I love getting emails from people curious about the process of manufacturing vinyl. Hopefully soon we’ll start featuring interviews with some plant staff and mastering engineers (if you want to be featured, get in touch!) about the process.
Most recordings are cut into acetate lacquers. Today however, we want to talk about DMM or Direct metal mastering. DMM was invented by Neumann and TelDec in Germany at the end of the 20th century. A great overview of the sonic differences can be found on Wikipedia.
Especially of note is the story regarding the last DMM machine in the United States:
As at 2009 there are six or seven DMM cutting facilities left in the world, mostly in England and Germany and one in the Czech Republic. The USA lost its last DMM cutting facility in 2005 with the failure of New York City based record manufacturer Europadisk LLC. Europadisk’s DMM lathe was sold at auction on 20-SEP-05 to the Church of Scientology for US $72,500. This gives CST two DMM lathes for the purpose of transcribing L. Ron Hubbard’s speeches to disc and with the development of their wind-up record player this would create a system to commit those speeches to posterity for light years to come.