Layman’s Guide To Understanding LP, Single, EP And Other Vinyl Record Terms

Be it us or some other website selling vinyl records online, you are bound to come across terms like LP, EP, 12”, 7” etc. While these terms might be nothing for an enthusiast, they can get confusing for someone new to world of vinyl records. So, this time around, we decided to demystify these record format terms for all and sundry.

Let’s start with LP or Long Play to be clearer. To cut the long story short (maybe a little pun intended), LPs are designed to play for up to 30-minutes per side, thus boasting the longest playing time out of all vinyl record formats.

For this reason, when you buy an LP at a record store, you are essentially purchasing a full album. Normally, LP records are 12-inches in size (diameter) and ideally spin at 33 and 1/3 rotations per minute.

Then we come Singles, which in terms of the vinyl record used is indistinguishable from EP (Extended Play) format in that the record used in both cases has a 7-inch diameter and primed at 45RPM.

However, as the name implies, Singles can only fit a single song on either side, because the records can only store about 4-minutes or so of musical data per side. In contrast, EP formats are able to store roughly 7-minutes of musical info on either side; a feat that was accomplished by narrowing the grooves.

Over the years, the one song on each side trend has moved on to other vinyl formats, case in point being 12-inch types which have become the go-to for rap music instrumentals and therefore find popularity among DJs. But for all intents and purposes, singles and EPs both continue to fall under the ‘45’ moniker.

Here is a look at other formats and their respective references which may not be something that you’ll come across as often but are nonetheless a part of the present-day vinyl record family.

  • 12-inch at 45 RPM – 12” EP, EP single or Maxi-Single
  • 10-inch at 331/3 RPM – LP
  • 10-inch at 45 RPM – EP

Specialty sizes such as 13, 11, 9, 8, 6 and 5 inch formats

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