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A Little Office Music

Information on various office stereos.


Can't get away from the office? Tied to the desk for the weekend? Consider making your surroundings less formidable by adding music. Office stereos fall into four categories:

* A personal stereo system -- such as a Sony Walkman -- plays through headphones. Good headphones sound fine and won't disturb anyone around you, but the cord restricts your movement, and you may not hear the phone ring.

* A boom box is fine for listening to news or a ball game, but not to music; the sound quality is poor.

* Powered speakers connect to a personal stereo unit through a headphone jack. They save space because the amplifier is built into the speaker cabinet. Forget about the small speakers sold by Japanese companies for $50 to $150; they don't sound any better than a boom box. Good amplified speakers, such as the Bose RoomMate II and Acoustic Research (AR) Powered Partners, cost about $300 a pair and sound far better than any boom box. Designed to be left on at all times, the Bose lacks a power switch and volume control. The more flexible AR has both.

* Conventional home stereo components offer the best sound for the price, if you have sufficient shelf space. A decent AM/FM receiver costs about $100; a CD player and a tape deck add $100 to $150 more each. The most important components are the speakers, which need to be compact yet high quality. Good speakers for less than $200 are hard to find. The Pinnacle Loudspeakers PN5+ and Mini-Advent (both about $170 a pair) boast true high-fidelity sound in small cabinets. I prefer the Pinnacle on most classical music, the Advent on pop music. The more modest Pinnacle PN2+ ($130) isn't quite as good, but will fit in narrower shelves. For tight spaces and budgets, the Radio Shack Minimus-7 ($100, often on sale for $60) doesn't qualify as high fidelity, but it still beats boom boxes.

-- Cary Lu

Last updated: Sep 1, 1990

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