Long Play (LP) mode, available for a variety of video formats (see list below), makes it possible to extend the potential recording time of a tape by lowering the tape speed and changing the angle and proximity of the recorded tracks. For proper playback, a recording made in LP mode must be played back in LP mode.

If ... played back in Standard Play (SP) mode, the image is still recognisable, but—depending on the format—may be played back between 1.5x and 2x too fast, displaying irregular, horizontal, bands of noise similar to those that appear when fast-forwarding. Audio on the longitudinal track will sound too high-pitched, and will be played back so fast that the speech sounds incomprehensible. If FM or PCM audio is recorded on the helical tracks, it will drop out completely.1

LP mode was effectively replaced with EP (“extended play”) or SLP (“super long play”). Often referred to together as “EP/SLP”, this mode involves tape speed 3x slower than standard play speeds.

In cases where the tape speed is slowed to economize on media usage, less information is recorded for a given image, resulting in noticeably reduced picture quality. Generally speaking, when tape speed is reduced, any other condition afflicting the tape, such as stiction or stretching, is further exacerbated.

Analog video tape formats that support LP mode are:

  • VCR
  • Video 2000
  • Betamax
  • VHS
  • S-VHS
  • Video8
  • Hi8

Can it be fixed?

To correct artifacts resulting from incorrect tape speed during playback, use a playback device that supports the appropriate mode: LP, EP, or SLP.


1. Johannes Gfeller, Agathe Jarczyk, and Joanna Phillips, “Long Play” in Compendium of Image Errors in Analogue Video (edited by Swiss Institute for Art Research, Zürich: Scheidegger & Spiess, 2012), p.96, videos 48 & 49.

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