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How can you get a home-made CD to look like the genuine article?

If your work looks professional, then people will listen to it as though it is professional. So how can you give your CD's the 'store bought' look?

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Here is a recent question from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

"What is the consensus on direct printing on your CD/DVD via inkjet? I have seen a few printers (notably Epson 200 or 220) that will print directly to your inkjet printable CD. Do the colors run if they get wet, etc?"

It is a fact that when you present your work to an industry professional, it should look professionally produced. If your demo CD looks home-made, then that is a barrier that the quality of your music must breach.

If you want your demo CD's to have the 'factory' look, then the quick answer is to have your artwork professionally designed, and have 500 copies pressed. By 'pressed', I mean replicated and printed in the same way as a CD that sells in hundreds of thousands. 500 is usually the smallest practical quantity for this.

But what if you need to make CD's in the odd ten or twenty? How do you get the pro look?

Of course you will need professional-quality artwork. Nothing will work without that. Printing booklets and tray cards at home is quite easy. Use a good printer and a good quality paper. Cut and fold with care to precise dimensions.

But, as the questioner asked, the difficult part is getting the onbody print on the CD itself to look good.

I have to confess that I am still challenged by this. If I need a small quantity of CDs, then I use an Epson R800 directly onto a printable CD. The results are OKish, and I have found that I can print the same CD twice to increase the density of ink. However, the results fall far short of what I can achieve through the normal manufacturing process.

Stick-on labels look better. But in my experience they always look like stick-on labels. And there is often a tendency for them to peel off in time.

So, over to you! Does anyone have the secret of achieving good quality, long lasting, onbody print on CD?

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By David Mellor Monday March 20, 2006
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