Serious baggage

Family business converts vintage suitcases into amplifier cases

My father is an incredibly difficult person to buy gifts for. Like most kids his age, he likes expensive toys and he wants them the first day they come out. Every holiday season I find myself in the customer service line at Best Buy returning something because he went out the week before and bought it himself. 

This Christmas, my goal is to buy him something useful that he couldn’t buy himself. In searching for the perfect gift, I stumbled across Sounds Vintage Design speaker cases – locally made, custom vintage suitcases equipped with amplifiers and a rechargeable battery.

The suitcases are all custom-made, so they vary in size and shape. I chose a black 1940s McBrine case with a 40 watt amplifier and a 12 volt rechargeable battery. An AC adapter was included to charge the battery or to plug it in. I plugged in my iPhone using the standard headphone 3 mm input - this was the simplest way to make noise. The amp has an FM transmitter, SD card slot and input for a USB stick. Bluetooth adapters are also an option.

The battery will go the length of any of my father’s drinking binges, lasting up to 23.5 hours at medium volume. If a battery-powered sound system isn’t what you need, I was told you can request one that works on wall power exclusively. A nice option, but the rechargeable nature will show its worth on your next camping trip or if you’re the type of musician who busks at the Forks. A quarter inch jack for guitars, keyboards, or Omnichords can be included if requested.

The sound quality is great. This particular model has stereo sound and manages to fill the room with the dubstep I played to test the low end. I then pumped eardrum piercing reruns of The Nanny through the amp to test the higher frequencies. The crisp sound added to the offensiveness of these choices. 

After peeling the skin off my cheeks with my fingernails, I can say I was impressed with the sound quality. I was told my set was in the middle range for speaker and amplifier quality. Higher quality speakers and a more powerful amplifier (up to 130 watts) can easily be accommodated on custom creations if you’re an audiophile.

When it isn’t pumping out tunes, the case will act as a nice set piece in any living room or apartment. For more information on Sounds Vintage Design, visit or email

In addition to suitcase speakers, Sounds Vintage also creates shelves, chairs and end tables with their vintage cases. They also create teacup pendant lights which means I can check my mother off my Christmas list, too.

Published in Volume 68, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 20, 2013)

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