Originally Posted by theeld
Building a house.
Congrats! Concentrate on the wiring first, as the equipment will change over time. Make sure you pre-wire for whole house audio correctly, so you can choose any number of products over the years...
For zones in home that are 2-channel audio, my whole home source will always be my from the soundcard of my PC in the office. However if the output of the soundcard is digital, I imagine I will need a processor (DAC, AVR, etc) at the location of the whole home amplifier in the home run location? Is there such a thing as a whole home amplifier that directly accepts digital inputs?
You'd need a DAC for any digital sources, the WHA systems expect a good old fashioned analog 2-channel input. Your sound card should have analog outputs. May be a 3.5mm jack, but that's easily cabled to the RCA inputs. You can use a balun from MuxLab to send an analog signal over cat5 from your office to the WHA amp...
I have a local source in the master bedroom (a labtop) that I intend to be the only source playing in that zone, if I run that through the whole home amp also, it too has a digital output that would have to be processed, which means another DAC, AVR, etc in the home run room.
Could, but for both of these uses, you might consider an Apple Airport Express (Airplay) or two hooked to the WHA amp, and then use AirPlay (or AirFoil for Windows) to send audio from any PC/Mac/iOS device.
In the Garage zone, I would like whole home audio source (from office), in addition to possibly a local source (Directv box). The only solution I have come up with for this is to have a local amplification option for the speakers there with a speaker selector switch.
You can use a local source interrupt / amp / switch setup for these, but may be easier to push the audio back to the central amp. You could also consider moving the DirecTV box to the central location, and send the video with a balun to the garage.
I am on a budget so complicated expensive whole home systems (with keypads, etc) are a bit out of reach. Hoping to do everything with components in which can be individually chosen rather than one brand all encompassing systems that have proprietary communication modules/connections/ports blah blah blah
Just note that building a multiroom system out of piece parts can make it difficult or cumbersome to use the system. True WHA systems don't have to be super expensive (this depends on your definition), and having keypads or other methods of local source/volume control raise the usefulness of the system considerably. Take a look at HTD.com for some systems that are a great value...