Recommendation for basic bedroom play-along setup?

Sparky84

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Hi Gear Dudes,

I need some advice on what used to be called “hi-fi gear” for a spare bedroom that i want to use as a music room. Amp-wise, I’ve got a Blues Junior that I like but is WAY too loud for home use, but still sounds good at 2 on the volume dial. I’ve also got an old 5-watt VOX amp that’s more versatile at bedroom levels, with lots of built-in effects. And 10 electric guitars that I managed to shoehorn into the closet and which someday I’d like to hang on the wall.

What I don’t have is a way to play my hundreds of albums (CDs or digital equivalent) loud enough for me to play along at decent amplified volume. I’ve got 25GB of music files in my iTunes, but the little Bose speakers driven by my old desktop computer isn’t very loud and doesn’t allow me to turn up the amp much at all. Years ago I got rid of my CD player, Denon amp and Cambridge Audio speakers, although I still have the physical CDs in storage. I want to re-rip those in FLAC quality, rather than just the iTunes compressed AAC format, so I can finally get rid of the CDs.

I bought a little box called a Brennan B2 from the UK that purports to rip and store thousands of CDs and serve them up like iTunes. But it’s a glitchy nightmare to use for people who aren’t capable of advanced tinkering with computers, so I might return it if I can’t figure it out. So:

1. Anyone know of another consumer-oriented device that will rip and store thousands of CDs in FLAC quality with an easy user interface? It needs to be CD-player-simple to use, as I am useless with computers.

2. Failing that, should I buy another iPad and load the iTunes files on that, and run it into a small amp and bookshelf speakers, and just make due with AAC quality? (I’m not sure how much I can tell the difference anyway.)

3. Finally, any recommendations for a small audio amp and bookshelf speakers powerful enough to compete with a 5-watt guitar amp on lowish levels? I had a look at Best Buy (obviously no audiophile here), and even at that low end was surprised how expensive the small speakers were - $500 to well over $1000. Nor could I find those mid-range priced amps that served me well 25 years ago, from companies like Denon, Yamaha, Sony etc - I guess they all just make TV audio systems now?

Thanks, the Audio Dinosaur
 

JWH

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I just got one of the Monoprice 30 watt all tube amp head. It is a great bedroom amp if you get the 1x12 cab. you can stay clean and get dirty at 3 to 4 on the volume and not be to loud. Defiantly quieter than the blues junior. I have heard if you swap out the V1 pre amp tube with a lower gain like 5751 tube or a 12au7 tube you tame the blues jr down to bedroom levels. I wish i could provide the many forum links reviews that are out there. just google. a couple of pre amp tubes would cost around $50. that is cheaper than any new amp. I know you don't want to use a TUNG-SOL 12ax7 there high gain. the tubestore.com has what you need. just trying to help
 

Sparky84

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Thanks, but I wasn’t very clear - I just bought the Blues Junior and like it, and hope to gig with it someday. I can use it in the bedroom at low levels, or I can use the VOX. What I’m struggling with is which bookshelf audio amp/speakers to buy, and how best to play my albums which are now stored in iTunes through a system like that. Thanks.
 

tzd

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Personally, I plug backing tracks from by iPhone, using a Griffin GarageBand Cable (no longer being sold) into my QSC K8 speaker placed next to my amp and it works great.

A similar but cheaper setup would be this speaker:

and this cable to plug your iPhone into the speaker:
 

JWH

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That is a good question that i would like to know myself. I use a cd/dvd player via RCA cable for my CD's( no records) and an optic cable from my TV for my Amazon music app thru a little 500watt Chinese amp that has a 3.5 pin aux connection. i got on wish for less than $100 i think it was $75. they have 100 watt amps is what you would want for book shelf look on wish they got whole little book shelve systems usb your lap top for the itunes. I got a front living room set up so i go a little louder. Got a pair of old school JBL pa speakers. the ones they used to stack 10 rows high on stage for concerts back in the 1970's.
 

mandobandit

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Line 6 mobile pod into iPhone/iPad
Using same app or garage band headphones or earbuds
I have found this the best simple way to practice/jam with backing tracks
 

catawompus

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You might want to look into a Yamaha THR 10 or THR 30. You can hook up your computer and play your audio files and choose the amp model and effects of your choice to play along or play to Youtube tracks. It's also got an AUX-in for your iPad and a headphone socket. So you have the choice of using the speakers or if you want to play at louder volumes you can rip away as loud as you want to using the headphones. I have the THR 10, and in my opinion it's a perfect little practice amp.
 

monstruo_loco

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Orange Micro Terror is my lowest volume practice amp, & usually I’ll use it with a drive or fuzz with the amp set to slight breakup.
Analogman Sunfaces work great controlling the fuzz/OD using the guitar volume knobs, for backing music I’ll use iPhone or iPad with my Bose Soundlink III Bluetooth speaker, able to control both to practice downstairs while my wife is working from home in her upstairs office since the virus hit, keeps peace in the house & my ears from ringing afterwards, am waiting on production of the Fryette PS-2 since it’s been out of stock except for a brief time since the virus & unfortunately that was when I’d just bought an R8, of course.
 

THAWK819

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I don’t have a solution to your CD ripping question; I do the exact same thing you’re doing and just deal with the ITunes quality.

