I cannot think of many things that do not come packaged in some type of container. Maybe if I buy bananas at the grocery store or something from the Farmer’s Market those products will typically be “sans” a box, but most things are packaged in something.
Packaging can range from a simple plastic bag, typically put into a larger type of container, to the very complex. In the automobile industry, for instance, returnable packaging is very widely used. Parts like windshields are crated in returnable packaging which are simply shipped to the customer with windshields and returned empty to the supplier for reuse. This saves on long term packaging costs.
For most of my purchases, particularly electronic goods, I go through this laborious process of cutting tape, pulling out staples (with the hope of not slicing my hand), trying in vain to remove that irritating, maddening Styrofoam without breaking it and seeing tiny pieces floating all over the house, and finally getting to the creamy center – the thing I purchased. What would you guess becomes of all the stuff I summarily destroyed trying to get to that creamy center? Yep. It is thrown away. I have cut boxes up into small flat pieces so they would fit into the roll out recycle container. I have stuffed boxes into my trunk and driven them to a dumpster. I have even transported a few items to a landfill and sat in an almost endless line of dump trucks all being weighed before discarding their load. Considering the look the guy at the weigh in booth gave me, in my shiny car that is, I only made that trip once.
Why is it then audio boxes are saved like some sort of reverent shrine and never discarded?
I gave up long ago any notion of storing my component boxes at my house. My previous residence was a townhouse and there was no way I had the requisite room for six foot tall speaker boxes and amp, preamp, and DAC boxes so large one could hardly pick them up empty. I had convinced a friend to let me use his attic which was working out fine – until that is his wife wanted some old clothes stored “upstairs” and was shocked to see all my boxes. Needless to say that didn’t last long and I had to find another solution. Enter Public Storage. So here I am today with a 15 X 15 storage unit that I have somehow managed to find things well outside the definition of an audio box to house. I have euphemistically said “I’ll take it to the storage room” far too often.
I have those two six foot tall speaker boxes and in fact, about half of the unit is housing a growing number of CD’s and all my audio boxes. I never imagined I would have so many, that they would take up so much space, that I would need to keep them in the first place, and that I would be spending $132.00 per month to do so. By now, if you don’t know the first rule when unpacking that new, dearly held, happily anticipated, magnificent stereo toy, I’ll clue you in – never, never, ever throw away the box! Why?
Common practice tells us audiophiles that maybe one day we will move and it is always advisable to transport a high priced, hand built and highly cherished stereo system in the original box. When I moved into my current home, the movers accumulated furniture from my previous residence and second storage room I was using for furniture inherited from my parents, and got everything here in one day. I only trusted myself and my good friend Doug to move the system. Disassembling everything, packing up all the components, crating up all the CD’s and albums, renting a U-Haul, load, unload and carry everything up the stairs of my new home took me three days. Suffice it say I am not destined to be in the moving business. But the boxes did come in handy.
Suppose, however, if one has a compact desktop system with some small two way speakers? Suppose further this imaginary audiophile prefers to stream music and does not have a large collection of physical media? Would this system not easily fit in the backseat of the car? And if that is the case, why hang on to the boxes?
Another scenario is if any component in a stereo system might one day be sold. When that day arrives, the prospective buyer will, absolutely at some point, ask if the original box is still on hand. I suspect saving said packaging is as much about the complete and total care for the component from top to bottom as anything else.
Regardless of any worthwhile scenario, we audiophiles hang on to those boxes for fear that some unseen authority will hold us accountable at some future time. We want to be secure in the notion that we cherish not only the component we play almost every day, but the packaging that brought that same component to our listening room. I somehow feel I will be held “persona non grata” if I discard any audio box, much as I would like to do so.
Let face it, we audiophiles endure what for some is a seemingly uphill battle trying to convince family members that the new thing is “needed,” finding the space to put it, finding the time to play it, agonizing on how to make it sound better and staying on some modicum of a budget. If all of that is not arduous enough, it seems demonstrably clear we also have to find a way, and most importantly a place, to keep the many boxes in which all that gear was packaged.
Oh well, I guess it’s just part of the audiophile hobby.