Newbie Question on Multi Zone - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-08-2010, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm reading up on how to setup a multi-zone audio system (for background music) and had a few questions

Current Setup Ideas
I'm initially setting up the first zone 600 SF and the second of 500 SF will add other zones over time.
I'm planning on using 100 W Monoprice 3-way in-wall speakers

I plan to route the speaker wires inside the wall and behind the baseboards to a central location where I'll use a Volume Control slider for each pair of speakers.

I'll then drop the wires through the ceiling to a closet below where I was debating plugging all the wires into a 7.1 AVR

1) How many speakers do I need for each zone? (I was planning a pair on the front wall and a pair on the back wall. I could add two more in the center of the room as well). These will be used for background music and for music at parties.

2) From reading here I think I can have all the speaker wires from one terminate into an 'impedance matching volume control' and have this hook into the AVR. The problem being the much lowered wattage. The impedance matched volume control switches I saw were around 80 watts RMS (but 4-6 speakers I'd be pumping 600 watts).

3) How do I input a stereo source into an AVR and have it mirrored across each pair (instead of upmixing it to 7.1 etc). I read I could use it with 2 speakers and connect a beefy stereo amp (like the Emotiva XPA-2) to give sufficient power

4) What AWG wire should I use for 50 and 80 feet runs.

5) Would speakers in the Kitchen or bathroom be a bad idea from a moisture perspective

6) How necessary is a subwoofer for this (saw some in-wall subwoofers but would require a lot more effort , don't see the benefit for music)

Any other reading or recommendations , criticisms on how to set it up?

Thanks for all your help
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post #2 of 12 Old 12-09-2010, 08:10 AM
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Be sure to run an ethernet cable from the closet to the volume control locations, for futureproofing. I'm currently upgrading from VCs to keypads, running an ethernet cable to each VC location.

Crutchfield has some good write-ups on distributed audio design.

14 or 16 AWG, for the speaker cables.

Speakers in the bathroom - depends on how humid it gets. Moisture-proof speakers available.

Sub not needed, but would be nice. Currently researching this possibility myself.

Read the AVR manual to see how to output stereo sound, from stereo sources. A 7.1 AVR has 8 amps on board, you may be able to use more than a single pair of outputs for your system. I've used 2 channels from my AVR for powering my 6-7 zones, for background music, without issues. If you need more power, then invest in a multichannel amp.

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post #3 of 12 Old 12-09-2010, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Read the AVR manual to see how to output stereo sound, from stereo sources. A 7.1 AVR has 8 amps on board, you may be able to use more than a single pair of outputs for your system.

A 7.1 AVR has 7 amps available: 1 center, 2 front, 2 side, 2 back, with one line output for the sub, hence the 7.1 designation.

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post #4 of 12 Old 12-09-2010, 10:54 PM
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The receiver: traditionally a stereo receiver is used to power multiple pairs of speakers. Yes it is technically possible to get 7 channel stereo from a surround receiver, but in my experience they always always get changed to a DSP mode on accident and nobody knows how to change it; it just creates more of a hassle than anything. Also if you are set on using a passive volume control it you will never find anything set up for a surround receiver. You are better off using a standalone keypad that can control the system such as the RTI RK-2 or 4. This way you aren't interrupting the speaker circuit with an inefficient volume control, you are directly controlling the digital attenuator that the receiver has. Besides that each button can do multiple functions like cycling music presets from a cable box or a lot more.

Speaker Placement: Speakers on opposite walls facing each other is usually a bad idea as they can cancel many frequencies out. It is important to have uniform sound but it is possible to have too many speakers. If the house is traditional construction ceiling speakers do an excellent job of covering large areas without hotspotting. Also do not worry about moisture in any rooms. Modern materials hold up very well to moisture.

Wire: if the application is background music, 16 is sufficient.

Subwoofer: in-wall is typically expensive and underwhelming. Try to hide a free-standing somewhere.
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-15-2010, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by crutschow View Post

A 7.1 AVR has 7 amps available: 1 center, 2 front, 2 side, 2 back, with one line output for the sub, hence the 7.1 designation.

