Bargain waterproof phone pouch, thrift store audio finds and vintage hi-fi vs. today (Week 22, 2024)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 22, 2024

AiRunTech Waterproof Case: Just in time for summer fun, here is a great way to protect your phone around the water for less than $10.

One of my very favorite places to visit is the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando, a hotel themed as a mid-century seaside resort from the 1950s and 1960s. One of the highlights of Cabana Bay is a fantastic lazy river, and a visit isn’t complete without a few spins around it. My most recent visit and a need to keep my phone with me at all times led me to discover this excellent, dirt-cheap waterproof case. The AiRunTech Waterproof Case is a small vinyl pouch with a lanyard and two heavy-duty Ziploc-style seals, with a lockable black plastic bar above the seals that provides an additional level of protection. Not only did it protect my phone, I found the vinyl interior clung tightly to the screen and the camera lens so I could easily operate the phone, take clear pictures and even make phone calls using the speakerphone on my iPhone 11 Pro Max. The listing on Amazon shows the case being used underwater to take photographs and videos. I didn’t push my luck dunking it, but it was perfect for protecting my phone as I enjoyed the lazy river. You can buy the AiRunTech Waterproof Case on Amazon for $7.95 per two-pack for the regular size, and $12.95 per two-pack for the XL size.

Q. I really enjoy reading your column each week, but am a bit miffed by people who think they need to spend an indecent amount of money to get good sound from their stereo equipment. I bought a Yamaha HTR-5450 AV Receiver and CDC-885 6-disc CD player at a thrift store for under $25 each, and a 6-speaker Yamaha surround sound speaker system at a garage sale for $25. So there are deals out there for cheapskates!

-R.N., Minneapolis, MN

A. There are indeed deals out their for “cheapskates” and if haunting thrift stores looking for audio equipment bargains qualifies someone as a cheapskate, then I am one as well. Some of my most prized thrift store finds are an Integra CDC-3.4 CD changer for $3, a pair of Paradigm Monitor 5v.2 speakers with stands for $13, Snell tower speakers for $125, a Nakamichi CD player for $15, two pairs of Celestion SL6S bookshelf speakers for $25/pair (one pair worked perfectly, the other did not) and Linn Index bookshelf speakers for $50. Some of the equipment found its way into my collection of vintage audio gear and is enjoyed by me on a regular basis. Most of it found its way into systems I put together for friends and family.

One thing that is interesting about much of this high-end vintage gear is how it compares to more modestly priced equipment made today. For example, the Celestion SL6S speakers cost $900 in 1987. That corresponds to $2,484 in 2024 dollars.

I compared my SL6S speakers to the Q Acoustics 3020i speakers, a class-leading small bookshelf speaker currently available for $449/pair. The performance of the SL6S and 3020i was close enough to be interchangeable, with both speakers excelling in certain areas but with overall sound quality that is very comparable. While ultimate sound quality may not have gone up much in 37 years, the price of admission for a great sound system has certainly gone down, even without accounting for inflation. Through inflation in the mix and it is no contest. So what you may consider an indecent amount of money may actually represent a very good value in the 21st century!