Recommend a good HD-based hi-fi separate
October 24, 2006 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Audio separates. Looking for standalone hard-disk based mp3 player.

My father has a collection of his favourite mp3s on the PC (few hundred), and wants to be able to play them in the living room, on endless shuffle.

The device needs to store the mp3s locally, in order that it is not dependent on the PC being turned on, or the wireless network being up and running.

Loading of the songs to the device could be in the form of a wifi network connection, or by any of the common flash/sd/memory stick formats. Audio CD would not be preferred method for importing the tracks as he (or rather I) wouldn't want to have to burn everything to Audio CD first just to then rip them back to HD on the device.

Needs to be in the form of a "normal-looking" audio separate, with remote control etc. rather than, say, plugging an iPod in to his amp, or one of the standalone network streaming boxes.

I guess this could also be done in the form of a normal CD player that can handle mp3 format if anyone can recommend a good one, as the collection could sit on a couple of CDs if stored in mp3 format. That would not be the preferred solution though.

UK based, so would want products available here. No price point to aim for, so any suggestions appreciated.

Bonus points for a system that plays non-mp3 formats (particularly AAC).
posted by saintsguy to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you want an iPod and a dock, and you can load songs into the PC via a networked drive?
posted by casconed at 2:48 PM on October 24, 2006

To clarify - the dock gets you an IR remote, and the PC lets you manage the music. The iPod works without the PC AND without the network, and the PC and the network can allow you to add music remotely.
posted by casconed at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2006

The easiest solution is to buy a crappy PC and run it into your stereo. Spend a couple hundred on a decent hard disc and you'll be able to store about 250gb of music; a $30 sound card can give you RCA outs (though you can always spend more for better quality), and if all he wants is endless shuffle, no monitor is necessary. Keyboards are dirt cheap, and that's the only input you'll need.
posted by klangklangston at 3:26 PM on October 24, 2006

While I can't make any personal recommendations, it sounds like what you might be looking for is often described as a 'Multimedia External Hard Drive' which is a hard disk enclosure that decodes multimedia files internally, and can be attached to a hi-fi or TV as a stand-alone deviceafter files have been added to it from a computer.

They often come without a hard disk fitted so you add one yourself. You could google for more information. I know Tvisto and Freecom make them and I have seen them for sale on UK websites. I haven't seen one that looks like a hi-fi separate though.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 5:15 PM on October 24, 2006

drill_here_fore_seismics is talking about this, which I just ordered, along wiith a $90 laptop drive that will give me a (probably crappy) 120GB mp3 player for $130. I'm psyched.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:39 PM on October 24, 2006

I built myself a fanless computer in a hi-fi form factor that does all you need and a few more bits besides. If you can't find the answers in a pre-built box, I'd be happy to advise on how to build one for him.

Mine is in a slimline case that looks very nice in the stack, and uses Music Player Daemon running on linux, so there is no software cost to consider. I know it'd be a lot more grief, but if you don't find a better answer, it's an option.

Have a wander round or (just a customer, of both) and you'll see that this stuff is not cutting edge anymore, there are many options available for tailoring the systems to your father's needs.
posted by Gamecat at 6:31 PM on October 24, 2006

Also, I meant to mention that although it's no use for your father as it isn't a standalone, the Transporter looks like an amazing creation. Just saying, you know, in case.
posted by Gamecat at 6:40 PM on October 24, 2006

Buy a dvd player with mp3 support. 20$ on ebay.
posted by gmarceau at 9:02 PM on October 24, 2006

Depending on how high tech you want to go, a modded xbox (old xbox, not 360) would do this very, very well. I use one in my living room arrangement and it boots straight into media center, allowing me to navigate my music and videos on the TV (way easier than an ipod/dock combo, which requires the ipod be near you to read it since it's small)...
posted by twiggy at 10:40 PM on October 24, 2006

In case anyone follows the link I put above, the unit came, and it was REALLY crappy. Right back to the store. The only problem it is a solution for is a short-legged kitchen table.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:59 AM on October 28, 2006

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