What all is needed for 'whole house audio'?

tracey_bMarch 24, 2010

(I'll probably cross-post in building a house forum)

We're building a new house and I want speakers in several rooms. For those of you that have whole-house audio systems, what do I need for that type of setup? I read alot about Sonos, but that seems a bit pricey for us. Can I just run the speakers to an existing (albeit old) stereo system and get an amplifier, or whatever is needed, to handle the speakers? If I want to buy a new sound source (one that can accept mp3 player input), what do I look for?



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How many rooms?
Same source in each room or different?
Independent volume control in each room?
What is your budget?

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:05AM
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I want to do at least 6 zones. Two or three of those will have an extra set of speakers connected. I do want individual volume control in each zone but don't "need" different sources/zones. I won't bother with the theater room setup being part of this--it'll be separate, in the basement (already have that system from the previous house, bought 2 yrs ago). I just want access to CDs, mp3s, internet radio, radio, etc.

David_Cary on the building house forum gave me some good ideas already. I've been considering the mid-level system from hometheaterdirect.com. David has it in his house and seems pleased with it, and I've read all the reviews. We aren't audiophiles in our house--we just want to listen to music. Anything will be an improvement over our last house where we used an intercom for radio in each room (all it was wired for).

I don't want to spend a fortune in equipment--maybe 2000-2500 max, total (speakers included). I also need to have the wires run, so that will be an expense as well. We were going to try and do it ourselves, but the timing isn't good for my husband and his business traveling, so we'll have to hire that out (don't want to hold up construction!). I just need to know what I should have them do, then we'll buy the equipment and do the installing of components ourselves. The more I know upfront, the less they'll be able to talk me into, or out-of....know what I mean?


    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 11:55PM
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I had to get speakers, buffer, sub woofers, and of course the sound system.

Here is a link that might be useful: wooden trash can

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:12AM
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Hi Tracey,

I think what is key here is the word "zones." That, in the home theater business refers to "different sources" available to each area. Receivers may have 2, or sometimes 3 zone capability, while being able to furnish up to 2-4 rooms from each "zone." Which are you trying to achieve?


    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 9:29PM
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Hi Bill. I think I'm getting a handle on my audio questions with help from a slightly more active Building a Home forum. By "zone", I'm meaning areas served by a set (or 2 sets) of speakers with a volume control for each zone.

Thanks, Tracey

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 12:51AM
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Based on your reply, a good quality 7.1 receiver with two zones, which then has a separate power amplifier for the other zone, should work for you. Using good quality "impedance matching" speaker level controls in each room should allow around three rooms (with 8 ohm speakers) from each 2 channel output & give you what you're after.

Most 7.1 home theater receivers allow for this by using a 5.1 and a 2 channel zone output configuration. The rooms fed from the 5.1 output are only using the 2 front R/L channels of the 5.1 output. This would give you the option of music in some rooms and another source in others. (A common request I get from clients is a speaker in the guest bath that keeps the feed from the movie/game going!)

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:29PM
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Thanks, Bill! I'll have to check and see what our receiver (boxed away in storage while we build) is capable of--so maybe we won't need to buy another just yet. And thanks for the tip about having a speaker in the bath--hadn't thought of that.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 10:35PM
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