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Need advice on media players, Which one to get?
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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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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