An audio storage medium, most commonly used for preserving music. a record consists of a disc of vinyl plastic, engraved with a single concentric spiral groove in which a diamond needle is supposed to run.
Vinyl records were predominantly recorded in speeds of 33 or 45 rpm. They supplanted the 78 rpm record, which had been made of a rather brittle urea-formaldehyde resin. Sizes were 7 and 12 inches diameter. A 45 rpm 7 inch was called an "EP" or "single", because it held a single song on each side. A 33 rpm 12 inch was is an "LP" or long-playing record, with 5 or 6 songs on each side.
Records were extremely popular in their heyday, despite their well-known weaknesses. The audio quality was low, by comparison with later methods. The discs were fragile; when scratched on their unprotected surface, the needle could skip to the next groove, bypassing that portion of the audio track; it could skip backward, repeating the same portion of track over and over; or, it could emit a popping sound and continue. The discs could warp or melt when subjected to high temperatures. Repeated use degraded the audio quality further.
On the upside however, they were easy and inexpensive to manufacture, so they could be mass-produced. Also, with the advent of long-playing records, the album cover became more than just packaging and protection, and album cover art became an important part of the music marketing and consuming experience.
In the 1980s, vinyl records were gradually replaced in mainstream music consumer markets with the compact disc (CD). Vinyl records continue to be manufactured and sold today, although it is considered to be a niche market comprised of audiophiles, collectors, and disc jockeys (DJs).