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Need advice on media players, Which one to get?
polemon
post May 7 2012, 16:13
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The scenario is like this: I run a pub with some friends. Now, the Idea is to use digital media players for music. We use CDs but it's a big pain in the ass changing them once every hour or so.

The idea is to use media players. Something with a USB port and an SD card slot.

Now, the best thing ever would be some sort of player that also supports at least DVDs, and BDs if possible. It should at least play all kinds of MP3, including the all VBR modes. Ogg/Vorbis and of course AAC would be nice as well. FLAC isn't really needed, since we don't do that kind of listening here...

Now, my first though was to get a small BD player that also has USB and SD slots, but there's a problem: It needs a screen so I can see what I'm selecting, etc.

Now, what I need it a standalone player, one where I don't have to connect a monitor or TV screen to it.

It seems this combination of requirements are pretty much impossible to meet, except for car audio systems. But using a car audio system isn't actually that easy, since I'd have to use a 12V transformer, that gives me the right amount of power for the system (which by no means is little).

Could someone please help me out? Maybe I'm going for a completely wrong approach here?

This post has been edited by polemon: May 7 2012, 16:59


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Ouroboros
post May 7 2012, 17:35
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You seem to be describing a laptop with media player software...... seriously. USB, SD, BD, DVD, screen, plays lots of formats.

This post has been edited by Ouroboros: May 7 2012, 17:37
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JJZolx
post May 7 2012, 17:45
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Different bars that I've been in take different approaches.

One bar that I frequent lets the bartenders play music from their iPod. New bartender, new iPod. Another mostly uses iPods brought in by the bartender, but also has a 'house' iPod (one of the hard drive based models) stocked with tunes.

Another place uses a small computer, which is what I'd recommend. Something like this. Their system is similar, but came with a small LCD monitor, compact keyboard, and mouse. They probably got it at Costco or Sam's Club. If internal storage space isn't sufficient, you can attach an external USB drive. You could also use a small notebook (or netbook) computer, but I'd be more concerned about it walking away.

These days, many places just stream Pandora. That's virtually the only thing the computer mentioned above is used for (and the occasional web surfing). In places without a computer, bartenders will often even stream Pandora from their smart phones, although it's less than ideal when they get an incoming phone call.

A couple of things I've noticed:
  1. Where there are no strict rules, when using an iPod for music, customers will inevitably request that their own iPods be plugged in so that they can hear some particular song or songs. Not many bartenders like this, but they will sometimes put up with the inconvenience for a cute girl or to milk a tip.

  2. Where iPods are used, a surprising amount of time can be spent by the bartender (or whoever else manages to get behind the bar) picking out and skipping songs. You can use pre-made playlists, but that's time consuming, many people aren't very good at it, and when you have only a couple of them, you end up playing the same songs each night.

    Using Pandora avoids this almost entirely. You get some variety within a theme, and it's almost completely hands off.

  3. If you have a jukebox, expect revenue from it to plummet. Make sure that you have some type of audio source switch (in its simplest form, either source selection on a receiver, or an inexpensive mixing board) that can select between the jukebox and house music sources.

  4. Look into BMI/ASCAP licensing, no matter what solution you come up with. Legally, you cannot play radio or CDs, and (I'm pretty sure) any streaming service in a public venue without paying a licensing fee. If a DJ or a cover band performs live, you need to pay licensing. Many, many places have gotten away without paying a cent for years, but I've heard of others that have been busted. You can get a blanket license that will probably run in the hundreds of dollars annually, depending on the size of your venue.

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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2012, 13:29
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QUOTE (polemon @ May 7 2012, 11:13) *
The scenario is like this: I run a pub with some friends. Now, the Idea is to use digital media players for music. We use CDs but it's a big pain in the ass changing them once every hour or so.

The idea is to use media players. Something with a USB port and an SD card slot.

Now, the best thing ever would be some sort of player that also supports at least DVDs, and BDs if possible. It should at least play all kinds of MP3, including the all VBR modes. Ogg/Vorbis and of course AAC would be nice as well. FLAC isn't really needed, since we don't do that kind of listening here...

Now, my first though was to get a small BD player that also has USB and SD slots, but there's a problem: It needs a screen so I can see what I'm selecting, etc.

Now, what I need it a standalone player, one where I don't have to connect a monitor or TV screen to it.

It seems this combination of requirements are pretty much impossible to meet, except for car audio systems. But using a car audio system isn't actually that easy, since I'd have to use a 12V transformer, that gives me the right amount of power for the system (which by no means is little).

Could someone please help me out? Maybe I'm going for a completely wrong approach here?


I think that as close as you got in your thinking was a media player that played USB and SD cards. You threw it out because it needs a screen. I say put an appropriate Blu Ray player back into your consideration and add a LCD screen with a HDMI input.

