My Christmas gift to myself this past holiday season was a bit frivolous — a new stereo system for the truck I basically drive every few weeks to Costco. To make matters more damningly indulgent, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the 13-year-old factory in-dash stereo.
The 13-year-old speakers though — or rather the left rear speaker — was done, and had been for several years. A separation of the cone from where it attached to the edge left it rattling and slapping any time anything resembling a bass note would come through. So bad was it that I somewhat surgically set the stereo’s fader and balance to send juuuuust enough sound so I could hear music out of it, but barely. And I lived with that in part because I drive the vehicle so little.
But when my original five-year-old Sirius stereo unit finally crapped out (after threatening to for the last couple years) I ordered up a new one and when it arrived I set up an appointment just before Christmas and took it over to the local Best Buy to have it installed. While I was there I told the installer my problems and said that while I could get away with just new speakers, I might be interested in a new stereo unit, providing it wasn’t too sophisticated (meaning: expensive) for my simple tastes (meaning: because I’m pretty much a cheap bastard). The reality is I like music while I’m driving but I’m no audiophile in need of state-of-the-art.
He showed me a low-end Pioneer box that he said would do what I needed, matched it up with a new quartet of speakers and it all came out to less than $300. Sold. And less than two installation hours later, for the first time in a looooong time my truck’s music-reproducing equipment was working well and in concert with each other.
The main thing that I regretted from the purchase? The lack of that dinosaur: a cassette player. In and of itself it wasn’t a pressing matter… more just of a sad recognition that the music format with whichÂ I’d literally grown-up — from my first tape-player in elementary school, to my first Walkman in high school, all the way through to only a few years ago — was officially dead.
Beyond that, it meant eventually there would be time spent converting to MP3 files all the song on all the 250 or so cassettes that had been packed away for so long in a box buried somewhere in the basement that would probably take me 30 minutes to find.
But then a lightbulb went off in my head and in my head I saw a variation of the following (click any image for minor biggification):
Which sequentally translates into (left to right): 1) male/male miniplug cable, 2) 1991 Sony Walkman that still works 3) new stereo’s aux-in jack, 4) Walkman headphone jack, 5) cassette tape
All that was left was to push play…
…and enjoy my success at finding a way on those rare times I’m actually driving the truck to listen to any of those 250 cassette tapes in the basement that I’m really in no hurry to excavate.