Put The Needle On The Record

To get started, you need to freakin’ know how to play one and – admit it – not everybody does. Here’s our guide to sounding and listening like a pro.

vinyl records tomgirl
Served with romantic attitude, Tomgirl’s noir-ish debut makes indie music dangerous again.

First up, the equipment Turntable, amplifier, phono preamp (basically a cable box that connects the turntable to the amp), speakers, speaker cables – and that’s what goes into a basic set up.

Now, how to connect them all… Say it as you would a nursery rhyme: The turntable connects to the preamp, the preamp connects to the amplifier, the amplifier connects to the speakers.

… And here’s how you hit play Put the record on the circular platform (it’s called the platter) then switch on the turntable. Next, position the stylus (the needle) of the tone arm (the appendage that sticks out) directly over the outermost groove on the record (yes, there are grooves – look closer). And then – to hear Adele croon Hello (25 was one of the year’s top-selling records) – lower the stylus onto the record either manually or using the cue lever at the end of the tone arm if there’s one.

So, um, how do we skip tracks? The number of grooves on a record indicates the number of songs on it. To jump to the next one, lift the tone arm (for how, see above) then shift it to the next groove. Repeat as above.

vinyl records
Monster Cat’s melodic rock tunes and upbeat folk rock become extra dreamy and lush through the amp-ed up turntable.

Tuning out is as important as tuning in When the record ends, remember to lift the tone arm and put it into the rest position or you’ll risk damaging the stylus.

Always cover your tracks Or rather, the turntable after use. This prevents dust from settling on the platter, or getting stuck on the stylus or in the cartridge above it. No dust = no pops, hisses or skips = no damage.

Channel Cinderella (no, not the ’80s rock band) Vinyls are “allergic” to dust and particles. Before playing one, use a carbon fibre record brush to sweep its surface in a circular motion, following the grooves. (Tip: If you’re dealing with a used or vintage record, get the shop to do the cleaning for you.) And don’t neglect the cartridge on the turntable – get a specialised cleaning kit from any record store.

Never – we emphasise never – stack your records Instead, arrange them vertically and as close to one another as possible to prevent them from getting warped.

And keep things really, really cool Given the local humid climate, always store your records in a cool or air-conditioned space to prevent mould and mildew from eating into them.

Stop Your Tracks Here

Analogue fever has meant that speciality record stores have been popping up with the same frequency as Victoria’s Secret (okay, maybe a tad less). Here, five to see, be seen at, and dig through – as curated by our resident record guru/art director Kim Wong.

The Analog Vault
 (#02-13 Esplanade Mall)

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The Analog Vault boasts a library of jazz records and music books.

With a speciality collection of used jazz records and an impressive library of music books and magazines, this is the place for audiophiles to gather and chin-scratch (read: engage in discourse), so much so that it’s listed in the Singapore edition of Louis Vuitton’s City Guide series.

Curated Records 
(#01-53, 55 Tiong Bahru Road)

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Curated Records specialises in indie and metal.

Located at hipster hub Tiong Bahru, this two-year-old record shop is made for all Laneway-type scenesters with a collection of obscure and eclectic indie, punk and metal bands from independent music labels.

Hear Records @Chinatown 
(#01-98, Blk 5 Banda Street)

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Hear Records @Chinatown has a huge selection of used records.

The newest kid on the block (and the only modern record shop in Chinatown), the second branch of the popular Hear Records offers a dizzying selection of genres, ranging from hip-hop to heavy metal, indie to post-rock.

(448A Joo Chiat Road)

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Head to Retrocrates (above) and Vinylicious Records (top) for rare releases.

Crate diggers will get their thrills at this upstart that opened a few months ago – it’s a treasure trove of
out-of-print and rare finds.

Vinylicious Records
(#03-01 Peninsula Shopping Centre)

Formerly at Parklane Shopping Mall, this five-year-old joint is the go-to place for the trendy set – it’s the only one here that celebrates Record Store Day, an annual international event where special, limited and exclusive releases are launched. Head straight to its Vinyl Vault, the room where rarities and collectables are displayed.

This story first appeared in Female’s February 2017 issue. 

Photography Jasper Yu Art Direction Kim Wong

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