Because Sometimes You Just Want A New Toy

Having three kids under the age of 13 means our house has an abundance of toys.

As I’m sure many other parents will attest to, one of the great pleasures of having your own children is the opportunity to play with toys and games again – without fear of any disparaging comments or raised eyebrows from other adults who don’t approve of “grown ups” playing in such a way otherwise.

In reality, even if we don’t have access to typical children’s toys, most adults have toys of some kind. Things we can play with, get immersed in using, and be creative and imaginative with.

It might be power tools or bikes or stereos or train sets, or, in the most probable case of yourself, cameras. Or any number of these.

For me, despite continuing to minimise my camera collection, I still have enough that I can pick up a different one like a child picks up a toy they previously played with daily, but haven’t explored in a while.

I’ve just purchased a new WiFi and Bluetooth speaker for our bedroom.

My justification is that since I’ve been working from home at least two days a week for close to a year, and enjoy having music on when I do, I’d appreciate an upgrade in sound from the existing pair of Ultimate Ears Wonderbooms I bought four years ago.

I really like the Wonderbooms, and they can be used individually or synced so both play together which, whilst not true stereo, gives a more expansive sound than one alone.

Sitting either side of my monitor stand, with my phone streaming Spotify, they provide a simple and small set up, with decent enough sound.

I bought these speakers originally because of the promise of them being very robust, portable and waterproof.

I had visions of us taking them on picnics, and trips to the beach and such like. But that’s not really happened, and they rarely leave our bedroom/office, let alone get used outside.

So I wanted something still small and standalone (rather than a traditional full stereo plus speakers set up – Spotify via my phone is fine for my musical needs these days), but a step up in quality from the Wonderbooms, and without the same portability, necessarily.

The unit I’ve opted for – an Audio Pro Addon C5 – is significantly larger, mains powered (the Wonderbooms have internal batteries charged via USB plug) and a very noticeable improvement in sound over the already pretty good Ultimate Ears.

But a part of me knows I didn’t really need a new speaker, and the Wonderbooms still last a working day without needing recharging.

I just wanted a new audio toy to play with.

In the way that a new camera (or returning to a camera I haven’t picked up in a while) gives me a fresh outlook and motivation to make photographs, the little C5 speaker is giving my current favourite music (much of which I’ve only ever heard through the Wonderbooms) a new depth, a new richness, new subtleties to explore and enjoy. (Enya sounds sumptuous.)

And is there anything wrong with wanting to play with a new (old) toy now and again?

How about you? Do you like new toys – whether cameras, hifi, or perhaps actual toys (I still adore Lego and its incredible combination of simplicity versus possibility)?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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20 thoughts on “Because Sometimes You Just Want A New Toy”

  1. Three kids under 13? You’ve got your hand full! I don’t buy many new toys these days. I’m into vacuum tube hi-fi, and I tend to build my own. I guess new toys for me would be tubes and parts, but the real fun is the design and construction of new circuits – amps, preamps, etc. In fact, I just finished a nice combo guitar amp for my daughter. Started from scratch with a blank chassis, spent about three months of spare time on it. Great fun!

    1. Wow I admire your skills with the amps Jack, I googled vacuum tube hi-fi and it looks super technical! Great that you’ve found something you enjoy and that’s useful in the final “product” too.

  2. Well I’ve got 3 grandkids under 13, but fortunately they don’t live with us. 😀
    New toy? As a matter of fact … but it won’t arrive for at least a week. 😉

  3. Interestingly enough, I also have 3 kids under 13… 12, 10 and 7.
    Yes new toys are always great to have.
    But for some reason I am not usually drawn to the new, shiny things… preferring to hunt for used, “classic” things instead. My car is a 2007 bargain I bought a couple of years ago, and all my cameras were bought used…
    But the nature of man is that we usually need to be researching something to buy, or something to build… being content with my photo gear, currently my research and interest has been on improving our backyard garden.

    1. Ah, then you know the joys and the struggles! Ours are 12, 8, and 21 months.

      Yes when I mean new I guess I mean “new to me”. It doesn’t have to be brand new, and as you know from this blog, I’m more drawn to older stuff. In fact aside from camera phones I’ve only ever bought one camera brand new. And about 200 used!

      I get what you say about the nature of man. I always need some kind of project or other in my mind to be solving or progressing. Sometimes it’s house and garden stuff, sometimes it’s researching a new (to me) camera or bit of audio gear like the new speaker.

  4. New toy?? LOL I just bought a new printer . . . she’s so pretty! And prints SO nicely!!
    That 3 kids under 13 was us once . . . now the 3 are under 21. But no toys to photograph anymore! 😦

    1. Actually I’ve photographed quite a few toys in testing cameras, stuff like Star Wars and Marvel mini figures and Matchbox and Hot Wheel cars, just not shared many of them. They do make interesting subjects, especially up close with a shallow depth of field that can make them look almost life size.

      What’s the new printer you have Tania? We had a new HP as a present about a year ago when we first went into lockdown and realised we need one for various home school activities and work, and I’ve taken advantage of making a few photo prints too.

