looking for the cheapest whole house audio - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello Pro's

I'm looking for a cheap and easy way to do the following. I don't need crazy sounding speakers, I just like to have music on throughout the house.
1) Family room - I want this room to have a couple sets of speakers for movie and music
2) Office - I want a pair of speakers in here
3) Master bedroom - I want a pair of speakers in here
4) Kitchen - I want a pair of speakers in here
5) Master Bath - I want a pair of speakers in here

Other MUST's
1) I want to be able to have 3 zones, that each can play a different source. (Family room / kitchen 1 Zone, Office 2 Zone, bedroom and master bath 3 Zone.
2) House is brand new construction so I have the ability to run wires easily anywhere.,
3) Want to be able to turn on system from iphone, etc.

Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 18 Old 01-31-2013, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjall2 View Post

I'm looking for a cheap and easy way to do the following.

Those don't usually come as a set. biggrin.gif
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I don't need crazy sounding speakers, I just like to have music on throughout the house.

No one wants crazy-sounding speakers. We'd like it to sound good. Oh, wait, are you just saying that you're "not an audiophile"??? wink.gif
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1) Family room - I want this room to have a couple sets of speakers for movie and music

Surround sound setups can be shared with whole-house audio speakers, but takes some planning and some extra equipment. You'll want a separate AVR for any surround-capable zone - none of the whole house audio systems will handle anything beyond 2-channel stereo.
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1) I want to be able to have 3 zones, that each can play a different source. (Family room / kitchen 1 Zone, Office 2 Zone, bedroom and master bath 3 Zone.

Yep, that's a "whole house audio system". Start with the systems and pricing at HTD.com, also Sonos Connect:Amp, and the NuVo P100 / P3100, (check Parts-express.com or smarthome.com for the NuVo gear) to get started...
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2) House is brand new construction so I have the ability to run wires easily anywhere.,

Read threads on the topic here - you should absolutely concentrate on the wiring and worry about the equipment later. Wire for keypads, even if you don't plan on using them immediately - you'll want to have option(s) later.

And think about any other possible room that you'd like to add in the future. It will never be this cheap or easy to run wires again. You don't have to expose anything, so if you never add those rooms, you don't have to stare at blank plates... Other bedrooms, dining room, back yard / patio, garage, etc.
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3) Want to be able to turn on system from iphone, etc.

Very do-able...

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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post #3 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 04:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your assistance!
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post #4 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 12:03 PM
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look at "Sonos Connect" and "Sonos Connect:AMP", plus in ceiling/wall speakers.

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post #5 of 18 Old 02-01-2013, 03:46 PM - Thread Starter
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The Sonos option does some cool stuff, but amp is 500 bucks and then you can only have 2/4 speakers off of it.
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-04-2013, 08:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Can I do the following in a manor that won't damage a receiver?
- Use a 5.1 system with a/b outputs
- Have the 5/1 part run 5 speakers and sub in movie room
- Have the b part run a speaker selector
- Have the speaker selector run 2 -3 pairs of speakers

Thanks for anyone's thoughts. I'm hoping this isn't too much strain on the receiver.
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post #7 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjall2 View Post

Can I do the following in a manor that won't damage a receiver?
- Use a 5.1 system with a/b outputs
- Have the 5/1 part run 5 speakers and sub in movie room
- Have the b part run a speaker selector
- Have the speaker selector run 2 -3 pairs of speakers

Thanks for anyone's thoughts. I'm hoping this isn't too much strain on the receiver.

Well, you can, but you probably won't like the results.

The A+B switching will only affect the L/R speakers, and will leave the rest of the 5.1 on (unless something has really changed here). So whenever you want to use the other rooms, you're going to have the movie room (especially the sub) left on. Also, you'll have to change the AVR's surround mode to 'stereo' to get proper L/R stereo output (which will help the movie room by turning off the other non-sub speakers).

The almost-as-cheap method would be to pick up a cheap stereo receiver (check Craigslist) to use feed your speaker selector, and then connect the sources you want to use to both systems. Then you also get the advantage of listening to something different in the zones than in the movie room...


Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjall2 View Post

The Sonos option does some cool stuff, but amp is 500 bucks and then you can only have 2/4 speakers off of it.


There is no cheap way to add a robust audio system to a home. Sonos is great, you may add to it later, ie, add more amps and players to the system as your interests change and your able to afford more equipment.
You may also purchase a dedicated Apple computer, load itunes on it and use Airport express units attached to amps that power speakers. This will look just like Sonos except your user interface will be itunes instead of a Sonons app. The Apple solution won't allow you to play 3 different sources at the same time however.

The 3 sources request is a gotcha, if being feed by distibuted audio.
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
There is no cheap way to add a robust audio system to a home.
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[Cheap and easy] don't usually come as a set.

They're right. What's your budget? A $1500 HTD system will get you close to what you want.
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 08:24 PM
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You could walk from room to room singing. That would be about the cheapest.

Regards, Frederick C. Wilt
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 08:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K Shep View Post

The Apple solution won't allow you to play 3 different sources at the same time however.

why not? and it doesnt have to be an apple solution.
itunes has been windows native since the second ipod.
airplay is support in all current iOS capable devices (multiple sources; even some android apps out there to support it)
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post #12 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by editor363 View Post

why not? and it doesnt have to be an apple solution.
itunes has been windows native since the second ipod.

