Stereos, Tapes, CDs and Vinyl Records: My Frustrating Romance With Old-Fashioned Audio Gear

So, here's the thing. My stereo components have been in boxes gathering dust ever since I became a fully fledged member of the iPosse. Ditto for my CDs, cherished cassette tapes and even a few essential vinyl records. Since Jesus and I are relocating to London, and I've ripped everything I really listen to, you might say it's a no-brainer to throw it all out. But it's not that easy to do, is it?

During the two decades that I've had my components, I've run the gamut from vinyl to cassette and CD, and all the way back again. The black boxes are part of my life, they've stoked parties, soaked up miserable tears, impressing and depressing the menfolk in my life. I've sawed antique walnut cabinets to pieces in order to accommodate multi-plugs, connectors and dust covers and now all I rely on is a little white fag-packet-sized box that stores more music than I could ever hope to accumulate.

How many times have you bought the same album? I've got multiple formats for quite a few, but here's a perfect example: I spent a year in France as a teenager and, having just a Walkman and portable speakers for company, bought myself Mlah by Les Negresses Vertes.

Stereos, Tapes, CDs and Vinyl Records: My Frustrating Romance With Old-Fashioned Audio Gear

A couple of years later, when I was deep into the house scene in Paris, and running a music fanzine, I persuaded their record label to give me the 12" of Zobi La Mouche. Nice buggers that they are, they threw in the album on vinyl, too. A few years later, and I went to Madrid for the first time, I found the CD on special offer in a record store and, having only my laptop for company, snapped it up.

Several years—and moves—later, I get my first iPod. Easy peasy, I think, as I sit down with a pile of CDs to rip. Mlah? Meh. According to my laptop, the disc was unreadable. It was time to open up an iTunes account. Sleazy teasy record labels, more like. Call me a fool, but I've acquired Mlah FOUR TIMES OVER. How many more formats can the record companies come up with? Hologram disco MP3s? Dubbly sound that goes to Eleven? Free horse and cart when you purchase the high-quality, 4-swazillion-kbps version? Even the tracks I've ripped may already be obsolete. To quote Johnny Rotten, "Ever get the feeling you've been had?"

It's Thursday afternoon and, as I lie on my bed and type this, one of the movers is transferring my clothes into one of those hanging boxes. I reckon I've got about 20 minutes to decide whether my boxed-up Denon tape deck, Technics amp and turntable, NAD CD player and KEF speakers make into the van marked "Blighty." It is, however, a bit of a no-brainer. How could I abandon those stalwarts of my life, passé though they may be, in favor of a simpler system whose audio quality isn't exactly fabulous?

Perhaps the clincher, though, is that my iPod is currently filed under B for busticated. Into the van my components go, then. Whether they ever come out of their boxes again is another story.