I've got a Marantz SR8001 which has a multi-channel stereo mode. I called up Marantz and they said that in the mood the sound is mirrored across all speaker pairs (Front/Side/Rear) which I think should serve the purpose for now?
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-15-2010, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iimig View Post

The receiver: traditionally a stereo receiver is used to power multiple pairs of speakers. Yes it is technically possible to get 7 channel stereo from a surround receiver, but in my experience they always always get changed to a DSP mode on accident and nobody knows how to change it; it just creates more of a hassle than anything. Also if you are set on using a passive volume control it you will never find anything set up for a surround receiver. You are better off using a standalone keypad that can control the system such as the RTI RK-2 or 4. This way you aren't interrupting the speaker circuit with an inefficient volume control, you are directly controlling the digital attenuator that the receiver has. Besides that each button can do multiple functions like cycling music presets from a cable box or a lot more.

I'm looking at these volume controls
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

I'll fish cat 5e as well for future keypad installation as recommended above but could you point me towards any reading material on the volume control issue you mentioned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by iimig View Post

Speaker Placement: Speakers on opposite walls facing each other is usually a bad idea as they can cancel many frequencies out. It is important to have uniform sound but it is possible to have too many speakers. If the house is traditional construction ceiling speakers do an excellent job of covering large areas without hotspotting. Also do not worry about moisture in any rooms. Modern materials hold up very well to moisture.

Front of Room

Rear of Room


The speakers for the front (either side of the bay window) and back (again either side of the window) will be about 30 odd feet apart from each other. I had read that wall mounted speakers sound better plus the ceiling already has a lot of can lights (8 can lights, 1 chandlier 3-4 HVAC ducts) and I thought it would look bad to add 4-6 more speakers on there. I was debating putting two downfiring speakers in the middle to make the sound a little more uniform

Quote:
Originally Posted by iimig View Post

Wire: if the application is background music, 16 is sufficient.

Subwoofer: in-wall is typically expensive and underwhelming. Try to hide a free-standing somewhere.

Thanks that sounds great
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-15-2010, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syyid View Post

I'm looking at these volume controls
http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2

I'll fish cat 5e as well for future keypad installation as recommended above but could you point me towards any reading material on the volume control issue you mentioned?

The issue is with the use of the surround receiver, not the volume controls. Keeping the receiver in the multi-channel-stereo mode may be difficult (you'd have to try it to see how it works in practice). If it doesn't "remember" the mode(s) correctly, you may end up with a system that doesn't behave well (especially for others to use). But it doesn't hurt to try it and see...


Quote:


The speakers for the front (either side of the bay window) and back (again either side of the window) will be about 30 odd feet apart from each other. I had read that wall mounted speakers sound better...

All depends on the speaker brand/model. Ceiling speakers have had a reputation of being cheap and lousy-sounding. But that doesn't have to be the case. Lots of very good quality speakers out there. I would personally recommend Boston Acoustics line, great sounding at a moderate price. Many folks here have also had good luck with the ultra-cheap Monoprice speakers. If you stick with a popular speaker/cutout size (6.5"), you can always go cheap, and upgrade to a better/larger speaker later if you choose. Just don't get a super-big and super-cheap one, as it may limit your future options ('cause a big hole is hard to fill!).

Quote:


...plus the ceiling already has a lot of can lights (8 can lights, 1 chandlier 3-4 HVAC ducts) and I thought it would look bad to add 4-6 more speakers on there. I was debating putting two downfiring speakers in the middle to make the sound a little more uniform

I'd actually say it's exactly the opposite. With all that stuff on the ceiling, no one is going to notice a few more circles... Whereas, on the wall, they are directly in the eye line, and you eat up wallspace that may have been used for anything else (art, decorations, window treatments, etc.). No one looks at your ceiling, but they will immediately notice the big things in the walls (even if they're painted to "blend in"). Putting them in the walls (since these are all exterior walls, too) will require many more cuts/repairs in the drywall, too. Something else to consider.

