Prerecorded Music: From Nails On A Chalkboard To Holy Smoke


On prerecorded music. From cantankerous to wondrous.

Either this happens to everyone, or I need professional help. I'm dining alone in a restaurant or shopping by myself in a department store, or I’m just sitting in a waiting room, when all of a sudden, boom: I’m extremely irritated. (Caveat: not like road rage irritated, more hissy-fit / I-need-to-break-something irritated. I’m a pussycat at heart.) So naturally, as a one-time psychology major, I start self-evaluating (what’s bothering me? Did I skip breakfast?) when it hits me, and “it” is the cheap, tinny, nails-on-a-chalkboard sound all around me – the waiting room music that sounds like it’s coming from a 1990s flip phone hovering over my head. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Gershwin, Ray Charles, Alicia Keys, the Foo-Fighters or my favorite song of all time, just please, for the love of God – turn it off.

Sorry. Long morning, let me start over:

Ask any of our fans: beautiful music, beautifully reproduced, can take you places. In Tina Turner’s heaven, “words are notes and conversations are symphonies” and getting there entails hearing all the instruments, every nuance, from fingertips on strings and lips on reeds, to the breathing between verses. (Remember the emotion laden yet non-understandable opera that made Julia Roberts cry in Pretty Women?) No doubt about it, beautifully reproduced music can be life-changing for the better – and it’s why, in the early days, I looked for ways to drive this point home whenever a customer came in to buy a stereo.

First, I felt obliged to learn what the customer listened to. I was certain I could give them a far better experience at home, or in their car, with the right set-up. And if they said “don't waste your time, I can't tell the difference," I had a little trick: I would ask “what’s your least favorite music?" And then I would play that music (even turning it up) on a good system, and just sit back. And almost every time, despite their best effort to not be moved or inspired, I’d watch the customer have their own epiphany right there and then. I saw smiles, goosebumps and even chills when the customer realized just how much they’d been missing. (Full disclosure: not always. Tuvan Throat Singing pretty much sounds the same no matter the system.) And no, you don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate and forever love the power of beautifully reproduced music, and no, you don’t have to be rich. These days, you can own a spectacular sounding sound system for less than a decent microwave oven.

My point? Improving the quality of my customers’ lives, sending them home with an often thrilling / life changing revelation, is really what we're all about at World Wide Stereo, and it’s the basis for our motto: “doing well by doing good.” Today we’re way beyond just stereo, but we apply all the same principles to everything we do. We don’t send you home to watch an action flick on TV, we give you the power to suspend disbelief so you're IN the action flick on TV. And your new remote control? Sure it can change channels – but it also opens windows, dims lights, sets alarms, and shows you who’s in the driveway. And your new and improved home network? (Don’t get me started. Let’s just say… wow.)

I’ll be back soon too tell you about “the connected bathroom.” (That’s right, bathroom. You will LOVE shaving again, I promise.) Stay tuned.

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