Records are generally divided into two variants:
- Shellac records are named after their rotation speed of about 78 revolutions per minute (RPM). Common sizes for 78s are ten inches for two to three minute singles or twelve inches for longer five to six minute symphonic works. These were manufactured from the turn of the century until their phasing-out in the 1960s. They are played on mechanical gramophones.
- A vinyl record, or simply a vinyl, is made from polyvinyl chloride. Long-play (LP) records are the most common, playing at 33 rpm. These are generally twelve inches wide, although ten-inch varieties exist. These can typically hold twenty minutes of music per side and are also known as albums. The seven-inch kind is also called a 45, in reference to its rotation speed, and is typically used for three to four minute singles. Vinyl records were first introduced to the public in the 1950s and continue to be manufactured in the present day. These are typically played on electrically powered turntables.
Vinyl records are unable to be effectively played on mechanical gramophones as the machines are designed to run at faster speeds. In addition, the soft vinyl is unable to withstand the same harsh tracking forces designed for harder shellac.
- Record Shop on Charing Cross Road in London bought and sold records.
- The Muggle residents in Budleigh Babberton owned several vinyl LPs at the time of Horace Slughorn's arrival.
- Argus Filch can be seen inspecting several shellac 78s before settling on a copy of "Wizard Waltz" in preparation for the Yule Ball dancing lesson for the Gryffindors.
- Remus Lupin plays a copy of "Witchita Banana" on a gramophone during a third year Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson concerning Boggarts.