Replication vs. Duplication
The duplication process utilizes blank recordable compact discs (CD-R). A "burner" or duplicator is used to copy your music and/or data onto the blank CD-R. Sound quality and performance for the most part is the same (assuming high quality blank media and writer are used). A CD-R or DVD-R with a printed label looks virtually identical to a replicated disc. The duplication process is perfect for quick turn around and small run capability or for instances when the disc needs to be writable. Superdups uses professional quality CD-Rs and can produce tens of thousands of burned and printed CDs in a matter of days.
This process takes the Data from your CD master (usually a CD-R) and copies it exactly to a glass substrate best known as a "glass master" via a laser beam recorder. After several steps the result is a nickel plated stamper that will be used in an injection molding machine that will "Stamp" the data image in melted polycarbonate plastic. It is formed into the shape of a CD, cooled and then it receives a layer of mirror-like aluminum and a coating of protective lacquer. The making and preparing of a glass master and stamper can be time consuming, but the CD manufacturing time goes rather quickly with an average CD manufacturing cycle time of 3 to 6 seconds per CD. Because the machinery and infrastructure required for replication is extensive, it's not cost-effective for the machinery to sit idle or only press a small amount of discs. For this reason, replication production runs are typically scheduled a couple weeks in advance. Average turn time for replicated discs is two to three weeks. Once a glass master is made and the stamper is created from it, the glass is polished to a blank and used for another job. The stamper will stay on file at the manufacturing facility and be used for re-orders. Most of the time, the stamper is made proprietary to the equipment in the same facility and can't be used at other manufacturers.
Which one should you choose?
We hear this all the time: "CD-Rs aren't as good as replicated CDs." Wrong! What is the preferred master? A CD-R! If it's good enough for a master it's good for a final product. HOWEVER, there is still a very small percentage of audio CD players which are too old to know how to read a CD-R. DVD-R compatibility is more complex. No DVD, whether replicated or duplicated, will play in every DVD player. Also, because of the complexity of the replication process it is not cost effective for smaller orders.
- For record labels and movie publishers focusing on in-store audio CD or DVD sales we recommend replication.
- For all discs destined for use in computer CD or DVD drive, or for faster service or smaller orders, we recommend duplication.