Old 4th May 2014, 22:09   #1
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Stereo For Office

I might be old fashioned (since I'm still in my 20s, I'm certainly not 'old' yet), but I like to listen to music on CDs while at the office. I'm about to move to a new office. Nothing huge, maybe 8' x 8' or 10' x 10', somewhere around that size. I'd like to pick up a stereo to play my CDs on that also has a radio in it.

Is there something very small and compact for such a space? A coworker has the Bose Wave with CD, but it seems like overkill for the space, and it's expensive. The form factor is nice, though.

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Old 5th May 2014, 02:28   #2
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Overkill is fun!

It might not be overkill though. Sometimes you need something large, or in the Bose's case, large-sounding to produce balanced sound or "flat frequency response" as the audiophiles say, even at low volume levels, if you're picky like I am.

I like the idea of satellite systems for tight spaces. You still have the low frequencies of a subwoofer, but hidden out of sight while the satellite speakers are also easy to tuck away somewhere. That connected to any old disc changer would be ideal, but that might be overkill and very expensive for some.

A lot of small shelf systems or big boomboxes have a bass-boost feature, but that usually gives too much high bass and not enough low, causing headaches for you and the people in the next office. Usually those bass boost systems produce an annoying swell around 150-300 Hz and still very little sound below 150Hz.

Many new systems, even cheap and generic ones are getting very good with midrange and treble. If you don't need good sounding bass, you'd probably be happy with almost any thing from a Best Buy type place. Keep in mind you'll want inputs. I hear you want CDs, but it'll be nice to plug in a mobile device once in a while too, even if it's the computer.

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Old 5th May 2014, 13:49   #3
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We got one of these for ShyShy maybe a year ago for ~$25, and she's happy with it. It has a 3.5mm input and 3.5mm output.

http://www.target.com.au/p/teenage-m...mnt-1/53491190


Also: it looks totally radical.

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Old 5th May 2014, 22:02   #4
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perhaps an alarm clock with CD functionality?

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Old 5th May 2014, 23:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swingdjted View Post
Overkill is fun!

It might not be overkill though. Sometimes you need something large, or in the Bose's case, large-sounding to produce balanced sound or "flat frequency response" as the audiophiles say, even at low volume levels, if you're picky like I am.

I like the idea of satellite systems for tight spaces. You still have the low frequencies of a subwoofer, but hidden out of sight while the satellite speakers are also easy to tuck away somewhere. That connected to any old disc changer would be ideal, but that might be overkill and very expensive for some.

A lot of small shelf systems or big boomboxes have a bass-boost feature, but that usually gives too much high bass and not enough low, causing headaches for you and the people in the next office. Usually those bass boost systems produce an annoying swell around 150-300 Hz and still very little sound below 150Hz.

Many new systems, even cheap and generic ones are getting very good with midrange and treble. If you don't need good sounding bass, you'd probably be happy with almost any thing from a Best Buy type place. Keep in mind you'll want inputs. I hear you want CDs, but it'll be nice to plug in a mobile device once in a while too, even if it's the computer.


Good idea for the small receiver, Ted. I'm thinking I might go with something like this:

http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-CS-445-C.../ref=pd_cp_e_0

Whatever I go with is going to beat the $10 PC speakers I'm using.

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Old 6th May 2014, 02:26   #6
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I have seen and heard a lot of stereos with Onkyo electronics, and they were very impressive. I have yet to listen to Onkyo speakers though. They've got to be good if they're even half as good as their electronics. I see dome tweeters in there which will far surpass anything you'd find in computer speakers without spending a lot.

It plays burned mp3 (and other compressed file) discs. That's a big plus. The look is chic, which shouldn't be important but for some reason it's always good.

Quote:
The unit can be programmed to turn on and turn off at specific times.
Just input your work schedule. I wish I had this feature for my electric picture frame. I keep forgetting to turn it off at the end of a work day.

The frequency response spec doesn't say a plus/minus volume range. Usually it'll say the total frequency range (in this case 50Hz to 50kHz) but also makes mention of a decibel range (plus or minus 0.2dB for example). That will show how balanced the sound is. Without that range, you may see peaks and valleys across the audible spectrum. In other words you may have some frequencies too loud and some not loud enough. Chances are that Onkyo has put the time into making sure this problem is minimized, but it'd be nice if they'd measure and report it like others do. If you want frequencies below 50Hz, you'll have to add a sub. I'd recommend listening to it without it first, and if you miss the low frequencies, add the sub. You may be fine without having to add one, but if you do add one, the system has a subwoofer pre-out.

