I suppose you all remember the famous scene from ‘Say anything’ back in 1989. The one with John Cusack holding the boombox in a serenade wannabe of the 20th century? Some of you may be too young for that movie, but it is a classic, so if you have not seen it, it is time to change that. You will love it. I promise. That brings me to my topic today: boomboxes. Are they still in use? Does anyone buy them anymore? The answer is DOH! Music has had a great influence on people’s lives, especially the young, and it still does.
However, boomboxes today are not the same as they were in the 70s and 80s. Technology advancement reached them as well, as you could expect. They are no longer the 9V battery-powered big boxes decorated with colorful face gemstones. They have modern features that make them enjoyable in the 21st century.
So, what is a boombox, exactly? It is a portable cassette player (or recorder), with radio, loudspeakers, and an amplifier. It comes with a handle for easy portability, and it has several functions such as playing CDs and cassettes, and you can listen to AM/FM radio. The word ‘boom’ in its name is to emphasize the fact that it can play very loud sounds.
- Types of boomboxes
- How to choose the best boombox?
- What are the best boomboxes?
- My recommendation
Types of boomboxes
The one thing that all boomboxes have in common is that they are portable. As for the functions, they are not all the same. As you can imagine, there are multiple types you can choose from, and your choice depends on what you are looking for in one.
If you are looking for a vintage boombox, it is best to look for one that is dated back to 1980. That is when they peaked, and they are known as an icon for that period. In fact, a collectible boombox from the 80s can be very expensive. That is if you are into that kind of thing. They do not make those anymore, but I think you have a pretty good chance at an online auction. I bet there are still people out there who have such an item. Do not expect it to be very ‘useful’ though. The 80s boombox has only radio functions and a cassette player and recorder. You can actually use it if you have some cassettes lying around.
CDs happened a lot later, and it was already the 90s. They replaced the cassettes, but you could still find them at that time. However, everyone was going CD, so the manufacturers kept the charm, but they added modern functions. It was a revolution, so to speak. CDs are not as sensitive as cassettes. At this point, I am wondering if you know how a cassette works, but I shall give you the benefit of the doubt. Also, CDs are easier to store. If you had to fill the glove department with cassettes, CDs could be stored in a CD wallet. A lot of people liked that. Imagine that it is the same effect now with the storage sticks. You can put so much on that little thing that is crazy. That is how we felt about CDs.
The MP3 format was a huge milestone in music playback. MP3 boomboxes did not need cassettes or CDs, and you could carry your entire music library with you. It was one of the first steps that began the portable music trend. You had all your music with you, you did not have to worry about a ruined cassette or a scratched CD. It was amazing. I think you can still find these in stores, as in newly manufactured ones.
How to choose the best boombox?
Modern boomboxes, as in today’s models, are what we could not even dream of when I was a kid. They have a lot of features, and they also come with Bluetooth connectivity. Manufacturers did not want to kill the idea of a boombox, which is why they recycled it and put all kinds of features on them. It was a brilliant idea because people buy boomboxes more often than you think.
If you are interested in one, you should pay attention to the details. The idea is that the more features a boombox has, the better. There are a lot of factors to consider, and if you have no idea what those factors are, you will find a list below.
- Power source – when they came out, boomboxes used AC adapters and disposable D-batteries. However, that could cost you. The disposable batteries I mean. A boombox that works on AC power kills the idea of portability, which is why you should look for a model that runs on rechargeable batteries. Lucky for you, manufacturers thought of that, and you have plenty to choose from. They are a bit more expensive than the ones that work on AC power, but it is worth it.
- Music source – I doubt that you still have (or ever had) cassettes lying around. That is why a boombox that plays cassettes is hard to find. CDs are so and so, but what do we use as a music source every day? Our phones of course. We use them to listen to music in our cars via AUX cords, in our homes via Bluetooth, and in our headphones. The point is that phones are the primary source of music, which is why the best thing you could do is buy a boombox that allows Bluetooth connectivity. Some of them have iPod or MP3 ports. Either way, these three are more likely to be used than CDs and cassettes.
- Sound quality – as you can imagine, a boombox is not able to reproduce a sound as good as the one produced by a high-definition audio system, but that does not mean you must listen to distorted music. That is why you should look for a model that is equipped with bass-boosting technology and many watts.
