Laser-etched vinyl (1980 – )

Phonograph records with etchings on one side have existed since the early 1900s, and etched centre labels were used from the very start of phonograph record production.

Laser-etching is different as it’s possible to etch a pattern onto the playable surface of a vinyl record without any discernible difference to the sound quality.

The first vinyl record to employ laser-etching was the 1980 12-inch LP ‘True Colours’ by Split Enz. The logo from the album cover, as well as other shapes, were etched into the vinyl in a manner that if hit by a light reflected polychromatic colours.

Although the technique has been employed on a few other releases, most etchings on vinyl are done on the non-playable side.

Sources / Resources

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