Best device for playing mp3s in my kitchen
January 27, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

What device would allow best access to playlists of mp3 at home? Doesnt need to be portable, must not be laptop...

Ì have about 25 gigs of music on my laptop in mp3 format and many more cds yet to rip. I would like a music playing solution which ticks all of the following boxes.

1 - All of my music resides on a single device (100gb should do it).
2 - I dont have to turn on my laptop (I am trying to wean myself off)
3 - I can have unlimted playlists which can be easily selected to suit the mood (Dont mind is these have to be assembeled on the laptop first)
4 - I would like a small remote control (not a deal breaker)
5 - I wont be listening on headhpones but sound quality is actually not that important.

I am happy to feel dumb if someone can tick all of the boxes above for under $150. I should add that I have a nice cd/tape/radio hi-fi which has a remote. I only listen to music in the evenings at home while cooking, hanging out. I don't need an iPod as such the device will never leave the house.

I have read 3 pages of streaming tagged questions to no avail. Thanks for helping out someone bamboozled by all the audio options.
posted by therubettes to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
hacked xbox (original, not 360) will do it, check out xbmc ( You can buy them pre-hacked on craigslist with a big hard-drive in 'em. The fact that it can also emulate all your old video systems and play games/movies/etc is just gravy.
posted by imaswinger at 2:18 PM on January 27, 2009

missed the kitchen part.. oops.
posted by imaswinger at 2:18 PM on January 27, 2009

I might be a little confused. Forgive me if these questions seem obvious, or if I've got it toally wrong.

So you want something that contains a big hard drive and an amplifier and speakers, to be kept in your kitchen? And you'll fill up this device by plugging your laptop into it?
posted by box at 2:34 PM on January 27, 2009

Maybe a hard disk enclosure with wifi and media player functionality.

That gives you storage, access via wifi from your laptop, and the ability to play audio (or video) from the box itself (with powered speakers).

There are plenty of products about that will fit this description - unfortunately I don't have a specific one to recommend.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:36 PM on January 27, 2009

Sorry box I have better clarify. I have a lot of mp3s I would like to listen to at home. I am looking for a device other than my laptop (which is pretty much fixed to the livingroom). I would like to have a remote control and the ability to program playlists and listen to it on speakers not headphones. Finally I would like it to hold about 100 gigs..

Maybe a hard disk enclosure with wifi and media player functionality.
That gives you storage, access via wifi from your laptop, and the ability to play audio (or video) from the box itself (with powered speakers).

Thanks for the answer le morte de bea arthur at but that is really the kind of stuff that confuses me. Could you give me one example of the device of which you speak and I can take the research from there in terms of which is best. Sorry I need to be spoonfed this stuff!!
posted by therubettes at 2:45 PM on January 27, 2009

In my kitchen I do what you describe with an ipod and an "ihome clock radio" which has a remote.

I realize this is two devices and is more than $150 if you start from scratch and you mentioned not wanting an ipod but in my case I had the ipod already and the other thing was a gift. The sound isn't the best in the world but it's loud enough so that I can rock out while doing the dishes or chopping broccoli. Plus, it's compact, tells time, and has a radio.
posted by gyusan at 2:56 PM on January 27, 2009

One idea is just to leave your laptop on, in the living room, and use an Airport ($99) to stream from your laptop (running itunes) to your stereo in your kitchen. The airport is a wireless router and has an audio out. Itunes will detect it on the network and offer to play through it if you want. It's really easy. Not exactly what you're looking for, but just throwing that out there. (This is the solution I use to listen to music in my living room from my laptop in my bedroom).
posted by General Malaise at 3:04 PM on January 27, 2009

Thanks gyusan I will look into it. The radio is a bonus I forgot to include in the original question. I suppose the 150 bucks was a figure out of the air I would be willing to spend more to get what I want.

On preview
I doubt I could get an iPod to hold 100g for a reasonable price..
posted by therubettes at 3:05 PM on January 27, 2009

posted by sharkfu at 3:06 PM on January 27, 2009

D'uh I just spotted an iPod which holds 120 gigs its 249 buck but I suppose I could look on eBay
posted by therubettes at 3:07 PM on January 27, 2009

Oops, sorry. Squeezebox streams from a 2nd sound source. Nevermind.
posted by sharkfu at 3:07 PM on January 27, 2009

I'm all fail today.
You might not be sharkfu.......Squeezebox could be it (I will have to read about it properly) still a little confused about exactly what it does.....High quality audio: bi-amplified design with high performance signal processor, class D amplifiers, and digital crossover thats the kinda sentence that confuses me more!

