bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/28/20 7:23 p.m.

What do we like for entire home, multi zone audio these days?

New construction, so I'm planning on in ceiling speakers.  I'm aware of their limitations, and as much as I'd like to claim to be an audiophile, some Parts Express Daytons will be fine.  Plus SWMBO has decreed that floor/tower speakers are verboten, and I learned to pick my battles long ago.

I'm aware of Sonos' existence, not sure I like their price, or that I want a bookshelf speaker or Bluetooth speaker in every room.

I'm thinking A/V closet, with speaker wire going to at least 6 zones. 

I for sure want independent volume control for each zone, but ideally I'd like independent source control for each zone too.

Not sure if I want to rely on app control, I know of some ecosystems that are already obsolete and no longer supported.  Nothing is future proof I know, but I'd hate to wind up 5-10 years down the road with an app that no longer works with Android.

Despite my app reservations, in my research I found Arylic.  The DIYer/tight ass, or should that just be GRMer in me is really intrigued.  They offer bare boards, with and without amps, or finished units, and can pair up to 10 of them together for 10 independent zones. 

https://www.arylic.com/

 

 

mattm
mattm Reader
8/28/20 9:21 p.m.

You can buy the Sonos amps and then buy whatever in ceiling/wall speakers you want.  Once it's all installed the app is what makes it the most useful.  If it's easy to use your house will be rocking the entire time.  The most important thing to remember is that if the system is so complicated it requires dad to run it, only Dad will run it which is less than relaxing in my experience. 
 

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/28/20 11:07 p.m.

Parts Express & Monoprice have a 6 zone amp, with 6 independent inputs you can daisy-chain 3x of them for up to 18 zones.

So I can get 6 zones for the price of a single zone from a Sonos Amp.  The 6 zone amps, will let you play any combo of sources in any of the 6 zones.  They come with wall mounted controls, wiring via Ethernet.

There's a app for Android & Apple, it's kind of homebrew and requires a $90 RJ45 to RS232 adapter thing to give the amp an IP address on your network. So the Sonos sure wins in that category.

 

 

 

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
8/29/20 5:36 p.m.

My setup is pretty old now having been installed back in 2004 when I built my house, but it still works great and is pretty much what you describe.  I have a central equipment closet where all the audio and internet/cable/satellite live and I have a Russound 6 zone, 6 input amp that is controlled in each zone with a wall mounted control via CAT5.  I had the advantage of running all the required wiring as the house was being built.  1000' of dual 16 gauge and 1000' of CAT5 pretty much did it.  I have JBL speakers throughout, some ceiling mount and some wall mount.  It has been running at least one channel, 16hrs a day for 16 years without a hiccup.  Sounds great, although I don't blast anything through it, its mostly for radio and background type music.  I have a home theatre with a powerful amp and speaker setup if I want my ears to bleed.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/30/20 7:50 a.m.

When doing whole-house audio, I strongly suggest avoiding bluetooth as your means of transmission.  The lag is intolerable.

I have a bluetooth amp that runs my patio speakers.  Walking from the house to the patio makes this musician want to vomit as I re-adjust to the time-warp hole in the space/time continuum.  Worse yet is when I'm in the kitchen and I can hear both.  SWMBO has a bluetooth soundbar on her TV.  I told her to just hook up the optical audio that came with it and she insisted on using the bluetooth feature.  I got so frustrated watching TV at her house that I waited until she fell asleep and connected the optical cable.

We're not dating anymore laugh

John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
8/30/20 8:03 a.m.

Old school. My 1973 built house has this woodgrain unit in the kitchen area and then one single speaker in ever room. It's tied into the doorbells with intercom also. 

I'm taking it all out as we redo rooms so it could all be yours for the asking! 

noodle
noodle GRM+ Memberand Reader
8/30/20 9:33 a.m.

+1 for the Sonos, although I am concerned about their product support for their older speakers.  

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/30/20 3:11 p.m.

In reply to stukndapast :

I looked at the Russound system too.  Their current version allows for 8 zones, and provides more watts per channel than the 6 zone options from Parts Express or Monoprice, but at quite a price premium too.  I could daisy-chain a pair of the Monoprice 6 zones together, for about the same price as the single 8 zone Russound.

In reply to Curtis73:

I would only use Bluetooth as a source to the amp, the amp would then handle distribution to each zone, so there won't be any delay or drops as long as whatever I'm streaming to the Bluetooth receiver is within range.  I currently have this Chinesium Bluetooth adapter from Amazon hooked ino one of the RCA inputs on my ancient, Sony, 5.1, home stereo receiver, and it works surprisingly well to stream audio from my Pixle 3a from every room in our current, little, 1200 sqft, slice of suburban, hell.

In reply to John Welsh:

Such generosity!  I briefly lived in a house that had a similar system, but it didn't work.

In reply to Sonos suggestions:

I'm not feeling the Sonos, I don't like the aesthetic of any of their speaker offerings, and the price of their receivers/amps are nuts.  A Chromecast puck is ~$30 and pretty powerful.  The only thing I can see that the Sonos will do better, than just adding a Chromecast to one of those 6 zone amps, is being able to integrate all controls into a single app.  Am I missing something?

DirtyBird222
DirtyBird222 UberDork
8/30/20 11:52 p.m.

Subscribing because my home needs something like this

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/31/20 10:12 a.m.
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/31/20 12:52 p.m.

