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Help With Game Room Audio System

In the game room, I'd like to have an audio system of some sort. Ideally, I imagine four speakers in the corners of the (roughly square) room should suffice, as I plan to have nothing but AM/FM, CD, and iTunes (via an AirPort Express) playing through the speakers.

Unfortunately, most boom boxes seem to come with two big speakers, and I don't feel like I need to put a receiver in the room - that'd be overkill (and not offer the CD playback). A DVD player, likewise, is overkill (and would likely lack audio input and AM/FM).

What options do I have? Should I be content with a two-speaker boom box? Should I be forced to buy speakers separately and use a boom box? I don't want to buy a product produced by someone I've never heard of, nor do I want to go hog-wild and spend a lot of money, but something in the Aiwa range (a name I've heard of, but not expensive like Pioneer or Bose) would be good.

What do you recommend?

12 Responses to "Help With Game Room Audio System"

  1. If you're just playing music (as opposed to watching movies or playing games or something else that requires surround sound) just get a cheap receiver and a couple of speakers. I use a no-name $50 receiver and a couple of Klipsch bookshelf speakers and it works very well. Further, I'm not sure putting speakers in all four corners would sound good at all.

  2. Can you elaborate on "would not sound good"? If the left speakers are on one side and the right speakers on the other, it'd still have the whole "stereo" effect," right?

  3. I am not sure about 4 speakers either. I have never thought that works real well. I have always liked the Cambridge Soundworks All-In-One but it is a bit pricey. That being said, it has a lot of reuse potential if your needs change someday.

    What about a good set of Klipsch speakers? You can connect an iPod directly to it and/or bring a laptop into the room.

  4. To be honest the main reason I'm looking at doing something now and not going with a Klipsch or something is mostly so that if, in 10 years, I do want to go with a better setup, I'll have the wiring going behind the drywall and everything already.

    Basically, if the room ever became a movie room, the four speakers could serve quite nicely as the four stereo speakers, with one center and one subwoofer for the traditional 5.1 speaker setup (and yes, I'm aware that some things are already 6.1 and 7.2 and so on).

  5. I can't see why 4 speakers wouldn't sound good... as long as you don't use Pro Logic to get 4 channels out of a 2 channel audio source (which can get quite bad), doing straight stereo with two speakers for each channel isn't going to sound bad.

    You can get boom box type systems with 4 (or 5?) speakers that might do what you want, except it's likely that 2 of the speakers will be designed to be rear speakers, and will almost certainly be different.

    On the other hand, many recievers have AM/FM tuners in them, and adding a CD to them is quite easy - you could use an old portable player that no longer runs on batteries if you have one, or you could get a cheap cd player (do they still make "cheap" CD players? as in, just a cd player to connect to an amp? If not, a cheap DVD would more than do the job). Of course then you need to buy speakers, which brings about a whole new round of which ones to buy and so on 🙂

  6. Target had a bad-ass little 5.1 setup w/ receiver (with built-in Pro Logic decoder) for $200. That's six speakers plus the sub, and the receiver. You'd be surprised at how much music is mixed in 5.1 then encoded into Pro Logic.

    What kind of a game room audio system is it that doesn't have a game console, but AM/FM, CD and iTunes? Why not get an inexpensive 5.1 setup, wire AM/FM, CD, iTunes, TiVo (if you're so inclined) and AirPort Express to different inputs, and select accordingly?

  7. I've got a Roku Soundbridge M1000, never used, that I'd be willing to sell you. I won it in a MacAddict caption contest, but never hooked it up. Email me if you're interested.

  8. My game room setup has no need for a console because… it has no need for a TV for now.

  9. If you're looking for any sort of QUALITY sound, check the "Tivoli Audio" products.

    Those little bad-boys sound very good for the price, and excellent for the size. These actually have a flat response range, with no perceivable distortion even at high volumes, and are built to last, unlike the crappy little stereo receivers you find at target for $200 with 5 speakers. (Trust me, my roommate was of the "buy crappy and replace regularly" sect, and i've had a lot of experience with his low end products.)

  10. I believe in buying quality products too, but at the same time, we're just gonna be putting music through this while doing other things (playing pool, darts, talking). So we can't put too much money in without it just being a waste.

  11. about the 4 speakers not sounding good:

    the acoustics of a square room are kind of funny. it depends on a lot of factors, but in general, you want music coming AT you, from 1 direction (straight ahead of you) on the left and the right, at about ear level. Sound from there bounces off walls and can interact with the room an many ways to make the sound worse.

    with 4 speakers (2 pairs doing the same thing) all at corners pointing into the center, the sound will interact with ITSELF in pretty bad ways, things being out of phase and effectively canceling each other out, delays in treble hits between "paired" speakers, etc. It just becomes a mess.

    but all that might not concern many people. you'll just have to listen and see. Stereo music, from a CD etc. is ideally played through a good stereo setup, and extra speakers aren't necessary: if you need 2 more speakers to make the room sound full, then the first 2 speakers you got weren't good enough, or well enough suited to the room in the first place.

  12. Jeff's assessment of the four speaker situation is pretty much what I was thinking (and was much more clearly stated to boot). One crucial point that I just up and up missed is that you don't have to have all four speakers *on* at all times. When you're listen to stereo music or similar, just trun two of them on, and — as you said, Erik — when you want to upgrade for surround sound purposes or what have you, you'll already be wired for four speakers. Plan for a center channel as well and you'll be in great shape.