Replication vs. Duplication.
Replication - the process of "stamping" your data into an injection molded disc. These discs are like the kind you get at the music or video store and have a silver look to them. The silver look is because of the aluminum that is used to reflect the laser that is used when you play your disc. Replication is normally used for higher quantities where it's important to get the per disc price as low as possible. Often the replication process requires a longer turn around time and that you order a minimum of discs. These minimums are usually between 1,000 - 2,500 discs and help cover the cost of making the stamper mold. Some folks will refer to this as the "glass master" but actually, a glass master is just a step in making the stamper which is made of nickel. The process tends to be less expensive than Duplication for larger runs because your data is actually built into the construction of the disc and not added later in a separate step. That's an important fact because you can not add to, delete or change any of the information once its "pressed" into the discs.
Duplication - using a disc recorder(s) to "burn" your data into a pre-manufactured write-once discs. These discs, called Recordables (CDR or DVDR), are blank discuss and cost between $.20 and $.75 depending on quantities and quality (we'll discuss the quality issue in an up coming TechTip). Your music, video or data files are added by using a laser recorder. The process takes several minutes per disc depending on the speed of the recorder and the amount of information you are recording. When you add in the extra labor for this step you can see why it may cost more to make lots of copies in this fashion than replication. Wait! What about if you only need a few copies or you need them right away? Because the setup costs for recording a few discs are minimal by comparison to the set up costs for replication (remember the cost of the master), it's much more cost effective to do smaller numbers of discs in this way. It's not only less expensive for smaller runs but its faster, that's why we call dataDisc's duplication service "ExpressDisc."
Quality - there are some people that will tell you not to duplicate audio or video but only replicate. Others say that there's no difference at all. They both can't be right.... can they? Well, there are differences and sometimes they do have an impact. The reality has more to do with the play back equipment than the manufacturing process. Older "set top" DVD players (hooked to your TV) occasionally have problems playing duplicated discs but rarely have problems with replicated discs (rarely doesn't mean never). Other people believe that a replicated audio disc is better than a duplicated disc. This time I don't think there's much of a difference but they may look a little different. Remember, this isn't an analog tape, digital music is digital music no mater how its manufactured. If looks matter, dataDisc can give you a silver / silver duplicated disc. This kind of disc lacks the "tell tail" yellowish color on the record side of the disc and looks like a replicated disc. So, for low volume runs or if you need a few thousand real fast, duplicated audio discs are just fine. Your decision to duplicate or replicate audio should be based on quantity, turn time & price.
Printing - no mater which way you go, your discs should have a label. Why? Simple, so you know which side is up and which size is the read side of the disc. Yep, the read side is the bottom. The most common labeling is silk screen but there is also thermal, inkjet and printed adhesive labels. Each type of label provides a different level of quality and pricing.
Summary - If you need less than 5,000 discs and you need them in a hurry, duplicate! Larger numbers might better handled with replication if the normally longer turn times will allow it. It might be best to contact a company that can handle either option for you. That will help insure that you get unbiased assistance with your project.