And within those imagined cardboard shells, I could envision the styrofoam shipping material and there would be four speakers and two subwoofers in there. Moreover, the equipment was the first of its kind: THX certified PC speakers.
This was a long time before my current state where I've come to embrace console video gaming. I'd played them, but I was optimistic that the One True Gaming platform was the PC -- after all, you could emulate all other gaming platforms on the PC. My logic was sound. The ground was beneath my feet. The wind was squarely in my sails. The world, I tell you, was Right.
I had, when I was in high school found a couple of speakers laying fallow in my sister's bathroom. I don't remember anything particularly useful about them except they were bigger than any other set of speakers I'd ever laid hands on and they had a weird plug -- RCA! -- that I'd never seen before.
I took those speakers to my room and, after a trip to my local electronics store, I had a collection of adapters and cables to convert those to a micro plug for my PC. I attached them and they were wonderful and clear. I immediately set to work attaching them in the back of the room so I could have four speakers around the room. And I spent many an afternoon after high school with the door closed, the lights off, my computer playing a CD and displaying visualizations of the waveforms of the audio from that CD.
(Later, I found other things -- a laser machine, for example. My room was a pretty awesome place to be and it was at the far end of the house where I had no concerns about maximum volume.)
At some point, my sister recognized those speakers and in a fit of anti-sibling propriety, demanded them back.
I was crestfallen. It was shortly before I was going off to college. My mom offered to buy new speakers for me.
I'd heard of those speakers -- they were pretty new. Four satellites & one subwoofer with one PC plug. And they were sold out. But they were offering two of their one subwoofer & two satellite systems for slightly less.
It was perfect for me -- I had two separate outputs on my Sound Blaster AWE32 -- one for the front and one for the back. I had just upgraded to some truly awesome speakers.
And there they were -- in a box about 3' x 2' x 2'. Wait -- strike that. Make that TWO boxes in the college office.
In my mind, these were the things of dreams. They were light, fluffy, magical things which took electrical current and translated them to meaty, moving sound.
In my arms, they were heavy as hell.
I don't remember quite how I did it, but I managed to carry both of those boxes across the quad, into the hall and into my dorm (requiring use of my keys twice on the way) in practically a quick jog.
They were set up in an instant that lovely weekend morning. And I began to experiment with the volume control with my mp3 player on random.
I remember my roommate walked in as "Barbie Girl" started booming and his exclamation of "Oh....helllllll no. We've gotta get some GOOD stuff playing on those."
The amount of respite those speakers have seen over the years is minimal. When I got my new TV, one half of the set was almost immediately put in to replace the weak speakers that are built into it. And after all these nine or so years since that glorious day, the subwoofer of that set -- which has most of the guts for the whole system inside of it -- has ceased to play. It smells of burnt electronics. And I grieve for this old, dear friend of mine.
I haven't yet opened it up -- one must respect the corpse before the autopsy.
While there's still a little part of me which hopes that it'll be easily resolvable, I suspect this is goodbye to one half of that lovely set of heavenly speakers.