In his now-classic parody of Time Life Music commercials, comedian Robert Klein intoned "Yes, a tractor-trailer truck will pull up to your house, unloading every record ever made!"
Goofy, then. And now, oddly possible with Internet-linked music receivers and subscription services. They can flood your ears with almost every album, song and artist for just "pennies a day." Or $10 a month.
Most people discover on-demand streaming music services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, Deezer, Tidal, and Apple Music on their smart phone, tablet or computer, listening on headphones or "throwing" the music to a Bluetooth speaker.
But for home listening, a growing horde of multiroom, app-controlled wireless sound systems - connecting directly to the internet through a WiFi router - offer a more entertaining and versatile way for the same monthly fee.
And when people ask me, "What's your most favorite gizmo?," streaming speakers are it. You can't shut me up about the category!
Who's on first. Sonos is the biggie in wireless sound streaming, owning 85 percent of the market. Sonos, which just passed its first decade, was out early with smart, integrated receiver-speakers, also early to make deals with subscription services, and then to shift control of smart speakers from remotes to a free touchscreen app on smartphones and tablets.
A new upgrade, Trueplay, lets you fine-tune the performance of most Sonos speakers. Trueplay uses the mike on a smartphone or tablet to measure sound in your room and then EQs - equalizer adjusts - its output.
Sonos also is upping its game with a new high-end speaker, the $499 Play:5. Works well with Trueplay.
Newbies. While praising Sonos for educating consumers, competitors see opportunity. Just 5 percent of U.S. homes use streaming gear.
Top challenger Bose has its SoundTouch offerings, the broadest line of smart-powered speakers and SoundTouch- ready table radios, soundbars, and home theater rigs.
Polk, a well-respected brand, is pushing hardest for the open-standard streaming system DTS Play-Fi. Its mantra is choice. A consumer can mix/match some of Polk's Play-Fi pieces with those from other makers such as sister brand Definitive Technology, Martin Logan, Paradigm, Fusion Research, Wren, Phorus, Sonus Faber, Wadia, and McIntosh.
Compare/contrast. Yours truly gathered comparable smart speakers from these three makers. For starters, the small footprint, identically priced ($199.95) Sonos Play:1 and new Bose SoundTouch 10, plus the cheaper ($129.95) Polk Omni S2.
And for big room sound, we looked at three hefty, high-end models - the Sonos Play:5 and just-hatched Bose SoundTouch 30 Series III (each $499) and the Polk Omni S6, similarly equipped but priced at $349.95
All test models were "tuned" to the same streaming radio channel: purist, acoustic TSF Jazz from Paris.
The rivals also were subjected to the same tunes from the high-resolution Deezer music service, from the a capella group Pentatonix to bluesman Gary Clark Jr.
In the small speaker showdown, the Play:1 and SoundTouch 10 were virtually tied. The Sonos is a cheery entertainer with a tingly bright response and tad deeper bass. The Bose counterpunches with better overall tonal balance and spaciousness.
Though decent on its own, the Polk paled in direct comparisons, seeming boomy and distorting if pushed to the volume limit. So don't do it.
In our bigger speakers run-off, the Sonos and Bose shared siblings characteristics. Voices loom larger, more forward on the Sonos while the Bose elevated the "live band playing in your living room" aura - to my ears giving the SoundTouch 30 a 5-percentage-point advantage. The big Polk placed third, with a respectable, good value B.
Other either/or factors. Sonos boasts more software services (soon to include Apple Music) than rivals combined. It also has a much glossier and better traversed screen guide with the unmatched ability to search for an artist or song across all services.
Sonos also deploys its own, private, WiFi signal-sharing system, using each link in the multiroom equipment "chain" as a signal extender. That lends the system added signal stability and reach.
If you favor certain radio stations or playlists, the six preset buttons on Bose products are highly desirable.
Another plus - new III series Bose SoundTouch models support Bluetooth streaming. So if you subscribe to a service, such as Apple Music, that's not on the ST menu (as TuneIn Radio, Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, and iHeart are), you can throw content from your phone to the Bose, which then re-transmits the signal to other selected SoundTouch gear in perfect sync. Magical.
The play-well-with-others philosophy of Play-Fi gear is great in the abstract but not fully realized. I've groused about it before: the system still doesn't support an internet radio coding format used by the "Beeb" for its most popular BBC 1 through 6 channels.