$500 mini system suggestions, Bose need not apply

Hello all. A friend of mine is a Speech Pathologist. She works with children and adults with mental and physical disabilities. Recently, she attended a conference on Music Therapy. The main speaker adamantly suggested using the Bose Wave radio/CD and "nothing" else. Upon hearing this, I immediately talked her out of it; reasons why need not be expanded upon here at the 'gon. Anyhow, I'm not too familiar with the currently available mini systems, but recall that Denon, JVC, etc, have produced good ones in the past. The key here is clean sound. A lot of her patients are autistic. She warned me that distorted sound can sometimes upset these special patients. Her main request is for clean, full sonics. I was thinking a decent frequency response would be nice as well (40hz or 50hz - 20khz), perhaps a sat/sub type system, source only needing to be CD playback. Her office therapy room is about 15' x 7'. Since she was originally willing to spend $500 on the Wave, please try to keep suggestions in/under that price range. Also, she needs receipts and a warranty for business purposes, so please suggest equipment she can purchase new. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your support.
Get the Denon mini system (forget which model) or the Teac Reference series. Both look classy and sound great. Forget about Bose.
Harman Kardon receiver $188 at www.harmanaudio.com and some Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 for $328. This will beat mini systems.
Denon is dead sounding without PRAT but is calming. Same for JVS FS-7000 $300 at Tweeters, better PRAT.
The Denon is pretty good and looks good. Yamaha Pianocraft looks very nice and sounds good. There are also a couple of Onkyo minisystems that sound good, one mentioned by John Marks in his Stereophile column a few months ago. Those are the three brands that I would look at now. I have some of the TEAC's and they are very good, but I'm not sure they are still available, and you should avoid their 3 cd changer. Minisystems don't really go down to 40 or 50hz, but the good ones with loudness contours do give a satisfying bass response for what they are.
I have two thoughts.

1) I seriously think she should spend more than $500 if this equipment she is getting is part of her therapy repertoire. A minisystem just won't do. The distortion and bumped frequency range inherent in minisystemss will not be suitable.

2) The Bose might not sound that great, but I don't think you need a high resolution hifi here either. You just need a system with a full and relaxing/smooth sound plus ease of use. The lack of resolution actually works in favor of the Bose for therapeutic purposes as well. I can see where the musical therapy speaker is coming from.

The last thing you want is a system that sounds "hifi" since hifi=analytical=anti-relaxation=anti-therapeutic.
Used NAD L-40 and Axiom speakers will easily fit under $500.
A lot of minisystems aren't really much more than gussied-up boom boxes. If you want a good, low-distortion system, here's what I'd recommend:

Receiver: Sony STR-DE185 ($150) or Onkyo TX-8211 ($200)

Speakers: PSB Alpha B ($250) or Paradigm Titan ($220)

DVD Player: Pioneer DV-363-K ($100) or Sony DVP-NS325 ($100)

A system like this will have much lower distortion than any minisystem out there. (Speaker prices are list; other prices I pulled from Crutchfield.)
I would think the Wave would be quite appropriate, but I'd defer to others in her field instead of audiophiles.
How about a Good Bose system? Everybody knows they make the best stereo equipment in the world!

Thanks for all the posts so far. Great suggestions all around. Perhaps in her therapeutic situation, small room, the Bose isn't as bad as I first speculated. It was professionally recommended. I just hate to see someone spend so much for so little - low cost in parts, high cost in marketing. However, I guess she can write this off as a business expense...
What about the Cambridge SoundWorks "SoundWorks" 730 Radio priced at $249.99? The 730 CD version is expected sometime in September. The comments below were copied from their web site. I have the Cambridge Model 88 radio in my office and it works great.

"It's far and away the best table radio we've ever heard, and we've tried all the serious contenders..." -CNET

This is the radio you’ve been waiting for. Not since our revolutionary Model 88 by Henry Kloss has there been such a small, simple, great-sounding audio product. The SoundWorks 730 Radio is so right that we think it will change how the world listens to music. Just a little bigger than a cigar box, it sounds better than many component stereos we have heard.

