Slappa HardBody CD Cases
If you like to read books or watch
television shows about natural history, then youre familiar with the proposition
that one method of survival for a small-sized species in a hostile environment is to find
an ecological niche to exploit. By finding a niche that no other species is using, the
species does not place itself in competition with larger species and, in many cases, will
go unnoticed by all but the most careful naturalist.
I was reminded of this truth of the natural world by the
arrival at my house of several of the new CD cases manufactured by Slappa. Slappa is not
one of the high-profile audiophile electronics companies, but they have found a niche in
the audiophile world and have exploited it to its full potential.
The cases that I received are from Slappas HardBody
line of CD cases. The companys press releases state that the cases were developed
with audiophiles in mind, and that consumers were consulted during the design phase to
offer constructive criticism. The results are the best disc-storage cases Ive seen.
The HardBody cases under review here can hold 40, 80, 160,
or 240 discs (the number of discs each model holds is also its name), though you should
cut those numbers in half if you like to store booklets with the discs. There are four
different styles: Camel and Black Wave feature suede-like brown-and-tan and black
exteriors respectively; the black-and-gray and blue-and-black Graphite and Blue styles
have exteriors that have a wetsuit-like feel. A 360 Pro model is also available in the
Graphite style, though I've not seen it.
The HardBody 40 measures a petite 7" x 7" x
3" ($15.99 USD), the 80 is 7.5" x 12" x 3" ($25.99), the 160 is
13" x 12.25" x 3" ($35.99), and the 240 tops out at 13" x 12.25"
x 5.05" ($49.99). The exterior body of each case is a molded heavy-duty container
that could, if necessary, survive a drop to the ground. The zippers are large and
apparently strong; the pull-tab is Slappas logo. Inside each is a velvet lining, a
mesh pocket on the inside cover, and Slappas patented "d2" pocket design.
Each pocket is really two: one made of soft waffled material for the disc itself, and an
outer pocket with a clear plastic window for the booklet. The pockets are of generous
size, and everything is stitched together -- you dont have to worry about glue
drying out and your case falling apart.
My CDs seldom leave my listening room, but I thought of
several uses for the HardBodys. Most obvious was taking discs with me while I commuted or
auditioned new audio gear. In the past, Id carry along a bag of ten or so discs,
feeling like a lunatic as the jewel cases clacked against each other all the way to the
store. The Slappas radically diminished the bulk while keeping things much neater and
eliminating clacking; instead, I felt a sense of calm organization. If you audition
equipment often, then buying a HardBody 40 for $15.99 seems a no-brainer.
The HardBodys would also be good for storing your music
collections at home. Jewel cases take up a lot of room and lack the sex appeal of LP
jackets; getting rid of them in favor of these well-made cases makes some sense. If you
dont have much space, then a couple of the larger HardBodys will likely hold all of
your CDs and take up very little room. A quick approximation suggests that a HardBody 240
holding 120 CDs and their booklets would replace four to five linear feet of shelf space.
Where once you had racks or bookshelves full of jewel cases, youll be left with
three or four stylish briefcases that can be stored and moved around quite easily.
College students who find themselves moving in and out of
dorms two or three times a year are prime targets for HardBodys. When an undergraduate, I
made the silly decision to haul most of my records back and forth from home to school and
back again. You could carry two HardBody 240s in one trip and accomplish what took me ten
trips up and down several flights of stairs. And think how little space these cases will
take up in your U-Haul or trunk or cramped dorm room. These cases wont be so easily
used if you have CDs with Digipak cases, but such CDs are in the minority.
While the HardBodys are marketed to music lovers, they make
great cases for all computer-related discs. Not only do I have a pile of commercial
computer CD-ROMs that Ive foolishly stored in a pile in a desk drawer, I also have
several discs of my own work that I had no compact, organized way to store. The HardBody
80 stores everything neatly while still fitting in one desk drawer.
It is unlikely that buying a HardBody will excite anyone as
much as buying a new CD player or amplifier, but thats no reflection on
Slappas level of success. The HardBodys relationship with CD players reminds
me of the symbiosis of the hammerhead stork and hippopotamus. These storks perch on hippos
in order to fish, and in return eat flies and other insects off of the hippos backs
that would otherwise cause irritation; the success of both species is dependent on their
relationship. Slappas HardBodys will keep your software safe and clean so that your
CD player will be able to deliver its best performance; without a CD player, youd
have no need for these cases.
If you have any need for a CD case, I heartily recommend
the Slappa HardBodys. Theyre stylish, rugged, inexpensive, and incredibly practical.
Prices of equipment reviewed