Just bought a house and doing some renovations. We're going to be doing work on the kitchen ceiling, and will have the carpets up in the bedrooms upstairs, so this is the best time we'll get to wire in-ceiling speakers in the kitchen and/or eating area. The question is where and how many I should wire for. We're not audiophiles, so it doesn't need to be perfect, but we would like it to be at least reasonably decent and uniform-sounding.
Reading this, it looks like you want to stagger and space out the speakers as much as possible: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-Ytzx71jFgvF/learn/learningcenter/home/speakers/inwall_placement.html
So here's what I'm thinking. Green are the intended speaker positions. Any thoughts? (I know we'll probably want some in the dining room as well, but it has an accessible attic, so no need to prewire them now. Also I realize the one surround speaker in the family room is unbalanced, but they will be wall mounted and there's a window there. I'm planning to use QS8s or similar which will hopefully forgive a slight asymmetry.) Anyway, mostly interested in the kitchen and eating area ones right now. Good? Overkill? Change the placement?
Edit: Just noticed the bit in that link about not placing directly over a table, since it can reflect the sound in annoying ways. Tweaked accordingly.
I will disagree with that advice... Speakers on the long room axis, over the table, puts the speakers at similar distances to everyone in the room (assumed to be at the dining table), so that the perceived volume is the same. Moving the speakers off to opposite sides upsets that balance, and I've never seen that recommendation anywhere except the Crutchfield reference (anyone seen that elsewhere?).
IMO, if you're playing music loud enough that audible reflections off the table becomes annoying - it's not exactly a dining room...
Oh, if you think there's any chance you'll want speakers there later, do the pre-wiring. Even with attic access, it's a lot more work to do it later. And don't forget you have to run the wires TO somewhere as well - which probably means down a wall, 50/50 chance that it's an exterior one, which is a real pain.
Run the wires, secure them in the ceiling and document their location(s) with pictures and measurements. Then when you're ready to add that zone, you can just cut holes and pull the wires down. Same advice for the study and patio.
And if you're thinking about 3 zones already - you should at least do some reading about Whole House Audio (WHA) systems and pre-wiring. May seem like overkill now, but if you pre-wire the house now, it becomes possible to do later. You'll never get this cheap chance to wire. Read any of the numerous threads in the "Home A/V Distribution" forum a few down from here...
Thanks for the input. Just to clarify, the house is already built; we don't have it down to studs or anything. The kitchen and eating area are easier to "prewire" right now because we're working on the ceiling there anyway to adjust lights, and we'll have the carpets off in the rooms above. Neither is the case in the dining room though, so it won't be particularly easier to wire them now than any other time. (And we've got a ton we need to do before moving in.) There's an attic above the living room / dining room there, and a crawlspace below the whole house. So when we do wire those rooms, assuming we use in-ceiling speakers, we would run the wires through the attic to the interior wall there, drop them right down into the crawlspace, and then straight over to the rack. Right now the plan for the rack is that red square in the family room. I'm going to leave enough slack in the cables though that if we choose to relocate it to the closet in the office later one, we can do that. Sound reasonable?
So you would suggest grouping the eating area speakers closer together over the table, and the kitchen ones over the island?
Would be great if anyone else has input (especially from experience!) since as you say that's exactly the opposite of what that crutchfield thing suggests. (I do agree that dining room listening would generally be lower volume, but kitchen area might not be. Even the eating area zone would often be used when preparing meals, or just for general ambiance.)
Guh. Reading a bit more about WHA though is making me realize it would be convenient to have volume controls in the kitchen zones. (Both for the convenience of adjusting the volume there, and potentially for impedance matching, depending on how I end up hooking things up.) That makes the wiring trickier since the most convenient spot for them would be in the exterior wall above the counter. Hmmmmmmmm.
Yeah, you said that right at the top and by the time I made my second reply I forgot it... And then you said "pre-wire", which really only applies to unfinished spaces...
Yep! Just note that dropping wires from an attic down to a crawlspace through an interior wall, while the "simplest route", can still be a real challenge without an opening. If you're going to have the ceilings open, you might want to open a hole in one wall to make that all a lot easier. If you're going to have someone patching drywall / painting anyway - another hole or three isn't going to cost much.
I'd group them so the speakers tend to be equidistant from the likely listening positions. Over the table in the dining room as I mentioned. In your kitchen, either over the island, or at the 2 and 8 o'clock points (like what is shown in your diagram for the eating area).
I simply don't buy the argument. Reflection from the table is going to happen regardless of the speaker position, so it's not like moving it to the corners gets rid of it (and regardless, the effect is probably not worth worrying about). But moving the speakers to the corners of a room certainly will change the sound, and as I said earlier, I think getting the speakers a similar distance from all ears is more important, IMO...
Drywall repair is cheap, especially if "the guy" is already in the house. And you wanted to paint those rooms anyway, right? (seriously, if you're doing ceiling repairs and pulling carpets - paint everything while the mess is made!).
If you do open up any volume control locations - run a cat5e / cat6 line along with any speaker wire - that can give you future potential for keypads / touchscreens in those locations. May not need them for a few years, but again, you won't want to open up those holes later!
Great, thanks for your help. And ya, I realized after the fact that "pre-wire" was confusing. More like a semi-pre-wire. :) (House half ripped apart, and don't have actual speakers to put in yet!) Yes, we're painting everything, so running cables to those volume controls won't be a big deal, just another thing on the checklist. Thanks for the cat5e/cat6 tip. I've got a bunch extra since I'm wiring for cat6 ethernet too, so that should be no problem. The volume controls for the kitchen and eating areas will be right beside each other (although with separate 1-gang panels since it appears 2-gang dual volume controls are rare to non-existent due to the size of the transformers), so do you think a single cat6 to one of the boxes will be enough, or should I wire one to each? (I expect if I upgrade to some fancy digital solution in the future, the two zones would be connected to the same box there...) And would you run it directly to the entertainment rack, or to the house's patch panel?
Keep adding cat5e runs in the house until you're out of wire...
I would run a cat5e to each box - you want each zone's wiring to be consistent. But if you upgrade to a WHA system, very possible those two areas would be joined together at the system and controlled with a single keypad. But I wouldn't make that bet for the $3 in wire.
Keypad wires need to go to the same place as the speaker wires. If that's not the same place as the house's patch panel, make sure there's several cat6 wires connecting those locations so that the wiring isn't isolated if the future changes the usage (to, say, Ethernet).