And neither of those iTunes flavors will play more than one stream to a number of Airplay devices at a time, unfortunately. (one stream to many yes, more than one stream, no)
Quote:
airplay is support in all current iOS capable devices (multiple sources; even some android apps out there to support it)

Yes, you could stream audio from an iPad/iPhone, too. But it will take multiple iDevices to create multiple sources.

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post #13 of 18 Old 02-05-2013, 09:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjall2 View Post

Can I do the following in a manor that won't damage a receiver?
- Use a 5.1 system with a/b outputs
- Have the 5/1 part run 5 speakers and sub in movie room
- Have the b part run a speaker selector
- Have the speaker selector run 2 -3 pairs of speakers

Thanks for anyone's thoughts. I'm hoping this isn't too much strain on the receiver.

For simple two speaker, two channel audio, you could grab an automatic speaker switcher that that would switch the left and right speakers from the house audio to the local surround system when it was active. This could be done by sensing incoming speaker signals, which could result in a lot of relaying clicking during quiet passages in one or the other of the inputs or, preferably one that senses a base band video signal that would be present when the surround sound in that room was on.

Another option, since you can pull wire with ease at this point, would be to provide a fixed line level preamp signal from you multi-zone/multi-source system to directly to the surround sound system in that room. To provide more options, run a category cable with the line level. This would allow you run macros from your multi-zone system (if it's capable) to turn on the surround system and select the correct input from the keypad in that room. You'll need to know the capabilities of your intended system before implementing this method, but at this point the labor's free and the wire is cheap.
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-06-2013, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor363 View Post

why not? and it doesnt have to be an apple solution.
itunes has been windows native since the second ipod.
airplay is support in all current iOS capable devices (multiple sources; even some android apps out there to support it)

Thank you for participating.

In my opinion there is no way to accommodate the OP's request on the cheap, correctly.

There are products that you may use to plug speaker wire into and manipulate. It all depends on what type of installation you are looking for. When you post to this section of the website you will receive replies from professionals who build, spec and install this gear for a living, if you're looking for a hobbyists install by all means that is great too and less expensive.

Here is a speaker selector that I used to specify in the late 90's from Niles.


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post #15 of 18 Old 02-06-2013, 06:15 PM
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That's a nice piece of gear, K Shep. I used it distributing a single source, works well for that.

My vote is for the new Nuvo equipment.

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 #16 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

That's a nice piece of gear, K Shep. I used it distributing a single source, works well for that.

My vote is for the new Nuvo equipment.



That goes to show you why sales guys never get along with techs Neurorad, you guy's no more about the hardware and you remind us of that when ever possible.

I have a better idea 3 of these for the 3 sources. Heck for one of the zones throw a Sony 400 CD changer in play for old time sake, found one for $105 on Ebay, know that's cheap!





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post #17 of 18 Old 02-13-2013, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjall2 View Post

Can I do the following in a manor that won't damage a receiver?
- Use a 5.1 system with a/b outputs
- Have the 5/1 part run 5 speakers and sub in movie room
- Have the b part run a speaker selector
- Have the speaker selector run 2 -3 pairs of speakers

Thanks for anyone's thoughts. I'm hoping this isn't too much strain on the receiver.

Sorry - a little late in responding: I know you had feedback that wasn't too favorable (from people that I really respect) about going this route, but I'm wondering if you were talking about a 2-zone AV receiver? I've seen many units that provide 5.1 outputs for a home theater setup and also have an independent (stereo) zone 2 capability that can simultaneously use a separate source. You could definitely use the second zone (your "b part"??) to feed a balanced speaker selector to achieve part of what you're looking for (taking into account all the additional caveats & suggestions that have been offered here) - you'd be able to feed a 5.1 movie room setup with an independent source + have x additional speaker pairs sharing a common source - not quite the "3 independent zones" you were looking for (but maybe achievable at a friendlier price point?).

As mentioned above, your concern about "straining" the reciever can be alleviated by the right choice of speaker selector.
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-15-2013, 10:44 AM
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I highly recommend the Apple solution for your distributed audio. It's not super expensive to get started, and you can add channels/speakers down the road.

Here is the route I went.

I purchased a used 12 channel amp on ebay. Each channel has it's own input. This will drive 6 zones of stereo (one L/R channel per zone)
Each zone uses an apple airport express as it's input. These are $100 new, but can be found for much less used. The airport express has an analog audio OUT that goes into the amp.
I can use any iDevice (iPad, IPhone, Mac, or PC running iTunes) to control what is played and where.
Volume control is all handled on the iDevice. (of course, I set the MAX volume per channel on the amp so no one can blow anything up)

Some nice things:
Right now I'm only running 2 zones. But, as I add zones down the road, it's easy to add an additional airport express.
My amp is smart, it senses a signal and turns on. So, it's not sucking down power all the time.
If you don't want to invest in a multi-channel amp... audio source makes a cheap 2 channel 100 watt amp for $100. I've seen these used for $50 used.

Anyone who connects to my wi-fi can play audio. So when friends come over, they can take turns playing DJ. This can be disabled by adding a pin to the airport express to prevent unauthorized playback.
iTunes can stream to multiple airplay devices if you want the SAME audio through multiple zones. Otherwise, each zone does require an iDevice.

As for speakers, just buy in your budget ,but you can't beat mono price for cabling, connectors, and budget. I'd recommend going inwall/in ceiling for distributed audio...makes the wife happier since they are out of site and no visible wires.
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