Most musicians are familiar with short-run cd duplication. You need the CDs in few days but your gold master is still not done yet. After flipping the Yellow Pages you find a local disc copying company. What is told can be totally disappointing. They can only do CD duplication, i.e. burn the CDs with recordable media. But what you want are pressed CDs with silkscreen or offset printing, the so called pressed CDs or replicated CDs.
True! Short-run CD replication used to be a mission impossible because it cost too much. New Cyberian changes that
When should one use replication and when should one use duplication?
Traditionally the answer is related to time frame and quantity. Replication is more cost effective when the quantity is big but it does take longer lead time. Duplication can be done relatively easily in shorter time when the quantity is small. Normally the minimum quantity for replication is 1000; or reluctantly set to 500 by some disc replicators.
Duplication discs should be as reliable as replicated disc right? Yes, but only within a time frame and under normal conditions. If you look at the clear side of a duplicated disc you will find it’s either light blue or yellowish green in color. The color is from the dyed chemical which changes the chemical properties when beamed by controlled wavelength laser. This produces the 0s and 1s for the data. One the other hand, a replicated disc should be silver shiny as a flat mirror. One should have no idea how much data is on a replicated disc as there is no contrast between the "has data" and "has no date" areas. We bring this up because the colored duplicated discs will lose the color over time. Light sensitive is the attribute of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. Although normal ambient light shouldn’t be strong enough to change the chemical properties of the light sensitive coating, sunlight will. Now one knows whey a duplicated CD fail to play in a car stereo after leaving on the dash board under the sun for few hours. To the extreme, a duplicated CD can become partially transparent when it’s under the sun for a few days. A replicated disc will be much more resistant to sunlight and temperature variation.
Even duplicated CDs and replication CDs look alike, function alike, but they are not the same in structure. CD-R is relatively weak and is more susceptible to damage then the replicated counterpart. Besides being less tolerant to sunlight, the data layer of a CD-R can be peeled off or flaked out because of sudden temperature change. That face is: CD-R data are stored on the label side of a disc, not on the clear side. This can be proven by performing a simple experiment. Press a piece of masking tape on a scrapped CD-R with both ends of the tape loosely upward, then try to lift up the tape forcefully by pulling the ends. Surprise! Surprise! The silver coating of the CD-R is totally destroyed to leave a piece of totally transparent disc. For this reason we have seen so many CDs got damage because people use a CD as a supporting pad for writing. If you sign a check on top of a CD-R, the pressure from the ball pen will leave a mark on the data side of the CD-R rendering the it unplayable, or in the industrial jargon rotten the CD. Replicated CD has a thicker and stronger lacquer. The ink layer from silkscreen or offset printing also forms an extra layer of protection.
In general replicated discs look more professional with artwork printed directly on the disc using silkscreen or offset printing. Duplicated discs look more amateurish with a paper label for the artwork.