Don’t — as motivational types are oft to quip — leave your baggage at the door.
Instead, turn it into the world’s spiffiest boombox.
That’s the can-do spirit behind Zound Electronics, a Brooklyn proprietor of portable music players crafted out of beautiful vintage suitcases.
“I always found the products I installed to be really flat-looking and bland,” says founder — and former AV installer — Sam Wilson. “I remember when Bluetooth speakers became popular and teenagers were blasting music from these tiny speakers that sounded good for their size, but wouldn’t get the full range of sound frequencies the artist intended from a two-inch speaker.”
Wilson was inspired to create “a proper professional design with brand new components.” Ergo, the "Stomper" was born.
They’re certainly lookers. But these portable boomers feature some seriously modern sonic tech: removable, rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries and Bluetooth 4.0 technology, for starters. And each unit, according to Wilson, is tuned to the case and can pump out undistorted audio at full volume.
“All our units use precision crossovers, which precisely splits the sound between stereo 3-way speakers, woofer, midrange and treble,” he says. “In my opinion, these sound better than even the high-end Bose portable speakers: they go much louder and can be used for parties even in large rooms.”
A test at InsideHook HQ proved that, yes, a Stomper gets loud without the audio losing shape. Plus, with only two switches (power and Bluetooth) and a volume knob, setup was a snap. The wireless works from about 30 feet away, and is compatible with any Bluetooth device (smartphone, laptop, etc.). Some models feature an Apple Lightning Dock for wired audio input and charging.
Wilson sources the cases primarily from the Midwest, seeking out sturdy pieces from from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. “The U.S. has what seems like an unlimited supply,” he says. “They used to build things to last. I’m pretty sure modern suitcases won’t keep looking good for over 60 years.”
Wilson looks for hard-side cases with straight, flat edges, then installs wood reinforcements on the inside. A sturdy handle — for portability — is also a must. And weathering or discoloration is fine. “It gives it character,” Wilson says, noting that solid brass locks or latches have a rust or “patina” that stands out.
The latest Zound model is the “Bumper,” a boombox that utilizes a vintage tweed carry-on/makeup case with brown leather trim. “We flip them on their back and move the handle to the top. Turns it into a nice little-sized boombox.”
And if you already have a case you like, Wilson says his company can do custom work. “People bring us cases they’ve had for a long time and have sentimental value,” he says. “We tell ‘em if we think it would make a good boombox or not.”
Think your travels sound worthy?