For Valentines Day, my sweet wife Lorri and I splurged and bought a sound system for the living room and bedroom. We bought a pair of Sonos Ones.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking-and you’re absolutely right-Smyth, how can you do this after all you’ve written about analog sound and vinyl being the true center of the recorded musical universe?
The answer is related to the fact that at least at the present time I’m only able to put one really nice vintage stereo system in my house, and it lives in a small 8′ X 8′ room that only I visit. So it was a matter of practicality; one can only have so many Pioneer SX-850’s and Rega turntables.
And then there is the ease of use. The Sonos players aren’t Bluetooth, they run on wi-fi on their own network. They were incredibly easy to set up. They are also Alexa-enabled. Setting her up took a little more time. But in the end it all came together.
I presently don’t have a for-pay streaming service, but as an Amazon Prime member (looks at shoes) I can access a great deal of music for free. However, due to it’s limitations, I’m likely to set up an Amazon Music account.
That said, there is an insidious seductiveness to Alexa. I just holler across the room and tell the disembodied voice what to play, and bang-o, high quality digital sound. I’ve listened to the soundtrack to Hamilton, which I’m never likely to own. I’ve perused more Rosanne Cash than I have in my collection. I’ve listened to some Steve Earle, and I see a few LP’s in my future. I’ve chosen individual songs when the mood suits me. “Heart Full of Soul,” by the Yardbirds has been popular with me lately. That Jeff Beck-dang.
But last night I was aware of what was happening to me when I told Alexa to play Randy Newman. After replying “streaming selections by Randy Newman” the player popped out “Rednecks” from 1974’s Good Old Boys, a wonderful record thematically written around southern life.
A little alarm went off in my head. I have this record. Why am I NOT listening to it, the whole damn thing? I immediately went to the den, pulled out my slightly ring-worn LP and put it on my 1byone turntable–my poor excuse for a vinyl player in the living room. It didn’t change the fact the record still sounded great after forty years, and I could listen to all the great songs–“Kingfish,” “Marie,” “Birmingham,” and “Louisiana 1927.”
There’s something sneakily wrong about Alexa. It’s a great lazy-man’s tool. Gotta think about that.