Help Reform another Clueless Yuppie

Perhaps I shouldn't have volunteered but a friend of a friend has just moved into a new apartment and asked me to help her with a stereo, "home theatre" and multi room music.

I shuddered at the thought of counseling another non enthusiast wanting Bose speakers, flat plasma TVs and silly touch panels in every room, mainly concerned that the speakers were small and wires were hidden.

I was relieved, however, when she said she would consider higher end equipment for the sitting room / TV area. Further good news: she doesnt need a tuner, will tolerate a single disc changer, and wants only remote volume controls in the bedrooms. Can you help me spend her money? I dont have a budget yet but I would guess about $15-20 + K shouldnt be a problem.

1) What components or configuration would you suggest for a SIMPLE, bulletproof, core system that could also function as a home theatre front end using a "virtual center channel".

2) For multi room, what "hidden" or at least discreet speakers would be best? Are Gallo worth a look? And what about subs - she wants to "rock out" at parties.

3) What is the easiest way to remotely adjust volume in the bedroom etc, without getting into the silliness or complexity of changing sources etc. Again, SIMPLE is better. She does not want multiple remotes etc.

Given that all speakers must be "hidden" I am hoping to sneak in a pair of Maggie 1.6s (at least they dont look like speakers), and I was wondering if a Sony 9000 might be convenient to play DVDs, SACDs and CDs. Maybe Bryston power amps for power and reliability? And plasmas are not my cup of tea -- maybe the big Sony HD 16:9 tube and she can move her two plasmas into the bedrooms?

I realize this is a big question and there are many potentially long answers but any and all ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You.
Never mind the basic, building block system. You've got a basic, building block audiofool wife here. Propose quickly!
Definitely propose. Then go Linn, Linn, Linn. It's discreet, bulletproof, sounds great, never fatigues, looks good and has a great remote system. And it can be done reasonably. Use the LK series amps, a Wakonda preamp and whatever speakers she likes. If you concentrate the budget on a 2 channel multiroom, you can spend more on a single cdp, like a Genki, which will then sound fabulous in all the rooms. Do the HT separately; HT and 2 channel are different animals, and getting a good combined system takes a lot of money, in my opinion. If the budget intrudes, reduce the remote Knekts, which are pricey, and go with a simple infrared remote sensor-repeater. I have a system like this, more or less, and I love it. About $8k for stereo in three rooms, including shielded Transparent inwall speaker cable and a small Tice Solo power conditioner (on a dedicated circuit). I have no keypads at all, just extra remotes, which I keep in a drawer or on a bookshelf. No cheesey volume controllers to mess up the sound or drain the wallet, but I do give up the displays that keypads provide. But please talk her out of inwall speakers. Decent minimonitors on good stands can be decorator-friendly and generally smoke anything built into the wall.
If you saw this girl, you would definitely propose!

Thanks for the suggestions so far -- Linn could be an excellent idea for the multi room amps and stuff with a simple, low cheeze whiz factor. Any ideas on the Gallos?

I would still like to assemble a slightly higher end 2 channel system with TV in the smaller room.

(Not necessarily, full home theatre with 5.1, more like a good 2 channel with a big TV in a cabinet in between and behind the speakers.)

Any and all ideas for the dreaded "please hide the wires and speakers" system are welcome!
Wha part of the country are you in?We could reccomend sources and installers we know in our area since this is obviously somehting you two will whip together on a weekend.
Definitely consider the Gallos. The new Due' model is pretty amazing (have you heard it?) and the Micros and their sub sound much better than they have a right to. All of them do a disappearing act sonically, and I personally think they're very attractive. Good luck.
Perhaps Thiel speakers. Perhaps TacT room correction.
Yes, Thiels have been recommended as well. I understand they mount in wall with their own baffles which makes sense.

I am now in NYC, for dealers who have asked.

Any more "hide the speakers and wires and I only want one remote ideas" please?
Caution: Thiel and Linn stuff is notoriously bright. I would have her audition first.
Tweeters etc sells a one-for-all remote with RF NOT infr-red technology $99.99 P/N URC9800. Controls up to 8 devices.
Well, here is some interesting news -- we went for an audition to a local dealer and my "clueless" friend fell in love with a Linn CD player, Spectral amps and Wilson WATT/Puppy Series VII.

Now she is cursing my name for exposing her to a new expensive hobby!