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Review: Electrohome Signature Music System

Sections: Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews, Speakers and Headphones

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Father’s Day is coming up. You likely know that, but you may not have a gift in mind yet. Well, speaking as a dad, I feel safe in offering this advice to those scrambling for a last minute idea for their father—don’t accept advice from other fathers. We all have different tastes, after all. What, you think all dads just suddenly develop an intense interest in power tools? I didn’t. My kids get me a hedge trimmer for Father’s Day, and I’m like, “Trim your own damn hedges.”

But you can play it safe by getting your dad something that helps him relive his past…something from before people were getting him Father’s Day gifts. Such an idea comes from Electrohome with their Signature Music System. This handy unit serves both dad’s nostalgia side and his modern tech side by providing a record player and a way to easily turn those records into digital files he can take with him. Of course, there’s also an AM/FM radio and a CD player, but it’s the vinyl that makes this gift work.

Let’s first talk about the walnut design, which is reminiscent of the cabinet turntable system my grandparents had, albeit in a much more compact unit.

Electrohome Signature Music System

The throwback is perhaps a bit too far for guys like me whose first LP was a KISS album, but your nostalgia mileage will vary. The analog dial AM/FM radio is a nice touch, and the amber lighting set behind the faux patina faceplate hammers home the classic feel. However, the blue LED display for the CD player kills the effect. A flat gray/black (like shown above when not in use) would’ve been better.

Another odd choice is the raised text on the faceplate to indicate what the buttons are for, as you can’t read it. It’s impossible to see from any distance, and you can only read it up close when the light is hitting the words from the proper angle. You don’t need to make your dad feel is his eyesight is worse than it is. Thankfully, the included remote (which in no way matches the look of the system it controls), is easier to read and use.

Perhaps the biggest misstep, however, is the lack of a headphone jack. I can’t think of a single reason why headphone connectivity isn’t included. It’s not like the whole family is ever going to share dad’s taste in music.

The lid lifts to expose the turntable; a nice looking system that plays quite well. You can select between 33/45/78 RPM, and the diamond tip ceramic needle provides good sound for a system at this price.

Electrohome Signature Music System

However, the speakers themselves are a bit on the weak side. Your music—no matter the source—sounds a bit tinny and hollow when compared to the similarly priced Bluetooth speaker systems I’ve recently reviewed. That makes for a clean sound with crisp and clear mids and highs, but it’s not what I’ve come to expect from modern sound systems, especially when listening to rock. Maybe that’s part of the charm?

Along with the turntable, you’ve got a CD player, AM/FM radio, and auxiliary input in case you run anything else through it. Dad’s old Walkman, perhaps? Does he still have that around? These all work well, even if the feature sets are fairly basic. You can’t program radio stations, for example. However, it’s the ease of ripping music from vinyl (or CD, which may be necessary if your Mac no longer has a CD drive) to MP3.

Simply plug in a USB drive, start the LP or CD, and hit the record button twice. The music will dump to the USB drive as it’s playing, and you can adjust the volume all you want because the recording volume is preset. You’ll need your own software for editing and labelling the tracks for iTunes or what have you, but the hard work is done. Or, you can just play the music right off the USB drive by plugging it into the Electrohome unit and selecting CD/USB. Get all dad’s vinyl on one USB drive and he can leave his albums safely on the shelf…unless, of course, he’d rather study the artwork while listening. Dad may be a Yes fan, after all.

So, the Electrohome Signature Music System isn’t a perfect unit. Audiophiles and nostalgia purists will take issue with it, but those guys aren’t buying a $200 sound system, anyway. For that price, Electrohome instead gives you a fun design that includes most everything you need to get your vinyl records safely stored in digital format. And perhaps more importantly, it provides a decent way to enjoy those records as they were meant to be heard…and the way dad wants to hear them.

Apple Channel Rating B

Buy the Electrohome Signature Music System

Provides: 33/45/78 RPM vinyl, CD, AM/FM and MP3 USB playpack, and vinyl/CD to MP3 conversion
Developer: Electrohome
Minimum Requirements: Vinyl record or CD for audio playback, USB drive for audio ripping
Price: $199.00
Availability: Now

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