DMM or Lacquer? Which is Better?

Dear Mikey: "I was wondering what your opinion of DMM is, I search the analogplanet archives and couldn't see anything one way or another. I've generally found DMM records more engrossing then non-DMM, although, of course, it's mostly higher production value records that get DMM (or got, I don't think DMM is able to be done anymore?).—JG

DMM is alive and well at GZ in the Czech Republic. They pressed both of the recent Rolling Stones box sets, one for ABKCO (the Decca era) and one for UMG (Rolling Stones Records and beyond). Both of these box sets were beautifully pressed too. You can find the review by searching this website.

However, while DMM (Direct Metal Mastering)— co-developed by Teldec and Neumann— was popular during the 1980s, it seems to have fallen out of favor in most mastering houses, with lacquer cutting preferred over copper. Europadisk, one of the last DMM facilities in the U.S. closed down in 2005.

Abbey Road had or perhaps still has a DMM cutting system but they too switched over to lacquer. Interestingly, a former Warner Brothers executive sent me both lacquer and DMM sourced pressings of a Wilco album and asked for my opinion about the sound quality.

It was hardly painful listening to Wilco! The two cuts sounded very different. The DMM was more precise, with sharper transients and better image "edge definition," while the lacquer cut was smoother, warmer and more pleasing on the ears.

Which was more "accurate"? There are many technical reasons why DMM is, but I won't bother going into them here, but given that Abbey Road and so many others have gone back to lacquer, it's clear that most current vinyl producers prefer lacquer.

One organization is very much into DMM and that would be The Church of Scientology. It has bought up every DMM lathe it can find and uses them to transfer founder L. Ron Hubbard's speeches to DMM metal discs, which are then plated and sealed with a pop top kind of mechanism that they developed. The plating is done at a major American pressing plant in a room devoted exclusively to the Church's work.

The plated and sealed discs are then transported and stored in a bunker said to be in the Mojave Desert, along with specially developed solar powered turntables fitted with phono cartridges that don't use rubber dampers for their suspensions. That way they won't deteriorate over time.

Way into the future when all of digital data has disappeared of is no longer playable, some future civilization will find the bunker and figure out how to play these discs. They will conclude that L. Ron Hubbard must have been the most important person in our civilization since only he was accorded such special treatment (kind of like the Pharaohs).

Does this sound far-fetched? Or like science-fiction? Maybe. But I assure you it's all true!

floweringtoilet's picture

you were goofing on us about the Church of Scientology, but alas, it appears not.

alan james's picture

Michael only you can insure that future civilizations could work,that equipment. You must include  those instructions for the DMM discs and tt set up on your DVD. Then you will be the second most important person. Don't be too offended. 

Roy Edelsack's picture

As Francis gazes upon the holy relics the John-the-Baptist-like figure has just led him to, he murmurs, hands trembling, afraid his shaking will destroy the fragile fragments of paper,“Beate Leibowitz, ora pro me!” First there is the Holy Circuit Design attributed to one I. E. Leibowitz. Next is the Holy Shopping List: “Pound pastrami, can kraut, six bagels—bring home for Emma.” The relics Francis holds in his violently-trembling hand appear to be written in the blessed Leibowitz’ own handwriting.

The above is from Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s classic novel, "A Canticle For Leibowitz."  Shows how easily future historians can misunderstand our past when left with only a few artifacts.

DJ Huk's picture

Interesting.  I resurrected my Sticky Fingers and Goat's Head Soup GZ pressings after reading this ... and I must say, I was rather smitten.  But Mike, I couldn't find the first part of your "The Two Rolling Stones box sets" review on this site ... maybe it's lost in a digital fog.

DJ Huk's picture

Apparently, from my research, I gather that the two DZ albums I have were cut BEFORE the box sets.  I'd be interested to hear if they too are DMM not to mention how they rate. 

theboogeydown's picture

So I guess we should expect a major reissue of all of his stuff at some point (if it doesn't already exist, in a bunker somewhere) I wouldn't complain.