How do I know what kind of whole house Audio system I have and how to work it? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 02-24-2013, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
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We just bought a new to us house (built in 2006) and it appears to have a whole house sound system (speakers in every room and outside and knobs in every room -for volume control?) There is a large input area in the main living room for audio cables, but how do I know what system I have and how to work it? Help!

Thanks!
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post #2 of 20 Old 02-24-2013, 03:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillybrook03 View Post

We just bought a new to us house (built in 2006) and it appears to have a whole house sound system (speakers in every room and outside and knobs in every room -for volume control?) There is a large input area in the main living room for audio cables, but how do I know what system I have and how to work it? Help!

If the wires all come to one place in the main living room, and they're just hanging loose, you don't have a system - you've just got speakers and wire. Which means you can connect any system you want... If you're really lucky, that bundle of wires will have both speaker cables and cat5e "Ethernet" wire types - which will give you even more options. Identify the wire types (how many conductors in each wire, also can tell from any wire markings on the jacket) as well.

If those wires connect to a box, tell us what it's called and/or take a picture of it. It could be a hub-based system if there's something attached...

Jeff

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post #3 of 20 Old 02-24-2013, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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There's definitely not just hanging wires. There's a plate with audio L and audio R ports labeled but not sure where they hook into. Somewhere in the wall I guess? I'll take a photo next time I'm back at the house (few days). I think we have a receiver. Would we just hook it up?
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post #4 of 20 Old 02-24-2013, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillybrook03 View Post

There's definitely not just hanging wires. There's a plate with audio L and audio R ports labeled but not sure where they hook into. Somewhere in the wall I guess? I'll take a photo next time I'm back at the house (few days). I think we have a receiver. Would we just hook it up?

Check the closets / basement for the home's "structured wiring" enclosure. The wall jacks imply an A-Bus system, and if so there will be a hub located wherever the phone / coax TV wiring is all terminated.

If that's the case, the wall plate will be a source input, and you can use an AVR's zone2 output (if it has one), or a fixed line output (if it has one). What brand/model is your AV receiver?

EDIT: Are the wall jacks RCA or speaker connectors (banana plugs / binding posts)? That will make a big difference...

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post #5 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 12:51 PM
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I think pictures are the easiest way to get some help. It does sound like you have audio wiring, but probably not an actual system with hardware. So you'll have to use your own hardware. By posting a couple of pictures, we can probably tell you what hardware would work. There is a possibility that you could use a normal receiver. There is also a possibility that using a regular receiver would cause it to burn out because it is trying to drive too many speakers. So it is critical that you know what you have before you start trying stuff out.

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post #6 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, here are a few photos of what's in the wall. I could not find any box in any closet. Also, I'm not sure if it's a 'formal' system. The previous homeowner had a degree in electrical engineering, so he might have done it himself. Our realtor is checking with his to see if he has any insight into it. I'm not sure what kind of receiver we have (it's at my mom's house so I'll have to check with her later, but I know my dad used it for a surround sound speaker set in the living room only.



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post #7 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 06:41 PM
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That's no system, just a bunch (way too many!) of speaker plates to hide a few feet of speaker wire. He must have had an entertainment console below the TV and probably L/R speakers on stands or tall tower models.

The "scoops" behind and under the TV are to route cables so they're not visible up the wall. Unfortunately Mr. Engineer didn't do it correctly to follow code, as this arrangement will have you running the power cord through the wall. The correct way to do it is with a PowerBridge product that uses romex to bridge between the two ends.

It's a shame he put all those plates so high on the wall instead of down at outlet-height. You''ll certainly want to have a piece of furniture to cover up that big collection in the middle!

So there's nothing here - just wires in the wall and faceplates to connect your speakers. Connect anything you want to them...


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post #8 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 06:46 PM
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If there are speakers in every room, there are either either lines run someplace else, or there are multiple leads run to another location, or several lines bridge together behind some of those plates.

