The world has changed, and with it, new technology has emerged.
The world has changed, and with it, new technology has emerged.

End of an era: 'Goodbye, old friend'

LAST WEEK an old friend died. Not human, not even a pet, but my old amplifier which has brought me great pleasure over the many years we shared an abode.

I bought it just prior to relocating to the Northern Rivers in 2003, as part of a home theatre system that was fairly expensive. However, when I look at the price against the 16-odd years of trouble-free service, it wasn't that pricey after all.

I feel an odd sense of sentimentality for what is, after all, an inanimate object; perhaps because music is a big part of my daily existence, and the Sony amp produced it in a pleasing fashion with minimal drama. Part of my sorrow at its passing (and no, it couldn't be fixed - I asked) was the thought of having to do the research to replace it with something now called an AV receiver that would be compatible with the rest of the system (the speakers and subwoofer) that were still in perfect working order, albeit practically using a walking frame to deliver the goods, as it were. Obviously technology has moved on (not necessarily in a good fashion) and the multi-coloured RCA outlets on the rear of the original have been replaced with sockets that require most of the alphabet to name and use cables that cost a small fortune. The end result isn't appreciably better (or perhaps it's just my hearing has deteriorated more than I care to admit).

I managed to wrestle the wretched device out of its polystyrene embrace and connect all the components with the aforementioned cables and some very (for these days) retro-looking lengths of plastic-coated copper wire where the speakers were concerned - wireless Bluetooth speakers are standard now. It all worked, however the subtleties of adjusting the settings to make it sound like the old equipment was a bewildering process. Cue my very tech-savvy son, who studied audio engineering back in the day and was Head of IT for a cable TV company back in another day. Between the two of us, and with the aid of a couple of mildly entertaining YouTube videos, we managed to tease the sound I wanted from the bulky black box.

As is often the case now, the instruction books included with new purchases are next to useless. Years ago, my father used to mail them to me when he bought a new gadget and I would phone him and carefully explain how to use it. Now you have to go online to find what they leave out of the books. My new European washing machine came with some amusing information including warnings it can "cause great eccentricity and give alarm", and is "prone to wandering if unstable".