Question Advice on New System to Replace iPod please

Xmasmouse

Active member
Oct 6, 2021
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My current music system (NAD amp, Denon CD player, ONKYO tape, Revolution Record Deck and B&W speakers) were bought on Tottenham Court Rd in the 1980s. Since then, I’ve accumulated a 30+ Gb music collection, copied to iTunes in AAC format and synched with an iPod. For years that has been fine, allowing me to play playlists and shuffles through my music system and on the go. However, my iPod has now died and my hearing has deteriorated, particularly in the higher frequencies. So, I need a new system - or at least an iPod replacement.

My ideal system would:
  • Hold all my music collection and provide playlist and shuffle capabilities (incl. “shuffle all”, something I never managed achieved on my iPod)
  • Include frequency tuning to manage my hearing issues
  • Be able to provide music around the house - either via Bluetooth speakers, iPad or other.
  • Preferably be able to use my existing (or converted) AAC format music files.
  • Preferably enable continued use of my existing CD / Tape / Record deck units to maintain a legacy capability.
Unusually, music quality is not a driver here as my hearing won’t appreciate it anyway!

I desperately need advise on the kind of system than could meet my needs please.
 

Dom

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Aug 6, 2011
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I'm sorry to hear that your iPod has died, there are many alternatives, you may want to find something that highlights the high end for your hearing.
 

Xmasmouse

Active member
Oct 6, 2021
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Hi Dom,

Forgive me, I'm a novice here and need more explanation - and perhaps I confused things by mentioning "iPod Replacement".

In the past, I plugged my iPod into my NAD amp to play my music collection at home. I also plug my TV into the same amp - but struggle to hear higher frequencies on the TV too. So I'm trying to understand what kind of unit(s) can hold/play my digital music collection (now the iPod is dead) and also be used for TV audio - both requiring frequency adjustment capability. I'm not too bothered about losing the "on the go" capability of the iPod.

In your suggestion, which unit would hold the music collection?
 
There are many digital music players available to replace the ipod. Most have an inbuilt graphics equaliser to adjust the resultant sound.
However the ability to shuffle all may not be available, perhaps in some this may be possible.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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I would replace the old iPod with a new iPod Touch. It’s the easiest route as you can just carry on as you were (for now) by syncing from your iTunes as usual …


… you can then worry about what kind of system/s to hang off it later. Despite all the other stuff in my signature, my most frequently used kit is iPhone (or iPad Mini) and my Roberts Revival iStream 3 with Bluetooth.
 
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chebby

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My first question has to be where is the Music stored?
In my case, on iTunes on my Mac and synced to an iPod Mini 5 (256GB). Ultimately it’s all backed up (twice) on external USB drives (just in case) with one copy kept in someone else’s house.
 

Xmasmouse

Active member
Oct 6, 2021
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Thanks for the comments so far.

Looking-up the various suggestions:
- Mac Mini - £700 but only 8 to 16 GB storage - so, as said, would need additional storage too.
- iPod Touch - 5" x 2.5", £400 for 256 GB
- iPod Mini 5 (assume you mean iPad) - 8.3" screen, £620 for 256 GB

These ideas were not what I was expecting but they may well be the best way forward. I thought there might be a clever box that could store all my music, provide a software interface for shuffle / playlists and provide graphic equaliser type adjustment - perhaps as a replacement unit for my Amp, for example. I guess not.

Do any of the above provide frequency adjustment capability? If not, is there anything I can add to my system to provide this - or do I need to replace my old NAD amp with something with this feature? (If so, suggestions please - noting that I'd need it to deal with inputs from TV, CD player, Tape Deck, Record Deck plus one of the music storage devices above.)

Of the 3 suggestions, the iPod Touch seems best suited to the music-only task - unless the others bring additional music capabilities.

And as for a "shuffle all" capability, has onyone actually achieved this with any gadget other than an iPod Nano? I've read lots of internet forum messages on the subject with various people claiming it can be done in iTumes but I have never achieved it. (And it seems such a basic requirement!)
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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Thanks for the comments so far.

Looking-up the various suggestions:
- Mac Mini - £700 but only 8 to 16 GB storage - so, as said, would need additional storage too.
- iPod Touch - 5" x 2.5", £400 for 256 GB
- iPod Mini 5 (assume you mean iPad) - 8.3" screen, £620 for 256 GB

These ideas were not what I was expecting but they may well be the best way forward. I thought there might be a clever box that could store all my music, provide a software interface for shuffle / playlists and provide graphic equaliser type adjustment - perhaps as a replacement unit for my Amp, for example. I guess not.

