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CD Science Part 1 - Duplications Vs Replication

Upon the release of the new Golding Product’s website, we promised to make the most of our 30+ years of expertise and produce regular industry blog posts to – hopefully – make your lives a little bit easier!

Without further ado – part 1.

Duplication vs Replication

This is, without question, amongst the most common queries we get from our customers. What’s the difference? Which one do I pick? And – most importantly – Which one is best for my music and fans?

Similar to burning a CD-R at home. A specialist CD-R Duplicator extracts the content from a master disc (or digital file) and writes it to a blank disc using a laser. Unlike burning at home, high-speed low-error duplication towers are used to duplicate batches of CD-R’s more efficiently.

CD Replication is…

An industrial injection mold manufacturing process which ‘presses’ the content onto the disc during disc manufacture. First the content is used to create a flawless glass master, which in turn is used to create a metal stamper. The metal stamper is then loaded into an injection moulding machine and the content is ‘pressed’ into a polycarbonate resin. The newly created disc is coated in a micro-thin layer of aluminum for reflecting the laser of the CD player; and followed by a lacquer for protection. Our CD lines have digital inspectors which inspect every single disc to ensure it is an exact replica with no flaws.

A Common Misconception…

CD’s were introduced as a replacement to vinyl. As such the CD inherited most of its

manufacturing terms from vinyl manufacture, despite being a different process. In the paragraph above, we have placed the term ‘pressed’ in quotations marks because, whilst the standard term for CD replication, this was inherited from vinyl and a CD isn’t really pressed at all!

The polycarbonate resin is heated to a liquid and injected into a mold containing the metal stamper, not only is the liquid polycarbonate is not thick enough for a pressing process like vinyl, but a pressing process would be nowhere near accurate enough for making a CD!

Find out more about the replication process in part 2 of this series!

What’s the difference and what’s better for my music?


In the past cd players were designed to read replicated Audio CD’s, not CD-R’s. This meant that duplicated discs often suffered compatibility/playback issues. However, modern cd players are manufactured to accepted both CD and CD-R, eradicating this issue.

Both CD-R and CD are only as good as the materials that go into them and the accuracy of the machines that produce them. At Golding Replication, we use only the best quality CD-Rs and polycarbonate; employ expert engineers to ensure the accuracy of machinery; and inspect every disc, regardless of whether replicated or duplicated.


The content side of a replicated CD will be of a different colour than that of a duplicated CD-R, as CD-R’s use dye layers in which they burn the content. At Golding Replication, we remove this difference by offering diamond CD-Rs which mimic a replicated CD’s colour.

A replicated CD will also have a hub reference identifying it. However, to the end user these are minor differences.

The biggest visual difference will likely be to the printed side of the disc. A replicated CD is only produced for runs exceeding 300 pieces and will be printed by either a screen or lithographic printer, creating a high quality, professional print.

Whilst a duplicated CD-R CAN be printed in this way, and therefore look as good, often the lower run quantities do not justify the use of these printing methods. Duplicated CD-R’s are more commonly inkjet or thermal printed. This print method is far more economic for a shorter run quantity, but lacks the quality finish of lithographic or screen printing.

Cost and run quantity…

Replication requires the production of a glass master and stamper. These alongside other set up costs mean that replication only becomes economic for runs of over 300 pieces.

If a quantity below 300 pieces is needed, duplication is often more economic and is ideal to produce runs as short as 25 pieces.

This is the factor which most commonly dictates whether a customer uses replication or duplication.


The final factor commonly influencing the production method chosen is turn-around. Many of the companies active in the UK have their replication done abroad and only duplicate in house. As such they can produce a duplicated disc in under 3 days, but may take up to 3 weeks to provide a customer with replicated discs.

However – At Golding Replication we replicate in house here in the UK (the only independent UK company to do so). This means we can usually provide replicated discs within a 7 day turn-around. This allows our customers peace of mind – no customs to stop urgent delivery and the ability to have a tour of our facilities to see for yourself the machines and people making your CD!

So, there we go CD Science Part 1 – Replication vs Duplication. Keep a look out for Part 2 which will explore Replication and the types of CD content in more detail!

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