Friday, June 15, 2007

My New Old Stereo System

Back in 1998 I surprised my wife with a new stereo system. Not having much money at the time, it was really just one of those giant boom boxes with the detachable speakers. But it had a triple CD player, radio, two tape decks, and we could plug our VCR into it. It also had lots of flashing lights – a definite plus, in my opinion. Sadly, it did not have a record player like the previous (very outdated) stereo system, so we had to put all our LPs into storage.

Yes, I said “LP”, as in “long play” vinyl records. For those of you too young to know, a vinyl record is a foot-wide disk made of black plastic with a tiny groove that winds around and around it, circling slowly inward to a center hole. A turntable turns it around and around, and a special stylus moves along the groove, bumping along and producing sound, analogous to lasers reading the grooves in CDs. I describe LPs to you because recently a friend of mine gave a box of vinyl records to a thrift store, and the young attendant at the cash register had no idea what they were. They are outdated and oh-so-retro, sorta like 8-track tapes. Don’t know what that is either? Go ask your momma.

But in the last couple years our big boom box has died a slow, agonizing death. First the CDs started to skip. Then one of the tape decks began eating tapes. Then the other tape deck got stuck shut. I had to break it to retrieve my Guns-N-Roses tape, ironically called “Appetite for Destruction.” The cat peed on a speaker. Finally, the CD player stopped playing CDs altogether. The system was reduced to doing nothing more than playing the radio and giving voice to our VCR and DVD players. Oh, and it still had those nifty flashing lights.

So we started considering buying a new stereo system. We wanted to update to an MP3-capable system, but we also wanted to keep playing our CDs and tapes. We also wanted to hook in our VCR and DVD players. Plus the radio. We quickly learned that the cost of a good, modular stereo system is still beyond what we cared to pay, but what choice did we have? Buy another crappy boom box?

And then something happened. My in-laws came to visit us, driving from another state with their Panasonic stereo system to give to us, FREE. It is a modular system with gigantic speakers and a very nice, glass-fronted stereo case. I love it.

But here’s the kicker…. You ready? It’ll shock the hell out of you….

It was made in the mid-80’s.

Everything on it still worked just as well as it did back then – double tape player, radio, hook-ups for our DVD and VCR players, speakers so loud I will never turn the volume past “3”, and an amplifier/receiver with lots of knobs and sliders. It was made just after CD’s first came out, but no CD player. That’s okay, we don’t mind using our DVD player for that purpose. If we want an MP3 player, we can buy a separate system with its own speakers.

Did I mention the system is free?

And, yes, it has a record player!

The first thing we did was go digging around in our storage area and pulling out our old vinyl records. My father-in-law, who was kind enough to hook up the system for me, played an old Donna Summer LP. Oh, yeah, Donna, let me have the “Last Dance” with you again! I Love To Love You Baby. My wife played a record by Wham! (How little she knew back when she was a girl that George Michael had no interest in people of her gender! I mean, just look at the guy back then, dancing around in flaming pink shorts that hugged him enough you could tell if he was circumcised!), and I played a bunch of Mozart records passed to me by my dad. I can’t wait to go to thrift stores and local music stores to check out the perfectly good old vinyl records people have tossed because they no longer have turntables and wanted more up-to-date technology. The older the album, the less likely you’ll find MP3’s, CD’s, or even tapes of them. Sure, there is some scratchiness to them, but I find I don't usually mind it, and it adds character.

So now, each night, I listen to my new old stereo system with a great deal of pleasure. In this day of iPods and complete stereo systems small enough to fit in a duffle bag, where the technology seems to become outdated almost as soon as it is invented, I can’t help feel a touch of pride and nostalgia that a system so old still plays so well.

But there is one serious drawback to the new old system: no remote control. Oh well, I should get my flabby ass up out of my recliner once in a while, anyhow.

Image taken from HERE.


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javieth said...

I usually listen loud music in my house, that´s why I bought a big stereo, I like to spend my time at home I think it was the costa rica investment opportunities because I acquired my house and now I can do everything I want.

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