I think 2 pairs, mounted in the ceiling along the long axis in each of those two rooms will be fine. Especially with the hardwood floors (nice room!).

Jeff

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post #8 of 12 Old 12-16-2010, 08:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

The issue is with the use of the surround receiver, not the volume controls. Keeping the receiver in the multi-channel-stereo mode may be difficult (you'd have to try it to see how it works in practice). If it doesn't "remember" the mode(s) correctly, you may end up with a system that doesn't behave well (especially for others to use). But it doesn't hurt to try it and see...

All depends on the speaker brand/model. Ceiling speakers have had a reputation of being cheap and lousy-sounding. But that doesn't have to be the case. Lots of very good quality speakers out there. I would personally recommend Boston Acoustics line, great sounding at a moderate price. Many folks here have also had good luck with the ultra-cheap Monoprice speakers. If you stick with a popular speaker/cutout size (6.5"), you can always go cheap, and upgrade to a better/larger speaker later if you choose. Just don't get a super-big and super-cheap one, as it may limit your future options ('cause a big hole is hard to fill!).



I'd actually say it's exactly the opposite. With all that stuff on the ceiling, no one is going to notice a few more circles... Whereas, on the wall, they are directly in the eye line, and you eat up wallspace that may have been used for anything else (art, decorations, window treatments, etc.). No one looks at your ceiling, but they will immediately notice the big things in the walls (even if they're painted to "blend in"). Putting them in the walls (since these are all exterior walls, too) will require many more cuts/repairs in the drywall, too. Something else to consider.

I think 2 pairs, mounted in the ceiling along the long axis in each of those two rooms will be fine. Especially with the hardwood floors (nice room!).

Jeff

So i'm going with ceiling speakers now (Yes I'm easily persuaded ) tho still somewhat torn between 8" and 6". Looking at monoprice.com they've got these 8" that put out 80W


For the 6" they're all either 40 or 60W which I'm worried would be underwhelming, not to mention not sure which one

any recommendations (I'm leaning towards the 8" at the moment. Also someone locally is selling the Klipsch CDT-2650-C for 260 a pair which I thought wasn't worth it.... background music )

Also regarding powering them, the impedance matching feature - from what I understood that means you hook in two pairs (4 ohm) or 4 pairs (2 ohms) of speakers into a stereo amplifier.

If so can I do something like
Logitech Squeezebox Radio (as source) -> RCA -> 500W Emotiva XPA2 -> Impedance matching volume control -> 4 speaker pairs
The question with that is when do I merge the incoming cables (4 volume controls to 2 cables to the amp) or the volume control gets merged cabling?
One more question, regarding cabling I'm doing AWG14 but I'm not sure if I'm upto cutting through the ceiling just yet so I was planning on stapling the wire (surface mount) to the ceiling and running em along the molding before bringing them down inside the wall (only one straight run coming down to the volume control area) and sometime down the road pulling them into the ceiling
Sorry if I'm getting ahead of myself but itching to pull the trigger on it
Thanks for all the help
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-16-2010, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syyid View Post

Looking at monoprice.com they've got these 8" that put out 80W. For the 6" they're all either 40 or 60W which I'm worried would be underwhelming, not to mention not sure which one
any recommendations (I'm leaning towards the 8" at the moment. Also someone locally is selling the Klipsch CDT-2650-C for 260 a pair which I thought wasn't worth it.... background music )

Speakers don't "put out" Watts, the amp does. The wattage listed is the rated power input - meaning how much they can take before being damaged.

Given the bargain price on the Monoprice units, I'd be inclined to recommend the 6" instead of the 8", for the sole reason of the smaller cut-out giving you plenty of options for changing them out in the future. I'm not saying you'll be unhappy with them, but 8" speakers require quite a big cut-out, and "upgrading" them later may be difficult...

