An acetate disc, also known as a test acetate, lacquer, transcription disc or instantaneous disc (because it can be played immediately after recording without any further processing), is a type of phonograph record, a mechanical sound storage medium, widely used from the 1930s to the late 1950s for recording and broadcast purposes and still in limited use today.
Unlike ordinary vinyl records, which are quickly formed from lumps of plastic by a mass-production molding process, a so-called acetate disc is created by using a recording lathe to cut an audio-signal-modulated groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc, a real-time operation requiring expensive, delicate equipment and expert skill for good results. They are made for special purposes, almost never for sale to the general public. They can be played on any normal record player but will suffer from wear more quickly than vinyl. Some acetates are highly prized for their rarity, especially when they contain unpublished material.
Acetates are usually made by dubbing from a master recording in another medium, such as magnetic tape. In the vinyl record manufacturing process, an acetate master disc is cut and electroforming is used to make negative metal molds from it; each mold, known as a stamper, can be used to press thousands of vinyl copies of the master. Within the vinyl record industry, acetates are also used for evaluating the quality of the tape-to-disc transfer. They were once a favored medium for comparing different takes or mixes of a recording, and if pressed vinyl copies of an impending new release were not yet available, acetates were used for getting preview copies into the hands of important radio disc jockeys. (Wikipedia).