Why I Have Decided to Buy a Jukebox


I love music. My husband collects CDs like I collect books. We also have a large collection of LPs and of MP3s on our computer. I won’t even go into our magnetic tape collection. Literally, I won’t go into it. Its size frightens me. We have no plans of slowing down the growth of our collections. Unfortunately, a remarkable portion of the funds we put into our musical enjoyment (not including the funds for audio gear) goes to …..(drum roll please)….replacement.

One. Jewel cases break on a regular basis. Once the jewel case is broken, the CD is likely to get scratched. Especially if the part that gets broken is that little circular tab in the center that holds the CD.

Two. CDs travel. They go in the car, get lent out, some have quite lively social lives. Some never come back. I do miss them.

Three. CDs break. Someone stepped on that one. I think the kids slip them under my pillows before I tuck them into bed. Sometimes they return from their travels a bit chipped, or at least that’s what they’d have you believe.

Besides the cost of replacement, moving CDs en masse is becoming quite a chore. Always out of order, always in the wrong cases, always heavy. Storing them is not a picnic either. We have a great shelf we made, better than any other shelf we’ve encountered built for the purpose. It takes up a reasonable amount of space, fits comfortably along our wall, and holds mine and my husband’s collection. My daughters’ has moved out to another location, so we still have room for another year, maybe. If we take it easy. And, we’ve built a second shelf. But, both shelves weigh a ton. The old one is getting old and abused, and since its made of wood, it splinters.

I am not going to buy those little books with millions of little plastic pockets. You can’t clean them, and one drop of jelly can ruin pages, rendering them useless. They are also easily stolen, and then replacement becomes a matter of “What the heck did I have?” I am not going to buy an MP3 player. Granted, they’re cheap, portable, and I have MP3s, but in reality, I want something to run through my $1000 amplifier and come out my $8000 speakers. I bought those because they have excellent sound. MP3s do not have excellent sound.

When I buy myself a Jukebox, it will have all the allure of a piece of furniture, a piece of history, and a piece of fun. I can run it through my amp and speakers and have all the quality of sound I expect from my CDs. It will be easy to use not just by myself, but by any of my guests, even the kids. It will house my the inserts from my CDs as well as my CDs and they will be safely cared for by a machine. They will not be lendable.

The largest capacity jukebox I could find holds only 120 CDs. I’m not kidding when I say my CD collection is huge, and that’s not going to hold it all. Fortunately, we’re a family with phases. I think only 80 CDs see action in any given 6 month period. If I had immediate access to 120, that would be plenty. Every 6 months or so I’m refiling all the CDs onto the shelf, stacks all around me, alphabetizing, tossing broken cases, matching case to disk…so maybe every 6 months instead I’m changing out a portion of the jukebox. Storage for the rest of my CDs? Those slim cases are a pain in the rear when you’re trying to read the spines, but they’ll be fine for storage. They’ll also hold the inserts. It’ll be lovely.

Why not just a multi-changer? Well, it’s not nearly as cool. When I buy a Jukebox, I’m buying a piece of furniture as well as a machine. And, if I’m feeling ornery, I’ll make people pay to use it at parties and the like. A multi-changer has no home for inserts. I’ve had one before, and suddenly, instead of cover art, the association to a particular artist or disk or song is reduced to a number. I didn’t go to a huge state college because I didn’t want to be reduced to a number, and neither should a professional recording artist.

A new jukebox will cost me in the neighborhood of $10,000. Ebay or Craigslist might make that number lower. Either way, it’s reasonable considering the cost of my collection, my equipment, and the value I place on music. I’ll have to make room for it in my house (of course, I had to make room for the piano and the organ, too). It’s also a dream, and there are others in my household I have to make a case to as well. But I bet all 10 of those thousands of dollars that my kids and grandkids will be fighting over it when I die.

Image courtesy of APalici

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6 Responses to Why I Have Decided to Buy a Jukebox

  1. sir jorge says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of money! I wish they were cheaper.

  2. Ben says:

    How about a networked music player, such as the Slim Devices Squeezebox or Transporter?


    Rip all your music to a lossless format (flac, Apple Lossless, either of which eliminate the fidelity concern inherent in MP3), and your entire music library is then accessible from your stereo via the front interface of the device, or a web interface. You can play random mixes, everything by a particular artist, particular genre, set up custom playlists, hear internet radio, etc.

    It’s not without flaws, mostly in the overhead to rip and correctly tag all your music, and the geek skills needed to get it set up the first time, but it’s awesome after that.

    To be honest, I’ve always liked recataloging my music, and my occasional efforts to normalize my artist/album/genre tags on my ripped music satisfies that desire very satisfactorily.

    They offer two different models, one of which is an audiophile quality product, and only $2k vs the $10k you mention. May not have the heirloom draw of a jukebox, but it’s seriously freaking cool.

    I love mine. In fact, I have both a Squeezebox (bedroom stereo) and a Transporter (living room stereo). It’s changed the way I use my music, and the coolest thing is when I have it on random, and it plays something I forgot I had, or forgot I loved. The one in my bedroom is used every single night. Set it to sleep in an hour, choose my music, and I’m off to sleep.

    For parties, I just set up a laptop and let folks choose their faves via the web interface. It is a bit embarassing if they stumble across my Air Supply stash, though.

    It’s cool having access to all of my 800+ CDs on demand in either location, and it actually made room, as I could then put all the CDs in basement storage.

    If I want a car CD, I just burn one, and if that copy gets damaged, so what?

  3. Traciatim says:

    Why not find an older non-working but cosmetically sound juke box and mod it with a home theater media station. That way you could hook it up to your TV, watch movies, stream audio around the house . . . plus you have a juke box sitting there.

  4. Hilary says:

    I have heard (from a physics major at my school) that the sound quality difference between an mp3 (as long as it’s 128 or higher) and a CD is not detectable to the human ear. Most people think mp3s are poor quality either because a) they download bad mp3s (quality less than 128) or b) they have bad speakers on their computer and do not realize that it’s the speakers, not the mp3s, that are making the music sound bad.

    Just a thought.. it would make your life a million times easier just to digitalize everything, back it up on external hard-drives, and then enjoy a clutter-free life.

  5. TD says:

    You can hear distortion (usually sound like a phaser on the high side) with mp3s at 128KBPS. You might want to look at the SONY CDP-CX230, CDP-CX335 , or CDP-CX400, CD Changers. I am pretty sure they have larger ones out there (500 discs).

  6. DC says:

    Here’s what I used:

    1. Intel Mac Mini (comes with iTunes, FrontRow and a remote)
    2. High quality digital-analog converter with an optical input. A typical AV receiver will work fine too.
    3. A Belkin cable to hook them together
    4. A 1 terabyte hard drive
    5. A screen

    I ripped all of my CD’s to AIFF format (uncompressed CD images) and put them all in the closet. Now I can surf my collection and it sounds just as good as my high-end CD player.

    Total investment: about 1000 for the computer, cable and hard drive (I already had the DAC, add 400-600 if you need to add one).

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