Sound system for retail space

What is needed to set up a sound system for a 50’x25’ retail space with high ceilings? I just want to play light jazz and classical as background music. Can I just get a packaged home 5.1 theater system from Costco/BestBuy, throw a speaker in each corner of the ceiling and set it to play stereo? What happens with that extra speaker?

I want it to sound good but I don’t need audiophile quality.

Sounds like a plan to me - with some minor adaptations. If you’re just doing this as background sound, I’d just use the “satellite” speakers from one of these setups and not bother with the bass module.

Trick is, the speakers from one of these home theater in a box (HTIB) dealies will be fine, but it’s really unlikely that you’d be able to directly get the HTIB amplifier to do what you want, which is put the same signal to each speaker at the same volume (mono all around) or put the same left channel and same right channel out of the front and rear speakers. Yes, there’s six amplifiers in the unit, but the surround circuitry that feeds them won’t do it - making the rears play the very same stuff as the fronts just isn’t in the Dolby playbook.

If you run the amp in “no surround” mode so it just plays through the front left and right speakers, you can wire two speakers in series on each channnel.

Last year I set up a 6 speaker sound system for a 100’ x 50’ retail store. I ordered some used ceiling speakers from an eBay seller, cut and mounted them in the ceiling tiles, then wired them in parallel to a Pioneer receiver we had, 3 on each channel. To do this, you have to do a little calculation so you do not exceed the impedance rating of your receiver/amplifier. The ceiling speakers are much better at putting the sound where you want it than satellite speakers. Also, the wire is hidden above the ceiling tiles.

I would do yourself a favor and learn some basic speaker theory, and how to calculate the impedance by wiring in series or parallel so you ar enot overworking your reciever. Most 5.1 kits do not come with a real beefy reciever and are not meant for this kind of work. For your size, I think if you had 4 well placed speakers in the ceiling, you would have good coverage.

Personally, I would buy the speakers you need, then buy a reciever or amplifier to drive them.

I think beltbuckle has the right idea. What you really want is PA amplifier (~50-75 watts is sufficient) with a 70 V output. To use this, you need one 70 V line transformer for each speaker. These transformers have tapped outputs for various speaker impedance levels, and you just hook them up in parallel. The 70 V output allows for easy expandability, since you can run as many speakers as the output level of the amp can drive, so you can add more speakers if future expansion demands. A decent rule of thumb for small speakers is to figure on a minimum of 5 watts per speaker.

I almost think the extra expense with a PA amp and speakers is overkill for only a 50x25 foot space being pumped with background music.

I’d just pick up a cheap amp with “A” and “B” speaker outputs, find a multi CD player and pick up four small bookshelf speakers or – if you have drop ceilings you can use something like this.

Of course if you don’t want to mess with changing CD’s you can do what I did with the “music on hold” at the phone system where I work. I took an old computer, scrubbed the hard drive, installed winamp, loaded it up with about 200 mp3s, made a playlist and set it on repeat. I plugged into the audio input on the phone system. The silly old computer has been playing Duke Ellington, Frank, and Dino for 70 days straight.

It really isn’t much of a computer either. I think it’s a Pentium 500 with 64 meg ram and Win 98. I’m sure you can dig one of those up for not very much. A 20 gig hard drive will hold enough music you’d be hard pressed to hear the same song twice in a month.

Maybe it’s different over in the US, but here every business playing any sort of music (or even talk radio - because they have jingles) that their customers or staff can hear is supposed to have a license issued by the Performing Rights Society - currently a typical small shop is charged just over 120 GBP (220 dollars or so at the moment) per year.

Just another possible cost to factor in…

I googled 70v PA amplifier and got this. its a whole new world I knew nothing about. Fairly cheap as well.

Radio Shack might still sell low-end PA equipment such as what Q. E. D. described. You can buy that stuff online at dozens of places, one of my favorite suppliers is MCM Electronics.

Yep, they do. At least as of the time I left working there they had the amps, speakers, wire and transformers needed. You can almost certainly do better on the price of the speakers elsewhere, but everything else is priced within reason.

In the US, the equivalent group is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”). Their
FAQ suggests that you can get an exemption from the licensing requirements if the store is less than 2,000 square feet. On further reading, it looks like the exemption is only if you play the radio over the PA system. The licensing rules still apply for playing CDs.