Old vinyl experienced an unexpected resurgence a few years ago, along with a resurgence of interest in instant cameras and Polaroid-style photos. Some of that interest has waned recently, however, but it hasn’t stopped the generation of new ideas and designs trying to revive this old but still beloved format. Most of these revolved around the recreation of the full vinyl experience, including the defects in the physical medium that make it unique and special. While some people like that audio experience, not everyone appreciates the other aspects of using a phonograph, no matter how modern it is. This retro player concept has the potential to deliver the same listening experience and more, all while providing a user experience more in tune with today’s modern lifestyles and mindsets.
Designer: Ha lim Kim, Park JooHyung, Ryukyung Lee, YoonJeong Lee
LP vinyl records have physical imperfections which can be considered acoustic defects but have become a much loved feature of this type of media. While many modern turntables try to faithfully recreate that unique sound quality, they do so by actually recreating the whole experience, from the needle scratching the record to the very act of having to insert an LP every time you want to change an album. While there are those who really love that kind of retro experience, there are also those who just want to hear that kind of music without the rest of the work involved.
In a sense, this RE; Retro Player’s concept design gives these folks what they want by just mimicking the look of a turntable, without any of the parts that make such a machine special. That said, it does this in a pretty cool way that you might be forgiven for taking a shortcut. In essence, this device is designed to be a more generic music player, except that it offers the same acoustic and visual experience as the original.
The most important part of the RE; Retro Player is the CD-shaped deck that represents an LP disc, except that it contains no music at all. The music comes from a paired Bluetooth device such as a phone or perhaps from internal memory. Any music can be played from this system and the disc tray display changes to the appropriate album cover, remembering the look of vinyl and CDs. Instead of a needle that “reads” from the disc, the head is instead a touch display that can be used to control the machine in case the phone is out of range. There is another circular display to show the time or views while playing music.
To some extent, the RE; Retro Player pays homage to the phonographs of yesteryear in a very different way. It doesn’t mind being a modern device while still delivering some of the thrills of the old turntable. Some may have issues with how it can only artificially recreate the distinct sound of vinyl, but at least it won’t run the risk of damaging those physical plates until they’re no longer usable.