Bought a new (20 year old) house, need some help moving forward with the existing AV distribution components. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-09-2012, 11:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys!

We're moving into a house that was built about 20 years ago and is prewired for 20-year-old technology. I was hoping I could detail what I'm already working with and what I want to accomplish and some of you could push me in the right direction from there.

The home run for speaker cables seems to be behind an entertainment center in the family room. This area basically consists of several single-gang boxes with what appears to be about 16-18g wire in stereo pairs. These feed into a Niles SPS-6 Speaker Selection System with front panel push-button selectors and a single stereo input. I currently have 5 zones (master bedroom, kids playroom, family room, living room, game room). Eash of these locations has a prewired Niles VSC-2D volume control on a nearby wall controlling an in-wall/ceiling pair of speakers (unknown brand/specs, I have yet to pull the grill off of one of them). And that's about it. They were powering the system with a single stereo receiver (that they took) near the SPS-6, and they manually punched the buttons to turn each zone on or off and controlled the volume by the wall switches. I know this system was fully functional when they lived here. It's main drawbacks are the need to be standing at the SPS-6 to turn zones on and off, and the limitation of a single audio source.

Here's my wish list:

The ability to add a 6th zone for the patio
The ability to play a different audio source in each zone, simultaneously.
The ability to use internet music sources (currently I use Spotify and Pandora mostly) as well as iTunes/MP3s from my media server.
The ability to control the music source and zones with the iFamily of devices (we currently own an iPad, 1 iPhone 4s, 1 iPhone 4, 2 iPhone 3GSs, 1 iPhone 3G, and an iPod touch, so this is a no-brainer).

I've looked at options including:

6 Sonos ZonePlayer 120s
6 Apple airport expresses and 6 individual stereo amplifiers with signal sense (I currently have 5 Marantz MA500s that I'm not using for anything. Would be nice to find a way to use them somehow).
6 airport expresses and a single mult-channel amplifier with signal sense and the ability to juggle multiple source inputs (Niles ZR6? suggestions?).
Some other solution?

Thanks for any input. I'll let you know what speakers I'm working with once I get a chance to pull off a grill or two.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-10-2012, 07:58 AM
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If you use a "whole house audio system", you only need as many "duplicate" sources as you expect to be using simultaneously. That would likely be the "number of people in household". So you can probably do this with a few Sonos boxes and an HTD MCA-66 with HTDNET for iDevice control...

The "plus" with just doing six Airport Express or Sonos units (either with built-in amps or using your external amps) is that it would be very simple to use. The Sonos units even have an external analog input, so you can incorporate another source if desired. If you have usable auto-sense amps, the Airport route may make sense. If not, go with the Sonos solution - building it with an HTD system would be the most economical.

Jeff


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post #3 of 6 Old 09-11-2012, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

If you use a "whole house audio system", you only need as many "duplicate" sources as you expect to be using simultaneously. That would likely be the "number of people in household". So you can probably do this with a few Sonos boxes and an HTD MCA-66 with HTDNET for iDevice control...
The "plus" with just doing six Airport Express or Sonos units (either with built-in amps or using your external amps) is that it would be very simple to use. The Sonos units even have an external analog input, so you can incorporate another source if desired. If you have usable auto-sense amps, the Airport route may make sense. If not, go with the Sonos solution - building it with an HTD system would be the most economical.
Jeff

