Customrecords.com – Have Your CDs Cut to Vinyl

Rewind.

So, now you know how to rip vinyl onto your computer with ease, but did you know that you can also have CDs and mp3s cut into your own custom vinyl records? I came across this exceptionally unique service on the internet years ago and now I will share it with you.

So. Say your girlfriend is a real record buff and you’ve been putting together this terrific– let’s say Ted Nugent– playlist for her for weeks (she’s also an avid hunter). Her Birthday is coming up and you’d like to surprise her with the unparalleled musical graces of Ted, but you really want to take it up a notch this year (got her a gun rack for her last birthday). Instead of partying like it’s 1998 and handing her a boring burnt cd with “Ted” scribbled in sharpee, you can really impress her.

Your girlfriend and Ted Nugent-- a match made in heaven.

Your girlfriend and Ted Nugent-- a match made in heaven.

I’m talking about giving her her own custom vinyl record with your own one-of-a-kind picture sleeve jacket cover. It doesn’t stop there. You can have your own record label stickers on the record, itself. And if you really want to raise the bar, you can even make the record a custom picture disk. She’ll love it and forget all about the gun rack.

Customrecords.com offers one of the coolest services I’ve ever heard of. You simply send them your CD and they will do a basic mastering job and cut it to vinyl for you, as well as have the sleeve and labels printed professionally. The only catch is that you are limited to one record per CD. Customrecords.com is not a commercial vinyl pressing house and makes it very clear that each record is made one-at-a-time. If you want a stack of records, look elsewhere, because a record from Customrecords.com is all about sentimental value. Every record is an original.

Here are some examples:

They also cater to a wide variety of record formats and there are a number of options you can choose for the music time allotted per-side. Just be warned that you will be charged for the extra play-time, despite the format of record. Fitting more music into the same space requires more work, as the grooves will be closer together and will require more time for cutting.

Cutting a record over at www.customrecords.com

Cutting a record over at http://www.customrecords.com

The vinyl formats offered are as follows:

  • SEVEN INCH 45rpm JUKEBOX RECORD (4 min per side)
  • SEVEN INCH 45rpm JUKEBOX RECORD (red vinyl)
  • SEVEN INCH 45rpm EP JUKEBOX RECORD (5 min per side)
  • SEVEN INCH 33/45 rpm phonograph RECORD (small-hole)
  • TEN INCH 78 rpm JUKEBOX PHONOGRAPH RECORD
  • TEN INCH 78 rpm one-sided CLEAR JUKEBOX RECORD
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm VINYL RECORD (8 min per side)
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm ALBUM VINYL RECORD (12 min per side)
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm LP ALBUM VINYL RECORD (16 min per side)
  • TWELVE INCH one-sided 33rpm CLEAR VINYL RECORD (12 min)
  • SEVEN INCH one-sided 45rpm PICTURE DISC RECORD
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm one-sided PICTURE DISC RECORD
  • TEN INCH 45rpm DJ DUBPLATE RECORD (6 min per side)
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm DJ DUBPLATE RECORD (8 min per side)
  • TWELVE INCH 33rpm one-sided CLEAR DJ DUBPLATE RECORD

All of the records can be paired with the custom record label adhesive stickers and the custom picture sleeve, so there’s some serious room for creativity here for those of us who are artistically-inclined. The sleeves are offered in your choice of either matte or semi-gloss and use 18pt card stock. You have to provide both front and back artwork and the artwork must be of the appropriate size: 7″, 10″, and 12″ squares, respectively. You must also include a 1/4″ outward bleed on one of the sides for the “spine” of the record. They accept only .tif or .jpeg files at 400dpi.

As an added convenience, Customrecords.com also accepts music uploads via YouSendIt for free and you can even email the files to customrecords@comcast.net

The files must be in MP3, AIFF or WMA format.

I’m not going to be the bringer of bad news here, but these records are a little on the expensive side as you could imagine, seeing as how they give each record meticulous attention and each one is truly an original. Check out their site for pricing information.

And yes, they accept PayPal.

They even do 7″ custom records for corporate event invitations. So the next time you want to impress somebody with a playlist, go for the extra brownie points. Skip the CD and don’t even consider a USB stick (I hope people don’t actually do that). Just go for the record.

