HeadRoom Traveler Bag
"No problem. Here ya go."
Thud. "What have you got in this thing?"
I'm so glad you asked: HeadRoom Supreme amplifier, Optimus CD-3400, Etymotic 4S in-the-ear headphones, CaseLogic 12-CD Wallet (filled with cool tunes, natch), four D-cell power supplies for both the CD-3400 and the Supreme, and four extra D cells—my bare minimum for travel, about 10 lbs' worth. And the bag that holds it all, HeadRoom's Traveler Bag, is pretty cool. At $129, it ain't cheap—but it's designed to cosset your portable CD player between layers of foam and to hold everything that you could conceivably need for high-quality music appreciation away from home.
But, I hear you protesting, over a hundred bucks for a bag? Who needs something like that?
I do. I don't travel much, but here's my last six months' itinerary: Vegas for WCES, two trips from New York to the home office in Santa Fe, two trips to Virginia, Hi-Fi '95 in Los Angeles, Chicago for SCES, a press junket to Germany and the UK, and a cross-country move (by car) from Brooklyn to Santa Fe. Whew. That's a lot of time to be without tunes. Thanks to the HeadRoom system and this convenient little bag, I wasn't.
You can take it with you
Because of its compact dimensions, the Traveler Bag doesn't get counted as a carry-on bag (at least not on any of the flights I've been on)—it appears to be a purse or a personal organizer. It does weigh a ton, if you load it up as I have, but I find this reassuring as well. You see, the folks at HeadRoom have conveniently provided a low-profile, slide-in pocket on the back side of the bag—just the right size for my airline tickets and itinerary. It allows me to follow Mark Twain's advice: to put all my eggs in one basket, then watch that basket.
What did I do before I got the HeadRoom Traveler Bag? I used to have a softsided Eddie Bean briefcase that I carried a portable CD player and discs (and lots of batteries) in—plus my travel reading and whatever works were currently in process. Then I got a HeadRoom amp, and things got crowded in there, so I started carrying the HeadRoom and the CD player in a little ditty bag I got at a Sony Press Conference. The Sony bag would hold the two pieces only in a sideways configuration, which meant that, when I wanted to use them, I had to turn them, letting them hang halfway out of the bag so I could plug-in the headphones. Once, I managed to dump them—and four extra AA cells, which rolled to places unknown—into the aisle of the airplane. (Okay, maybe I was halfway into the bag myself—but you do see the problem?)
Things are so much easier now. Perhaps I need to take you on a tour of all of the Traveler Bag's features. They're not all apparent, but lemme tell ya—they're all appreciated.
If you look at the bag straight on, you'll see the square compartment for your CD player. As I mentioned before, it has padding top and bottom to protect your player. Not so visible are the cabling ports (three of them!), which allow access to the main compartment—and thence to the battery pockets and the outside—or the Velcro strips that allow you to secure your CD player to the bag (footnote 1).
On either side of the bag are long, narrow compartments that are designed to hold four D-cell battery packs, which you can buy at Radio Shack and solder on the appropriately terminated cable—even I can (have) manage(d) this. HeadRoom also sells an exceptionally durable jobbie, which—unlike the one from Radio Shack—is already terminated, totally enclosed, and built like a tank. (They source it from a firm that caters to cavers—a group that doesn't take stuff like battery power for granted.)
Should you spring for the battery packs? Depends on how you use the units, really. I use them mostly for travel, so I demanded the D-cell power supplies. The CD-3400 plays about 50 hours off one set of batteries; the Supreme, on the other hand, plays only about 20 (as opposed to two hours with four AA batteries). Definitely worth it. If you only use your HeadRoom system in your motel room, dormitory, barracks, etc., then you'll find it a lot cheaper to use the AC converters—which just happen to fit into the side pockets as well.
The bottom of the main compartment unzips, revealing the rear of the Supreme. This allows easy access to plug-in the AC power supply, as well as a cable route to do the same with your CD player. The bottom flap contains a pocket that allows you to store extra batteries.
The lid of the bag has an extra zippered pocket, in which I store the Etymotics and assorted adaptors: an extra mini-to-phono plug and an adaptor for that silly airline dual-mini configuration. Inside the lid is another zipper compartment! You figure out what it's for. I use it for extra Etymotics earpieces and suchlike. The Main compartment is divided into two sections: one to house the Supreme, the other to house the CaseLogic 12-pack. The wall that divides the compartment has—you guessed it!—a zippered compartment. I've run out of stuff to put in them, so I don't know what to do with this one. I'll think of something, though.
As I've already mentioned, there's a ticket pocket on the rear of the bag. I love it. Now I always know where my ticket is. There's also one last pocket—this time with a flap that conceals it. You could keep extra-special secret stuff in there; I just use it to file my expense receipts.