Q: I found a single-piece sound system on Amazon called the Boytone B-22M for $119. It has the ability to convert vinyl, cassette tape and CD recordings to MP3 and put them on a flash drive, offering even more capability (adding cassette and vinyl) than the Teac CD player you recommended recently. What is your opinion of this system?
A: Systems like the Boytone B-22M are relatively common, and though I have not tried that specific unit, I have spent a bit of time with others.
Your answer has two parts. For converting cassettes and CDs to MP3s, I would rate as it "just OK." The sound quality of the conversions would be middle-of-the-road at best, and for many people that may be sufficient.
For converting vinyl, or even playing it over the speakers, I would rate it as "not good," and I would not recommend the system for that purpose. A common characteristic of almost all of these inexpensive all-in-ones is that they use ceramic phono cartridges with poor-quality needles. Not only do these record players not sound very good, but ceramic cartridges with cheap needles can damage your records.
Electrohome (electrohome.com) makes a similar model called the Signature Retro Music System that has a ceramic cartridge it claims will not harm records because it has a conical sapphire stylus (needle). It is $199.
I have not tried it, but the parent company is very reputable (it also owns Fluance), so I am willing to give the system the benefit of the doubt for now. The unit has a four-star rating with more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon, so customers seem to be pretty happy with it, especially for the sound quality playing CDs and FM radio. It does not have a cassette player, though. It has standout good looks, resembling a classic tabletop console record player in real wood with amber lighting and an antique patina faceplate.
If I were shopping for something like this, it would top my list of units to check out.
Q: I read your column about cars without CD players and how to transfer your music from CD to flash drive for use with the car's USB port.
Why are you recommending that people simply succumb to the idea to that they can't have what they want? The automotive industry is built on the premise of earning sales by providing more of what their customers want than the competition.
If the customers want a CD player, they should buy a car with a CD player — plenty of them still exist. If a dealer is showing me a car that can't play my CDs, I'm going to thank them for their time and then go look at some of the other cars on the market. Don't encourage the digital idiots, please.
A: I received a lot of e-mail about car CD players and transferring media to USB, and your e-mail made me wish you were in my office when I read it, so I could give you a high-five. That's a great answer!
It may have been a bit late for my original correspondent who already had a new car, but it is good advice to those who are car shopping and want a CD player. If you don't like what you see, keep looking. The best way to fight any trend in the marketplace is to refuse to go along with it, to buy something else.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.