      1. I got an Epson – I’ve been using an HP for years, but I found the quality was not quite the same as Epson’s. At least not the printer I was using. So, I got an XP-15000 and it’s beautiful! I’ve only printed b&w so far, but they look like they’ve come out of the darkroom, rather than a printer, which is perfect!!

  5. Who doesn’t like toys, right? My recent ones : Fuji X-t100, Samsung Smart 43 inch TV and maybe a few more cooking devices on the way. I am settling in the new flat and need a few toys!

    1. Yes that’s a good definition for a toy, something that can be used over and over that’s enjoyable. It can be a tool of some kind that’s let’s us create in a way we couldn’t without it (like a camera), sometimes it’s purely about play, sometimes it brings us some kind of media we, like a speaker or TV or laptop.

  6. I have this idea that we all men are just children that get older. My justification about gear is that they have a kind of personality, so if one look for other thing is rather to find something more akin to ourselves. To listen music my favorite combination is a Shozy Alien Gold player paired with a Sony MDR-1R headphones, the Shozy player has a wonderful and very natural sound, the Sony headphones are, by virtue of being monitor, neutral and crystalline, so much that sometimes I forget afterwards that I used them; so last year I got a Shozy Form 1.1 earphones, which are not perfect but that signature from their beryllium driver with a balanced armature somehow produce something a bit special (Shozy is a brand that tunes their products to have a feeling similar to listening to LP records), I didn’t need it but gives me some joy which I value. Is similar to cameras I guess, most of my cameras I have have some particularities and I love them because it, funny thing is that my Canon Eos 7e and Fujifilm DL Super MiNi (both film cameras) are so advanced that, similar to the Sony headphones, I forget afterwards I use them, which is excellent for professionals I suspect but not for those enjoying the act to photograph, I will wait to get a vintage 135mm lens for the Canon. I agree with you that playing is a source of motivation, and in music I can hear how different equipment can bring (or fail to) a new dimension to our familiar music.

    1. I think that’s a sound theory about men just being older children Francis! I like the idea of the gear we seek out being like us in some way. With cameras for me, for example, I don’t seek out the cutting edge, super complicated, high performance models. More like something used, simpler and more straightforward, and a few scuffs around the edges. But still capable of great beauty.

      I’m curious about the Shozy stuff now. How do you get the music on the player? Do you have the CD then upload it in a certain sound format and download on to the player? OR can you but it directly online in specific formats? (My digital format knowledge extends to mp3 and aac and that’s about it!)

      Peculiarities is a brilliant word. Yes, much of my stuff I really enjoy has it’s own peculiarities, its own personality. Like with people, it’s easier to be attracted to, and bond with, someone with quirky traits than if they’re completely “normal” in every way!

      1. The Shozy Alien Gold was designed to focus only in sound, it has no screen, no software, nothing interfering the circuits with the music; to navigate the albums and songs it has only buttons as the iPod Shuffle, minus the screen of course. It uses a micro sd card limited to 32 gigabytes. I have two cards of 16 gigabytes, one with melodic music and the other with hard music, which I swap as if they were cassettes. I just put the micro sd in my laptop and copy paste the files there and then put it in the Shozy player and voilá. Said that this player only plays FLAC or WAV (the raw CD format) files. As flac takes less space I rip or convert my CD`s music to Flac using a free program called “Easy Audio Copy” which rips it all with one click, I chose it because it checks the songs have been copied without errors; sadly it is not good to rip CD’s to MP3 :l. I could use to rip the windows media player but sometimes it changes the order of the tracks.
        Well, that was my way before the lockdowns, buying real and original CD’s. Now I use Bandcamp. There are many artists there, not all, but I can purchase full albums for 8 or 11 dollars or just individual songs for 99 cents (I am completing my collection of Björk there) After purchasing I can get the option to download in any format to my hard disk, usually I download in Flac for the micro SD card I will use in the Shozy player and in mp3 of 320 kbps for my cellphone, where I am just casually listening, besides the sound there is a bit too digital to my taste, the only exception was a Sharp SH06D cellphone.
        I hope something of my experience can be helpful to you, Dan. Greetings : )

      2. I really like the directness and purity of this set up Francis. I don’t think it would work for me as I do jump about a bit with music. Current in a week I play maybe 20 different artists, so I need a set up where I can easily navigate between them. For my morning yoga soundtrack, where my track selection is far more narrow, I could get away with say 25 or 30 ambient tracks on shuffle and it would always be suitable for purpose.

        But yeh, my changing moods and energy levels throughout a day of working (from home) for example needs far more variety and navigational control.

        Reminds me of the original iPod Shuffles, I could totally see how runners loved them as they were super tiny, and you always need a similar kind of soundtrack and don’t need to know/see what’s playing. Those little Shuffles where the whole body was a clip were genius. Amuses me now to see people running with massive “XS” model phones strapped to their bicep bouncing away as they run, it must be so annoying!

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