Interview: Taking a bite out of the Sound Burger with Audio-Technica

By in Features





Learning more about Audio-Technica’s Sound Burger.

Originally released 40 years ago, Audio Technica’s Sound Burger (known as the Master Disc in the US) offered vinyl lovers analogue sound on the go in a distinctly ’80s tech package.

Powered by batteries and packaged with a pair of foldable headphones, the Sound Burger was destined to become a footnote in portable music player history, as dwindling sales led to its eventual discontinuation.

The Sound Burger stayed in the past until Audio-Technica celebrated its 60th birthday last year with a limited run of the red Sound Burger. The turntable was a run-away success and sold out in days, leading to the company reintroducing the product this summer with black, white and yellow versions and increased availability.

Whilst the Sound Burger is a turntable that an audiophile is unlikely to rely on as their primary set-up, it’s certainly a quirky treat for collectors and casual listeners. Boasting a 12-hour battery life, both Bluetooth and wired speaker options and a very charming visual aesthetic, the Sound Burger feeds into a nostalgic desire for retro products and collector’s items.

VF’s Kelly Doherty chatted with Rebecca Ward (Global Communication Director), Gary Boss (Marketing Director US) and Amelia Spragg (European Marketing Executive) at Audio-Technica to find out more about the development of the Sound Burger AT-SB727.

What was the original reason for bringing back the Sound Burger last year?

To commemorate Audio-Technica’s 60th anniversary in 2022, we introduced a number of celebratory products. As well as totally new additions, which all build on our 60 years of audio passion and expertise, we wanted something that directly related to the company’s history. The original Sound Burger from 1983 was a unique product to us and is instantly recognisable – it’s iconic and has become a cult classic. We wanted to resurrect that unmistakable design but give it a modern twist.

How was the response to the relaunch?

We never imagined the overwhelming response the release would generate. That limited-edition AT-SB2022 retro red Sound Burger sold out in a matter of days worldwide—faster than anyone projected. And the initial launch of the new colourways in black, yellow and white sold out in 35 minutes in the UK, and in 48 hours Europe-wide.

How did the team adapt the Sound Burger to a modern audience?

The original engineers who worked on the first-ever Sound Burger four decades ago helped us to recreate the new models with the existing Audio-Technica team. Together, the engineers took apart and reconstructed the original with modernised elements, keeping it as true to the original as possible whilst updating it for today’s audience. So while it looks authentically ’80s, the new Sound Burger now includes Bluetooth streaming and USB-C charging.

Tell me about the decision to release more colours

The response to the 60th-anniversary limited-edition Sound Burger was extraordinary. But there was, of course, frustration for those who hoped to buy one and were unable to do so. While the new black, white and yellow models don’t feature the 60th anniversary numbered badge and packaging of the limited-edition version, stock will be more regularly available.

Who is the target audience for the Sound Burger?

Sound Burger is aimed at retro and vinyl enthusiasts and collectors. It’s also for those who want to enjoy records but only have a compact space or are looking for portable, convenient vinyl listening.

Why do you think people like the product so much?

It’s unique and iconic. It’s retro-chic, compact, portable, and it’s a lot of fun. But it also delivers Audio-Technica’s excellence in audio. There are fantastic customer reviews that can be found on our website – we are so grateful for the amazing response to the new release.

Why is there such a huge surge in interest in vinyl at the moment?

There’s been a massive resurgence in analogue living – the need for something physical in a digital world. There’s a desire to connect, to intertwine the latest technological developments with a tactile and active process. Part of analogue living is a decision to actively engage in recording and listening.

Find out more about the Sound Burger here.