Help with basic audio needs for new home - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
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I need help understanding what is needed for my 2-story, 3-area audio needs. The home builder is planning on pre-wiring the 3 areas for surround sound, but they/I need help understanding how to connect the 3 for my needs.

I'd like to be able to have all 3 sets play music from the same source, have all 3 sets separately play the audio from the TV/cable from the specific TV in that room, and ideally be able to choose music from iPhone/iPad wirelessly.

Do you have any suggestions on how to meet these needs from someone who knows little about how to set this up.

They are also running cat5 for phone jack (I will need to replace to the RJ-45 for ethernet) and cable in most rooms.

Thanks for any help you can provide!
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 11:12 AM
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What you're describing is not simple... Can certainly be done, but will take some planning.

When you say they're pre-wiring "3 areas for surround sound", that's a different setup than simple in-ceiling speakers for whole-house audio (WHA) usage. If those areas have speakers placed and wired for a surround setup, that will be a very different solution than if it's just two ceiling speakers.

To "play music from the same source", the rooms have to be connected, either by home-run speaker wires to a central amplifier (WHA system, or 2/3-zone AVR), or by sending the content to individual systems (AVRs) contained in each zone/room. For playing local (in the zone) source content, either a speaker sharing switch can be inserted, or the audio output can be wired to the centralized system... Also, if this is just TV audio, it could be coming from a remote set-top box - but this gets into another area completely.

What "same source" do you want to use?
Are these rooms (zones) a 5-speaker surround setup around a TV, or just a pair of in-ceiling speakers?

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post #3 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 11:36 AM
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By saying surround sound, I'm going to assume that you mean 5.1 (or 7.1) in three separate areas.

The best (easiest) solution appears to be using three 5.1 AVRs and three Sonos connects. This will allow you to run each zone independently or together. You'll need a solution for controlling the AVRs, unless you're ok going to the AV closet and manually switching everything. I'm not sure how well a universal remote will work in your setup.

Alternatively, depending on your budget. you could look into something like Control4 or Crestron. Control4 has an audio matrix switch on which you can control up to 16 different zones (e.g. AVRs). Pair that with a controller (HC 800) and you have a more robust solution with the ability to expand. And you'll be able to control everything wirelessly from your iPhone, remote control, Android device, etc.
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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jautor, Gramin -- Thank you for the quick replies. I think I understand what both of you are saying.

To answer your questions:

-The 3 zones will each have 5 speakers in ceiling and I have ability to add sub-woofer in each of 3 zones. We did not spend much time discussing the exact location of the 5 speakers other than 3 in front and 2 in back relative to where TV and couch is.
-By same source, I mean my iPhone or iPad. I'll probably be using Spotify most of the time from my iOS devices.
-The set-top box will not be remote, it will be in the local zone.
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gramin View Post

The best (easiest) solution appears to be using three 5.1 AVRs and three Sonos connects. This will allow you to run each zone independently or together. You'll need a solution for controlling the AVRs, unless you're ok going to the AV closet and manually switching everything. I'm not sure how well a universal remote will work in your setup.

+1 on that for the simplest answer. However, doing some more wiring, home-run speaker cables, etc, should be a consideration for new construction. It will never be this cheap to run wires for immediate or future use.
Quote:
Alternatively, depending on your budget. you could look into something like Control4 or Crestron. Control4 has an audio matrix switch on which you can control up to 16 different zones (e.g. AVRs). Pair that with a controller (HC 800) and you have a more robust solution with the ability to expand. And you'll be able to control everything wirelessly from your iPhone, remote control, Android device, etc.

And there's a lot of possibilities priced between nothing and a Control4...

(I assume from the OP's questions that his budget would be swamped by any mention of an automation system)

Jeff

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post #6 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integrity23 View Post

-The 3 zones will each have 5 speakers in ceiling and I have ability to add sub-woofer in each of 3 zones.

Then three AVRs, one for each room, is the answer. If you want to relocate all the equipment out of the room(s) for aesthetics, it can be done, but again, must be planned.
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We did not spend much time discussing the exact location of the 5 speakers other than 3 in front and 2 in back relative to where TV and couch is.

You should definitely look at this closely. In general, builders will put these pre-wire 5.1 speaker locations is some of the WORST locations possible... Lots of info here to search for examples.
Quote:
-By same source, I mean my iPhone or iPad. I'll probably be using Spotify most of the time from my iOS devices.

