Retro Audio

Written by Kevin Tavolaro
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Many audiophiles consider records, when played on a height quality record player, to offer the best sound quality currently available, and therefore prefer them to DVDs. However, not all albums are still released as records, and even the most ardent audiophiles usually wind up with a handful of CDs in their collection. Add to this the increasing popularity of other audio formats, from digital files, such as MP3s, to CD-ROM based, and 5-layer CD-based recordings, and home stereo setup can become a cluttered mess of devices and wires.

While current stereos are generally designed in terms of function, with a simple, generic appearance, vintage audio players were designed to be an attractive component of their surroundings. You can now have the best of both worlds in retro audio products. A handful of companies manufacture retro audio products, which offer the quality and convenience of modern stereo systems, but feature the classic appearance of vintage audio players.

Retro Audio Players

Some of the most popular retro audio players replicate the appearance of the large, wood paneled stereo systems that could be found in living rooms across the country several decades ago. Originally, these stereos featured a hi-fi record player, occasionally combined with a radio tuner. The speakers were hidden behind slots in the wood paneling, and the entire unit would usually stand on four wooden legs. Sliding doors aligned across the top of the stereo could be used to conceal all controls and knobs, and an additional cabinet could fold out from the side to hold records. The modern twist on this design is one of the more popular retro stereos, and is available in several varieties.

The basic modern take on the retro wood panel hi-fi system features all of the components of the original, but incorporates advanced controls and audio mixing options, as well as hidden audio input and output jacks for easy connections with other devices. This allows the unit to output to additional speakers, or even play music from an MP3 player. In addition to the sliding door-concealed turntable found on the original versions, the current retro models also offer a CD player, hidden under a sliding panel so as not to ruin the vintage appearance of the stereo. Consumers can also find models with no turntable, and feature a multiple disc CD player, as well as a radio tuner.

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