advice on sound-effects board for a Halloween costume?

Greetings All !

First-time poster / newb here.

I've sort of gotten "into" making elaborate Halloween costumes each year. And in past years, I've tried to build small speaker systems into my costumes and rig them up to at least play certain movie soundtrack music. But I stayed clear of micro-controller-based solutions because problem-solving how to build some of my costumes was / is time-consuming enough without me having to climb huge learning curves of other technologies. And, in those past years, my two big problems were: fitting whatever player device into my costume (and concealing it)...and getting some decent volume out of cheap speakers when everything's battery-operated.

Well, this year promises those same challenges, but the scope of this year's project is a bit different:

I would like to have at my "fingertips" buttons that will trigger the playing of 4 or 5 sound-effects. The sound-effects don't have to be of super high quality. They will be animal sounds (which I'll have to locate online). But maxing out the volume will be something I'd really like to do this year.

(So often in the past, I'm outdoors and there are people all around me, but if anybody's standing more than 6 feet away from me, they can't hear anything at all. I'm not saying I need to project to the nose-bleed seats, but I want to do better than I've done in the past. Two years ago, I had tried using a very small battery-operated amplifier that guitar players might actually use, combined with an MP3 player. But I ended up being unable to find a place to fit the darned thing into my costume -- Ironman. And last year, I decided... screw it... I played my soundtrack music from a boom box, but I only did it when I was going to be in one place for a good chunk of time.)

I've done a bit of basic reading and googling on this but I thought I'd ask for confirmation of a few things:

  1. The Arduino Uno is probably the latest no-frills Arduino model I should probably buy?
  2. The forums here seem to point to three different audio shields for me to choose from: the Adafruit Wave Shield, Sparkfun's MP3 Shield or Sparkfun's MP3 trigger. Not sure which would be best for this project?

I saw a sort of 9 volt battery container / "shield" on ebay...and I'm thinking I'll need headers for spacing. Not sure what I'd need to do to come up with an amplifier for this, but I did see a tutorial that talked about just using a transistor and a speaker to create a simple one.

Budget on this isn't a HUGE concern, since I've got a bit of time until October. But my raw materials for my costume are needed purchases as well, so I need to be reasonable. Far, far more valuable to me is TIME.

I'm not too worried about dealing with configuring the Arduino and dealing with scripting, as I work in IT full-time with my day-job and I know PHP and some C# / .NET, plus my day-job role for 14 years has been more of a general troubleshooter who's been exposed to a lot of technologies. But again, the LESS TIME I need to spend troubleshooting problems or solutions on this, the better. (Each year, my costumes have been becoming more complex to pull-off and I usually learn some new aspect of costuming or mask-making, so I have to invest a lot of my future time there. So this whole sound effect thing is sort of secondary in priority.)

Any pointers you guys can suggest to me?

Looking forward to ordering parts and getting started.

Thanks!

-= Dave =-

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