Pressing records is expensive, but shopping smart can save you a LOT of time and money. Whether you’re looking for 5, 100 or 500 records, we’ll show you the best options.
We’ll start with traditional short-run vinyl pressing services, which typically start at 100-300 copies minimum. If you’re looking for tiny runs of 1-20 records, skip to lathe cuts below.
Short Run Vinyl Pressing (100+ Copies)
*Full package includes: paper sleeve, printed center label and full color outer jacket.
Above we compare 12” standard weight record pricing across the 7 biggest companies. Shipping, taxes and add-ons (like shrinkwrap or download cards) are not included. Also note that turnaround time can vary widely depending on the season, and whether or not you’ve requested test pressings.
Here’s a look at each company in-depth:
Mobineko is my top pick for their cheap prices on short runs. They’re also one of the fastest services, with an advertised turnaround of 5-6 weeks.
I used Mobineko to press LPs a few years ago and had a good experience. The ordering process was a little cumbersome (involving an Excel spreadsheet), but nothing we couldn’t handle. The turnaround time was slightly longer than advertised at 51 days from proof approval to shipment, but this was still much faster than any other service.
Shipping is free within the US, but you may be billed a small tariff fee ($20 in my case) since the records are produced outside the country.
Erika records has some of the best pricing, but at the expense of a longer turnaround time (15-18 weeks). Part of the reason for this is that Erika Records strongly encourages test pressings before initiating the full run.
Test pressings are included in the $931 cost for 100 records, which makes this a pretty good deal. On the flipside, inner labels are not included. They require a minimum quantity of 500 in order to print labels, or you can pay $0.16/record for plain white labels.
Another perk to Erika records is the low-cost color options. Transparent red, green and blue are only $1.51 per record (compared to $1.21 for black records). So you can add color for just $30 extra on a run of 100.
Besides Mobineko, Gotta Groove Records is one of the few services that will deliver complete packages (record + sleeve + printed jacket) starting at only 100 units. Their pricing is a bit higher, but they have an enthusiastic customer base and reputation for high quality.
Musicol is the best way to get a short run of colored vinyl. For one, they only charge $60 extra for a variety of transparent and opaque colors (Mobineko, by contrast, charges up to $500 extra for color). Their turnaround time is also much faster than Erika records and other competitors, at only 6-10 weeks from approval to shipping.
Another perk to Musicol is they can repress records at very reasonable prices, should you decide to order more LPs later on. Musicol keeps your master stamper for up to 5 years, and charges only $1.30 per record (+a small setup fee) for additional pressings.
If there’s any downside to Musicol, it appears that you can only submit orders via snail mail.
Pricing starts at $1650 for 250 records + color labels and jackets, or $2000 for 500. Test pressings and shipping are not included.
Pirates Press is my top pick if you’re getting over 250 records. They have the best pricing in this quantity range, fast turnaround, and a very high quality record. I used them personally in 2017 and was very impressed. The sound quality was fantastic, and the records themselves were thick and professional-looking, despite being standard weight.
For small orders, Pirates Press actually discourages getting test pressings. For one, the manufacturer guarantees the final product, so if there’s any errors on their end, they’ll send replacements. Secondly, should you receive the test pressing and find an error on your end (e.g. you mixed up the album sides), it will cost several hundred dollars to replace the lacquers anyway. You’re better off triple-checking your initial order, and saving yourself some time and money.
Turnaround is 5-weeks without test pressings, or 8-9 weeks with them included. Either way, this makes Pirates Press the fastest vinyl pressing service on the market.
United Record Pressing is a reputable name in small-run vinyl, although their minimum order quantity is 300 records. Like Pirates Press, their pricing is very reasonable at this range. Test pressings are included in their quote of $2120 for 500 LPs with jackets.
On the flipside, United Record Pressing has one of the longest turnaround times: It’s 8 weeks for test pressings, and 8 weeks for the full run, adding up to 16 weeks, or 112 days total. From what I could tell, United Record Pressing requires test pressings, so there’s no way around this lengthy wait.
Disc Makers is another large, reputable company with a simple ordering process. They require at least 200 records. Their prices are above average, however, at roughly $1950 for 200 records + printed jackets, or $2450 for 500.
One perk is the “random color” option, which doesn’t cost anything extra compared to standard black. This option features multiple swirls of colors, like tie-dye.
Short Run Lathe Cuts (1-20 Copies)
For years, anyone who wanted less than 100 records was left in the dust. Recently, however, a new method of producing records called lathe cuts has made it possible to buy much smaller quantities; as low as a single record.
Below we compare the top lathe cut services, for 12” full-length albums:
A few important notes about lathe cuts:
- Because lathe cuts are produced in real-time (i.e. takes 30 min for a 30 min record) the length of your record is a major
pricing factor. It can be much cheaper to produce 7 records, or 12” singles.
- Lathe cuts are often lower quality, although some services (like Austin Signal and Vinylizer) can get very close
- Turnaround time is typically much shorter (2-4 weeks roughly)
Check out our companion guide How to Press Vinyl For Under $100 for more information on lathe cut services.
Vinyl Jacket and Packaging
While a lot of pressing services offer jackets, sleeves and packaging, it can often be more cost-effective to print with a separate service. This is especially true for shorter runs, since many vinyl pressing services are reluctant to print below 500 units.
We scoured the web and found these 4 best jacket printing services for short-run 12" vinyl:
Vinyl Jacket Printing Services
If you're handy with a screen or paintbrush, you might just want to try jacket printing yourself. Here's some of the blank 12" vinyl packaging options out there: