Usually held on the shoulders and walked around with the boombox quickly became associated with urban society, particularly African American and Hispanic youth. Towards the end of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s every typical city kid had their own box.[says who?] Many carried their boomboxes everywhere they went, holding them on top of their shoulders while walking down the street, playing their music loud for everyone to hear.[says who?] The boombox became intrinsically linked to hip hop culture, and as Fab 5 Freddy puts it, was “instrumental” in the rise of hip hop.
People used their boomboxes to spread their ideas, cassettes were traded and shared among those open to the music, and played as loud as possible out of the box for those who didn’t want to hear what they had to say.
The wide use of boomboxes in urban communities lead to the boombox being coined a “ghetto blaster”, a nickname which was soon used as part of a backlash against the boombox and hip hop culture. Cities began banning boomboxes from public places and they became less and less acceptable on city streets.
The basic boombox consists of an AM/FM receiver, a cassette player, and two speakers. As they grew in popularity, they also became more complex in design and functionality. By the late 1980’s many boomboxes included separate high and low frequency speakers and a second tape deck to allow the boombox to record off the radio and off of other pre-recorded cassettes. They began to be installed with equalizers, balance adjusters, Dolby noise reduction, and LED sound gauges. In the mid-1980’s, the bigger and flashier the boombox the better; it became a status symbol among young urbanites which in turn called for increasingly extravagant boxes. The introduction of the compact disc (CD) in the early 1990’s lead to the introduction of the CD player in standard boombox design. As the 1990s continued, boombox manufacturers began designing smaller, more compact boomboxes, often made of plastic as opposed to their metal counterparts from the decade before.Most boomboxes today come with Ipod docks to access mp3 technology, and some even come equipped with satellite radio capabilities.
Various boombox designs differ greatly in size. Larger, more powerful units may require 10 or more size-D batteries 10-D Cell Batteries,
may measure more than 760 millimetres (30 in) in width, and can weigh more than 12 kilograms (26 lb). Some take a 12-volt sealed lead-acid battery, or can be a portable enclosure for a car audio head unit.
Audio quality and feature sets vary widely, with high-end models providing features and sound comparable to some home stereo systems. Most models offer volume, tone and balance (Left/Right) controls.
Most brands were manufactured in Japan. They included, Aiwa, Hitachi, JVC, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba.
More sophisticated models may feature dual cassette decks (often featuring high-speed dubbing), separate bass and treble level controls, five- or ten-band graphic equalizers, Dolby noise reduction, analog or LED sound level (VU) meters, larger speakers, ‘soft-touch’ tape deck controls, multiple shortwave (SW) band reception with fine tuning, automatic song search functions for cassettes, line and/or phono inputs and outputs, microphone inputs, loudness switches and detachable speakers. A handful of models even featured an integrated vinyl record player, an 8-track tape player or a (typically black and white) television screen, although the basic radio/cassette models have historically been by far the most popular.
A few of the most modern boomboxes have integrated (or removable) satellite radio tuners. Also in many cases with newer versions of the boombox, iPod docks have been put in place of cassette players, creating a fusion of new and old technology.