Explained: Different dimensions and sizes of a vinyl record

When I was a kid, I was always confused about the different dimensions and sizes of vinyl record, the speed at which they were played, and the music they could hold. I always wondered why they are even of various sizes. Why can’t they be of a single size and play multiple songs in a single go? 

As I grew up, my obsession with vinyl records and turntables increased, and so did my knowledge about the different record types, sizes, and characteristics. I got to know why a 7-inch holds a single song while a 10-inch can hold multiple songs and a 12-inch can hold a full-length album. It was all because of their size and the speed at which they were played.

At some point in the record-collecting journey, everyone has asked the same question as I did about the vinyl sizes.

Today, I am going to answer all your questions related to the dimensions, sizes, characteristics, and different speeds at which vinyl record are played. SO, BUCKLE UP! 

Different dimensions and sizes of vinyl record


The 10-inch (25.4 centimeters in diameter) was the very first size of a vinyl record that was introduced in 1948 by Columbia Records. They were made of shellac and had deeper grooves, which limited playtime to 3 minutes spinning at 78 RPM.

These days, 10-inch records are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and typically play at 33 rpm and 44 rpm. At 33 rpm (typically the most common speed for 10 inches), it can hold up to 15 minutes of music on both sides, while at 45 rpm, it can hold up to 12 minutes of music on both sides. 

It makes 10-inch records a popular format for albums and song collections.


7-inch records, also known as 45s or singles, are played at 45 rpm and are 17.78 cm in diameter. These records have a wider hole in the center that requires a small adapter (often called a 45 adaptor or spindle) to play on the turntable.

A 7-inch record typically holds one song on each side, making them ideal for singles. At 45 rpm, they can hold up to 5.5 minutes of music on both sides.


A 12-inch record (30.48 cm in diameter) is commonly used for albums and comes with two playable speeds; one is played at 33 1/3 rpm while the other is at 45 rpm. The only difference between them is the amount of music they can hold and play on each side.

  • While 12 inch 33 1/3 rpm can play up to 25 minutes per side (Total of 50 minutes)
  • The 12-inch 45 rpm can play up to 15 minutes per side. (Total of 30 minutes)

One of the benefits of this format is it allows you to play fuller albums without changing sides.

The 12-inch records can further be categorized into three types depending on the number of songs they hold:

12-inch LP (long play)

12-inch long play is a full-length album that contains an extensive list of tracks. They are usually played at 33⅓ rpm or 45 rpm.

12-inch EP (Extended play)

12-inch extended play, in general terms, is a format shorter than long play but holds more tracks than a single. They are played at 33 1/3 rpm.

12-inch singles

12-inch singles contain a remix and extended version of a song on each side. 12-inch singles are better than 7-inch singles due to the extra room on the surface that allows the grooves to be further apart, which results in greater dynamic range (I.e., the difference between the softest and loudest sections) for better sound quality. The reason they are widely used by DJs is that they want an extended version of songs for mixing and dancing purposes.

Final beat

I am sure you guys now know why records are 7-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch sizes and are played at different speeds. Don’t forget to share this amazing information next time your friend, family member, or audiophile asks you the same question. And if they need some in-depth information, you can simply share this blog post with them.

Lastly, let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions that I can cover in my next blog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How wide is a vinyl record in centimeters?

Here are the diameters of different vinyl records:

  • 12-inch full-length albums are 30.48 cm in diameter.
  • 7-inch singles are 17.78 cm in diamter.
  • 10-inch old shellac records are 25.4 cm in diameter.

Q. What RPM for vinyl?

Vinyl records can be played at three different speeds: 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM (rotations per minute).

Russel Hawkins - About the author

About the author

Russ Hawkins is a passionate audiophile who loves to collect vinyl records. In his leisure time, you will find him either listening to his favorite music albums or playing with his dog Max. He loves writing about vinyl, turntables, record players, and everything music!

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