Author Topic: Reasonable Home Audio options  (Read 977 times)

skibum

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Reasonable Home Audio options
« on: May 20, 2018, 03:46:45 PM »
My mom has just moved, and as I was taking apart her audio setup I realized it is not really working for her. Rather than set it all up again at the new house I told her I would investigate options for a more modern approach.

What she has:
Setup #1
An ancient receiver - no HDMI ports, just audio and yellow video out
A 5-DVD carousel
1 pair wired speakers
Cable DVR
All of this was sort-of hooked up to the TV, but she never had the cable audio hooked up to the receiver - it comes out of the TV. If she remembered the exact sequence, she could play a DVD and have sound coming out of the speakers. (She managed this about 50% of the time.)
Mostly she listened to CD's, which was pretty straightforward.

Setup #2
Another pair of wired speakers
Some kind of old iPod receiver (you literally stick it on top). Brand unknown (a tag that fell off). I think she won it. It's hooked up to my old iPod Nano (oh yeah), but she can't update the music on it because the iTunes doesn't recognize it and wants to resynch it, which would wipe the music she does have on it. It must have a built in pre-amp, because it works with...
An old (old) turntable, hooked up to the generic receiver. This is important to her because she listens to lots of old albums.
I do have a USB turntable that I don't use that I could give to her. That may help.

She would play more DVDs (e.g. from library), if she had a setup that was easier for her.
I'm thinking some sort of wireless setup, but the need to have the turntable is a tough one. I was also toying with getting her on Spotify. (She literally asked me, "How would I listen to Ann Mortifee without my turntable?" and I checked and she's on Spotify. But she's not keen on the steaming aspect.

The new house is a ranch-style, and she has wifi, although her router is pretty old. She has an iPhone 5, and a Windows 7 PC. She is fairly capable of learning new tech if she sets her mind to it, and she did work in IT for 30 years, but she mostly doesn't bother, especially if she can outsource this stuff to me. :) I think wireless would be easiest, as I'm not keen to crawl around her attic with speaker wire, and having wires all over would be unacceptable. She could spend a few thousand dollars, but she's not an audiophile and I don't want her to walk into a store and get crazily upsold on stuff she doesn't need.

Any experts out there with suggestions? I was thinking about Sonos for the whole house, but it looks like the Connect Amp only has 1 input, which would mean she could have DVD but not turntable.

If I Google home theater setups etc. I either get guides for crazy serious setups, or those box situations. Help?

sokoloff

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2018, 05:31:50 PM »
My 2 cents:
Get her an Amazon Alexa for anyplace she wants to listen to music. If that doesn't include the kitchen, get one for there too. Echo (the larger one) for areas where she'll listen more often. Dot (the small one) for less used or less critical areas.

The sound is decent and the convenience is high.

I use Plex for audio and video storage and playback. You can get by with the free version of Plex for this use case I think. I eventually bought the paid version when it went on sale for $75 or so. That plays through a variety of devices, but I've chosen to use a Synology NAS for the Plex server and Fire TV or TiVo for the Plex players. (Fire TV is very convenient.)

I use Ubiquiti for wifi and network at my house, but have my parents setup with Asus routers-as-access-points and only a Ubiquiti firewall device (ER-X). Definitely go wifi at this point for casual usage.

If she's anything like my parents, I better have it in my house first, work out the kinks, and roll out the easy version for them. They love their Alexa in the kitchen. Even my wife (who is semi-anti-tech) loves the Alexa.

sokoloff

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2018, 05:45:43 PM »
(And, for the record, I don't work for Amazon or hold AMZN shares other than in mutual funds. I just happen to think they've got two winning products here in Alexa Echo/Dot and FireTV.)

Rcc

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 07:44:38 PM »
Iím more curious, especially since she was in IT - what does she want? What does it look like when she goes to play X....

I read
1. Play albums
2. Play CDs
3. Doesnít grasp inputs to get DVDs playing consistently.
4.signed up for Spotify, doesnít use it?

