Parts of an LP record
If you want to talk to other people about vinyl, it helps if you know what the parts of a record are called. Here’s a guide, complete with pretty diagrams.
The lead-in (shown here in red) is the the beginning of the record. There is no music on this part of the groove. Its purpose is to catch the needle when it drops and “lead” it into the music.
The run-out (shown here in red) is also called the run off or the lead out. Its purpose is to move the needle to the very end of the record. Automatic turntables will then pick up the tonearm and return it to the tonearm rest. There is usually no music on this portion of the groove, but occasionally there is. The run-out ends in a “locked groove” which means that the groove joins up with itself and just goes round and round and round until the tonearm is lifted.
The part of the record between the lead-in and the run-out is the part of the record that has music on it. Usually its the best part. This is called the program area (shown here in red).
This seems pretty obvious, but the part of the record with the label on it (shown here in red) is called the label area (or usually just “the label”).
The part of the record between the run-out and the label is called the dead wax (shown here in red). It is “dead” in the sense that it is unused for music. Some people incorrectly refer to this area as the run off area. That’s ok, you can let them do that.
The dead wax is an very interesting area for record collectors. There is usually an alphanumeric code known as the matrix number visible in this area. That code used to identify the origins of the record. (We’ll talk about matrix numbers in another blog post.) Sometimes there are inscriptions and dedications. Take a close look.
Ok, that’s it. Go talk about vinyl.