Boomboxes Enter the Multimedia Age

What is a multimedia boombox?

Multimedia boomboxes have come a long way from the suitcase-size systems that earned their bassy moniker with their explosive entry onto city streets in the mid-1980s.

Generally speaking, boomboxes still follow the same familiar blueprint: a portable stereo system that plays a variety of media formats through self-contained speakers, often with enhancements to pump up the lower frequencies.

While their sizes have shrunk, boomboxes have more than made up for their decreased footprints with plenty of new features. These include multi-format playback capabilities for a wide range of formats from cassettes to audio files.

Modern boomboxes are often PC, Mac, and media player compatible; some feature on-board memory for MP3 storage; some even offer variable speed playback for language learning studies.

Their many options (and expandability into full-blown classroom learning centers) make boomboxes a go-to multimedia player for classrooms.

But even when school’s not in session, they’re still an ideal choice to play audio for any audience of up to 40 or 50 members – whether it’s a vacation bible school class or a karaoke pool party.

Here are two simple questions to help you get the ideal boombox!

1. What types of media should your boombox play?

With today’s variety of audio formats, finding a player that can handle all (or even most) of them can be a challenge. The trick is to find a boombox which can play the existing media in your audio library and still accommodate an ever-emerging array of new formats.

Multimedia boomboxes support playback of many different analog and digital formats:

Cassette tapes are still a common format, despite their alleged obsolescence. If you delve into your ancient stash of high-school mixtapes, be sure your boombox can play cassettes.

Compact disc boomboxes play CDs, and many also feature programmable functions for customized music or audio playback.

AM/FM radio reception allows classes to listen to radio broadcasts or record them to cassette or internal memory to play back in the future.

DVD boomboxes play DVDs when used with an additional external video monitor. Some even feature built-in monitors for stand-alone use.

CDRs and MP3 data disk playback allows you to play standard audio files. Many boomboxes also play home-burned discs containing MP3s or other files.

SD cards and USB ports allow playback of digital files from external drives. Some boomboxes (like the USB & SD-equipped Califone 1886 pictured above) even allow you to record to SD cards or USB devices.

2. How big should your boombox be?

.As a rule of thumb, the amount of playback power you need (expressed in Watts) increases as your room & audience size increases.

For small rooms with no acoustic challenges a 1 or 2 Watt boombox should suffice.

For larger spaces with noticeable echo consider higher Wattage. Keep in mind that it’s better to opt for too much power rather than too little.

To evenly distribute sound coverage in large rooms, a boombox with companion speakers or with multiple built-in speakers can radiate sound a full 360 degrees to all corners.

Looking for a boombox? AudioLink offers a full line of multimedia boomboxes and other media players! Call (407-757-3326) or email AudioLink’s trained staff of experts for more sound advice.