Monday, 5 September 2011

Music Centre Nostalgia

When we were kids, our family didn’t have a stereo, Dad had a Music Centre. Yes I think it had capital letters in our minds. We always used its full title. It was made by Hitachi, a make Dad has remained faithful to ever since. Like Schreiber for furniture. Somehow he came to the realisation and belief that this was the apex of quality and he’s never faltered from this faith. Nothing else will do. He still tries to get us to buy Schreiber today.

Anyway the Music Centre had a turntable, radio and single cassette deck. Much was made of the stylus that we believed was a diamond. If so, it was the only diamond in our house. The Music Centre had a smoked-glass-effect lid. There were lots of dials and switches whereby you could alter what came out of the speakers and increase the treble or bass plus the displays were backlit, adding more drama. It looked very grand, as fascinating to us as the control panel of an aeroplane or the dashboard of a car, with five knobs representing FM frequencies and an array of black push-in buttons for radio, turntable, cassette, mono, stereo etc. When you taped something from a record, you could see the sound levels rise and fall by watching a white needle (one for each speaker) waver back and forth. It was the height of sophistication and class, especially for us as we only had a black-and-white TV and had no idea that the Waltons were redheads or what colour the uniforms in Star Trek were. To us, they were all shades of grey.

Our family has always been a little technologically backward and I only got my first mobile phone Christmas 2010 and still don’t really know how to use it. We’re not quite Luddites but we’re getting there. Or rather not getting there. Still prefer video to DVD and analogue to digital. Dad still has the Music Centre although somewhere along the line, we stopped using its full title and for a while it became just the stereo but the cassette deck no longer works and, as it got older, the right-hand speaker grew temperamental and would sometimes cut out. This could be got round in a couple of ways. If you held the stereo button down firmly for a bit and then let go, it would sometimes bring the speaker back or if you ran your fingers across all the buttons in the direction of the speaker, that might work. It was obviously some loose connection. Now the turntable and radio still work ok but Dad hardly ever uses it, preferring DVDs and CDs although at one stage, he rigged the sound from the TV to come out of the speakers. I still have a great deal of affection for it and the romance of vinyl and the gate-fold sleeve are not lost on me.

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