Quote:


Also regarding powering them, the impedance matching feature - from what I understood that means you hook in two pairs (4 ohm) or 4 pairs (2 ohms) of speakers into a stereo amplifier.

If so can I do something like Logitech Squeezebox Radio (as source) -> RCA -> 500W Emotiva XPA2 -> Impedance matching volume control -> 4 speaker pairs

Wow, now talk about overkill!!! That's an awfully nice and beefy amp for this job. But you also probably want a pre-amp / source selector / volume control ahead of the amp - otherwise you'll be driving any amp very hard (unless the Squeezbox has variable line out - I don't know). Unless you've got the XPA2 sitting around, I'd suggest any cheap stereo receiver instead...

Quote:


The question with that is when do I merge the incoming cables (4 volume controls to 2 cables to the amp) or the volume control gets merged cabling?

All cabling runs in parallel back to the amp, just need to wire-nut the wires (like to like) together if you can't get them all to fit into the amp's speaker connectors. The impedance matching makes the load appear to the amp as an 8ohm load instead of the 2-4 ohm load it would see with 2 or 3 pairs.

Quote:


One more question, regarding cabling I'm doing AWG14 but I'm not sure if I'm up to cutting through the ceiling just yet so I was planning on stapling the wire (surface mount) to the ceiling and running em along the molding before bringing them down inside the wall (only one straight run coming down to the volume control area) and sometime down the road pulling them into the ceiling
Sorry if I'm getting ahead of myself but itching to pull the trigger on it
Thanks for all the help

How are you going to put in-ceiling speakers in place without cutting into the ceiling??? The goal there is to cut the hole for the speaker, and then throw the wire along the joists to the wall (hopefully they're going the right way). The hard part is getting the transition from wall to ceiling. That can be where some crown molding can come in handy...


Jeff

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post #10 of 12 Old 12-16-2010, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Speakers don't "put out" Watts, the amp does. The wattage listed is the rated power input - meaning how much they can take before being damaged.

Sorry about that, I meant to say power it takes in that it converts to audio (not sure what the correct phrasing would be? higher power rating I presumed meant the speaker would be louder)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Given the bargain price on the Monoprice units, I'd be inclined to recommend the 6" instead of the 8", for the sole reason of the smaller cut-out giving you plenty of options for changing them out in the future. I'm not saying you'll be unhappy with them, but 8" speakers require quite a big cut-out, and "upgrading" them later may be difficult...

6" it is - would you happen to recommend any of the ones they have - from what I can see there's a 60W kevlar one and a 40W one, am leaning towards the 60W one


Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Wow, now talk about overkill!!! That's an awfully nice and beefy amp for this job. But you also probably want a pre-amp / source selector / volume control ahead of the amp - otherwise you'll be driving any amp very hard (unless the Squeezbox has variable line out - I don't know). Unless you've got the XPA2 sitting around, I'd suggest any cheap stereo receiver instead...

Heh, I actually have an XPA-5 (200W/channel, I could conceivably just use 2 channels of that (it's currently part of my home theater but can feed the surrounds to the receiver instead of the Amp). 60Wx4 = 240W, 200W of power should be decent, if not optimal. I'll need to get a stereo receiver from what I read on SqueezeBox in either case

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

All cabling runs in parallel back to the amp, just need to wire-nut the wires (like to like) together if you can't get them all to fit into the amp's speaker connectors. The impedance matching makes the load appear to the amp as an 8ohm load instead of the 2-4 ohm load it would see with 2 or 3 pairs.

Great, thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

How are you going to put in-ceiling speakers in place without cutting into the ceiling??? The goal there is to cut the hole for the speaker, and then throw the wire along the joists to the wall (hopefully they're going the right way). The hard part is getting the transition from wall to ceiling. That can be where some crown molding can come in handy...