One of these in every room. They can be networked, zoned, or used individually. They can also provide weather and internet searches, reminders, and you can update the shopping list. They are also an intercoms and baby monitors. Yes, "they" are listening to you, but its still the best whole-house audio system I have ever used.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/31/20 1:07 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

I'm this close >< to a real life Ron Swanson, so thank you, but no.

ebelements
ebelements Reader
8/31/20 1:20 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

+1 although I like the Google variants a bit better. Have a half dozen of them all over the house, is really nice to be able to tell it to play a song or playlist "everywhere." 

Also really nice having the ability to set timers and reminders whenever the need strikes. Especially in the shower, which for some reason is where I seem to remember everything.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
8/31/20 4:09 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 said:

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

I'm this close >< to a real life Ron Swanson, so thank you, but no.

If you have a smartphone, they're already listening to you.

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/31/20 4:35 p.m.
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) said:
bigdaddylee82 said:

In reply to pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) :

I'm this close >< to a real life Ron Swanson, so thank you, but no.

If you have a smartphone, they're already listening to you.

If you live in the US, they're already listening to you. Water meters, power line "transformers", electrical breaker panels, cell towers, that stop sign at the corner...all tied to big brother.

 

 

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
8/31/20 4:40 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 said:
In reply to Sonos suggestions:

I'm not feeling the Sonos, I don't like the aesthetic of any of their speaker offerings, and the price of their receivers/amps are nuts.  A Chromecast puck is ~$30 and pretty powerful.  The only thing I can see that the Sonos will do better, than just adding a Chromecast to one of those 6 zone amps, is being able to integrate all controls into a single app.  Am I missing something?

Single app, zones controlled and on-the-fly definable from the phone (or PC); you can have everything running the same thing at the same time (actually at the same time; whether it's playing the same thing in adjacent rooms, or turning two of them into a stereo pair in one room, which it can also do).

The other thing is sound quality; I don't actually know what the other options you're considering sound like, and I'm not an audiophile. But I do care how stuff sounds to some degree, like after I'd just sort of gone with whatever was lying around for a while and had been listening to the cheap surround setup with PC-size speakers my wife had picked up years before and then pulled my actual speakers out of the basement and was reminded what I'd been missing. I don't know exactly what the threshold is, but some stuff sounds bad enough not to be worth any amount of convenience. I'm surprised at how solid the sound from something as small as the Sonos is.

That's very much not "you should do Sonos." It's much more "you should find some way to hear your options before you do anything."  Or at least find a reasonably reliable source comparing them, or even just reviews of both from the same source.

stukndapast
stukndapast Reader
9/3/20 12:16 p.m.

Just so y'all know, this thread apparently jinxed me.  I had said that my 16 y.o. Russound system has been running flawlessly for the last 16 years.  Well, this AM it decided to retire.  All the keypads work but there is no sound from any channel.  I suspect there is a common power supply for the amplifiers and it has departed this world.  Maybe an electrolytic cap...  I might tear into it and see.  But, it doesn't owe me anything, I got my money's worth.  At least my speaker/cabling/Cat5e/control pad boxes are all adaptable to a new system.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
9/3/20 12:46 p.m.

https://www.soundavo.com/products/ws-66i

Is a new, take on those Monoprice & Parts Express 6 channels I linked above.  They've integrated a pair of web streamers, Ethernet control & pass through, as well as a dedicated wireless app control.

 

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/3/20 1:39 p.m.
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) said:

Old school. My 1973 built house has this woodgrain unit in the kitchen area and then one single speaker in ever room. It's tied into the doorbells with intercom also. 

I'm taking it all out as we redo rooms so it could all be yours for the asking! 

This is both cool in a funky old school way and demonstrates one of the reasons I'm not a fan of whole house sound.  What's cutting edge now is likely to be obsolete junk in a decade.  The other reason I'm not a fan is that I've never been in a house where everyone could agree on what they want to listen too. We're much happier with good quality ear buds and our cell phones.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UberDork
9/3/20 1:54 p.m.

In reply to APEowner :

Umm, 6 independent zones and 6 independent channels, so any zone can listen to any channel at the same time.

Ethernet cable hasn't changed much, CAT6 should still be good enough for the next decade or more, CAT6A is often touted as "futureproof."  14 or 16 Ga audio wire will still be providing power/signal to speakers for decades to come.  Speakers and amp are easy to upgrade if needed, good speakers should last decades, and will be rebuildable.  Once the supporting infrastructure is there, there's not going to be much else to worry about being obsolete.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
9/3/20 4:01 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 said:

In reply to APEowner :

Umm, 6 independent zones and 6 independent channels, so any zone can listen to any channel at the same time.

Ethernet cable hasn't changed much, CAT6 should still be good enough for the next decade or more, CAT6A is often touted as "futureproof."  14 or 16 Ga audio wire will still be providing power/signal to speakers for decades to come.  Speakers and amp are easy to upgrade if needed, good speakers should last decades, and will be rebuildable.  Once the supporting infrastructure is there, there's not going to be much else to worry about being obsolete.

Cool!  Apparently the 3rd reason is that I'm ignorant of the capabilities of the current systems.  Having installed miles of coax when that was considered future-proof I'm a little skeptical when I hear those claims about CAT6a but I still install it whenever the opportunity appears.

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