Possible limitations: It plays one disc at a time. For me that would be fine, but some like to shuffle songs from multiple discs. It may or may not require the additional cost of a sub. It doesn't have surround sound, but most music is just 2-channel stereo anyway. 40x2 power could cause you to attract too much attention and cause a productive work day to turn into an unproductive (or worse, reproductive) party. It's black, and some offices don't go well with black (I'd still love it though).

Overall, it looks pretty good. Free shipping too.

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Old 9th May 2014, 07:17   #7
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Old 10th May 2014, 13:07   #8
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Originally Posted by swingdjted View Post
I have seen and heard a lot of stereos with Onkyo electronics, and they were very impressive. I have yet to listen to Onkyo speakers though. They've got to be good if they're even half as good as their electronics. I see dome tweeters in there which will far surpass anything you'd find in computer speakers without spending a lot.

It plays burned mp3 (and other compressed file) discs. That's a big plus. The look is chic, which shouldn't be important but for some reason it's always good.



Just input your work schedule. I wish I had this feature for my electric picture frame. I keep forgetting to turn it off at the end of a work day.

The frequency response spec doesn't say a plus/minus volume range. Usually it'll say the total frequency range (in this case 50Hz to 50kHz) but also makes mention of a decibel range (plus or minus 0.2dB for example). That will show how balanced the sound is. Without that range, you may see peaks and valleys across the audible spectrum. In other words you may have some frequencies too loud and some not loud enough. Chances are that Onkyo has put the time into making sure this problem is minimized, but it'd be nice if they'd measure and report it like others do. If you want frequencies below 50Hz, you'll have to add a sub. I'd recommend listening to it without it first, and if you miss the low frequencies, add the sub. You may be fine without having to add one, but if you do add one, the system has a subwoofer pre-out.

Possible limitations: It plays one disc at a time. For me that would be fine, but some like to shuffle songs from multiple discs. It may or may not require the additional cost of a sub. It doesn't have surround sound, but most music is just 2-channel stereo anyway. 40x2 power could cause you to attract too much attention and cause a productive work day to turn into an unproductive (or worse, reproductive) party. It's black, and some offices don't go well with black (I'd still love it though).

Overall, it looks pretty good. Free shipping too.
I just did the 'Best Buy as a Showroom' (BBAAS?) on a few of these and I liked a Sony, which was about the same as this one. I really noticed the difference between a small receiver and two speakers and the small table-top boombox type devices they had. Sadly, they did not have a Bose Wave to try out. I think that did it for me, though. If I'm only spending $200 or so, then a small receiver + speakers is the way to go, rather than a desktop box of much lesser quality.

I do like the single CD thing. Maybe I'm odd, but I find that it makes me think about what I'm listening to. When I'm on my PC, I'm tempted to put on "9000 hours of Bach" and forget about it. When I'm picking a CD, I'm actually considering what I'm playing.

edit: This is the one I saw at BB: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-CMTSBT100.../dp/B00DM5F19A

I'd like to see the Onkyo, but I doubt any place will have that to test. May just have to flip a coin and try one.

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Old 11th May 2014, 03:13   #9
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There's something to be said about listening to a CD with songs in the artist's order. The concept of an "album" is falling apart these days with the use of single-song purchasing on amazon/itunes/etc. I appreciate the older practice of having an artist's track in a carefully chosen order, or in some cases, placed in such a way that they all combine to sound like one non-stop work.

Personally I'd take a lot of brands over Sony because of personal frustrations of reliability issues with Sony products. I've even been on not one but two DJ gigs that ended in dead air due to a Sony amplifier fail; once with a receiver, once with a stand-alone amp. Luckily I had a second amp in the trailer the second time it happened, but the first time it was a pack-up-and-go embarrassment. Onkyo has had a better reliability reputation, in addition to more ethical business practices. Some people have good luck with Sony, but I don't think it's what it used to be back in our parents' day.

Best Buy does make an excellent showroom for the online ordering process. I must say that I have been guilty of the same offense. Any brand that you can't test is usually available from a web site that has a satisfaction guaranteed return policy if you look around enough (including return shipping), especially if you are replacing the undesired unit with another from the same company.

I like the direction you're going in terms of receiver/satellites rather than the boomboxes/bookshelf systems. For one thing, sound quality is of more importance than volume on these systems, plus the look is a lot more professional compared to the ones that look more like they belong in a teenager's or college student's room.

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I have to say, that's quite awesome. I miss playing the TMNT video game at the arcade and on Nintendo. At the arcade, it was playable by up to 4 players simultaneously. That was a lot of fun.

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Old 11th May 2014, 03:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iomegajaz View Post
We got one of these for ShyShy maybe a year ago for ~$25, and she's happy with it. It has a 3.5mm input and 3.5mm output.

http://www.target.com.au/p/teenage-m...mnt-1/53491190


Also: it looks totally radical.
What I find very interesting is that a lot of the units I looked at in Best Buy, couldn't even muster up the 3.5 mm input and output - most had one or the other.