You can easily get Blu Ray players with Internet interfaces that work with some of the online sources that you mentioned. Many also support LAN links to backroom PC file servers.

In a bar/store context, I think there's a lot to say for dedicated players instead of a PC. It will provide some needed focus which a PC could easily destroy.
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polemon
post May 8 2012, 14:12
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Well, I don't think that using a small PC or laptop is the right idea here.

There's simply no room for a monitor, this also kinda puts laptops out of the question, since the sound equipment is in a location, that is not that easy to access (the bartenders job is to make and serve drinks, after all).

We don't want to move the equipment, since the bar has a certain layout, and the design is kinda important. The equipment has to be out of reach of fluids, that's why it is in a compartment at the back of the bar in ~1.8m height, so there won't be any beverages spilled on it, etc.

What I was thinking of, was something like those little media player boxes something like this thing: http://www.nearbyexpress.com/catalog/produ...28/image/27242/
but with an LCD display, so I can traverse directories or something. The Optical drive would be bonus points.
Also, super plus bonus points, when the optical drive is a front loading caddy, and not a drawer type loader.

It seems my needs are so niche, that no one makes devices of that kind...


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smok3
post May 8 2012, 14:31
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maybe wd tv live with wd tv remote app?

- no optical drive

+ hopefully wd tv app can work as screen replacement (i havent test that)

This post has been edited by smok3: May 8 2012, 14:34


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2012, 14:39
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QUOTE (polemon @ May 8 2012, 09:12) *
Well, I don't think that using a small PC or laptop is the right idea here.

There's simply no room for a monitor, this also kinda puts laptops out of the question, since the sound equipment is in a location, that is not that easy to access (the bartenders job is to make and serve drinks, after all).

We don't want to move the equipment, since the bar has a certain layout, and the design is kinda important. The equipment has to be out of reach of fluids, that's why it is in a compartment at the back of the bar in ~1.8m height, so there won't be any beverages spilled on it, etc.

What I was thinking of, was something like those little media player boxes something like this thing: http://www.nearbyexpress.com/catalog/produ...28/image/27242/
but with an LCD display, so I can traverse directories or something. The Optical drive would be bonus points.
Also, super plus bonus points, when the optical drive is a front loading caddy, and not a drawer type loader.

It seems my needs are so niche, that no one makes devices of that kind...


The better blu-ray players have enough of a display that you can do at least basic things with it.

I like the idea of using a WD TV live with a smart phone. You still have the display, but its not in the work space.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2012, 14:44
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QUOTE (smok3 @ May 8 2012, 09:31) *
maybe wd tv live with wd tv remote app?

- no optical drive


Not so fast - it has a USB port for a USB storage device which would include an external USB optical drive, USB flash drive or SDHC card adapter.
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Ouroboros
post May 8 2012, 14:49
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Have you considered a wireless DAAP player (like an iPod Touch, or a Logitech Squeezebox Touch) in the bar, with the music (and CD/BD drive) on a small backend PC server in a store room elsewhere in the bar? That way all the barman can do is select playlists / tracks from the existing media library.

But that prompts a question? Where is the amp - is it in the compartment at the back of the bar, or elsewhere?
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garym
post May 8 2012, 15:01
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for the digital files only, it seems a SqueezeBox Touch would be perfect for your use case unless I'm missing something in your requirements.
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JJZolx
post May 8 2012, 18:21
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Can I ask about the reasoning behind wanting a USB port and SD card slot? Do you think you'll be changing drives/cards on a regular basis?

A 160 GB iPod Classic will give you room for over 2000 albums in MP3 at -V2, and many more at lower quality levels. That's a lot of music in a media player with an LCD screen that fits into a very small space.
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DigitalMan
post May 9 2012, 03:18
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I hate to ask, but...isn't it illegal in some countries to use a personal music player for entertaining at a business?

I know you can't use Spotify for that http://www.spotify.com/us/help/faq/premium/public-usage/, here is a concerning page for personal files http://www.paaba.org/2011/10/when-should-s...y-ascap-or-bmi/ and Pandora TOS (see section 2.1) http://www.pandora.com/legal/?x=22.

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RobertoDomenico
post May 9 2012, 05:59
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MacMini is an option small dead silent with the right software can play back all audio formats. Excellent remote apps.

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Ouroboros
post May 9 2012, 08:43
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QUOTE (DigitalMan @ May 9 2012, 03:18) *
I hate to ask, but...isn't it illegal in some countries to use a personal music player for entertaining at a business?

No, but it is illegal to play music without a licence. The digital age has brought about some anomalies, so you may need a different licence depending on the source of the music. In this case (playing locally stored music, not streaming from the Internet or playing a wireless broadcast) it is broadly the same as a CD player or a juke box, so covered by established licensing regimes. Whether it is a "personal" device or a larger device makes no difference to the licence requirements - it is the source of the music and the intended audience that dictate the requirements.

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