Tuscaloosa, AL, USA, and Rinkan, Japan

JVC Kenwood Corporation, the resulting holding company after the merger of Victor Company of Japan (JVC) and Kenwood Electronics in 2008, operates two disc replication plants: JVC America Inc. in the USA [1], and JVC Rinkan Plant in Japan. JVC was one of the three main optical disc pressing plants used by MCA Inc. record labels in the USA in the early 1990's together with Specialty Records Corporation and Digital Audio Disc Corporation, and the main plant in Japan, judging by the matrix codes on Nirvana releases from the time. Perhaps in part because Matsushita was both the owner of MCA Inc. and held a majority stake in Victor Company of Japan from 1953 to 2008 [2].

JVC started disc replication in the USA in April 1987 [1]. Nirvana releases manufactured by them, then JVC Disc America Co., have been found from 1991 to 1994, including compilations and samplers. The Japanese plant still replicates discs for Universal even though they no longer have any ownership ties, and have been pressing Nirvana reissues up until today.

Both plants use the same matrix code pattern. To explain them, three American variations (GEFD-24613) and one Japanese release (MVCG 139) of The Beavis And Butt-head Experience are used as examples:

The only major difference is that the American discs are identified by "MFD BY JVC", while the Japanese is identified by "V" for Victor. Other than that, the American and Japanese codes both contain the catalog number, an alphanumeric code, and a numeric code.

The alphanumeric codes, "1D", "2C", "2H", and "1F", identify the metalized glass master (MGM). The numbers count the number of times a release has been mastered, while the letters seem to identify which laser-beam recorders (LBR) were used in the mastering. This release was too early to have IFPI codes, but on later Japanese releases the letters have been found to correspond to each their specific LBR IFPI code, for example "T" for L236 and "W" for L244. In other words, this was their own system for source identification before IFPI codes were implemented. The LBR letters seem to be independent between the two plants, as both Japanese and American discs have been found with the same letters. Of the Nirvana discs we have found so far, the Japanese have either A, C, F, M, P, T, or W, while the American have either B, C, D, F, H, or J.

The compilation was mastered at least three times in the USA, and only once in Japan that we know of. In the USA, the compilation was first mastered on LBR D, and mastered more or less simultaneously on LBRs C and H for a later pressing as they both have the same number "2". Creating two MGMs at the same time is not unusual, and is done to speed up the processing of enough stampers to press the required number of discs in time.

The final numbers, for example "1 5", are the mother and stamper numbers. In this case it is the fifth stamper made from the first mother. The numbers stand out from the rest of the matrix code, as they were physically etched onto the metal plates, and not written to the MGM by the LBR with the rest of the matrix code.

On the American discs, "RE1" after the catalog number means remake 1. All three variations contain that part, so it may refer to a problem with the original image-ready CD-R used to master the compilation.

Some matrix codes from the Japanese plant are shown in image 1. Notice the crude "1 1" on Hormoaning, which hardly look like numbers at all.

Japanese matrix codes, showing how the matrix font has changed over time. Top: Hormoaning (MVCG-17002) from 1992; lower left: Nevermind, unknown year; lower right: In Utero (UICY-93360) from 2007.
1. Japanese matrix codes, showing how the matrix font has changed over time. Top: Hormoaning (MVCG-17002) from 1992; lower left: Nevermind, unknown year; lower right: In Utero (UICY-93360) from 2007.

JVC aquired their IFPI repertoires in late 1993 or early 1994 when IFPI codes were first introduced.

IFPI codes

40, L231-245 and others(?)