In 2004 the legal name was changed to Sonopress Arvato.
Labelcode: LC 4241 or LC 04241
Sonopress vinyl pressings can be identified by two ways:
1. The "bass clef" symbol, usually embossed on the B-side centre label (was introduced in spring 1981)
2. Sonopress vinyl runout etchings, following certain patterns:
(Note: A-n/B-n: n describes the number of the master/cut)
1957 - 1963: "xxxxx X-1 / Y-1" (e.g. 45450 X-1 // 45450 Y-1).
1963 - 1964: "1 B (/) xxxx A-1 // B-1" (e.g. 1 B 1016 A-1 // 1 B 1016 B-1). The four digits are sequential but their meaning remains unclear (and should not be added as Sonopress numbers).
1964 - 1973: N xxxxx A-1 // B-1. N is a letter (mostly B, C, G, K) - but could also be two or more letters (e.g. B C, G L/C, G C, G FU or PU), and xxxxx is the cat# of the release. Examples: B 19174 A-1 // B 19174 B-1 (7") or G C 75562/63 A-1 // G C 75562/63 A-1 (LP). Usually 'G' indicates 'Mono' while 'C' indicates 'Stereo'.
1973 - 1975: S xxxxx A-1 // B-1 (or M xxxxx A-1 // B-1). The S stands for Stereo, the M for Mono, regardless the format; xxxxx is the cat#.
1975 - 1978: S xxxxx A-1 / B-1 75 or xxxxx A-1 // B-1 / 76 S (the last 2 numbers stand for the cutting year). Stamped additional Roman numerals I, II, III etc. appear around 1981. Subsequent galvanized mothers were marked additionally with etched Roman numerals. As usual, xxxxx is the cat#.
1978 - 1983: The catalogue numbers are adjusted to 6 digits, e.g. xxxxxx A-1/79 S. In autumn 1981, injection molding was introduced.
1983 - 1988: Use of leading DM, DMM or DS (e.g. DM xxxxxx A - 9/87 S). These letters indicate the mastering/processing method: DM stands for Direct mastering, DMM for Direct Metal Mastering, DS for Direktschnitt (German for Direct Mastering). DM became standard after 1984.
1988 - 1992: Use of 3-digit number preceding the DS, DM and the cat# (e.g. 005 DS xxxxxx A-2 or 105 DM xxxxxx A-1); the date appears irregularly but the S disappeared. Apparently, the 3 digits indicate the respective lathe.
Since around 1959 there is also "Made in Germany" found (irregularly placed) in the runouts, indicating a pressing in Gütersloh (as opposed to Made in Austria or Made in Switzerland). Example: G 19080 A-3 Made in Germany // G 19080 B-3 Made in Germany (7"). Note: A "Made in Germany" runout stamp is by itself not an indicator of a Sonopress vinyl pressing, because other plants (e.g. Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft Pressing Plant) used it as well, at least until the mid-1960s. "Manufactured in Germany" indicates a contract pressing by Teldec-Press GmbH (until 1980). The 'Made in Germany' stamp was abolished in 1984. Eventually the matrix numbers were not stamped anymore but cut into the copper plate with the DMM lathe.
Please note: The numbers are not Sonopress specific work numbers. Generally, for all Ariola and BMG related pressings, xxxxxx stands for the cat#, provided by the record company, and is used throughout the labels they distributed (e.g. Jupiter, Pye, Ariola, Hansa, A&M, Virgin etc.). If the runout number is identical to the cat#, don't use it as LCCN number!
On releases manufactured between 1974 and 1982 there are sometimes additionally 2/3-digit numbers engraved. These were applied during galvanization for mothers destined to be used at other pressing plants:
002: Teldec-Press GmbH
011: CBS, Haarlem
12/012: Phonodisc GesmbH
014: Ariola Benelux B.V.
020: Sonopress - indicates that lacquer had been cut or mother had been manufactured somewhere else.
045: Turicaphon AG
810 was used in the late 1950s and early 1960s to indicate contract pressings.
030 was used between 1989 and 1991 to indicate that DMM masterings were made by other mastering studios (e.g. Sterling Sound, Townhouse, Masterdisk).
The Sonopress specific pattern on contracted vinyl pressings for outside labels begins in 1970. The pattern is A-xxxx, B-xxxx, etc., followed or preceded by the typical side identifiers and mastering codes as described above, e.g. A-xxxx A-3/83 S I or DM B-xxxx A-1/9-86 or B-xxxx A-1/83S I or 209 DMG-3990 A-2 (please note that often the DM and the following letter are combined to DMB-1234 or DMG-5678, etc., but only B-1234 would be the LCCN number). 'P-xxxx' was exclusively used for PolyGram contractual pressings.
The pattern was eventually carried over to CD releases, where it continued until Z-9999 was reached in 1999. Then it changed to A-xxxxx.
Note: Only these specific Sonopress patterns like B-1234, G-3990 or A-12345 can be entered as Sonopress company numbers into the LCCN field.
10" records were generally not pressed by Sonopress, even though stated on some covers.
Sonopress numbers on modern CDs occur in an 8-digit format of "5xxxxxxx". This number is usually followed by the release catalog number, often separated by a slash. The start of the numbering sequence is not exactly known, but it is unlikely to predate the year 2000. Similar numbering is also found on releases made by Arvato Digital Services. This sequential number can be added as LCCN number.
Bertelsmann rarely outsourced their production chain (cutting, pressing, printing, distribution). So, a "Printed by Mohndruck Graphische Betriebe GmbH", "Printed by TOPAC", "Ariola-Eurodisc GmbH" München or Gütersloh (found on the outer centre label ring), all Bertelsmann companies, would surely appear on releases pressed by Sonopress. However, occasional exceptions exist (e.g. for Switzerland or TELDEC represses).
1957: Reinhard Mohn decided to produce vinyl records for the Bertelsmann Schallplattenring and establishes Sonopress Schallplatten GmbH (April). Just a few years later, Sonopress was servicing customers outside the Bertelsmann group as well.
1962: Ariola-Sonopress GmbH is established in August and Sonopress Schallplatten GmbH is dissolved (November).
1966: Sonopress GmbH is established in June.
1969: Start with the production of compact cassettes.
1978: Acquisition of a production facility in Mexico City. Start of the internationalization. Sonopress Gesellschaft für Tonträgerherstellung mbH is established (October).
1981: Start with the production of video cassettes.
1982: Start with the production of LaserDiscs.
1985: Start with the production of Compact Discs.
1986: After the takeover of RCA by BMG, Sonopress takes over the RCA pressing plants in the US, Italy, Mexico and Brazil.
1991: A plant in Hong Kong is opened as joint-venture with Pan Asia Music Group. Sonopress Gesellschaft für Tonträgerherstellung mbH is renamed to Sonopress Produktionsgesellschaft für Ton- und Informationsträger mbH (February).
1992: Sonopress stops mass manufacturing vinyl records (December).
1993: Sonopress Ibermemory, S.A. is created after a joint venture with Iberofon, S.A..
1997: Start with the production of DVDs.
2002: Two plants are opened in France and Singapore.
2004: Acquisition of Audio Services Ltd. (ASL), the largest UK vinyl pressing plant (April).
2004: Renamed to Sonopress Arvato.