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Digitizing Your Vinyl on a Budget

Lets face it, even record collectors sometimes get lazy. Maybe getting up to select a record, put it on the turntable and drop the needle isn’t really your idea of relaxing all of the time– especially when it comes time to flip that record. In today’s digital world, many of us have gotten used to music at the click of a button. Convenience is everything. I’m not going to lie, I get lazy with my records too and I will frequently opt to just throw itunes on, maybe even on shuffle (gasp!) instead of filing through my collection for that perfect full-length album. Fortunately for us record collectors out there, basic and very affordable technology exists, which can enable you to turn your record collection into a digital masterpiece. And yes, you can also use shuffle (gasp!).

Instead of  keeping the music of your record collection bound to the tiny, plastic grooves in which they were cut, you can instead digitize it, liberate it, preserve it and make a killer digital music library with that classic vinyl sound, all for much less than you expect.

Numark offers a very cool, portable vinyl archiving turntable called the PT-01USB. This is the most popular USB turntable on the market. This handy device used to sell for a little under $200, but it is now available through a number of third party retailers for anywhere between $75 and $100.

Numark PT-01USB

Numark PT-01USB

“This rugged, portable turntable can run on either wall or battery power and even has an internal speaker for total mobility. Using the included recording software, no special drivers are needed to connect the turntable to any Mac or PC via USB and transfer music from vinyl to your hard drive. EZ Vinyl Converter 2 (PC) and EZ Audio Converter (Mac) software are included to make recording and importing audio simple. EZ Vinyl Converter 2 imports your songs directly into your iTunes library, automatically separating tracks, and with a free download of Gracenote MusicID, it can even automatically name your tracks. The PT-01USB turntable also comes with Audacity software for editing your tracks, which can even help to reduce clicks, pops, and other noises from your recordings to restore the full quality of your vinyl.”

-testfeaks.com (http://www.testfreaks.com/turntables/numark-pt-01usb/)

Although this may be the most popular USB turntable, it certainly isn’t the only one. Audio Technica, a trusted and long-time player in the vinyl business also offers their own USB turntable, the AT-LP2D-USB, which can be picked up for around $80-$100.

Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB LP-to-Digital Recording System Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-LP2D-USB LP-to-Digital Recording System Turntable

And Sony, also offers their own USB turntable, the PS LX300USB, which costs around $150.

Sony PS LX300USB Turntable

Sony PS LX300USB Turntable

“But For the Record, I don’t have $75-150!” I know what you’re thinking. Times are tough and we all can’t afford snazzy digital turntables with that newfangled “USB” technology to rip our vinyl onto our hard disks. Luckily, there is a very simple DIY method to get exactly the same results. This will cost you around $5. That’s right: Five Dollars.

"I'm broke! (But I still have a few dollars to support my record collecting hobby)"

"I'm broke! (But I still have a few dollars to support my record collecting hobby)"

All you need is a turntable and a stereo with a set of “record out” ports, or at least a headphone output.

Get an RCA to 3.5 mm cable, connect the RCA end to the “record out” ports on your stereo and the 3.5 mm end to the “sound in” port on your computer. If your stereo doesn’t have “record out” ports (also may be labeled as “cassette out” or “tape out”) then you can get a phono to 3.5 mm cable and connect it from your stereo’s headphone output to your computer’s “sound in” port.

These cables are highly inexpensive and can be picked up for around (drumroll please) $2-5 at Radioshack or cablesdirect.com

You’ll also need some type of software to record the actual audio from your records. I know that the full version of Nero comes with decent audio recording software. Instead of getting Nero 9, the most recent version of the popular digital media suite, you could easily settle for Nero 8, 7, or 6, which will work just the same and will put less of a dent in your wallet.

If you don’t want to pay for software at all, you can simply download Audacity for free. If you want to record the albums as MP3 files (which I think makes the most sense), you’ll also need MP3 codecs if you don’t have those installed already. Lame is a good one.

