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Thread: Why do records never have the playback speed printed on the label?

  1. #1
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    Default Why do records never have the playback speed printed on the label?

    What I said up there in the title.

    Is there some convention here I'm unaware of? Some snobby minimalist thing, like restaurants that are too fancy to put a decimal place or currency unit on the price list? Or is it just a case of grizzled 70-year-old record engineers who hate the idea of younger people getting into their format, without being a 65-year expert in the medium like themselves? I can think of no other explanation.

    Yes, it's easy to say '8" = 45 RPM, 12" = 33' but that is nowhere near universal. Not to mention I have several with one side that plays at 33 and the other at 45. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if there are some out there with tracks that play at different speeds on the same side.

    I guess the play speed lottery is good for discovering unintentional hilarity, but still...

  2. #2

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    Pretty much every LP vinyl I have has 33rpm printed somewhere on the label. 45's are identified by the bigger spindle hole where you need the 45 spindle adapter. I think they called 8" 33rpm "EP", but they will have the same size hole as the full size vinyl 33rpm. The net result is the speeds can easily be determined visually without ambiguity. Or maybe I've never run across existing exceptions

    I will look at some of my old Victrola 78's and see if they are labeled, possibly not because in the day of the 78rpm there really weren't alternatives anyway. Perhaps I should put a needle in my victrola and see if it still winds and plays

  3. #3
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    Well, some of them are labelled. Not all 7" records with the large spindle hole are 45RPM. I have some 33s like that.

    I guess it's just because everyone pretty much either knew what they had, or knew what to do if they didn"t. I've been planning to make a YouTube video about this, I guess I should get my spindle in gear.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug G View Post
    Pretty much every LP vinyl I have has 33rpm printed somewhere on the label. 45's are identified by the bigger spindle hole where you need the 45 spindle adapter. I think they called 8" 33rpm "EP", but they will have the same size hole as the full size vinyl 33rpm. The net result is the speeds can easily be determined visually without ambiguity. Or maybe I've never run across existing exceptions
    That's a nice system in theory, but I have exceptions to all those cases. :P Some of them have the speed labelled.

  5. #5
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    Pre-LP it made little sense; playback speed varied on the early discs and cylinders, say, between 60 and 80 RPM for the flat stuff and 120-160 RPM for the round stuff--and old hand-crank Victrolas had a continuous speed control anyway. Microgroove records, with the exception of a few non-large-hole 45 LPs and the 16 2/3 RPM "talking book" discs were all 33 1/3 RPM. So, even if not marked, it was obvious when you dropped the needle onto the disc.

  6. #6

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    Yeah, it's a combination of A. convention made it largely "common sense" at the time and B. in the cases where convention didn't apply it was immediately obvious and easy to correct.
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