Then an AVR with Spotify or Airplay support, or a Sonos:Connect unit attached.
Quote:
The set-top box will not be remote, it will be in the local zone.

Plan for wiring between wherever the speakers/gear will be placed and the display location. Now is the time to think about wall-mounting and getting the cables hidden correctly.


Jeff

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post #7 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integrity23 View Post

-The set-top box will not be remote, it will be in the local zone.

Will the AVR also be local? If that's the case, I'm not really seeing any options other than Sonos.

But take jautor's advice... wire the hell out of your home. Wiring is so cheap you might as well do it now. I have a new condo under construction in Chicago and I wired all bedrooms, bathrooms, Living Room and kitchen for sound and CAT cable (for video) to all bedrooms and living room. I planned big but will only implement small (at least for now). The cost (not to mention clean up and aesthetics) are much lower to wire pre-construction than once all the walls are in.

May I inquire about your budget?

G
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Jeff & G - Thanks again for your expertise.

I've gone through a bunch of previous threads regarding speaker location and types of wiring needed. It sounds like at a minimum I should put the L/R/C speakers in-wall instead of in-ceiling and ideally the rear speakers should be in-wall.

I haven't finalized where to put the AVRs, but my current plan is to have them local as well. I may put 2 AVRs in the same room for aesthetic purposes since it shares a wall with the other room with speakers .

I ran CAT cable to most rooms, but not bathrooms. Any reasons for CAT & sound in bathrooms? smile.gif

I noticed Jeff mentioned running conduit throughout the house so maybe I can ask the builder to do that? From my understanding it's basically just a pipe so that future wires can easily be fed from different places in the house.

Should I inquire about what gauge they are using for speaker wire and cat? It appears for my needs that 16 gauge speaker wire should be sufficient. The builder said they are using cat5. I'm not sure if that meant 5 or 5e, but I assume I would want 5e?

Your paypal checks are on the way! smile.gif Thanks for your help.
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
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I forgot to answer the budget question. I haven't thought about a budget before. But I probably don't want to spend more than a few thousand? I guess if I see something elegent and easy to use, then I would be willing to spend more, but it's only a 2,000 sq ft, 2-story house with just me living in it currently.
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Any reasons for CAT & sound in bathrooms?

Only if you ever want sound there. Again, since wire is cheap, if it's even a distant possibility, run the cable. I don't plan on ever putting a TV in my bathrooms, so I just ran audio. Will be nice to listen to news in the morning while getting ready. And the SO loves to blast music while she's getting ready to go out. So it will be great for her.
Quote:
I haven't finalized where to put the AVRs, but my current plan is to have them local as well.

If that's the route you're going, you should definitely go with the Sonos connects. With these, you can play each zone independently or play them altogether. Or 2 on 1 station and 1 by itself. Really easy setup, too.
Quote:
The builder said they are using cat5. I'm not sure if that meant 5 or 5e, but I assume I would want 5e?

At least 5e, if not 6. It's slightly more expensive to go the 6 route but it future proofs the house. However, 5e should be more than sufficient.


And again, if your budget allows, you should look at running everything to a central closet. Will be more expensive once you start looking at whole home control options, but aesthetically, can't be beat. My setup will have 1 AVR, a couple DirecTV genies, blu ray player and audio device all in one closet. From my iPhone / iPad / Galaxy S3, I'll be able to turn on any TV in any of my bedrooms/LR and switch to any of the sources or play movies/music from my NAS. It's definitely more expensive than a few Sonos connects, but there won't even be a DirecTV receiver or Blu Ray player near any of my TVs. Just the TV hanging on the wall.
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post #11 of 11 Old 12-05-2012, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integrity23 View Post

I forgot to answer the budget question. I haven't thought about a budget before. But I probably don't want to spend more than a few thousand? I guess if I see something elegent and easy to use, then I would be willing to spend more, but it's only a 2,000 sq ft, 2-story house with just me living in it currently.

Sonos then. All in, my system will run me about 15k for whole home audio / video distribution. For what you want, the Sonos connect will easily accomplish it, and they each only cost $350. Spend any extra money on laying wire / conduit! Better to lay it now and never use it than to tear up your walls to run it.
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