Why are they called “8-ban” records?
The name “8-ban” (8禁止) is derived from the records being (approximately) 8cm in diameter, with the suffix “ban” meaning “disc” or “platter.” The record label “EightBanRecords” was written in English on each of the records’ sleeves, labels, and inserts.
8cm == ~3.15 inches, so we refer to them casually as 3” records in the U.S. where we still use English units.
How much audio can each 3” record hold?
Each record can hold just over four minutes of audio, which isn’t a lot, but that would still mean there are thousands and thousands of popular music titles that could be candidates for release on the format.
How do 3” records sound?
Surprisingly good! They’re definitely not as high-fidelity as an LP or even a 7” single, but considering the tiny size they sound better than you’d expect, if decidedly low-fi and missing a lot of faithful reproduction at the high-end.
The original 8-ban record player had output other than a small, tinny-sounding built-in speaker, but the newer Crosley players have a combination headphone jack and line-out that sound really good played over a set of better quality speakers.
Many of the 3” records are also mastered in stereo, which you can’t hear over the single mono speaker but obviously enhanced the sound when connected to a stereo system or through good quality headphones.
At what speed are 3” records spun?
33 1⁄3 RPM, just like LPs.
How many songs have been released in the format?
- The original 8ban record releases consisted of five series of 16 records each:
- Softly! records released eight titles.
- The original Triple Inchophone White Stripes series consisted of eight records in total (although one of those was only available as a gift from meeting Jack White in person - if Jack or anyone from Third Man Records is reading this, I’d love a copy to document on this site).
- Record Store Day 2019 introduced a few new mini-series:
- Four releases from Third Man Records
- Four releases from Epitaph
- Six in a second wave of White Stripes releases
- Three from Japanese artist 3776 for RSD Japan (as a pack-in for a 3776-themed Crosley RSD3)
- Masaka Sakasama “Saka Sama” (as a pack-in for a Trash Up!! Records-themed Crosley RSD3)
- Kyu Sakamoto “Sukiyaki“
- Foo Fighters “Big Me” included as a pack-in with the Crosley RSD3 mini turntable
- Beastie Boys “Sabotage” was the first post-Record-Store-Day release
- Eight additional blind-box records were released in Summer 2019
Bringing the grand total to 125 individual songs as of August 2019.
There are also a number of 3” records on the market that are not pressed like 8ban or Record Store Day records.
If you’re aware of any 8ban records we’re missing, please let us know.
Why are you not including other 3” releases?
This site is focused on the original 8-ban and new Record Store Day releases that play on specialized 3” turntables. While there are a number of records that are also 3” in diameter (or 4”, 3 1⁄2”, etc.) we’ll consider cataloging any release that would play on the original Bandai 8ban record player.
Who is the most prolific artist in the 3” record format?
That’s easy. As of April 2019 it’s The Checkers, a Japanese rock band from the 1980s who were featured as one of the original 8-ban record series of 16 titles.
Idol group Onyanko Club was also featured as a 16 record series, but that series included some singles from spin-off groups and solo releases from former band members, reducing the total of any of the individual artists’ releases.
The next runner-up is the White Stripes, who currently have 15 releases (seven in their original series, plus one available only from Jack White himself, then six released at Third Man records on Record Store Day 2019, then one released as part of a Third Man Records mini series available at participating independent record stores.
What upcoming releases can I look forward to?
- Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” was teased via the Ars Technica YouTube preview.
All we know is that the Record Store Day organization has pledged that there will be additional releases in 2019 (likely for Black Friday Record Store Day in November, but hopefully sooner than that and on a more on-going basis).
Where can I buy a player?
As of April 2019 the only way to score a 3” record player is through the aftermarket. Original Bandai 8ban player routinely sells for between $100-200, depending on condition (and luck of the seller).
The limited edition Record Store Day 2019 Crosley RSD3 player(s) should be easier to find, but time will tell.
In July 2019 RSD participating stores started to see re-stocks of the Crosley player, but the new non-numbered, and apparently unlimited edition does not include the Foo Fighters pack-in record “Big Me.”
Are the records actually made of vinyl?
What is the weight of the vinyl?
The total platter package (vinyl + sublayer) for the original 8-ban releases is around 250-300 grams, which is pretty heavy for vinyl where 180g is considered to be “heavyweight.” Some of the Record Store Day releases are a little thinner and lighter.
What’s a “Triple Inchophone?”
In 2005 Jack White discovered the Bandai 8ban player and these little records and made a plan to produce some records for the format. It’s a perfect match - White is clearly fond of the number three (founding Third Man Records), and over the years has been one of the most vocal proponents of vinyl records in the industry. Making tiny 3” records of some White Stripes tracks is completely on-brand for Jack White.
