Here in Japan, we have 2 vinyl record pressing companies now.
Back in the 70's and 80's, companies like King Record, Toshiba EMI, Victor Music Japan and the rest of the major music companies had their own plants pressing their titles. And as you know, the quality was superb.
Those are the GOLDEN AGE AND DAYS OF ANALOG RECORDS, right?
The same trend all over the world and that is the time Jazz records were selling like crazy in Japan. Due to this boom, many of you guys were able to acquire great Jazz reissues manufactured by King Record, Toshiba EMI, Victor Music Japan and so on.
Due to the large volumes of demands at that time, most of the companies were not able to press the vinyl records with their own pressing plants. So they used another company, called "Toyokasei" located in Kanagawa prefecture.
And, that is one of the two pressing companies present in Japan.
CBS Sony and Warner Pioneer in the 70's and up to 80's, used Toyokasei to press their records even if they had their own facilities because of their high quality skills.
Toyokasei started making vinyl records in 1959. Since then they have never stopped pressing vinyl records, more than half a century! Amazing!
What I also like about this company is that even now, they try to inherit high quality skills to the younger generations. They actively recruit young people to the vinyl record pressing section. The senior guys are now teaching young ones their skill set.
I believe Toyokasei will continue pressing high quality vinyl records for many years to come. In addition, they also have a high quality printing section, making high quality vinyl record jackets, and OBI as well!!
Another interesting story...
In 1993, Toshiba EMI produced Blue Note reissue series called, RARE GROOVE COLLECTION.
I call this series "NOTORIOUS" because the pressing quality is really, really BAD! Most of the copies I obtained in the past had noise issues and the surface of the vinyl with many pressing errors.
**I was told by some of my friends who are collectors that during that time, Toshiba EMI was focusing more on CD production so, they didn't want to spend money on analog. The machines used were worn out and the engineers were few, producing low quality records.**
But funny thing happened thereafter...You know, Toshiba EMI produced another Blue Note reissue series called, BLP Collection Series in 1994.
Amazingly, the pressing quality became superb!! No pressing errors and noise issues!! I don't think Toshiba EMI spent the money to improve their own pressing quality in one year. I believe, they used Toyokasei to press those BLP reissue series.
In the 90's, the major music companies started shutting down their vinyl pressing facilities and Toyokasei was the only one pressing the vinyl records in Japan. That situation remained until 2018.
In 2018, Sony Music Japan started their own pressing plant in Oigawa, Shizuoka prefecture. They spend about 2 million dollars to start this section. Their main focus is quality. They say that they improvised DVD and CD production quality control skills and applied them in analog pressing. Nowadays they get orders not only in Japan but also from all over the world.
People nowadays are becoming more digital, and digital sound, high resolution, download music...is popular. But we are human and analog. Using turntable, spinning the vinyl one side and flipping it over to the other side, listening Jazz with analog amplifier and big speakers is nothing but beauty.
I hope this analog trend will continue!
Nice video Takashi. Thank you for posting this. I was not aware Toyokasei was doing all this pressing for other major labels. I do have a few 200 gram titles they pressed, and they are very very good. You comments on the 1970s and 1980s being the prime time for Japan vinyl pressing companies, sure seems to make a lot of sense with so many high quality pressings being produced in Japan pressing plants at that time. In the US, the vinyl prime time was a decade or two earlier. Late 1950s through mid to late 1960s. That era in the US, quality was important. After that time point, US pressing companies were more focused on cutting costs, adding more filler to the vinyl formula, cutting pressing weight, etc., than they were about producing high quality vinyl.
Thanks for your great observation! I do agree with you saying the quality of the US pressings great in the 50’s up to mid 60’s. I had an opportunity to get the original and semi original Blue Note in the 50’s and 60’s. Their pressing quality was insanely great!