"What does the AUX/CDR button do again?"
December 7, 2011 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any suggestions on an easy-to-use stereo? We want to buy a system for our out-of-state mother, who not unexpectedly is not very technical. Are there any systems that have a very simple user interface? I'm basically looking for the "jitterbug" of stereos.

Some points:

*We'd like it to have radio capabilities, as well as to hook up to her dvd & tv (which I suppose the latter is a given nowdays). So, simple input switching is desired.

*I was thinking about a soundbar since it seemed simpler to set up, but it seems many of them are going for the minimalist look--something that often means infuriating interface.

*I don't think she will notice much difference between 7.1 speakers vs a standard stereo 2.0 configuration. I think she mainly wants something to listen music with, so two speakers is fine.

*She has a Samsung TV, so I believe it would be simpler with their AnyNet system to have a Samsung stereo as well? I believe it automatically switches the input?

*Looking around $200 or so?

posted by jsmith77 to Shopping (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My mom did this for my grandma several years ago. Stereo, radio, DVD, all set up to easily work with her TV, simple buttons, straightforward remote, the works. (I have no idea what brand or model, not that it would even matter so many years out.) Literally the only thing my grandma had to do to use it was turn it on and put CDs/DVDs into it.

She never uses it. The only time it's ever on is when we're at her house and turn it on for her (which usually means we take out the same Frank Sinatra CD we put in last Christmas and replace it with the Nat King Cole one we'll be sure to see next time we're there). But other than that, it never gets used. Ever. And it's not because it's too hard to use--she just doesn't "need" it. She doesn't really understand DVDs or DVD menus, so all of the movies she watches she just catches when they come on TV. She's got digital cable, with all those music channels, so when she wants to listen to music she just turns on the TV. And she thinks the TV gets plenty loud enough as it is, so thinks the speakers are a waste of time.

So, I know this doesn't directly answer your question, but all of your questions are the same ones my mom and I were asking several years ago when we were shopping for my grandma's setup. The real question we should have been asking was, "hey, Mom/Gram, do you think this is something that you'd ever use or want?"

Just something to keep in mind.
posted by phunniemee at 8:00 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Luckily, "a nice stereo" is something Mom has mentioned she wanted, so we know that part of the gift.
posted by jsmith77 at 8:08 AM on December 7, 2011

I know next to nothing about audio equipment, but I believe this is pretty much who Bose markets their Wave systems at. My parents (both in their late 60's but reasonably techsavvy at the consumer end of things--you know, programming their VCRs, troubleshooting their wireless printer, videochatting with the grandkid, using cellphones, iPads and other consumer gadgets) have a Bose wave hooked up to one TV in the house--it plays CDs, the radio, does the sound for the TV easily, and can have any number of MP3 players plugged into it. It's about twice your price point, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:33 AM on December 7, 2011

I'm gonna suggest a set of speakers.

Specifically, a 2.1 set (2 speakers + 1 subwoofer/amp) that you'll plug directly in to the TV's output. Something like this would be perfect.

This way, she won't have to learn anything new. No fussy input selection, no new remote to learn. It will "just work", just like it did before, but sound a lot better.

Note: You may need to check what kind of output options that specific TV set has. The Sony television in my living room allows either a fixed-volume output, or variable output. The variable output maintains the ability to control the volume of the speakers with the remote. I have seen some TVs which only do fixed, which would mean that she would need to adjust the volume with the control knob on the speakers. If that's a deal breaker, maybe look for a set that has a wireless remote for volume control.
posted by bhayes82 at 9:45 AM on December 7, 2011

Missed the part about a radio. Sorry. You could throw in a Roku box for streaming internet radio (Pandora, etc.) and still be at your price point, but then you're stuck teaching her how to use THAT newfangled thing.
posted by bhayes82 at 9:48 AM on December 7, 2011

Tivoli makes almost* exactly what you are looking for, and they are high quality products, but pretty pricy (especially if you buy their subwoofers, c.d. player, etc.): the Model Two radio has an input that you could run the TV to, two speakers, and an easy 'UI'.

*You don't mention c.d.s...if you need to play them and can't do it through the DVD player this probably isn't the best option.
posted by soy bean at 10:00 AM on December 7, 2011

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