Where once portable speaker technology meant a boom box balanced on each shoulder like an aurally-challenged roller-disco enthusiast, now we can enjoy fantastic sound anywhere courtesy of the egg-sized X-mini speaker set. Mp3 players are cool an' all, but have you ever sat around a pair of earphones, their tinny sounds pathetically magnified by an impromptu cone of newspaper, trying to enjoy the complex instrumental noodlings of the latest Tool album?
I remember doing just this on Omotepe Island in Nicaragua one independence day. I'd purchased the masterpiece that is Tool's Lateralus cd in neighbouring Honduras weeks before but hadn't yet been able to listen to it. I didn't have a personal cd player, did I, just a crappy old Walkman. This was in the time before ipods, by the way. I suppose I could have bought it on cassette but I was thinking ahead.
Anyway, I managed to negotiate the use of a fellow traveller's Discman on the condition that we shared the experience, so there we were crouched around this miserable wooferless funnel contraption when we were approached by a 3rd party who rolled his eyes and shook his head in a pitying way. "I think you need these," he said, pulling from his 100L pack a pair of full-sized Sony speakers. Lo and behold, we were soon enjoying the throbbing anger of Maynard et al without severe straining of the eardrums.
That chap liked to travel in style, and I'm sure he would appreciate these little beauties as much as I do. Their 4W output is probably as good as the shoebox-sized ones he was lugging around anyway, and they have the additional qualities of being USB rechargeable with a 12 hour run time, metallic red and only 104g! Plus, they can be linked in series with other sets to form a powerhouse quadrophonic assault team!
That night, we sent a representative of the group (he spoke the best Spanish) into the little town to procure some rum. He returned with a fistful of clear liquid-filled plastic bags, as if he'd won several goldfish at the fair but the actual fish had been stolen. This was the local moonshine - when it is served in a bag you know it's authentic, and when you go to take a sip and the fumes burn your eyes before the liquor hits your lips, it's confirmed. Viva la revolucion!