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Old 11th May 2014, 23:37   #11
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But... they're heroes in a half-shell.
TURTLE POWER!!!

I've always been a fan of Klipsch and Harmon Kardon for small form factor speakers. After looking these two up again, it appears that Klipsch has stepped out of this market, which is sad because I truly liked them the best.

If it were me, I would purchase a small form factor cd/mp3 cd player for under $50, and run that out via RCA and a 3.5 mm converter to a pair of sound sticks from harmon kardon. I've had my wired sound sticks for 10 years and love the sound they produce. The wireless bluetooth ones just scream fun. They also afford you the ability to connect a mobile device.
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Old 17th May 2014, 05:38   #12
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I've ordered the Onkyo. I'll post pics when it comes in.

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Old 17th May 2014, 17:59   #13
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I have to say; I'm a bit jealous.

I had a pretty nice setup two jobs ago in my computer teaching classroom (an old receiver with some subs behind shelves and satellites hanging in the corners with wires hidden in the recessed ceiling, connected to the computer and SMART board).

My current office just has a desktop computer with a single in-tower speaker and a laptop with built-in tiny speakers. Your $10 PC speakers would actually be an upgrade to my current situation lol. Perhaps this thread could encourage me to bring some old stuff in and put it all together the way I did similar to the last time. I don't have my own classroom any more, so I won't have a SMART board to work with, but I could still likely fit a good sound system.

I think the set you bought could easily fill any office or even a large room with sound. If dust is removed every once in a while and fans (if any) are greased every 2 years or so, it'll probably last at least a decade or more. The first thing you may have to worry about is UV and dry air vs. the woofer surround. Those foam and/or rubber surround pieces sometimes dry-rot over the period of a decade or two, but they're repairable for a pretty low price.

I think this idea of getting a good sound system for your office could improve the quality and enjoyability of your work time. You can't put a price on that. I hope it does a great job for a long, long time.

Now, down to the most important decision... What piece of music are you going to use to test it and break it in?

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Old 26th May 2014, 22:09   #14
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Well, it finally came in. It sounds great so far (Test piece was Mahler's 2nd symphony), but it seems overwhelmingly bad at reading CDs. Most just skip, including ones that play in other players.

I think I'll return this for a decent set of PC speakers, like I have in my home office.

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Old 27th May 2014, 03:08   #15
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It very much disappoints me that such a good brand gave you such a dud. I hope that it was a "sample error" and not what other buyers are seeing. I'm sorry it didn't turn out well and hope that the computer speakers turn out better.

Mahler 2. That's a good one especially if they did a good job recording it.

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Old 27th May 2014, 12:12   #16
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My HT receiver is an Onkyo and I'm very happy with it. Probably just a dud.

I'll need to pick up a CD drive for my laptop, along with the speakers.

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Old 27th May 2014, 15:53   #17
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My $10 speakers work just fine...
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Old 29th May 2014, 12:37   #18
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My $10 speakers don't. They sound tinny, especially for 'large' works (which is why I was testing with Mahler).

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Old 31st May 2014, 05:23   #19
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The Turtles never let anybody down.

Target also has a Barbie-branded one, if that floats your boat, but its sole reviewer gave it one star out of five. http://www.target.com.au/p/barbie-boombox-bb5/51050436

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Old 31st May 2014, 08:54   #20
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If you're so inclined, you could go the Goodwill/thrift store/eBay route. Sure, you won't get a warranty or anything, but you can probably score a good deal on system. Find something with aux-in jacks, most likely RCA inputs, and then seek out either a new or good used CD changer with RCA outputs in a store/on the web/eBay.

I have this Aiwa from the early 90s that I got for $25 at a Goodwill. I, at this moment, have my laptop hooked up to it with my iTunes playing out of it over a 3.5mm-RCA cable and it sounds great. It can pump out too...

The beauty of a setup like what I have, as long as the RCA inputs work, you can use whatever you want for sound. Have a turntable + preamp? Enjoy your Rice Krispies. Have a cassette? Keep magnets away. Have a laptop + mp3 library/streaming radio? Plug n play. Have an iPod? Might want to have your charger handy.
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Old 31st May 2014, 22:05   #21
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Quote:
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The Turtles never let anybody down.
I guess I'm eating crow now. Perhaps I should get one for my daughter when she wants a radio.

