Vinyl records and turntables aren’t the only music artifacts that are making a comeback. Monster is introducing a new line of high-end portable boomboxes.
The company unveiled the Monster Blaster—a throwback to the 1980s audio staple that is all but an antique to today's teens and twentysomethings—at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Like its predecessors, the Monster Blaster is a hefty speaker system that can be carried on a listener’s shoulders.
While it went retro by bringing back the boombox, Monster stopped short of a completely copying the analog era technology. The updated version comes without a cassette or CD player. Instead, the system pairs with modern digital music players via Bluetooth. So much for authenticity.
Blaster has an integrated subwoofer, giving it a deep, rich sound that’s designed to not only aim songs at directly at listeners, but also bounce the sound off of walls to fill the room. It offers a USB charging slot, is weather resistant (though not waterproof) and, in a modern twist, a rechargeable battery.
“The best thing that I love is there are no D cell [batteries],” said Monster CEO Noel Lee. “We think we’re going to get a whole lot of traction around this.”
The Monster Blaster will be available this spring for $400.
Beyond the standard version of the Monster Blaster, the company plans to introduce a version for DJs/clubs, gamers, and workplaces (presumably ones that are outdoors).
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While boomboxes are still available from some retailers, few, if any, high-end audio companies have made a real effort to revive them. During the past few years, most companies manufacturing portable speakers have focused on making them more compact, to keep pace with the shrinking size of cell phones and music players.
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Boomboxes were a cultural status symbol in the 80s—the bigger, the better. But as music fans have become more isolated in their listening habits, Monster could face an uphill battle in reviving demand.
Then again… The 80s seemed to know long ago that they’d be big again. Look no further than Rick Springfield’s 1983 video for “Human Touch,” which saw the singer coming out of a cryogenic freeze in—you guessed it—2016.