New Home Stereo System

Netbook & Bluetooth Speaker

Audio is my favorite media form. Sound artists always have captured my attention and my imagination more fully than the visual arts.

Years ago I wrote an inspirational tech piece about installing a new hard drive in an old Fujitsu laptop. Finally the time came to retire that ancient device – but the ‘new’ hard drive still had plenty of viable life in it. I reformatted that hard drive and stuck it into this venerable Toshiba Mini NB205 Netbook.

Although my audio collection is vast, my conventional music collection will (mostly) fit on a 650 GB hard drive. Coincidentally, that is the size of the drive that went into the old netbook. I copied my music to the midget laptop. Next, I added a small Bluetooth dongle.

To the left of the little computer is a Logitech Mobile Boombox Bluetooth Speaker and Speakerphone. It is a one-point stereo speaker, with two one-inch drivers. This is a spectacular device! Wired gave it 9 out of 10 with a rating of “nearly flawless, buy it now.” I paired it with my phone as well as with the netbook. The sound is warm and clear across the frequency spectrum. Although one doesn’t expect much bass through speakers this small, this set delivers a surprising punch. From the other side of a moderately sized room the stereo separation is startlingly good as well.

Cylinder recordings Cal Stewart’s Uncle Josh made late in the 19th Century sound remarkably good on this 21st Century setup. Modern Internet radio stations such as Radio Suby Nice, Triple J from Australia and KUSC from LA are crisp and clear without being too sharp. MP3 files I made from my large collection of ECM Records releases from the mid-to-late 1970’s continue to delight me as much as they ever did. Classical music, jazz, rock, rap, international music and acoustic music of all kinds sound fantastic and are totally portable.

Sometimes it worth pausing a moment to reflect on how dramatic these changes have been. I remember being amazed by the idea that a C-120 audio cassette could hold two whole hours in such a compact way. Moving my music collection required transporting a couple of carloads of records and tapes. These days a USB hard drive about the same size as a Compact Cassette in its box can hold a terabyte of data. I’ve got easy access to a lifetime’s music collection anywhere I go in high fidelity…remarkable.

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