Do any of the above provide frequency adjustment capability? If not, is there anything I can add to my system to provide this - or do I need to replace my old NAD amp with something with this feature? (If so, suggestions please - noting that I'd need it to deal with inputs from TV, CD player, Tape Deck, Record Deck plus one of the music storage devices above.)

Of the 3 suggestions, the iPod Touch seems best suited to the music-only task - unless the others bring additional music capabilities.

And as for a "shuffle all" capability, has onyone actually achieved this with any gadget other than an iPod Nano? I've read lots of internet forum messages on the subject with various people claiming it can be done in iTumes but I have never achieved it. (And it seems such a basic requirement!)
The £700 Mac Mini has 256GB of SSD storage built-in and not 8Gb - 16GB as you stated above.

I have just purchased an iPad Mini 5 (2019) 256GB wifi only model from John Lewis for £499 in the last few days. (It is the new 2021 model that costs £620 for the same storage.)


As you can see the 2019 256GB model is still available but i’d buy soon before all the old stock has gone.
 
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RobGardner

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Jul 22, 2008
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What about a Sonos system with the music library held on an inexpensive NAS drive? I have a system like this at my home abroad running on a very old (10 + years old if not older) WD world book (I think) double disc NAS that does pretty well everything you are after. The library is all Apple files and it all works wonderfully. The only thing I’m not sure of is the play list thing as I never use them. It won’t take more than a few minutes research to find out if it can do this. I can tell you it will go into a Genius type mode once you have finished listening to whatever music you started listening to. You add to the system bit by bit, and you could either buy a Sonos amp or a streaming unit for your existing hifi. It’s not top end hifi but it suits casual listening is highly flexible and the system is solid as a rock. It will also read you the weather forecast, tell the time and order pizza. It’s never given me any problems unlike my high end hifi at home using a sophisticated NAS thats a challenge to put right when the settings go awol.
 
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Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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What about a Sonos system with the music library held on an inexpensive NAS drive? I have a system like this at my home abroad running on a very old (10 + years old if not older) WD world book (I think) double disc NAS that does pretty well everything you are after. The library is all Apple files and it all works wonderfully. The only thing I’m not sure of is the play list thing as I never use them. It won’t take more than a few minutes research to find out if it can do this. I can tell you it will go into a Genius type mode once you have finished listening to whatever music you started listening to. You add to the system bit by bit, and you could either buy a Sonos amp or a streaming unit for your existing hifi. It’s not top end hifi but it suits casual listening is highly flexible and the system is solid as a rock. It will also read you the weather forecast, tell the time and order pizza. It’s never given me any problems unlike my high end hifi at home using a sophisticated NAS thats a challenge to put right when the settings go awol.
He has already got an amp and just needs a new music source for his music files which are only c. 30 GB. You could get that on a 64GB mini sd card for a tenner! Personally I would repurpose an old phone....
 
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Xmasmouse

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Oct 6, 2021
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Thanks Rob / Tinman.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an old phone to repurpose - so I guess I don’t have the mini sd card option. I do have a iPad that is now becoming old, though, so I could consider buying a new iPad and repurposing the old for music only.
 
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shipworm-archaism-recede

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Nov 29, 2021
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Regarding the 'frequency adjustment capability', are you aware of Apple's Headphone Accommodations feature that allows you to download a custom audiogram so that playback to the headphones adjusts to best match your hearing loss? I do realise that this wasn't explicitly what you were asking for, but I thought it worth mentioning in case you hadn't come across it.

I would solve your problem with a combination of an Apple TV 4K and iTunes Match. This would put your music library on iCloud and allow you to stream it from any Apple device you own including from the Apple TV.

Your existing TV audio connection would still work.

AirPlay would allow you to do your multi-room audio.

You would also be able to use Apple Music for streaming new music.

You will have a great video streamer to use too.

You would be able to use some Apple earphones/headphones to help with your hearing loss whilst others enjoy the speakers.
 
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Xmasmouse

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Oct 6, 2021
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Hi, now there are some interesting suggestions.

