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Do Records Play From The Inside Out?

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Record players are also known as turntables. Used as originals from the past, phonographs and gramophones are still widely used in many places, by many people, like club DJs and music enthusiasts. Record players have not declined to too much extent in the last couple of decades, but in the last few years, there has been a revitalization. Even though they might not sound better or even if they are worth it in this day and age, they can still teach us interesting things about how sound works. 

So do records play from the inside out?

Although some people think records play from the inside and work their way out, this is wrong. Records actually play from the outside of the vinyl and work their way towards the middle of the record. This means you will want to start with the needle at the outside edge of the record when you load your next record on your turntable. 

If you would like to know more about records playing from the outside towards the inside, you will want to keep reading the rest of this article.

You can also check out the video below to learn more about records and how they are made.

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History Of Records

A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English), or simply a record, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the edges and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac. Starting in the 1940’s though polyvinyl chloride became common. This is where  the name vinyl originated. In the mid-2000s, records made of any material began to be called vinyl records, or simply vinyl.

Different Recording Types

It was in the late 1920s and the early 1930s when the Vita phone sound system provided the soundtrack for motion pictures using a 16′ 33-1/3 rpm record. The record was such that there was a groove that played starting at the inside of the recorded area and proceeding outward. This record usually rotated in the usual clockwise direction. The inside stars dictated the long-playing time of the records and the swift wearing down of the disposable metal needles.

The worn needlepoint caused signal degradation, which is heard when playing the innermost turn of the groove and less audible when the outermost turn was played. 

At that time, the vibrations in the grooves were ‘Hill and Dale. This means that all the discs were cut vertically, and records used a sapphire stylus and vertically responsive reproducer for playback.

Today though, all records are played from the outside of the vinyl towards the middle of the record. 

Record Releases

  • Mercury Records

Mercury Records released Counter Revolutions in 1977. Counter Revolutions were dealer only promotional LPs. They had a locking groove at the edge of the disc which made them different. 

  • Many Records in Italy

In 1984, an Italo disco song named “Back to Zero” by Francis Lowe was released by Many Records in Italy. It normally played on side A, and then could be flipped to use side B as well. 

  • Memory Records in Germany

A limited-edition version of the Italo Disco hit Talking to the Night by Brian Ice was released by Memory Records in Germany in 1985.

  • American Metal Band Megadeth

American band Megadeth released “Sweating Bullets” in 1993. It played on blue vinyl with a width of 12-inch.  

  • Basic Channel

Cyrus released One-sided vinyl playing from the inside out creating an “Inversion” on the Basic Channel in 1994.

  • English Sound Artist Janek Schaefer

English sound artist Janek Schaefer released his very first record in 1997 that was known as “His Master’s Voices,” which was a transparent two-sided long-play. Both sides played outside of the disc to the inside.

  • American hardcore punk band Dropdead

Dropdead, an American band, released its second untitled album in 1998. This was a popular record and is not produced today. 

  • English Noise Artist Paul Nomex

Paul Nomex, an English Noise Artist, released a parallel Groove of 12″ in 1999. It was known as “Are you more than just a product of your influence.” It played on both sides from the outside in at both 16 and 78 speeds.

  • American alternative rock group Camper Van Beethoven

American rock group Camper Van Beethoven in 2014 released a two-disc reissue of their key lime pie album. One side of the disc featured a song named “Closing Theme.” It played at a speed of 45 rpm, and is still a popular song today. 

  • German classical music label Tacet

German classical music label Tacet issued a classical recording in 2010. It included Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony’s fourth movement (2016) and Ravel’s Boléro (2013).

Unusual Records

If you go back to the 60s, they play a couple of unusual records that play from inside out, but they require a reverse rotation. It is a problem for many turntables but not for the AT-120LP turntables. First, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Ha” by Napoleon XIV song’s flip side was recorded backwards. By putting the turntable in reverse direction, the song could be played from inside out. But, there is one thing to be careful of. That is how you lift the stylus from the record. 

Crazy Elephant’s single “GimmeGimme Good Lovin’,” which is titled “Hips And Lips.” The flip side of this is the second record where you not only have to reverse the direction of the turntable, but you have to change the speed to 78 rpm as well.

Wally Swift played his record that started from inside out. It is common practice with live transcription discs. To keep the sound quality consistent and good and to avoid it jarring from side to side, it was often done on the second side.

Record Needles

There are two reasons that vinyl records go to the inside from the outside. They are:

  • To make it easier to put the needle down on the outside of the record.
  • So the amplitude of the groove does not need to be wide.

Laser In Cd’s

Why does the laser in CD’s go inside out? CD’s usually go from inside to out to accommodate various sizes. Another reason is that most people hold the CDs from the edge, and hence it helps in avoiding the finger-prints from getting printed on the inside. The CD player has no problem starting from any spot. 

Outside In or Inside Out

The tracks normally play in both examples, and you should cut them in the right direction of spin. “Playing inside out,” you have to spin the turntable in the opposite direction. These are very rare since it makes the track useless when playing on the turntable; therefore, these can’t be played in the opposite direction. However, some turntables can perform in this manner too. 


As we have learned, vinyl records go from outside to inside for two reasons. They were designed like this to help when you put the needle down, as well as to make the records hold sound better.  You can make a record going the opposite way, but those tend to not work or sell as well because they take a special kind of turntable and cannot be played on a normal one.