Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Old-school sound systems

This weekend, my youthful lodger looked at my music corner (below) and commented: "Stuff for playing music was big in the olden days, wasn't it?" 

And he wasn't even looking at the admittedly chunky record player, which really is quite olden-days (read more below) but the amp and CD player above. "Yes," I thought, smoothing a wrinkle in my face, "and that's what makes it so brilliant." The equipment was once a prominent and important part of music enjoyment.

The record player, which has flashing lights that go on and off in time to the music, is possibly one of my favourite possessions, though it has a troubled past, but the ex-boyfriend involved in that story probably wouldn't thank me for airing it here (it should have been his, you see). I found it in a charity shop in Penzance and amazingly it worked. I took it to an enterprising repair man who cunningly wired it away from its internal speakers (very tinny, as you'd imagine) and gave it the facility to be plugged into my amp (bought, along with the CD player, bought in a ritual ceremony at Richer Sounds).

So when I saw these new music playing gadgets at Urban Outfitters, I came over all nostalgic...

Crosley Stereoluxe speakers, £190
Isn't this iPhone/iPod dock and AM/FM analogue radio a beauty? Perfect shade of 1950s pistachio green (which would go well with my newly painted stairs). Shame there's no digital hidden amid the old-school stylings (I need my BBC6 fix) but then you can always listen online via your phone, if you have a good tariff of course.

Boombox, £260
This has a nice bit of function hidden inside its 80s New York hip hop stylings: the flap where you'd once have stuck a cassette will take your iPod, and it also has a remote control. Most importantly, it has two 15-watt speakers. If only it really would play old tapes though... I have two big drawers full of the things that I haven't listened to in years. If, like me, you could do with the real thing – try the Vintage Cassette online store.

Crosley portable Tweed turntable, £160
This gorgeously boxy, totally portable turntable is a bit more modern beneath the 1960s exterior: it has USP capabilities, meaning you can spruce up the sound of your vinyl by plugging this baby into your Mac or PC. Though that warm, vinyl crackle is a big part of a record's charm so I'd be tempted to leave it unplugged for playback – but it will revive dusty old records if, of course, you're old enough to have any dusty old records...

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