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Vinyl record
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Vinyl record

The vinyl record is an audio storage medium, the most popular from the 1950s to the 1990s, that was most commonly used for music. It is a subset of the family of analogue disc records.

A vinyl gramophone or phonograph record consists of a disc of polyvinyl chloride plastic, engraved on both sides with a single concentric spiral groove in which a sapphire or diamond needle, stylus, or laser is supposed to run, from the outside edge towards the centre.

Whilst a 78 rpm record is brittle and relatively easily broken, both the LP 33 1/3 rpm record and the 45 rpm single records are made from vinyl plastic which is flexible and unbreakable in normal use. 78s come in a variety of sizes, the most common being 10 inch (25cm) and 12 inch (30cm) diameter, and these were originally sold in either paper or card covers, generally with a circular cutout allowing the record label to be seen. The Long-Playing records (LPs) usually come in a paper sleeve within a colour printed card jacket which also provides a track listing. 45 rpm singles and EPs (Extended Play) are of 7 inch (17.5cm) diameter, the earlier copies being sold in paper covers. Grooves on a 78rpm are much coarser than the LP and 45.

Table of contents
1 Common formats
2 Less common formats
3 History and development
4 Vinyl vs Compact Discs
5 See also

Common formats

Less common formats

History and development

Some 78rpm records were also pressed in vinyl, particularly the six-minute 12" 78rpm records produced by V-Disc for distribution to US troops in
World War II.

Although replaced by digital media such as the compact disc as a popular mass marketed music medium, vinyl records continue to be manufactured and sold in the 21st century. Currently the most common formats are:

followed by

The sound quality and durability of vinyl records is highly dependent on the quality of the vinyl used. Most vinyl records are pressed on recycled vinyl. Unrecycled "Virgin" or "Heavy" (180-220 g) was commonly used for "classical" music, although it has been used for some other genres, and is commonly used for rare audiophile editions of albums.

During 1978, an oil embargo in the U.K resulted in a shortage of vinyl records.

Vinyl vs Compact Discs

In the early days of the compact discs, vinyl records were still prized by audiophiles because of the supposed better reproduction of analogue recordings and playback. Early compact discs were perceived as screechy and distort sounds on the high end, not as "warm" as vinyls especially in recordings that require wide dynamic range (eg. classical recordings). This has resulted in a backlash on the digital music formula in its early years.

Though digital music technology has improved over the years, some audiophiles still prefer the warmer sounds of vinyl over the harsher sounds of CDs.

See also