CD Duplication vs. Replication

CD Image

CD Duplication vs. Replication

With the digital world evolving more and more, many artists have turned to releasing their songs digitally, but surprisingly there are still many people who want to have that physical product in hand — especially when you are playing live and have the merch to sell after shows.  Plus, it’s a great way for the artist to interact with their fans!

When it comes to CD duplication and replication many people don’t realize there is a difference between the two.

REPLICATION is the process of creating a glass master/stamper from your audio and then manufacturing or molding each disc. This is the process used when you purchase a commercially released CD.

DUPLICATION is the process of burning each disc, usually on a CD burning tower using CDRs (writable CDs).


Is there a difference between the two processes in terms of quality?

The short answer is no. The quality is identical with both processes, but there is a very small chance that a duplicated CD might not play on some older generation CD players, including the CD players in older cars. The reason is the laser in some of the older CD players is unable to process or read all the information on the disc. It’s very rare but it does happen.

Sweetwater Studios does not duplicate or replicate in house, but we have many partners we work with depending on our customers’ needs. The nice thing is Sweetwater will handle all the details for you.


Which process is best for you and your project?

In my opinion that comes down to budget, your marketing and distribution plan, and how often you perform to sell the CDs.

With replicated CDs the minimum order is usually 500.  However, if you think that you’ll need to re-order more CDs down the road you should consider getting 1,000, and there are HUGE price breaks when ordering 1,000 CDs.

If you don’t need 1,000, or even 500 CDs, that’s okay. Then duplicated CDs are still the best route for you. Most of our partners do have a minimum of 100 CDs, however.


How does the pricing work?

Pricing is based on the artwork and packaging of your project.

A popular example is a full-color CD, 4-page insert (think of it as a booklet — a piece of paper folded in half, the cover and back are pages one and two, and the inside are pages three and four), a tray card (the very back of the CD — under the tray holding the CD) assembled in a standard jewel case and shrink wrapped.

Another popular package is a 5×5 CD full color sleeve and disc, assembled and shrink wrapped.  Many bands choose this option when their main goal is using the CD as a demo to submit to potential venues.

The possibilities and packaging options go on from there. If you have a specific idea in mind just let us know and we’ll be happy to put a quote together for you.


What do you need to provide in order to place a CD order?

We need your CD master or DDP file and the electronic art files in our templates. Accepted formats are Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign files. You can also provide hi-res pdfs.

If your project doesn’t consist of all original music, then you do need to have mechanical licenses for any cover songs. Make sure you give credit on any song to the writer.


Need help with the graphics or layout?

We can help there too! We offer both graphic design and layout services, and the pricing is based on your needs and specifications.


What information do you need to include on your graphics?

Short answer — anything you want. It’s your project. Things that are commonly included are artist, album title, photos, bios or special thanks, credits for everyone that participated on the project, and copyright information. Booking or contact information should be included if you are using the CD as a demo for potential venues.

As always, please feel free to contact us with any additional questions!

Julie Doust

Julie Doust has been keeping the studio running smoothly for over 20 years. When it comes to scheduling, invoicing, and the studio’s day-to-day operations, Julie is the one working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure our clients are happy and projects are progressing as they should. She’s a multitasking maven and great at figuring out solutions to just about any snag we’ve ever come across.

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