Madame Leslie and Music

A blog about life and its songs

The Best Record Player For Your Listening Satisfaction

April 27th, 2015

vinyl and coffeeIn my previous post, I mentioned something about a vinyl record. To the uninitiated, vinyl records are flat discs with music stored in them. They are like CDs but are much larger. Vinyls are an old way of recording music, but lately, the format has been experiencing a very strong resurgence. Even indie albums have sold a lot of copies in the recently held Record Store Day.

If you also want to listen to vinyl records, you will have to get a good record player first. Head over to Random Life Music for the best record player or turntable — reviews of under $100 brands and models are provided there for you to choose from. And to help you make that choice (without regretting it later), below are a couple of tips and pointers about the things you should consider carefully.

Buying a Record Player: The Things to Consider

What kind of records will you play on it?

According to audio experts of popular turntable brands, there are three kinds of records, namely 78s, 45s and 33 1/3s. I know, those names kind of look too mathematical. But in layman’s terms, the names actually just refer to the time it takes them to spin. Most modern record players can play all three, but some can not. Hence, it’s always wise to double check the manual and try an actual record.

What features are most important for you?

Not much has changed with the technology used in the main mechanisms of record players. Outside of motor tweaks and new materials for parts, no fancy improvements were made to how turntables do their main function.

Instead, the most significant improvements to record players are the add-on features. Nowadays, most turntables’ features include the capability to connect to USB devices. This enables owners to convert their vinyl stash to MP3 files to preserve them (records actually get damaged when played!). Aside from USB compatibility, some turntables have a CD player, a casette deck and even AM/FM radio. While these are nice icings on the cake, they could distract you from the most important features, so know your priorities.

Which design is best for you?

Some turntables are designed with an integrated amplifier and speakers. On the other hand, others are designed as such that you need to plug in external speakers to use them. External speakers can be as large as you want and they will always sound better than their integrated counterparts. However, if you’re an audiophile on the go, integrated speakers are obviously best suited for you.

Bonus Tip: Maintaining Your New Record Player

Most players nowadays are easy to take care of. That said, it doesn’t mean that you absolutely don’t need to do anything to maintain it. It is recommended that you get a player care kit and to regularly remove dust from the needle by using a soft brush. You might also have to eventually replace the needle, but doing so is easy and straightforward.

The Star-Spangled Banner

April 25th, 2015

I was cleaning my studio when I stumbled upon a vinyl record. It’s a copy of The Star-Spangled Banner, as interpreted by Jimi Hendrix at the Woodstock 30th Anniversary.


At that time, Hendrix’ unexpected rendition was controversial and got negative reactions. But when asked about it later in a TV show, Hendrix said “I’m an American, so I played it.” He couldn’t have answered any better. I don’t like his rendition, but it’s a great example of freedom of expression. And isn’t that a key principle in American independence?

The record made me look up the story behind the anthem, and below are what I found. I know that July 4 is still months away, but it’s never too early to look back at our history.

The National Anthem — A Brief History

The year was 1814, and once again the United States was at war with the British. Dr. William Beanes, an elderly and well-loved physician, had been captured in his home, accused of aiding in the arrest of some British soldiers. He was being held prisoner aboard the British ship HMS Tonnant off the coast of Maryland.

Dr. Beanes’ good friend, Francis Scott Key, set sail from Baltimore with attorney John Stuart Skinner to try to arrange for Dr. Beanes’ release through a prisoner exchange. When Key and Skinner showed the British officers letters written by British soldiers praising Dr. Beanes and other Americans for their kind treatment, the British officers were inclined to let him go. However, when they realized that Keys and Skinner had overheard them discussing a surprise attack on the United States, they decided to hold all three men as prisoners.

It was a nighttime attack on Fort McHenry, and throughout the night, Francis Scott Key kept watch. During the battle, the fort flew the “storm flag”, which Key could see in the light from the exploding rocket barrage. In the dawn’s early light, the U.S. flag was raised, and Key knew that the battle had been won.

Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. Two days later, the three men were released. But it was a long time before The Star-Spangled Banner became the anthem of the United States. It was President Herbert Hoover who signed it into law in 1931.

The Star TANGLED Banner?

The national anthem have been tangled in controversy even before Hendrix’ rendition. Some people think it’s too hard to sing. Others don’t like it because the melody is based on an old English drinking song, Anacreon in Heaven.

Nevertheless, I find it to be a stirring symbol of our freedom and purpose as a nation. I’ve always felt that The Star-Spangled Banner is almost a hymn and as such is rather sacred. And from now on, it will remind me of the heartfelt outpouring of a man about what it means to be free.

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