Single-Record (45 rpm)Vinyl records do not break
easily, but the soft material is easily scratched.
Vinyl readily acquires a static charge, attracting
dust that is difficult to remove completely.
Dust and scratches cause audio clicks and pops.
In extreme cases, they can cause the needle
to skip over a series of grooves, or worse yet,
cause the needle to skip backwards, creating
a "locked groove" that repeats the
same 1.8 seconds of track (at 33.3 rpm) over
and over again. Locked grooves were not uncommon
and were even heard occasionally in broadcasts.
records can be warped by heat, improper storage,
or manufacturing defects such as excessively
tight plastic shrinkwrap on the album cover.
A small degree of warp was common, and allowing
for it was part of the art of turntable and
tonearm design. "Wow" (once-per-revolution
pitch variation) could result from warp, or
from a spindle hole that was not precisely centered. Of course, if you use records to chop onions (like picture below), the records can get damaged too.
As a practical matter, records provide excellent
sound quality when treated with care. They were
the music source of choice for radio stations
for decades, and the switch to digital music
libraries by radio stations has not produced
a noticeable improvement in sound quality. Casual
ears cannot detect a difference in quality between
a CD and a clean new LP played in a casual environment
with background noise. There is controversy
about the relative quality of CD sound and LP
sound when the latter is heard under the very
best conditions. The limitations of recording
and mastering techniques had a greater impact
on sound quality than the limitations of the
record itself, at least until the 1980s.
singles were typically poorer quality for a
variety of the reasons mentioned above, and
in the 1970s the 12" single, played at
45 rpm, became popular for DJ use and for fans