I actually stream my music through my old Line 6 AmpliFi 75 amp, and it’s loud enough that I can play along through my Friedman JJ Jr. at bedroom volume (around 0.7 on the volume dial).

You can find an AmpliFi 75 and use it like a Bluetooth speaker for around $300 or less I’d bet. And it looks like a modern piece of furniture so it won’t be out of place in the room. If you want something smaller that fits on a shelf, the Yamaha THR10ii would probably be loud enough to keep up with your 5 watt Vox amp too. They put surprisingly loud speakers in those things with pretty nice sound quality. I think they retail around $299 for the 10 watt version.

The Yamaha doubles as a recording interface if that sort of thing interests you at all too (since you’re streaming off of an iPad).
 

VoodooBlues

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I plug my iPhone into my Super Reverb with a 1/8” stereo to 1/4” mono cable. I also use the Bluetooth feature on my home surround sound system (150$).
 

efstop

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I would look for a pair of KRK Rokit 5 G4 studio monitors for $350. They are powered and 55W each, all you need is the splitter cable (1/8" stereo male to dual 1/4" male) and hook to the headphone jack of whatever device your music is on.
 

efstop

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Also, one powered speaker with a 1/8" stereo to mono 1/4" cable if you want to reduce cost and space taken up.

Cheapest way to do it:
Buy an AmPlug for ~$50 (I recommend the AC30 version) and use it as a guitar preamp and device to blend your guitar and music device into one output.
Plug iPod/iPad into AUX on the AmPlug, plug the AmPlug into your guitar, run a double male ended 1/8"stereo male cable into your amp. Don't crank the volume on the AmPlug, use the amp's power for that. Line input is fine into a guitar amp.
 

Pop1655

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I would look for a pair of KRK Rokit 5 G4 studio monitors for $350. They are powered and 55W each, all you need is the splitter cable (1/8" stereo male to dual 1/4" male) and hook to the headphone jack of whatever device your music is on.
This.
Direct from source to a pair of powered monitors for stereo.
Powered monitors is a wide open “what do you want” question. I can crank pretty good with KSC 8’s or tone it down with JBL 5’s. I usually run both.
 

cybermgk

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Sparky84

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Cool, thanks for the ideas. Rather than playing my guitar and the backing music through the same amp, I thought I’d go with the old-style hi-FI setup from when I learned to play in the 70s and 80s - just instead of a CD player, I’d have some digital box that holds all my CDs in high-quality format, and then run through an audio amp or powered speakers. That way I can keep the guitar amp signal and backing song separate. If you run them together through the same amp, then turn up the gain on your amp and are playing a song through it, wouldn’t it apply dirt to the song as well? That always puzzled me. (Clearly I know nothing about amps.)

Going to look at a Sony HAP-S1 tomorrow, which holds 500GB of compressed or uncompressed songs. No internal CD ripper, unfortunately, but it’s supposedly easy enough to rip all my CDs onto my desktop computer then transfer them to the Sony. Whether my ears can tell the difference between wav/FLAC files and Apple AACs in my iTunes remains to be seen. But going this route is better for just playing music in those times when I’m not playing along with guitar. And then I can finally get rid of five boxes of CDs.
 

Rocco Crocco

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I run everything through my PC and out of my Kali monitors. Backing track and my guitar come out of the speakers that are 36 inches away from me, so I can keep the overall volume down and still hear everything crystal clear. You need some kind of modeling setup or a load box for your amp so you can run it into your computer if you go this route.
 

Adambomb

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First thing, and maybe the only thing you need, is a pair of studio reference monitors. Buy a set of Focal Alpha 50 monitors, they are $299 each so $600 a pair, but about the best studio reference monitor in that price range. Cheaper I’d go with KRK’s maybe, they sounds pretty good in the mids.

And just get an external hard-drive for your music and you can use with your computer as well. no need for any special Sony 500Gig music storage.
 

KP11520

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I have a VOX AD15Vt amp with 11 models and many onboard effects. Really driven distortion to Fender clean with effects from whisper quiet to pretty loud.

I also have CDs ripped into my PC with an old Klipsch Promedia 2.1 PC speaker setup that plays from quiet to pretty loud as well.

Between the versatility of the Vox and the PC with music ripped and good speakers, I can play along all I want and get all the nuances down. If it's a ripping lead, I also have "Transcribe" software for slowing the music but maintaining pitch to get all the technique down that can only be exacted when slowed. So the music and software and speakers are a perfect match for the amp and hours of moving forward daily if desired.

I'd suggest some accurate and loud PC speakers with 2 desktop speakers and a subwoofer and Transcribe.

Hope this helps.
 

Deftone

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What vox Amp is it? Does it not have am ax-in.

I actually have a perfect option for you. Positive Grid Spark Amp, On sale right now for $239

https://www.positivegrid.com/spark/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA2af-BRDzARIsAIVQUOdShHHZUf1VYyLWEmh4nOCBO3D2rJ2HUqeAjhrxR2L_xpX6dKlK1DEaAn3iEALw_wcB

Modelling amp, with a bunch of amps, pedals and effects, 40 Watt, and can get darn loud. Makes a Great blue tooth player, as a side benefit. It's designed for play along (read about it at the link)
Do you have one? I think I'm on to these.
 


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