I was going to cut holes for the ceiling but from what I understand if I hide the wires in the ceiling I'll have to cut holes for where it crosses every joist (to quote a friend more knowledgable then myself, it'll wind up being swiss cheese). I guess I'll ask the installer (have a handyman that my sister uses that I was planning on asking) how big of a deal that is.

Two more questions - Looking at the volume controls on Monoprice they're only 4/8 ohm, I'm presuming I need one with 1 ohm (or 2?) for all 4 speakers. would this Xantech work?
Also do I need to get something like this to optimize the sound quality etc.. Actually could just get those, the same Klipsch seller has these available too
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post #11 of 12 Old 12-19-2010, 03:48 AM - Thread Starter
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The more I'm reading - the more confusing this is getting
(reading about adding a subwoofer)
Since zone2 on avr's usually don't have a subwoofer output, I read that I should route speaker wires to the woofer speaker in for it to use the appropriate frequencies

Is this then accurate
Squeezebox -> AVR (Zone 2) -> (5x split) -> Subwoofer
-> 4x Speaker Wire Pair -> 4x Impedance Matching Volume Control -> 4 Speaker Pairs (8 speakers)
Not sure what splitting the output would do from the pov of the subwoofer
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post #12 of 12 Old 12-19-2010, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
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Sorry about that, I meant to say power it takes in that it converts to audio (not sure what the correct phrasing would be? higher power rating I presumed meant the speaker would be louder)

No, that's wrong - which is why I mentioned the "Watts" thing. Speakers convert electrical power into sound waves. The more power (watts) pushed from the amplifier, the louder the sound. If you push more power than the speaker is RATED for (the "rated for 60 Watts" spec), you can/will damage the speaker.

If you hook up an 40W amp to a pair of speakers rated for "80W max" and another pair rated for "200W max", they will produce the same volume (assuming the speakers have the same efficiency).

Quote:


Heh, I actually have an XPA-5 (200W/channel, I could conceivably just use 2 channels of that (it's currently part of my home theater but can feed the surrounds to the receiver instead of the Amp). 60Wx4 = 240W, 200W of power should be decent, if not optimal.

A 200W/channel amp is enormous for whole-house audio. 20-40W/channel is typical. Now, using that amp with some care will probably work fine. You'll find that typical background listening levels are just a few Watts.

Quote:


I was going to cut holes for the ceiling but from what I understand if I hide the wires in the ceiling I'll have to cut holes for where it crosses every joist (to quote a friend more knowledgable then myself, it'll wind up being swiss cheese). I guess I'll ask the installer (have a handyman that my sister uses that I was planning on asking) how big of a deal that is.

No. Find another friend to ask those kind of questions.

A/V installers (and ahem, us hobbyists) have lots of specialized tools to do that kind of work without cutting holes everywhere... If it was my house, and I had to cross more than a couple joists, it would be time to hire an expert.

Quote:


Two more questions - Looking at the volume controls on Monoprice they're only 4/8 ohm, I'm presuming I need one with 1 ohm (or 2?) for all 4 speakers. would this Xantech work?

You will have 2 pairs of speakers, correct? If each pair is 8ohm, in parallel they become 4ohm loads. The impedance matching volume control(s) will make that appear as 8ohms to the amplifier. If you need more than 2 pairs, then you need the Xantech model or one like it that has more settings.

Quote:


Also do I need to get something like this to optimize the sound quality etc.. Actually could just get those, the same Klipsch seller has these available too

No. How do think you were going to retro-fit that??? You have an enclosed ceiling already (floor above), so you'll be fine. Some folks do build boxes around their in-ceiling speakers, but generally that's only done (and an option, not a necessity) in ceilings open to large spaces above (attic).

EDIT: Oh, and pre-construction speaker brackets / enclosures like that do NOT necessarily work on other brands of speakers. In-wall / in-ceiling speaker 'sizes' (such as 6.5" and 8") are the size of the speaker cone, not the cut-out size of the whole speaker itself. Some 6.5" speakers will use a 7" cutout, others may use an 8". Using a bracket for one with the other will make you cry later...


Jeff

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