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Old 2nd November 2014, 23:51   #22
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I guess I'm eating crow now. Perhaps I should get one for my daughter when she wants a radio.
Not so fast. The CD player component no longer plays CDs, which pretty much sucks. I wish I'd kept the receipt for a warranty claim, but alas, I did not. I don't even know when we bought the thing; my previous post suggests it was early- to mid-last year, but that may have been a guesstimate. :/

Target (AU) now has a black-and-pink version of the same boombox for $29. Maybe we'll pick that one up, and make sure to keep the receipt this time. I figure if it works for 12-18 months and can be fixed under warranty if/when it dies around that time, that's pretty good value for money.

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Old 11th November 2014, 00:31   #23
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To follow up on this thread, I went with the Sony and it performed poorly at reading CDs, far inferior to any PC drive, the slightest scratch or fingerprint and it was skip city. Ended up returning it.

As it turns out, the walls in this office are so thin that I didn't even bother replacing it since I can't listen to music much louder than my PC speakers go anyway.

Spend way more time with headphones.

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Old 11th November 2014, 01:41   #24
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That's probably the smartest option. The music is at a level that you like while drowning out any unwanted audible distractions. I would love to do that, but it likely would be frowned upon where I work, unless it was after-hours.

Now for the real question, how much money would it cost to have someone paint the headphones in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme?

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Old 12th November 2014, 21:02   #25
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the internet is way ahead of you

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Old 12th November 2014, 21:51   #26
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Cowabunga dudes!

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Old 13th November 2014, 14:07   #27
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Just get this and some IEMs and see if your coworkers will still bother you.
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Old 18th December 2014, 08:36   #28
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I have one like this
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Old 18th December 2014, 23:16   #29
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I stumbled on this Sony DAV-BC150 a couple weeks ago. Some family members were moving and didn't want it anymore. It's a 5-DVD/CD changer with a tuner and line-in. It outputs over a hundred watts to each of 5 satellites and subwoofer (650 total). It came with some heavy speaker stand bases, one of which fell on my toe and made me say something I'm glad my little daughter didn't hear.

It retailed around $300 when it was new ten years ago, which was a very low price for a "home theater". It is definitely not for an audiophile, which might explain the lower cost, but at free-to-me, it's great for it's price. The quality of sound is harmed by a problem I always seem to notice with small-enclosure vented speakers. The small, vented satellite enclosures cause a certain narrow range of frequencies to resonate a lot more than everything else, making for anything but the desired flat response. There are no tweeters. Just a single cone speaker per box, and you notice a lack of clean treble as a result. That said, the speakers are still a bit better sounding than typical built-in TV speakers, and they're obviously much, much stronger. The subwoofer adds a respectable bass response and can handle a lot of power.

I'm considering placing this in my office, not that I'll ever turn it up very loud if I do that. If I don't do that, perhaps I'll place it in the garage and hang the satellites out of the way.


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Old 19th December 2014, 03:39   #30
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$300 sounds like a good deal for that level of quality back in the day.

I recently bought this to replace the TMNT boombox, which has sadly taken to not reading CDs :


It has a remote control and 3.5mm aux-in, which were the main selling points, as one of its main uses will be for more betterer TV/movie sound.

After committing to buy it, I noticed there's no headphone port, which is quite surprising and something I hadn't even considered as a possible problem in this day and age. I dealt with this by buying a 2-to-1 RCA stereo switch, some speaker cable, RCA plugs and a 3.5mm socket. The switch sits atop the stereo, and pressing its "A" and "B" buttons alternates the output between the stereo's speakers and the 3.5mm socket (into which we plug headphones).

The stereo is currently on sale for $30 off, but I bought it when it was 30% off, making it even more cheaperer.

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Old 19th December 2014, 14:45   #31
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That worked? RCA outputs are meant for a 10kOhm minimum load, not the much lower impedance of headphones (especially current ones optimized for portable use, 20 Ohm phones will draw 500 times the current that this device was designed for).

But since it hasn't gone up in flames yet...

edit: Or did you plug into the speaker output? That generally works, as long as you're careful with the volume. You could add some resistors before the phones to protect them and some in parallel, then you'd have exactly the same setup usually used for hifi system headphone outputs.
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Old 21st December 2014, 02:24   #32
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That worked? RCA outputs are meant for a 10kOhm minimum load, not the much lower impedance of headphones (especially current ones optimized for portable use, 20 Ohm phones will draw 500 times the current that this device was designed for).

But since it hasn't gone up in flames yet...

edit: Or did you plug into the speaker output? That generally works, as long as you're careful with the volume. You could add some resistors before the phones to protect them and some in parallel, then you'd have exactly the same setup usually used for hifi system headphone outputs.
I'm using the stereo unit's speaker outputs (clamps for bare speaker wire). The setup goes something like this:
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"My heart hates uggos." –J.D.
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