I hadn't investigated iTunes Match because it is a subscription service - but now I see it is just £22 per year, it is definitely of interest. But what devices could I then play the music on? I have 2 iPads but the music quality is pretty poor on these. For better quality, I could plug one into my hifi in the lounge but what about around the house? I do have 2 Echo Dots: could they play from iTunes Match? (I was quite annoyed to recently discover that you can only play music held on an iPad (ie. downloaded to the standard iPad Music app) through one Echo Dot at a time. I understand that streaming services like Amazon Music can be played to both Echo Dots at the same time - but I'm not interested in such a subscription. Any idea if iTunes Match could be played to both?

Why do you advise Apple TV 4K as well? How does that contribute to my issue?

PS: My music collection includes some album tracks transferred from cassette (via Audacity software) to AAC files in iTunes. How would iTunes Match deal with them? Would they still be available to play from iCloud?
 

Edbostan

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Aug 5, 2021
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What about a Sonos system with the music library held on an inexpensive NAS drive? I have a system like this at my home abroad running on a very old (10 + years old if not older) WD world book (I think) double disc NAS that does pretty well everything you are after. The library is all Apple files and it all works wonderfully. The only thing I’m not sure of is the play list thing as I never use them. It won’t take more than a few minutes research to find out if it can do this. I can tell you it will go into a Genius type mode once you have finished listening to whatever music you started listening to. You add to the system bit by bit, and you could either buy a Sonos amp or a streaming unit for your existing hifi. It’s not top end hifi but it suits casual listening is highly flexible and the system is solid as a rock. It will also read you the weather forecast, tell the time and order pizza. It’s never given me any problems unlike my high end hifi at home using a sophisticated NAS thats a challenge to put right when the settings go awol.
I followed that route with a Western Digital MyBookLive Duo. I ripped my cds to Apple Lossless files and used a Sonos Bridge and Connect plugged into my amp.
 

shipworm-archaism-recede

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Nov 29, 2021
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But what devices could I then play the music on?
Any Apple device that can run the Apple Music app and supports AirPlay. I don't know if your iPads will. It depends on the iOS version they can run.
For better quality, I could plug one into my hifi in the lounge but what about around the house? I do have 2 Echo Dots: could they play from iTunes Match? (I was quite annoyed to recently discover that you can only play music held on an iPad (ie. downloaded to the standard iPad Music app) through one Echo Dot at a time.
Echo's don't support AirPlay AFAIK, so no they wouldn't be part of the scheme I suggest. If you want speakers in other rooms, then you either need HomePod Minis, third-party speakers that support AirPlay (there are many) or streamers that will put AirPlay audio out on standard analogue equipment you may already have in those rooms (Arylic etc). Most of these options are more expensive than Echo dots, but I'm recommending this route for convenience.
Why do you advise Apple TV 4K as well? How does that contribute to my issue?
It turns your TV into an iPod with a massive screen that you can operate from your sofa. It streams Apple Music (your iTunes library and iTunes Match content by definition) from iCloud into your TV. Your TV takes the audio part of that into your Hi-Fi. It is way more convenient to use than an iPod plugged into a dock attached to your Hi-Fi. It is also quite modestly priced at £169.

This is what I do and why I'm recommending it.
PS: My music collection includes some album tracks transferred from cassette (via Audacity software) to AAC files in iTunes. How would iTunes Match deal with them? Would they still be available to play from iCloud?
Not sure. In theory, any track that Apple can't get a match for in it's catalogue is copied up to the cloud. I've never tried it with cassette recordings. I know that quite a few of the CDs I have ripped aren't in Apple's library and it copied those to my library in the cloud.
 

Xmasmouse

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Oct 6, 2021
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Thanks for all the comments: although I’m not familiar with many of the products, the suggestions are definitely giving my research some direction!

When Rob first suggested a Sonos system + NAS drive, neither term meant anything to me but I have now spent that last hour researching them and, I agree that the Sonos system does look impressive. But how could to solve my issue? As a reminder:

I simply want to be able to play my existing music collection (currently held in iTunes) through my rather old hifi and around the house – preferably with full shuffle capability. My previous solution used an iPod: it held all my music and plugged in to my hifi via a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable to my amp. The “around the house” solution was rather primitive: a portable iPod docking speaker. Now my iPod has died, I need an alternative.

I do have an old iPad with enough storage to hold my music – so it could use the iPad Apple Music app to play through my hifi in the same way but I’m not sure what the “around the house” solution could be: this iPad only runs iOS 12.5.5 which is not AirPlay compatible. I was also given 2 Echo Dots for Christmas but, with a Bluetooth connection, only one can play at a time – although I guess that still gives the same capability as my old iPod solution.