Thereís plenty of ways to skin this cat. Iíd dig a little more into whatís she wants before picking tech.

skibum

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 11:15:27 AM »
She has an Echo Plus, but she has no way to stream music to it. That was a Christmas gift from me, partly to solve her radio issue. The tuner in her receiver failed, and she couldn't listen to the CBC anymore. She doesn't have Spotify, that was my suggestion to her that did not go over very well. :) I could work on that.

I've tried a few times to get her CD's ripped and into her iTunes, so at least she could get them on the computer and her iPhone and stream them to something. It may work as apart of a big push to replace everything.

But yes, albums, CD's and DVD's are the high priority here, which she can't do on the Echo.

Is there a receiver out there that would hook up wirelessly to speakers, e.g. Echo, Sonos One, and also connect her turntable, and new CD/DVD (probably BlueRay)? I think she'd like the Sonos playbar, but it doesn't solve the receiver issue.

bacchi

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2018, 11:34:24 AM »
Sony has 2.1 receivers that have built in speakers and can also use additional wireless speakers. The units can stream various services on wi-fi/bluetooth. A quick glance shows the $350 model has a USB input as well as 3 HDMI inputs.

I'm sure JVC, Panasonic, etc., have similar units.

Slee_stack

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2018, 11:49:16 AM »
Presuming you have decent wifi...

Chromecast audio (CCA) and anything that has a headphone input.  You could re-use the stereo and wired speaker.

Control everything from phone, tablet, etc.

CCA is pretty cheap($35 ea...or less on sale)....and it can stream just about anything (proprietary apps withstanding).

I also use Plex as a media server and stream music to anywhere from 1 - 5 rooms.  It sounds really good.

sokoloff

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 12:16:48 PM »
She has an Echo Plus, but she has no way to stream music to it.

But yes, albums, CD's and DVD's are the high priority here, which she can't do on the Echo.

Is there a receiver out there that would hook up wirelessly to speakers, e.g. Echo, Sonos One, and also connect her turntable, and new CD/DVD (probably BlueRay)? I think she'd like the Sonos playbar, but it doesn't solve the receiver issue.
With a Bluetooth transmitter, you can wirelessly stream music as Bluetooth to the Echo/Echo plus (not the Dot).
You can also use an iPhone/Android phone as a source and stream that to the Echo.
You can also use Plex on the iPhone/Android and "cast" the music from the Plex server to a Chromecast Audio under remote control by the phone/iPad. I'll try tonight to see if Plex allows casting to the Echo.

I find that all the FM streams that I want to listen to are available in streaming form, so I can play directly on the Echo.

Cranky

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2018, 04:15:30 PM »
What does she most want to do?

I realized that I only want to stream music, so it's worth paying for amazon music unlimited, and my Echo will play whatever I want.

We don't much care about dvds anymore, so we just use Netflix and amazon prime.

But I can navigate any setup, if I've actually set it up myself, and otherwise, I need the person who did the setup to write down the steps that I need to take from turning on the tv to playing a dvd.

dcozad999

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Re: Reasonable Home Audio options
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2018, 09:44:51 AM »
My 2 cents:
Get her an Amazon Alexa for anyplace she wants to listen to music. If that doesn't include the kitchen, get one for there too. Echo (the larger one) for areas where she'll listen more often. Dot (the small one) for less used or less critical areas.

The sound is decent and the convenience is high.

I use Plex for audio and video storage and playback. You can get by with the free version of Plex for this use case I think. I eventually bought the paid version when it went on sale for $75 or so. That plays through a variety of devices, but I've chosen to use a Synology NAS for the Plex server and Fire TV or TiVo for the Plex players. (Fire TV is very convenient.)

I use Ubiquiti for wifi and network at my house, but have my parents setup with Asus routers-as-access-points and only a Ubiquiti firewall device (ER-X). Definitely go wifi at this point for casual usage.

If she's anything like my parents, I better have it in my house first, work out the kinks, and roll out the easy version for them. They love their Alexa in the kitchen. Even my wife (who is semi-anti-tech) loves the Alexa.


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