well one difficult thing will be finding something with a radio frequency remote vs an infrared remote (for the amp and CD player since both will be hidden) ... if your gear is obscured from view it will also be out of line of sight for an infrared remote signal
Consider tubes if you are going to use an Ipod. I think you will find the sound much richer.
I'll offer one approach:
Small omnis or "near omnis" with little to no bass like those from Ohm, Mirage, Gallo. or even Sunfire (the CRM is dipole, but maybe worth thinking about, anyway). The wide dispersion should help mitigate the irregular placement and the lack of bass will mitigate any undesireable low frequency room effects attendent to the odd positioning. Add a small sub to fill out the bandwidth.
Good approach from Marty.
Ipod is OK as a source but limited to lossy compressed file formats usually in that higher res files require more digital storage/disk space.
If you have a suitable computer already, going the music server route with a Logitech Squeezebox wireless network player would be an effective way to get good sound and flexibility without having to keep a CD or other player in close proximity to the amp.
Using a powered sub with the speakers mentioned will also open up a lot of possibilities in regards to using smaller or less powerful tube or SS amplifiers and still getting good results.
The Apple Airport Express runs on wifi, so you should be able to connect to it, even under a couch. You can then stream from your Mac, iTouch, iPad or iPhone through it, to the amplifier. I have all my music in Apple Lossless, and it sounds every bit as good as CD.
The Peachtree Nova would make a good amp, with a built-in quality DAC, and tube pre-amp stage to warm up the digital content. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation with any amp under a couch. That kind of scares me.
As for speakers, I would look at the Anthony Gallo Reference Stradas. Great write-up in 6moons, and they are designed to work well on, or very near a wall. Paradigm Signature S1 v3, or Mirage OMD-5s would also be a good bet. I would mate with a sub of course. There are some that fit under a couch. Soundmatters makes one, Sunfire does and Im sure others do as well.
One more thought. If you have a coffee table by the couch, you could run a small iPod dock amplifier. In my office, I use a ROTH MC4 with Mirage OMD-5s and a Mirage Prestige S8 sub. It's small, nice looking, and with the tube pre/solid amp...it sounds amazing.
Or maybe some Active speakers like ADM 9T. I'm just not excited about an amp under a couch...that spells trouble. :-)
I second the idea of using an Apple Airport express to stream music from your computer, if that is an option. If you use iTunes, she can use her iPod or iPhone as a remote to control the music selection. This is the best solution because you can access your entire music collection, in lossless format, and keep the iPod in your pocket to act as a WiFi remote (no IR problem).
If this is really just so your wife can play music straight from the iPod/Phone, then you should pick up the Wadia iTransport, which I believe is still the only way of bypassing the iPod's analog section. There are several for sale her on A'gon for as low as $200.
Next, get a small outboard DAC to hook up to the transport (or Airport Express if you go that route). I've seen CA DACmagics on A'gon for around $300, and PS Link III's for around $500. If you get the Wadia iTransport, it would look (and likely sound) great on top of a Centrance Dac Mini -- but the one without the headphone amp won't be out until 2Q2011 (http://centrance.com/products/dacmini/)
Another possible neat idea is to get a DAC that can be used as a digital-source preamp. Some people are saying the $299 Emotiva XDA-1 will be one of the bargains of the century (http://emotiva.com/xda1.shtm). Other people hate everything about Emotiva. It looks like a pretty enticing deal, though. You can't beat the price, the build quality and design looks good, and it comes with a 30-day trial period to see if you like it in your home. Also, it's got one of the nicest remotes I've seen, which your wife might like.
I don't even know where to start with amps and speakers. I've got a pair of Linn Katan bookshelf speakers that I reallly like a lot, and you can find good deals on those, as well (the Majik 109's are the replacement model). However, the Katans are rear ported, so you need some room behind them (although I've heard Linn makes a special foam plug for the ports that can convert the speaker to a sealed design, although I've never heard it. You can always add a sub later to any speakers to pump up the bass if you like.
If you are really going to put the amp under the couch and there isn't much air circulation, you should give serious consideration to Class-D amps or similar switching amp technologies, which run much cooler. If you were to get Linn speakers, you might consider something like the used Linn C5100 Chakra amp that's for sale here on A'gon for $1495 (with Linn's proprietary switching technology). That's a 5-channel amp, but then you could buy Aktiv cards and run your 2-channel system in full bi-amped Aktiv mode, which should sound amazing. The amp has a nice small profile and runs cool. (But I still think you are asking for trouble from the dust.)
You could put that whole system together for well under $4k
as i can kindda see the current system there which everyone hates and the remote control works no probs what so ever a IR
denon 3805 my old recever, , pinnacle BD500 towers , belkin ipod dock
and those speakers are front ported iYikes!
yes i am considering tubes tried the idecco it hums and does not work properly with iphone 4, trying out primaluna prolouge 1
im going for an audition of the gallo on friday , but hate tiny speakers, but i think i have discounted all bookshelfs as they all seem to be rear ported. but for a time i did consider dynaaudioexcite, psb b6, swan 2.2 amd sierra 1, but heard that bookshelfs need a lot of space behind them , i even tried magnepans CCW but she hated the look. i do have a bunch of subs lying around and currently use the polk micro 2000 for bass.
BBY keeps on telling me the sonus system is the way to go as the logitech are not popular for a reason. but i keep on hearing the squeezebox name popping up.
good show on refering the stradas i saw them but balked at then when i first saw them, i was caught up with box speakers as i had a horrendous sounding bose once upon a time, it removed itself back to the box only a year ago. Also i am thinking of xchanging my idecco i was going to return the unit as it kept humming and didnt work on the iphone 4 at all. but that review tends to state that the strada needs a non tube amp. the reviews seem to make me give the gallo another chance well at least hearing them.
good on the airport express i just got one today to extend the range of my time capsule i never even knew i could use the airport for that purpose. after all this suggestions im really looking forward to checking out the strada and the wadia, as for amps the idecco seems to suit the bill, but im having a bad feel fo rit at the moment as they seem to have technical difficulites . humming and compatibility issues.
Sonos is a great system (I have 7 stations throughout my home and use 1 or more every day), and it might solve your remote control and access issues, but your speaker placement is the one that's going to make or break the sound. If you're listening position is on the sofa with the speakers beside you - good luck. Full range omnis are probably your best bet. Maybe a used pair of the Gallo 3.x floorstanders (+/- 300 degree dispersion through much of their bandwidth) or the smaller Ohm or Mirage floorstanders would make sense. I use Ohm 100s (albeit with subs in a more traditional positioning scheme) and can attest that they are quite good.