Can you hear the difference?
An essential part of pressing records is cutting the master of the record, which is then used to make the stampers that press the individual records.
Vinyl record masters are most commonly cut into lacquer disks, but we have been working with direct-metal-mastering, where the cut is made directly into a harder copper disk. While sound is mostly a matter of individual preferences, DMM records are known to be more precise, resulting in a wide and open sound field with a more defined top-end.
DMM machines were invented and produced in Germany. They are hard to find these days and every machine requires unique handling by the cutting engineer with lots of skill, experience, and patience.
How many DMM machines are left?
Experts believe only about 30 original DMM machines were ever made and that less than 20 are in use today, but more and more pressing plants are finding innovative ways to salvage parts to bring the art of DMM cutting back to life. Cutting engineers are relearning how to operate these machines, but spare parts and knowledgeable technicians are hard to find.
Florian Kaufmann, a Swiss machine builder from the watchmaking region, turned his love for DJing into a passion for vinyl and reviving its equipment. He taught himself and convinced the remaining few original technicians to impart their secrets to him. His skills are in demand from Berlin to Paris and Detroit to Jamaica.
What does the DMM label on a record mean?
Direct Metal Mastering was invented and patented by now defunct Teldec in Germany. The technology was then licensed to Neumann, who produced the lathes and cutting heads for DMM cutting machines.
Teldec allowed the Direct Metal Mastering trademark only for records that were cut according to the original DMM specifications. So while some DMM-cut records have a DMM sticker on their sleeve, you may need to look a bit harder for a small DMM inscription directly on the record.
This quality seal is often prized by collectors, some of whom focus specifically on collecting DMM records.