California Fire Plant Risks Worldwide Vinyl Production

A devastating fire on Thursday at Apollo Master Corp. in Banning, California could greatly affect the world’s supply of vinyl records. The manufacturing plant has for decades produced the lacquer discs used to make masters for vinyl production. The fire took almost three hours and 82 firefighters to control. Employees were inside the building when the fire broke however none were injured.

Apollo Masters released the following statement on their website:

“It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time. Thank you for all of the support over the years and the notes of encouragement and support we have received from you all.” 

The fire is expected to create a worldwide problem for the vinyl industry as Apollo was one of just two companies that produced lacquer discs. The other company, MDC in Japan, was already having trouble with keeping up the demand for lacquer discs even before Apollo’s catastrophic fire.

Third Man Records co-founder, Ben Blackwell, had the following to say:

“I imagine this will affect everyone, not just Third Man Pressing and Third Man Mastering, but to what extent remains to be seen. I don’t want to be an alarmist, but I’m attempting to be realistic as opposed to Pollyannish.”

A possible alternative to lacquer discs could be direct-metal mastering where instead of cutting the master into lacquer, it’s cut into copper which is mastered into production. However, the process possibly produces higher frequencies as well as requires a specific, rare type of cutting head.

Source: Rolling Stone


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