This whole process will take more time than money, depending on how many records you choose to put on your hard drive, but it is definitely worth it. A record will never sound as good as it did the first time you played it because of the wear factor that comes with running a diamond-tipped needle through a groove of plastic. You can now digitally preserve the music from your records for good. No more worrying about wear and tear (We’ll save that for another post). Now you can put records on your ipod, use them as ringtones, “shuffle” them and whatever overly technologically-oriented music-listening activity you choose to partake in. Hell, you can even email them. Go ahead, give your dusty records a new lease on life and digitize them for good. If they could, they’d thank you– for the record.

Welcome! / Best Buy in Deptford Gives Vinyl a Spin

1)     This is my first post on For the Record – South Jersey, so firstly, I’d like to say welcome to my blog to all of the curious record collectors and vintage audiophiles out there in the blogosphere. Look forward to a constant stream of useful info regarding everything vinyl and retro-audio down here in Southern NJ.

2)      Vinyl sales are up and big music retailers are starting to take notice. Vinyl sales grew 89 percent in 2008 and more and more outlets are increasing their vinyl offerings to capitalize on this newly emerging, mini-vinyl-renaissance. Last year, music conglomerate, Best Buy decided to dedicate eight square feet in each of its 100 “test stores” to vinyl records. Fortunately for us down here in Gloucester County, NJ, one of these test stores happens to be right here in Deptford.

An example of what to expect at a Best Buy vinyl rack. A delightful mixture of old and new.

An example of what to expect at a Best Buy vinyl rack. An eclectic mix of old and new.

I recently stopped in to take a look and see exactly what Best Buy offered in terms of records. What struck me wasn’t the new albums or artists that were available on vinyl (those have been available through small record stores and amazon.com for years), but the generous offering of classic albums by artists such as, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Cream and The Doors. Most of these albums are relatively newly re-issued on 180 gram vinyl by their respective record companies and sound better now than ever. For those of us not too concerned with the actual monetary or nostalgic value of vintage vinyl but who still seek classic rock albums on vinyl for that delightful, warm, vinyl sound, this is like striking gold.

Every once in a while, I’ll be sifting through dusty bins of records in a local record store and I’ll find a still shrink-wrapped copy of a twenty to thirty-some-odd year-old record. This would be considered a gem if you are a serious record collector. I remember finding a mint, unplayed copy of Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, complete with the original, faded store price tag from the late seventies. I’m racking my brain right now but I think it sold for about $6 or $7 when it was new. maybe even less. Sadly enough, right below this beautiful and misleading vintage price tag was a clean white one with a big, bold and discouraging $35 on it. Yeah, I still bought the record (Come on now, unplayed, vintage supertramp), but if I knew I could have ran over to best buy and gotten a reissue of the same record for a more modest $15-$20, I probably would have.

$35 or $15-$20? Depends which way you lean-- collecting or listening

$35 or $15-$20? Depends which way you lean-- collecting or listening

Like I said, newly printed vinyl sounds better than vinyl that was put out even in the heyday of vinyl. While the rest of the market looked away, vinyl recording and analog audio technologies kept advancing, even though vinyl slowly became somewhat of a niche hobby.

Not anymore.

Vinyl is finally gaining some much needed steam as distraught kids across America are becoming frustrated with their itunes purchases that include a shoddy, overcompressed, digital piece of music and a piece of art the size of a sticky note (if you really zoom in). Still, youngsters are coming across their parents’ record collections and are being turned onto one of the most satisfying hobbies imaginable. Not only is there optimism, but there are cold, hard numbers that show progress. And hell, if its at Best Buy, it must be big.

So for those of us audiophiles more interested in sound than price and collectibility, new vinyl reissues of classic albums is a winner and Best Buy is a best bet. I’d still highly recommend going onto amazon.com and doing an advanced search with vinyl checked off in the format checkbox just to see what’s floating around, but if you live in the Deptford, NJ area, be sure to swing by and check out the vinyl rack. It’s straight ahead and an aisle or two to the right when you walk in. If somebody asks you why you’re looking at a vinyl rack at Best Buy in the year 2009, tell them to go find a new hobby, or just say you’re there “For the Record.

Deptford Best Buy:

1851 Deptford Center Rd Deptford, NJ 08096 – (856) 374-0404
Open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm; Sun 11am-7pm

Picture 1

(the main highway on the left is route 55)