It’s all about the speakers. The SoundWorks 730 uses high-performance speakers, contoured amplifiers and a built-in powered subwoofer to reproduce music with remarkable accuracy. The sound is rich, realistic and warm. The speakers are designed to disperse the music throughout the room for truly "out of the box sound." If you were to listen to the SoundWorks Radio blindfolded, you’d probably think it was a stereo system with speakers six feet apart. It simply sounds much bigger than it looks.

The only radio with a built-in subwoofer. You just won’t believe the bass that comes out of the SoundWorks 730! Over half of the radio’s cabinet is taken up by a long-throw subwoofer. In our initial demonstrations, people kept looking under the table for a hidden subwoofer.

The truth is in the listening. The SoundWorks 730 radio sounds amazing. Rich, natural, room-filling sound – including great bass. We’ve never heard a table radio we think sounds better.

But don’t believe us. Listen in your own home for 45 days, on your favorite FM stations. Compare it to other radios – or to component stereo systems. If you don’t love it, return it for a full refund. There’s virtually no risk.

Built-in powered subwoofer
32-character display shows radio station information (RDS)
Auxiliary input for CD or MP3 player
Dual alarms that wake to tone or music
Wide-dispersion speaker system for "out of the box"sound
Separate bass and treble controls
Ultra-compact remote control
Available in black or ivory

"It's far and away the best table radio we've ever heard, and we've tried all the serious contenders...We performed a brief comparison test with the 730 and a well-known table-radio competitor, and the 730's more full-bodied sound was superior." -CNET

"Who cares if the Cambridge SoundWorks 730 Radio ($250) doesn't have a built-in audio CD or cassette player and can't pick up Internet stations? When it comes to warm, rich sounds, this deceptively high-tech rig can't be beat, thanks to its marvelous speakers and a built-in powered subwoofer that takes up nearly half of the cigar-box-size cabinet. And if you buy it at www.hifi.com, there's a 45-day money-back guarantee, too." -Entertainment Weekly

"a bargain-priced ($250) table radio -- bargain, that is, relative to the Wave's audacious, inflexible sticker price -- with dazzling features whose performance stands up to contemporary table radios...It's like a one-piece minisystem...the SoundWorks Radio 730 can be a little music powerhouse next to your bed or in your office or kitchen...it's a worthy rival to the Bose Wave for $100 less." -The Hartford Courant

"It's a radio with stereo-system capabilities..." -Gannett News Service.

DIMENSIONS 4 15/16" H X 14" W X 9 7/8" D
Teac Reference gear. Audition if possible.
For what it's worth Consumer Reports has recently rated both table radios and minisystems. I wouldn't trust their ratings of speaker systems, but for this kind of stuff they're more reliable (or maybe I'm less finicky).

Among table radios, top sound went to the Tivoli Model 2. (The Model 1, by contrast, scored lowest.) Other contenders were the Wave, Cambridge, and the BA Receptor.

A $150 Philips minisystem took top honors (and I've heard good things about it elsewhere, too). Unfortunately, the Denon and Onkyo systems, which are probably the best technically, weren't rated.
Does it have to be portable, coz for this important professional cause, you might want to go with a better sounding gear for more money if possible. Brain scientist can measure positive effects of good music, and to get this therapeutic effect, one has to go with something better than a portable system. Just thought that such an important cause deserves the best we can give it. You can also chat live on audioasylum.com for advices. Good luck with a rewarding venture.
Check out the Cambridge SoundWorks "SoundWorks" Radio CD 740 priced at $399. A CD version should be available shortly. The web site is:

The Denon Mini System (M30 ?) is nice and may also work. cheers..
Hello all. Again, thanks for all the posts. I ended up finding a good package deal on a NAD L-40 with PSB speakers for her. I had a couple runs of Harmonic Technology Melodyline sitting around, so I let her have them to complete the setup.