- Durability – the point of a boombox is that you can take it with you anywhere you go, which is mostly outside. That is why you need one that is durable and can survive against the elements. Some models are waterproof, which is excellent. You also need a boombox made of high-quality materials so that it does not crack whenever you put it on the ground. A shockproof boombox is what you want.
Other features such as size and portability matter a lot, which is why I advise you to not overlook them. Brand and price are also something you should consider.
What are the best boomboxes?
Since there are so many models online, I thought that I could help you choose one of the best boomboxes available. Of course, you still have the task of selecting one, but at least your choice pool is not as big, and you will be choosing an excellent model for sure. Enjoy!
Sony Stereo CD/Cassette Boombox Home Audio Radio
It is impossible that you have not heard of Sony. They make among the best sound equipment ever. I still have the Walkman I bought in the early 2000s. The point is that you cannot really go wrong with a Sony. This unit will not disappoint you. You can listen to AM and FM stations, and it playback cassettes (if you still have those,) CDs, CD-R/RW, and MP3 CDs. It is versatile from that point of view, and the fact that you can listen to one of your old mixtapes is fantastic.
The preset station’s feature allows you to select 30 favorite stations and listen to them whenever you want. It has a sturdy antenna, and the signal is stable. The Sony boombox runs on AC power, as well as on C batteries. You have to buy them separately, though. They should last somewhere around 20 hours.
One of the best things about this unit is that it comes with low-frequency bass performance. It features mega bass boost circuitry. The sound is more than satisfactory. There is no distortion whatsoever. It weighs only 5.1 pounds, which helps with portability. If you are looking for a mid-range boombox, this is ideal for you. The price is not steep either. I am sure you are going to love it.
JBL Boombox Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker
This one costs quite a bit, but I guarantee that it is worth it. If there is one boombox that is worth all that money, then it is the JBL unit. It is one of the most potent Bluetooth boomboxes that you can find. The sound is mind-blowing, and the bass is to die for. It is hard to believe that such a small device can deliver that perfect sound, but the JBL does it. The four active transducers and two JBL radiators will make sure of that.
As you can imagine, such a device does not need to be plugged into an outlet. Instead, you get a device that is powered by one lithium polymer battery that you can recharge. The 20,000 mAh will keep this boombox running for 24 hours, which you have to admit that it is quite impressive. And as if that was not enough, the two USB ports allow you to charge your phone or tablet. Yes, it works as a power bank as well.
As for durability, it is futile to tell you what this unit can resist. The materials used for its manufacture are of the highest quality. Furthermore, the JBL boombox is IPX7 waterproof. A pool party will not endanger it. I think you agree that few boomboxes can top this one.
Sony ZSRS60BT CD Boombox with Bluetooth and NFC Streaming
I have to admit that I had to research what NFC means because I had no idea, and apparently I have the technology on my phone. I always wondered what that symbol meant. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, and it helps connect two devices without using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or anything else you can think of. The devices need to be a maximum of 4 cm apart. As a result, just place your phone close to the Sony ZSRS60BT Boombox, and it will play the music you have on your phone. Simple as that. Along with NFC, this unit streams music via Bluetooth, it plays CDs, CD-R/RW, USB, and MP3. You would not say just by looking at it, but this boombox is a potent device.
The sound quality is just as you may expect from a Sony. The mega bass enhancement helps with the sound distortion, which is not present at all. You can select 30 preset radio stations, AM, and FM, and you have an LCD display that shows the station or the name of your song.
One thing that I find disappointing about this unit is the power source. I was expecting a rechargeable battery, but instead, it uses 6 C batteries or AC power. However, the battery life is quite extended. The radio can go on for 26 hours, but if you play music from other sources, the battery will last for only 9 hours. Even so, it is not that bad.
I have to admit that I have always loved Sony, but this time, I will go with the JBL Boombox Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker. It is a fantastic product, even if it costs you a bit. It has all the right features, a powerful battery, and it looks amazing. It is by far one of the best boomboxes money can buy. I strongly recommend it.
When you thought that boomboxes are no longer a thing, here come manufacturers with an enhanced version of the portable sound from the 70s. Modern boomboxes may be a lot different from the first models, but they kept their charm and usefulness. If you do decide that you want one, for practical reasons or you feel nostalgic, one of the models above should satisfy your needs. Whichever you choose, I am sure you will be happy with it.
Updated on March 6, 2023