Using iTunes Match to put my library in the Cloud is interesting: I assume I could again play my music via my old iPad connected to my hifi. But I’d still need another iCloud compatible device to play around the house.

So, back to a Sonos system + NAS drive: if I loaded my music collection onto a NAS drive, how would I connect that to my hifi? Also, I see that the Sonos system is controlled by an app: would I put that on the NAS drive too, or on my iPad? Or perhaps I should forget the NAS drive bit and just consider a Sonos speaker (eg. a “Roam” at £179) as my “around the house” solution for either configurations above?

Lastly, Apple TV 4K: although the price is reasonable and it obviously brings a lot of extras, am I right to think that all it is doing for my issue is to allow me to play iTunes music through my hifi - which is something I can do that with my simple iPad cable connection to my amp. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding something?
 

shipworm-archaism-recede

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Nov 29, 2021
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When you first started out with your iPod, mobility and connectivity was physical. You synced your iTunes library to the iPod with a wire and moved the iPod around to connect by wire to other systems (headphones, docks, Hi-Fi). You can carry on with that method, but technology has moved on.

The Apple way of doing it these days uses AirPlay on your network instead of wires. This brings multi-room audio and headphones (with hearing correction) into the picture in one solution. It is much more flexible and convenient because you don't need wires, but it is difficult to appreciate just how much more convenient this is until you experience it.

You get audio in various rooms by choosing AirPlay-compatible devices as output destinations when you play music from a source (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or HomePod). They just pop up on the source device user interface as optional destination options, there is no work to do to make this happen. Newer Hi-Fi systems and TVs often support AirPlay directly, but existing incompatible equipment (like your TV and Hi-Fi) may be integrated using streamers.

Where your music library is stored is a separate issue. Some people love the idea of having all their media stored locally on NAS. Others prefer to use the cloud and/or streaming services. iTunes Match is just a way to access audio unavailable on Apple's streaming service from the cloud. FWIW, I choose to use cloud services. Even though I know how to do it, I just don't want the expense and hassle of looking after home IT. That's just my preference.

The Apple TV is just the best way of adding a streamer to your TV and Hi Fi whilst turning your TV into a playback control device at the same time.

There are plenty of other ways to do what you want besides Apple's, but I suggest AirPlay would be the path of least resistance to address the issues raised in your original post given the equipment you already have and investment in Apple's music library solution. It would mean you need other speakers to replace the Echo dots, but without being flippant, that might be a good thing.

For simplicity, a stereo pair of HomePod Minis and some AirPods might be worth trying. You'll know whether or not the AirPlay way is for you or not within in an hour or two, so buy them with the option to return if you don't like it. The AirPods might enhance your enjoyment of music given your hearing impairment no matter what final solution you choose.

Good luck with your continued research!
 

RobGardner

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Jul 22, 2008
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I agree With above. Just a few more thoughts…
If you are used to unplugging your source in one room and plugging it in in another, then you can just carry on doing this with your iPad Using Apple Music.
You could get a small portable speaker that connects to your iPad by bluetooth and just carry it around from room to room as you move around, the success of this will depend on just how good a Bluetooth connection you can establish. I have a little ultimate ears boom box which does this quite nicely, goes loud sounds good and cost me under £60.
Amazon echo dots up to gen 3 really aren’t very good for music, the latest bigger version might be better, but I have yet to own one So I too wouldn’t bother going down this route unless you get some bigger Echo speakers. Alexa voice control is one of the best things about my Sonos, but she only plays very nicely with Amazon music. To get at music from my nas or Apple Music I have to use my iPad.
You could consider apple home pod as they do sound good, are voice controlled, Siri will find your Apple Music and I am presuming your older iPad would also control them. It’s Apple kit so will work nicely but you will be locked in to Apple.
A current Apple TV may not be any good for connecting to your existing hifi as a streaming end point as it only has an hdmi connection. An older Apple TV has an optical out connection so you could maybe get a second hand one and give that a try as an end point If your amp has an optical in. I guess a used Apple TV and optical cable would cost about £30 - £40 .
If your iPad will run the required app, then any 1080p + Apple TV would enable your TV as a smart speaker and as a smart TV, (Presumably it’s a dumb TV set?) .
If you have an Apple store near you or can get to one, then take you iPad in and confirm what in the current range you can connect it up to. The staff in the stores are generally very helpful And there’s no point buying anything new if your iPad becomes the weakest link and won’t work as a control point for it, unless your budget stretches that far.
Personally, having Sonos kit I can say it works, it plays just about anything and sounds ok. I have it in my family home so only use it on rare visits but for casual listening it’s brilliant.
The Ikea version is cheaper shares most parts and you could use your Echo dots to add voicecontrol. Subject to what I said above.
The thing is you will have to commit to one world of streaming or another as there is no universal service. The closest so far for me is Sonos although at my own home I use Roon but this only likes fairly expensive kit and doesn’t go near Apple.
Maybe the earbuds are the best idea as you can take them anywhere and always hear music!
 