Third Man produced 1,000 copies of their White Stripes 3” record boxed set and arranged to purchase 1,000 Bandai 8ban record players… but they were too late. By this time Bandai had discontinued production and most of the warehouse stock had been destroyed. Third Man procured 400 players, which were already conveniently red and white (the White Stripes colors), rebranded them the “Triple Inchophone” (which has a nicer ring to it than “8ban record player”) and sold them at their shows along with the boxed sets. One additional White Stripes title, “The Denial Twist,” remains the most elusive 3” record, as it is only available as a personal gift from Jack White himself.
Incidentally, if you are willing to part with one of those please contact us as we would definitely like to include scans and details of this historic release on this site.
What is a “blind box?”
The original 8ban records were sold in five series of 16 records each. Like trading cards, when the records are in the package you don’t know which one you’re going to get, so people would have to buy many copies at retail locations if they were going to collect them all.
These outer packages were known as “blind boxes.” When Record Store Day arranged to have new 3” records produced, the new records are also all being released in blind boxes, even the limited edition Crosley RSD3 player’s pack-in “Big Me” by Foo Fighters, which doesn’t make logical sense since every Big Me blind box is going to contain the song “Big Me,” but we’ll consider the blind box to be a feature of the format, even if the new releases aren’t really blind.
What storage options are available?
The original 8ban series had a mail-in offer for collector folders for each of the five released record series (although we’ve never seen one of these, the only evidence of them is the back of the insert included with each 8ban record - please contact us if you have one of these folders as we’d love to see one.
Unfortunately since 8ban never caught on there aren’t any storage options created specifically for 3” records (yet), but since the record package (not including the blind box) is about 4” wide, storage boxes would need to be that wide to hold the records.
The best option we’ve found so far are the Small Smart Store inserts (in the medium box, as the small box plus the inserts is just a bit too short - your records will fit, but the inserts may get a little bent) available from The Container Store (and possibly elsewhere).
We’re still on the lookout for nicer options, and hopefully if 3” records take off, even as a novelty, someone will make a good storage option with 3” records specifically in mind.
Some sellers on Etsy and eBay have sold some custom-made 3” record crates, which are cute but hardly readily available, and we’ve seen some posts where people 3D-printed small plastic milk crates for their three inch records, which look adorable.
Let us know if you know of any additional storage options and we’ll list them here.
What is the diameter of the spindle hole?
3mm, although some (as of this writing, most) records use a larger spindle hole with an included spider adapter, presumably to make the tiny records look more like 7” singles than 12” LPs.
What size is the larger spider adapter/hole?
15mm (the same as a Compact Disc).
Okay, then what’s the diameter of a standard record hole and spindle?
Spindles vary, but the RIAA record hole size is officially 0.286” (7.26mm). So while there are numerous 3” records that will play on a standard turntable (well, one that’s fully manual and capable of the tone-arm reaching into the area of where a regular record’s label would be), the spindles on 8ban records, the 3” records referenced on this site, are far too small for the smaller hole, or too large for the larger. Bandai likely wanted people to have to play these records on a bespoke 3” turntable, so making them incapable of being played on a standard turntable makes sense.
Some 7” 45rpm records have a 1.5” hole (so about half the diameter of an entire 3” record), the history of the larger 7” hole being a fun story of corporate competitiveness.
Can you do some math for me?
Sure thing. The ratio of a standard LP spindle hole vs. a 7” larger 45 spindle hole is 1:5.24.
The ratio of the smaller 3mm spindle hole of a 3” record vs. the larger 15mm hole is 1:5.
Concidence? I THINK NOT.
Why couldn’t they be played on a standard turntable, spindle-hole-size withstanding?
The tracking angle of the turntable’s tonearm would also have to be adjusted to play a smaller diameter than a standard turntable would be designed for. Even if you modified the hole of an 8ban record a standard turntable would be ill-suited to play these tiny records (and likely damage them - you’ve been warned).
Where are 3” records pressed?
Thus far all 8ban records have been pressed at Toyokasei, the largest record pressing plant in Japan.
Aren’t 3” records just a gimmick?
Sure, but they’re fun. Even more than 12” LPs, 3” records are all about the physical object. There’s no alternative as portable, and the experience cannot be replaced by streaming services. Haven’t you ever wanted a tiny desktop turntable? Isn’t it great that there’s a record player with records you can just put in a bag any play anywhere?
3” records are whimsical, and we like having a little more whimsy in the world.
Who are you again?
While we may write in the third-person plural, this site, and thus these answers (and let’s face it, many of the “frequently asked” questions here) is written by Jough Dempsey, a software engineer, record collector, and music geek who loves vinyl and tiny things. 3” records just meet in the sweet spot of his Venn diagram of interests.
Have a question not answered here? Contact us!
- The same kind of plastic from which Lego bricks are molded. ↩︎