What do I need?

stu2900December 28, 2010

Please keep in mind I know next to nothing about MP3 players or Ipods. I want something digital to put my cd's and downloaded music on and connect to the surround sound speakers in the living room. My current stereo only plays 3 discs at a time and I'd like something that would hold a lot of music. What do I need?

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What's the downloaded music on now? A computer? Have you "ripped" the CDs (if that question does not make sense, you haven't :-) ) What kind of system do you have in the living room -- a stereo system or one of those "home theater in a box" things?

The key is to think about what you want to do with it. Will you want the system to handle video or streaming audio or Internet radio at all? Do you have a computer which you're using now for the MP3s? Have you downloaded music from commercial services (in which case you need to consider their copy-protection approaches)?

Unfortunately, there's no quick answer until we get some more information.

Oh, the "note below": you mention wanting to listen on your surround sound speakers. Most surround systems have a main pair of speakers and several "satellite" speakers. Listening on the main speakers probably will be OK, but listening on the satellites probably won't be satisfactory. I'm just clarifying what you're using to hear the music.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 8:08PM
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The downloaded music is currently on a computer. Alot of the cd's have been ripped. (that's one thing I do know what it means:)The system I currently use is a 3 disc stereo in the living room. The computer is in the home office. I don't know that I would want video, but streaming audio and internet radio would be nice to have.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 12:39PM
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OK. Thanks for the update.

One key will be the format in which your downloaded music exists. For example, if most of it has been purchased from the iTunes Music Store, you will need to stream with something which will play back Apple's copy protection. I haven't been shopping in this area very recently, but I know that used to mean buying an Apple product. Pretty much anything you buy which will play from your computer's music library will stream Internet radio; some will handle video, too.

Another key is if you already have an Ethernet network (wired or wireless) in the house or are willing to add one. Wireless is the easy way to go, and quite likely cheaper unless you can string Ethernet between the rooms yourself.

Let me know what you're using for a music library/from where the music has been downloaded, and whether you have a wired or wireless network, and I can be more specific.

Happy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2010 at 6:29PM
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Most of the downloaded music on the computer is older and I know I've never downloaded anything from iTunes. I remember some of it's mp3's from Amazon and other sources like that. The rest is ripped from cds. All the music is currently on an external hard drive from when I backed everything up and started over on the desktop, so I'm not currently using anything for a music library, but would love a recommendation. We do have a wirless Ethernet network.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 5:41PM
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Thanks, sjt. iTunes is great (I use it myself), but accommodating copy protection is a pain, and it sounds like it won't be an issue for you. It also widens your choices considerably.

Just a few more questions (I know, I've asked many already) and I can make some recommendations.

- Are you using Windows on your desktop computer? Vista or something older? Mac?
- Are you OK with just letting the music (album/radio station/whatever) play or do you like to switch around? (Some devices allow you to change the tune at the device; others can only be changed at the source which means changing albums or such requires walking to the room with the PC in it.)
- Do you have any kind of budget in mind? Under $100? Under $200? There are some sophisticated systems which cost a few hundred which will handle pretty much any content you can fling at them; there are devices which are fairly low-tech but cheap.
- I'm assuming -- but this is the time to verify -- that anything you're using to stream the music will plug into a pair of inputs on the surround-sound system. Do you know if there is such an input? If not, you can just mention the make and model and I probably can look that up.

Again, sorry for so many questions. It's a growing field and it hasn't become push-button easy yet. :-)

    Bookmark   January 2, 2011 at 2:47PM
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