduce production errors through the added complexity. This not only makes DMM more environmentally friendly, it also enables a more reliable and streamlined production. And, most importantly, has many tonal benefits as well!

From a sound perspective, DMM delivers a technically superior product. It eliminates pre- and post echo, a problem that has plagued vinyl records since their inception. It results from the cutter head accidentally transferring some of the signal to the previously cut groove, which is due to the relative softness of Lacquer. But most importantly, the high frequencies are crisp and present in DMM cuts, and the depth and clarity are phenomenal. Stereo imaging is enhanced, and the noise floor significantly reduced. A modern DMM cut is clearly the most high fidelity listening experience available on vinyl today.

The Neumann VMS- 82 Lathe was the culmination of DMM innovation, and is held in high regards by cutting engineers worldwide to this day. Our lathe is the first real evolution of this masterpiece: it is custom built by Thorsten Scheffner of Organic Music in Germany, who is well known in the world of record cutting for his innovations and expertise. In our Lathe, the head is stationary and the platter moves as the record is cut, giving it incredible stability and precision. The preamp for the head is a meticulously hand made custom model, also built by Thorsten. Our SX 84 Type head was custom made by Florian Kauffmann of FloKaSon, another legendary figure in the vinyl industry. The quality and reliability this machine delivers is unmatched, and we are very excited to have this amazing tool at our disposal!

Our incredible cutting engineer, Marcus, has developed three distinct techniques of cutting with our state-of-the-art machine. One that creates a classic DMM sound, one that creates a classic lacquer sound, and one that creates a DMM sound with a defined high and low end, combining the best of both worlds. Take a look at our DMM Lathe on Instagram and stay tuned for next time where we interview the man behind Precious Sound’s cutting machine.


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