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2.4 - Vinyl Record Speeds

There are three standard speeds for vinyl records, each of which is measured in RPMs, or revolutions per minute. These speeds are 33⅓ RPM, 45 RPM, and 78 RPM. You may see records of these speeds referred to as 33s, 45s, and 78s for short. 

The faster a record spins, the higher the sound quality will be. However, 78s, which offer the highest sound quality, can only contain a few minutes of music per side, making their usability minimal for singles and nil for full-length LPs. In the latter half of the 20th century, the prominence of 78s containing one short single on each side began to give way to the widespread production of 33s and 45s. 

Many modern record players cannot play 78s and are only designed for use with 45s or 33s. Whether you are listening to an EP or an LP, if it is from after the 1950s, it is either a 45 or a 33. 33s are the most prominent records on sale today, although some bands still opt to release their EPs and LPs as 45s to achieve higher-quality sound.
Previous article 2.3 - Vinyl Record Sizes
Next article 4.5 - Determining A Vinyl Record’s Condition And Value
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