Xmasmouse

Active member
Oct 6, 2021
7
1
25
Thanks so much for the various suggestions: really useful.

I have now put my music collection in the Cloud via iTunes Match and that seems to have been successful - even with albums and tracks I copied from vinyl or cassette. For some reason, there are a few albums downloaded to iTunes from CDs that show as "Matched" in my iTunes listing but don't appear in the Albums listing on my iPad - even though the tracks on these albums do seem to be searchable: needs further investigation!

So, now I can access my full music collection from 2 separate iPads and I'm happy to use the older iPad to plug-in to my hifi when listening in the lounge: all good. Now I just need to find a portable speaker (or two) to play this music around the house - which is fully compatible with an iPad source.

In-line with most advice, I've abandoned my two Echo Dots as they only seemed suited to a full streaming service. Now I need to choose a replacement. Ideally, I like to find a rechargable speaker than doesn't have to be plugged into the mains all the time - and preferably for under £100. (Remember, due to my poor hearing, music quality is not the driver here!)

Speaker optioned mentioned so far are:
1/ Ultimate Ears Boom Box - although I can't find any in the "under £60" price range mentioned. Does this work OK with the iPad Music App?
2/ Sonos Speakers: also not clear to me (from previous comments) if these work OK with the iPad Music App?
3/ Apple Home Pod mini (£89) - I suppose that must be fully compatible: any comments?
4/ Other ideas?

I guess some speakers link by Bluetooth and others by AirPlay: can someone tell me the pros and cons of each?

Thanks again to all contributors.
 

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
1,379
813
2,070
Thanks so much for the various suggestions: really useful.

I have now put my music collection in the Cloud via iTunes Match and that seems to have been successful - even with albums and tracks I copied from vinyl or cassette. For some reason, there are a few albums downloaded to iTunes from CDs that show as "Matched" in my iTunes listing but don't appear in the Albums listing on my iPad - even though the tracks on these albums do seem to be searchable: needs further investigation!

So, now I can access my full music collection from 2 separate iPads and I'm happy to use the older iPad to plug-in to my hifi when listening in the lounge: all good. Now I just need to find a portable speaker (or two) to play this music around the house - which is fully compatible with an iPad source.

In-line with most advice, I've abandoned my two Echo Dots as they only seemed suited to a full streaming service. Now I need to choose a replacement. Ideally, I like to find a rechargable speaker than doesn't have to be plugged into the mains all the time - and preferably for under £100. (Remember, due to my poor hearing, music quality is not the driver here!)

Speaker optioned mentioned so far are:
1/ Ultimate Ears Boom Box - although I can't find any in the "under £60" price range mentioned. Does this work OK with the iPad Music App?
2/ Sonos Speakers: also not clear to me (from previous comments) if these work OK with the iPad Music App?
3/ Apple Home Pod mini (£89) - I suppose that must be fully compatible: any comments?
4/ Other ideas?

I guess some speakers link by Bluetooth and others by AirPlay: can someone tell me the pros and cons of each?

Thanks again to all contributors.
The advantage of Airplay is it allows full lossless CD quality. Bluetooth is lossy AAC for Apple devices.
Here are some Airplay suggestions...

 

shipworm-archaism-recede

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2021
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Bluetooth is one speaker at a time. Airplay is any collection of speakers simultaneously and synchronised. In addition, you have distance limitations with Bluetooth that you don’t get with airplay which works over Wi-Fi.

I have one Bose Bluetooth speaker for travel, but in the house the Apple AirPod Minis are great especially if you use them in stereo pairs. They do have to be plugged into mains power all the time though.

Like I suggested previously, buy them from Amazon or similar to try them. You can send them back if they don’t suit you.
 

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