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LES Studio Fixes Up Vintage Boomboxes for Collectors

By Lisha Arino | May 26, 2014 9:23am
 Nick Vivid, pictured, poses with a Conion C-100F vintage boombox he is repairing in his Orchard Street studio on May 22, 2014.
Nick Vivid, pictured, poses with a Conion C-100F vintage boombox he is repairing in his Orchard Street studio on May 22, 2014.
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DNAinfo/Lisha Arino

LOWER EAST SIDE — To Tasio Morales, Nick Vivid is “God-sent.”

The 46-year-old Alphabet City building superintendent collects vintage boomboxes and likes to listen to them — when they work.

He hadn't had much luck finding someone in the city to repair his “ghetto blasters,” the large boomboxes made in the 1970s and '80s, until he met Vivid, 31, about a year ago.

“When I found this guy, he retired my other repair guys,” Morales said.

Since then, Vivid has been repairing old boomboxes in his eponymous basement studio and repair shop at 166 Orchard St. He works mostly for collectors like Morales, who works in the building. Those customers have helped grow his business through word-of-mouth, he said.

Vivid, whose space is an instrument repair shop and guitar store by day and a recording studio by night, didn’t set out to become a boombox repair guy.

He learned how to fix electronics from his father, who owned a shop specializing in TVs, VCRs and radios in Buffalo.

Eventually, Vivid decided to become a musician and move to the city. He then ran soundboards for live events before opening up his studio two years ago.

Requests for radio repair started coming in after Morales began recommending him online.

“The boombox community is really tight. Anybody who’s into the hobby, they all kind of know each other,” Vivid said, explaining that they meet through Facebook groups and bulletin boards like Boomboxery, Stereo2Go and Boombox Junkie.

“My name has been going up just through that and I haven’t had to do much, which is kind of neat,” he said, noting that the service isn’t even listed on his website.

He works on two or three boomboxes a month from customers in the area, although he has also worked on radios shipped from Chicago and Ohio.

Most of his repairs tend to be “normal wear and tear items,” like issues with the power supply, volume or tuner controls or damaged cassette decks and belts, although he will also do minor modifications, like adding lights or remote controls.

Costs vary depending on the job, but he tries “to keep it really reasonable,” he said.

He usually doesn’t charge more than $100 for a repair, he said.

Vivid said it isn’t too difficult to find analog parts in a digital world, thanks to the Internet. Belts and motors are relatively easy to fix, he said, but parts specific to a particular model or manufacturer are almost always impossible to replace if he can't lift parts from another boombox of the same make.

His customers aren’t typically drawn to the novelty of old-school technology or the radios’ value, even though they can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars online. Rather, he said, collectors tend to acquire boomboxes for sentimental reasons.

“For a lot of people boomboxes are their childhood memories,” he said. “They want to have a memento of their youth and so a lot of them bring me old boomboxes to fix and restore and get back together again.”