How do I set up a sound system in my wife's office?

My wife, Brynda, is buying an office suite which she will be sharing with another psychologist.

What Brynda wants to have is a system that plays music (probably classical) in the waiting room. We are thinking about getting an MP3 players and ripping several classical albums and then just having them play randomly. We are going to have the MP3 player in a non-public are and the speakers will be in the waiting room.

So, what do I need to set this up? Are there any good websites with information on how to do this?

I am thinking some kind of MP3 player, a dock or mini-stereo with MP3 adapter and then a couple of speakers.

I don’t really like iPods because of the proprietary format and the iTunes interface, but if that is going to be the best option, so be it.

Any help would be appreciated.

I assume your wife’s office has a computer?

They way I’d do it would be to hook (powered) speakers up to her computer, run some cable to the waiting room for the speakers, then rip the music to the computer, and then play it through winamp. I’m sure there’s options like the ones you mentioned (mp3 players) but I don’t know anything about those.

I’m also a big fan of running things from PCs nowadays. I encourage people to use a PC for home entertainment systems. You can get all your multimedia stuff running on something that does other things as well. There are plenty of good PC speaker systems including 5.1 surround sound, some of them are wireless.

Other than being an enormous waste of power, this isn’t a terrible idea.

We use a conventional amplifier and speakers and feed it from either a CD player, DVD player, Computer, record deck (vinyl) or MP3/iPod, whatever is convenient for the media at hand.

How is it a waste of power? Assuming the office already has a PC running to handle appointments and billing, the processor cycles needed to run iTunes or some other MP3 player running on shuffle mode will consume a trivial amount of power.

OK, here is some additional information. There is a computer in a business office, but it is not turned on all the time. It is only usually on when my wife is working on it or the person who does my wife’s billing is working on it.

If a system is run through the PC, what would happen when an alert is sounded, like for a new e-mail or IM message? I assume that would be heard through the speakers as well, unless all those sounds were silenced.

Myglaren and beowulff, do you have any suggestions for brands, or models that would work well? Or any sites where I can research this information?

I don’t know much about audio equipment/setup, but I am more than willing to learn.

Hmm…I’d actually never thought of that. But I don’t remember ever hearing beeps and boops when I have my Winamp on. I could be wrong, but Winamp might silence normal system noises when it’s playing music.

Yes, of course.
I was talking about using a dedicated PC vs. an iPod dock.
So, if there is an existing PC, and it’s on during the day, then it would work fine. Just make sure any alert sounds are muted. Run the audio out to an amplifier and speakers, and you have your audio system. You can even get streaming audio off of the web this way.

You might run afoul of Public Performance laws, and have tolicense the music.
Just so you know.
More info here

Sonos is a pretty cool little thing that might do the trick for you. Put one of the amplified zone players (ZP120) in the waiting area with some little bookshelf speakers attached to it and you’re pretty much done.

I think the Sonus system will be a bit too expensive for us at the moment, although it does sound like a great system.

What manufacturers or brands make amps and speakers that work for this type of thing?

As for specific equipment, for your needs I don’t think you need to be too picky.

We use a mixture of components including Denon, NAD, and Electrocompaniet amps. Sony, Marantz, JVC and Shanling CD players. A Sonab record deck for vinyl. Speakers are Dynatron, B&W, Jamo and Wharfedale. we have a few iPods and iRiver mp3 players that get plugged in occasionally.

I would lean toward Marantz or Denon amps and CD players. Perhaps Mission or Wharfedale speakers. Match the speakers to the room volume. I tend towards floorstanders but I don’t think they would be suitable for your purposes and may be more expensive than you wish to budget for for this purpose.

My desktop computer will play CDs with it in standby mode (which it always is) without booting the operating system (Ubuntu in this case but that makes no difference).

A DVD player that will play mp3 DVDs could be set on random repeat and play for days without noticeably repeating.

My doctor’s surgery has a little Denon receiver and CD player with a pair of small Wharfdale speakers in the waiting room that plays continuously and has been running for the past twelve years, seems like that would be suitable.

Thanks Myglaren, that is the type of info I was looking for, some brand names that I can do some research on.

It sounds like you have experience setting up exactly the type of system I am looking at setting up. In the doctors surgery, is the CD player a multi-CD system?

It is the doctor I visit (rarely) not a system that I have installed.

It is single CD player though and they change the discs now and then. Sometimes they shift to the radio. Pretty much the receptionists choice.

A CD player or DVD player that can play mp3 files would be preferable but the doctor’s system is pretty old now, likely they are waiting for it to fail and replace it when it does.

A large capacity flashdrive (iPod or similar) would presumably have a longer service life than a mechanical drive but it is a lot simpler to change the media in the latter.

None of my CD players are multichangers either. When fed from one of the computer hard drives the music can play for around three weeks without repeating. Otherwise it isn’t background music but definite selections for the moment, which is why no multichangers, not that there is anything wrong with them in the right situation and they certainly wouldn’t be inferior to mp3 quality.

My doctor’s office plays XM’s (commercial free) classical station. That would be a pretty easy alternative. Radio -> stereo receiver -> speakers.