Moving away from A-BUS - alternatives using same wiring? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
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We've recently moved into a new house which has been wired for A-Bus multi-room audio. There are 12 rooms with ceiling speakers. 16-gauge speaker cable runs from the speakers to wallboxes (5' off ground) and a single CAT5 cable runs from the wallbox back to the central cable closet.

There is no additional power feed to the wallboxes, though in many cases it may be possible to get a 240V a/c feed there if needed.

The living room, TV room, kitchen and master bedroom also have local line-in wallboxes near where source equipment would be located, with a single CAT5 cable running back to the wallbox in the room.

We'd like to use something other than A-Bus but without pulling new wires, which will be impractical. I'm having trouble finding alternatives however. So far, all I have is:

- DIGI-5: products seem limited in capability, and it's not even clear they are shipping yet. User interface looks ugly

- Colarado vNet Vibe: this looked ideal, but from a press release earlier this week, it looks like they are going out of business

- Netstreams / DigiLinX: really like the architecture of this system, but doesn't seem compatible with the wiring we have available.

One thought I had was that in the four main rooms, the CAT5 running from the local line-in could be used to bring power to the wallbox (using two pairs for +ve, two pairs for -ve, should allow a reasonable of current), at the cost of losing the local input capability. This leaves the other rooms isolated, however.

Are there any alternatives to DIGI-5 / Vibe that I should be looking at? Any other advice welcome.

Thanks,

Eddy
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post #2 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 08:02 AM
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If you have power available near the control points you can use our "local" small power supplies to power the touchscreens. You will still get all of the functions including intercom.

You can mount the amps in the rack and power them with a centralized rack mount power supply.

Probably best to contact a local authorized representative to look over the wiring and see what is easy.

feel free to email me directly
bgoddard at netstreams.com for assistance in finding someone.

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post #3 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 09:59 AM
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Cross Colorado vNet off your list - went out of business.

The existing wires can often be used to pull new wires - use the existing wire as a pull line. You can figure it out be pulling off a wall plate and shaking the cable.

If you have access to a walll from an attic above or unfinished basement/crawlspace below, it's very easy to pull new cables.

My big question is: why not ABUS? Would be a lot easier to start appreciating ABUS, than to recable. Some ABUS systems are not very good, others better (from what I've read). For distributed audio, you're not going to get great sound, regardless.

For great sound, you're going to have to step up to great speakers ($$), and good multichannel amps ($$).

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #4 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick responses folks.

Buzz, a local PSU might do the trick, but would need to be concealed in the wall space -- I'll mail you to discuss off-thread; thanks.

Neurorad, pulling new cables would be very tricky -- there is no basement (solid poured concrete floor), most of the internal walls are solid brick, and the attic has been fully converted, so no access there. Fitted carpets upstairs mean access to the floor space is also very restricted.

Re A-Bus, the main negatives I can see are very limited power to the speakers (7.5W I think), an unbalanced audio feed via the CAT5 (seems very short-sighted), and lack of smarts on the control panels - I'd prefer something more modern with metadata for currently playing media etc.

It's always a fallback option, and the pricepoint is good, but it strikes me as technology nearing the end of its useful life so if something more modern is available as an alternative, I'd prefer to invest in that.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 02:24 PM
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The Sonos may fit with your wiring scheme.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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post #6 of 8 Old 09-24-2009, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I've looked at the Sonos as well (actually had a nice demo of it from a neighbour just a few days ago) but they don't seem to have a small amplifier suitable for mounting in a wallbox. The location of the wallboxes doesn't lend themselves to having the Sonus amplifiers sitting externally.

Unfortunate, since it's otherwise quite a nice system.

Eddy
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-27-2010, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd forgotten about this thread until now, but thought it would be no harm to post a quick update.

I briefly looked at Netstreams as an alternative to A-Bus, but it was way more than my budget would allow and even at that, I'd still need to adapt the wiring.

After looking at the Sonos system in more detail (and getting a good demo from a friend who already had it installed), I decided to bite the bullet and adapt the A-Bus wiring to work with the Sonos.

To recap, all the main bedrooms and living spaces in the house had wallboxes at head height, containing dual speaker cables running to overhead speakers in the same room, and a CAT5 control cable running back to the attic. The downstairs rooms and master bedroom also had an additional CAT5 cable running from the wallbox to another wallbox in the corner, near other A/V sockets, which was intended to be used to feed a local line-in to the A-Bus.

Making the Sonos work with this turned out to be fairly straightforward. For the downstairs rooms and master bedroom, I used the line-in CAT5 cable to extend the dual speaker cables from the control wallbox to the corner of the room (one pair for each speaker wire, four in total). Hardly ideal, but the cable lengths are quite short - only around 4-5M - and it saved having to open up walls to pull new cable. The CAT5 is terminated in a normal dual speaker socket in the corner of the room, and a blanking plate covers over the control wallbox.

A standard Sonos ZP120 sits in the corner of each room and connects directly to the speaker sockets, which then feed the ceiling speakers. Having the ZP120 in the same room is convenient for visitors/babysitters/etc since it means they can easily adjust or mute the volume without needing to learn the Sonos remote.

For the upstairs bathrooms & other bedrooms, I spent a bit more effort to pull new speaker cables from the ceiling speakers to the attic closet, where all the CAT5 was terminated. Conveniently, all such rooms had at least one speaker location which was close to an outside wall of the house. By removing the speaker and reaching into the void, I was able to feed the new cables into the eaves of the attic, around the edge of the attic flooring.

This got me a home run for one of the two speakers in the ceiling. For the second speaker, I bridged to the existing cable running from the speaker down to the in-room control wallbox. Within the wallbox, I then connected that speaker cable to the cable for the other speaker, and hey presto, I now had both speakers with home-runs back to the attic.

It worked pretty out well, so now all the rooms in the house are fully Sonos-capable. Even for the rooms with CAT5 bridging the speaker signals, the sound quality is very decent. With young kids in the house, high-fidelity audio was never going to be a high priority! Our kitchen is quite big and has two pairs of speakers briding over a single CAT5 cable, and even wth that, the sound is very decent.

Meanwhile, all the CAT5 control cables in the walls are left unused. Since this seems like a waste, I've bought a power-over-Ethernet midspan hub to go in the attic, which will allow me to feed PoE to each control point (no actual Ethernet, just the power). A small in-wall splitter then recovers the 48V power and converts it down to 5V at 2A, which is exactly what the Sonos ZP200 controller's charge cradle requires.

Right now, I'm working on a decent way to adapt the ZP200 charge cradle for wall mounting. The catch is that it needs to maintain a slight backwards tilt to prevent the controller falling out onto the floor. I've recently bought a pack of this stuff -- http://sugru.com/ - which looks like it might give me a neat way to mould a support for it. (I had hoped Sonos might announce a wall-mounted cradle with built-in PoE support, but a year on, no sign of such a product.)

If I get this working, then I can have most of my ZP200 controllers wall-mounted and self-charging, without lots of trailing power bricks in each room.

In summary, very happy with the Sonos system! Would definitely recommend.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-29-2010, 11:16 AM
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Thanks so much for the feedback. I bet that post will help many people looking for ABUS alternatives.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. -Fishbone
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