You know, you bring up a really good point that I had not really considered. While I have a need to be able to play different sources in different zones at the same time, it is unlikely that all 6 zones will be used at the same time by different people pulling from 6 different sources. Even though there are 5 people in my family, the kids will spend most of their time listening to music either in a community area (where they will have to agree on what to play) or in their rooms where they will be using a stand-alone product like a Sonos Play3. So really what I need is the ability to power 6 zones and to send maybe 3 sourses to those zones in any configuration I can think of (like sending one source to the game room for me, but then expand that same source to the whole downstairs later when people are over). So that would be possible with 6 Sonos ZonePlayer 120s and I would be done with it. Or, I could go with 3 Sonos ZonePlayer 90s or 3 Apple AirPlays and a 12-channel "whole house" amplifier. I'm assuming the term "whole house" refers to the ability of the amplifer to control the selection of source material as well as how and where that material is being sent. I'm a little confused on how this might work. Let's say there are three users in my house, me, my wife, and "kids." And let's say I'm in the living room and want to listen to listen to a song of my chosing only in that room. Do I need to access a Sonos app or AirPlay to select the song and then some app for the amplifer to tell it to send that song to the living room, or is this better integrated than I'm picturing? Because I know that this is where the Sonos really shines, and even though it may mean a $3,000 initial investment to cover 6 zones, I'm leaning that way.

Finally, is there an advantage to doing 6 Sonos ZonePlayer90s or AirPlays and a separate 12 channel amp vs 6 ZonePlayer 120s with their own built-in amps? I've been reading a ton on this forum and have learned a lot, but I'm still not clear how to best use what I already have considering that speaker wire, volume controls, and speakers are already in place. Thanks for any input!
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-11-2012, 10:13 PM
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Yes, essentially a WHA system is a 'controller' and an amplifier. The controller handles source selection, levels/settings, remotes/keypads/etc. The advantage of using a WHA setup is the ability to use other types of sources as they come along (although some? Sonos units have external analog inputs which kinda help with that, too). The bigger advantage is being able to buy a small number of sources, and grow if and when you need it.

Control is easier if it's all one system - the Sonos stuff won't "integrate" with the WHA app (although iRule will soon be able to embed the Sonos app, which would allow one to make a single-app solution with some work...), so yes, you'd end up having to use two apps - one for selecting sources and the other (Sonos) for media browsing/playback control.

When you have a few sources shared, a common practice is to assign each one to a family member - so that if "Bill" wants to listen to music, he always selects source 2, and "Wanda" always selects source 1...

Jeff


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post #5 of 6 Old 09-13-2012, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Yes, essentially a WHA system is a 'controller' and an amplifier. The controller handles source selection, levels/settings, remotes/keypads/etc. The advantage of using a WHA setup is the ability to use other types of sources as they come along (although some? Sonos units have external analog inputs which kinda help with that, too). The bigger advantage is being able to buy a small number of sources, and grow if and when you need it.
Control is easier if it's all one system - the Sonos stuff won't "integrate" with the WHA app (although iRule will soon be able to embed the Sonos app, which would allow one to make a single-app solution with some work...), so yes, you'd end up having to use two apps - one for selecting sources and the other (Sonos) for media browsing/playback control.
When you have a few sources shared, a common practice is to assign each one to a family member - so that if "Bill" wants to listen to music, he always selects source 2, and "Wanda" always selects source 1...
Jeff

Thanks, Jeff, that makes a lot more sense. It sounds like the only real disadvantage of the Sonos system is the relatively poor integration with other sources (a CD player, for example). If I honestly look at how my family listens to music, I can't see much use for other physical sources. I suspect we'll use the existing system to access our ripped CD collection on the media server, as well as streaming options like pandora and spotify. I do like the fact that I can access music and control where it's playing with a single Sonos app.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-13-2012, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by travis h View Post

Thanks, Jeff, that makes a lot more sense. It sounds like the only real disadvantage of the Sonos system is the relatively poor integration with other sources (a CD player, for example). If I honestly look at how my family listens to music, I can't see much use for other physical sources. I suspect we'll use the existing system to access our ripped CD collection on the media server, as well as streaming options like pandora and spotify. I do like the fact that I can access music and control where it's playing with a single Sonos app.

They do a decent job of integrating with other sources, at least by allowing them to be distributed! But yes, you'll rip your CDs and never use them for the system anyway. The analog inputs are useful for TV audio (sports & events). And I find myself using Pandora and Internet Radio functions most often, too...

Jeff


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