CD Information


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Information About CDs

What is a CD? | Packaging | Chart Rules | Bar Codes | ISRC Codes | MCPS

What is a CD?

CDs consist of a reflective metal layer embedded in a polycarbonate (clear plastic) disc. The reflective layer is covered with a pattern of millions of tiny pits which represent the �ones and noughts� that make up the digital audio data. This data is recorded in a spiral (a bit like the groove on a vinyl disc) which starts in the centre and winds out toward the edge. At the centre of the disc is an area where the PQ data is held which acts as an �index�, allowing the player to search quickly for tracks. The maximum playing time for a 12 cm audio CD is about 79 minutes, although it is advisable not to exceed 77 minutes as some discs might not play on all machines. An 8cm disc has a playing time of about 22 minutes.

The pattern of pits in the CD is pressed from a master (again a bit like vinyl records). The start of this process is known as glass mastering. The data from the DDPi files or DDP Exabyte tape is translated at high speed into pits on a glass master. The glass master is then used to create �mothers and daughters� or 'stampers' (a �negative� metal impression) from which the individual CDs are pressed (injection moulded). Once the discs have been pressed, any �on-disc� printing is then applied using either a litho or screen printing technique. As standard we include silk screen printing in any two colours within our prices. Litho print is always full colour and achieves a quality akin to printing on paper. You will need to supply finished artwork which carries your design.

All discs are examined for defects in the playing surface and sub-standard on-disc printing. Any discs which fail these quality checks are discarded. Finally discs can be machine packed into cases, with any printed booklets and cards, before being wrapped and boxed for despatch.

As part of the glass mastering process, stampers are marked with the factory of origin. They are retained at the factory and cannot be supplied to customers.


Several types of 'standard' CD packaging are available:

Picture of slimline single and jewel cases.

Slimline Case

Singles are often supplied in 2 piece slimline cases with a J card (a shaped and folded card designed specifically for singles). Sometimes referred to as a Maxi Single case. These cases can't normally be celowrapped, although they can be shrink-wrapped, but this looks very poor.

3 Piece Jewel Case

The clip in tray is normally grey, but is available in other colours and can also be clear (in this case the tray card is normally printed on both sides). The tray covers the tray card. A booklet is inserted in the front of the case. This can be either a single piece of card, or a folded or stapled booklet.

Other common forms of packing are:

  • clear plastic wallets (often used for magazine cover mount$s),
  • digi-packs (a plastic tray with a cardboard cover),
  • printed cardboard sleeves,
  • tin boxes (often embossed or silk screen printed),
  • 'sierra' boxes (over sized boxes often used for CDRom),
  • CShell (a one piece shatterproof plastic moulding shaped like a clam shell,
  • EJector cases (an elegant enclosed transparent shatterproof case with an ejection mechanism!)
  • For other forms of packaging, please visit our Packaging page.

Various forms of specialised CDs are also available, including:

  • picture discs (printed with full colour discs),
  • litho printed picture discs (full colour but with the best resolution, akin to print on paper)
  • holographic discs, gold plated discs,
  • small mask discs (the disc is only silvered in the data area, leaving the rest clear. Can look stunning with the right print!).

Chart Rules

If you think that your single might enter the charts there are various rules you need to comply with, including featuring no more than 3 tracks, and not exceeding 20 minutes in playing time. Other rules also apply, so see links page for more information on who to contact.

Bar Codes

If you think that your products will be distributed by a commercial distribution company, or will be stocked by a 'large' retailer, you should consider using a bar code. Bar codes are often used in conjunction with ISRC codes for automatic royalty payments by radio stations. Bar code numbers are controlled in the UK by gs1. Visit their web site at or for more contact information see our links page.

Each bar code number consists of three parts:

  • the company prefix (which also identifies the country of the producer),
  • the reference item number (which identifies the particular item) and
  • the check digit.

In order to use a bar code number you must be a member of gs1 who will allocate you a company prefix to which you add a reference item number. Only members of gs1 can use bar codes. However, there are companies who will act as intermediaries. Barcode 1 UK have been used by our customers and seem to give the level of service needed.

ISRC Codes

International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) are codes which can be embedded into the data on an audio CD to identify the owner of each track. They consist of a series of numbers which are allocated by the PPL in the UK, and regulated worldwide by the IFPI. ISRCs can be used by radio stations, etc., to automatically log play out of your material for royalty payments. Visit their web site or for more contact information see our links page.


The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society administer the mechanical copyright of the vast majority of music in the UK on behalf of songwriters and publishers. If you are going to use someone else's material, you will almost always have to pay a royalty. In order to progress your manufacture, you will need to fill in an Application For License form (available on line here), regardless of whether you are recording your own or someone else's songs. Once the form is completed and returned to MCPS they will let you know how much you will owe (if anything) in royalty payments, and then once this is paid, they issue a License To Manufacture. Other than for runs of less than 300 units, we (along with all other reputable duplication facilities) will require a license before we can commence manufacture. Visit their web site or for more contact information see our links page.


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CD Prices

We use various factories for CD manufacture (replication), offering the best combinations of quality, price and turnaround time. The options are so complex that it is best that you contact us for a price. In order for us to calculate the cost of your CDs you will need to decide the following:

  1. Pre-master (DDPi or DDP Exabyte for audio CDs, CDR for data CDs)
  2. Glass mastering
  3. Discs (normally with cases and print)

We include full assembly, cellowrapping of jewel cases and delivery to one mainland UK address as standard. Please read the 'small print' at the bottom of the page for final details!


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The Small Print

  • Delivery of manufactured CDs is normally free of charge to one UK mainland address as standard. Other carriage will be charged at cost.
  • All CDs come with two colour or CMYK litho on disc print as standard.
  • All discs assembled with print in to jewel case.
  • All print from client supplied colour files to our specifications.
  • Spot colours, metallic ink, metal foil, etc. all available. Please call for a specific quote.
  • We can supply almost anything CD related, just ask! (Gold plated, part silvered, etc.).
  • Digipack and other custom packaging systems available. Please call for prices.
  • All prices are Ex VAT.
  • To guarantee the quality of our work we listen to all audio sources (DAT, CD, 1/4" etc.) as they are loaded in.
  • Manufacturing plants work to a tolerance of +/- 10% of the ordered quantity to allow failures to be removed during quality control. You will be charged for the exact number of units delivered. (Average is 3% over ordered quantity).
  • All materials (tapes, discs, films, etc.) are the sole responsibility of the client. .
  • We do our best to ensure that the prices on our web site are up to date, but they may vary from time to time. Please call for the most up to date quotation.
  • Accounts must be settled in accordance with invoice dates.
  • For full terms and conditions, please click here.


Top of Page | Standard Service  | Package Prices

CDR | DVD | Blu ray Disc | Packaging

Disc Comparison Page


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Page last updated Sunday 29th June 2014 at 22:00