Aside - I am always amazed by and appreciate how hard people in good faith to answer questions which have a number of clauses in them.
posted by therubettes at 3:18 PM on January 27, 2009

I would recommend a Squeezebox or a Sonos system. But both assume some sort of external server hosting the music. You can get a server for about $300.
posted by Nelson at 3:25 PM on January 27, 2009

Do you have an ipod? Either get some speakers or (cooler) a Chumby.
posted by media_itoku at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2009

The problem with the iPod is that it's cumbersome to create playlists on the device - you would still have to create the playlists on your laptop, really. At least, I think. I don't know if that's a problem for you - you would install iTunes and use it to manage music and playlists and so on.

You could do that, and you wouldn't even need a fancy iPod dock music player. You could buy a pair of check laptop speakers for like $15, if the sound quality doesn't have to be top notch. I mean, the iPod has a standard stereo mini-jack, so any number of sound output solutions would bridge the gap.

I think it's likely the most optimal solution for you. Other portable MP3 players would do this as well - a Zone, a Creative Zen, but they all have their own software (or Windows Media Player) to manage playlists and things like that. I don't have any experience with these programs, but I imagine they might fit your needs as well.

Anything else, I think, is bound to be more cumbersome and more expensive.

Or someone else will come in here with a totally awesome thing I didn't think about.
posted by kbanas at 4:25 PM on January 27, 2009

You could combine an mp3 player (an off-brand and/or secondhand one would probably be fine) with a Tivoli PAL, or some other small portable radio with an input jack (an off-brand and/or secondhand one of those might work too--I see a lot of kitchen radios at thrift stores, but I don't know if they typically have the audio-in jack).
posted by box at 4:27 PM on January 27, 2009

A Squeezebox doesn't need a dedicated server; it should run fine on your laptop, serving up the MP3s there stored.

Do you already have a radio or something with speakers in your kitchen? If so, an original Squeezebox "Classic" might do the job. If your radio doesn't have Aux inputs, you'll need an amp and speakers for the Squeezebox (thus the birth of the "Boom" - a Squeezebox, amp and speakers in one).

You'll have to install the SqueezeCenter software on your laptop and this will feed the music to your Squeezebox (so your laptop will have to be on and awake). You can use SqueezeCenter to create playlists or direct it to playlists created with other software (Foobar, say), or it easily integrates smoothly with iTunes. You can control it with the supplied remote, or anything that can access the SqueezeCenter web interface (iPhone, DS, internet fridge, etc). In addition to your MP3s, it'll allow you to listen to streamed internet music and radio from all over the place, plus any or Pandora profiles you might have.

(I've no personal interest in the company, just happily used a first-generation "Classic" for the last five years.)

Failing that, what about an iPod Nano or Shuffle and some speakers? Once a week or whenever, refresh the playlists and music at random or by design. Do you need all 25/100 Gig on hand at once?
posted by 4eyes at 4:38 PM on January 27, 2009

I think the OP said he was fine making playlists on the laptop. A refurb or ebayed iPod classic (or cheaper mp3 player of your choice) plus some inexpensive laptop speakers seems like a very workable solution.
posted by MadamM at 4:41 PM on January 27, 2009

If you can deal with leaving your laptop on (but closed), you can get an inexpensive wireless speaker setup. That's what I use in my kitchen -- it has a unit that plugs into the audio-out on your computer, and a rechargable wireless speaker for somewhere else. This is the one I have, but there are others out there. ymmv, and it's not an audiophile solution, but I can take it anywhere in the house (like outside, or downstairs doing the laundry, etc...)
posted by noahv at 8:07 PM on January 27, 2009

Linksys NSLU2, unslung and running Firefly, through a Squeezebox or Soundbridge.
posted by jet_silver at 9:09 PM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for all the responses guys. A lot to go on there. I will check them out and come back and mark the best answers for posterity.
posted by therubettes at 1:20 AM on January 28, 2009

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