Its a pain, but I would pull them out of the wall and see how many lines attach.
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post #9 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Hum, the only other place I saw was in a closet upstairs (I couldn't get a great photo because I didn't have a step stool) there are a bunch of potentially ethernet? cables coming out of the wall. It was where he appeared to have his router and modem hooked up. Weird to me that there are speakers and knobs in every room... There's got to be a way to get into it. Should I hire someone to come in and look at it all? What kind of a person would that be?

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post #10 of 20 Old 02-25-2013, 07:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillybrook03 View Post

Hum, the only other place I saw was in a closet upstairs (I couldn't get a great photo because I didn't have a step stool) there are a bunch of potentially ethernet? cables coming out of the wall. It was where he appeared to have his router and modem hooked up.

He's retrofitted some Ethernet wiring for the house, most likely, with all of it coming from that shelf location. The modem/router would be placed there, and what appears to be some RJ45 keystone jacks to feed other rooms.
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Weird to me that there are speakers and knobs in every room... There's got to be a way to get into it.

Ah, sorry, I forgot about the other rooms. Are there surround speakers in the living room? There's enough speaker jacks on the wall in the living room to support a surround pair and the "whole house". Assuming there's a surround pair, all the other rooms will be connected to one plate, using the "impedance matching" in the volume control knobs to allow multiple pairs of speakers to connect safely to one amplifier.
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Should I hire someone to come in and look at it all?

No, you just need to verify some of this by unscrewing the faceplates to see what's behind them for sure (or ask the previous homeowner for a diagram or explanation). As long as it's what we're expecting, you'll be able to just use any AV Receiver with a Zone2 output (perhaps with an external amp like the AudioSource AMP-100), and you'll be able to use all of it.

Jeff

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post #11 of 20 Old 02-26-2013, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Ah, sorry, I forgot about the other rooms. Are there surround speakers in the living room? There's enough speaker jacks on the wall in the living room to support a surround pair and the "whole house". Assuming there's a surround pair, all the other rooms will be connected to one plate, using the "impedance matching" in the volume control knobs to allow multiple pairs of speakers to connect safely to one amplifier.
Jeff

Looks like there are two speakers on the opposite wall in the living room (again with a knob next to them). That last sentence is foreign to me, but you're saying that a receiver would have multiple inputs for the surround sound in one (for the living) and then an input for the rest of the house? And then the rest of the house would have to listen to the same music and then just turn up or down the knobs if you don't want to hear it? I think the only amplifier we have is the one with the set of external surround sound speakers. My goal would be to make this work without spending any money, and we don't need the sound to be 'amazing' (so not sure about buying another new amplifier.
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No, you just need to verify some of this by unscrewing the faceplates to see what's behind them for sure (or ask the previous homeowner for a diagram or explanation). As long as it's what we're expecting, you'll be able to just use any AV Receiver with a Zone2 output (perhaps with an external amp like the AudioSource AMP-100), and you'll be able to use all of it.

Jeff

I'm still waiting to hear back from the realtor to see if he can give us any insight into the system.

Thanks again!
Hilary
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post #12 of 20 Old 02-26-2013, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillybrook03 View Post

Looks like there are two speakers on the opposite wall in the living room (again with a knob next to them). That last sentence is foreign to me, but you're saying that a receiver would have multiple inputs OUTPUTs for the surround sound in one (for the living) and then an input OUTPUT for the rest of the house? And then the rest of the house would have to listen to the same music and then just turn up or down the knobs if you don't want to hear it? I think the only amplifier we have is the one with the set of external surround sound speakers. My goal would be to make this work without spending any money, and we don't need the sound to be 'amazing' (so not sure about buying another new amplifier.

Fixed that for you... Many A/V Receivers have a "Zone 2" output, which allows for the "rest of the house" to listen to a different source (or the same) at a different volume level than the main, surround-capable output.

What's the make/model of your current system? Regardless, there are inexpensive solutions for getting the rest of the house to work (as in <$100). Getting the speakers wired into the other rooms is the hard/expensive part, so you're ahead!

Jeff

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post #13 of 20 Old 04-27-2013, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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We have this Panasonic Receiver the SA-HE100 (http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/SA-HE100?t=specs&support#tabs) It says 2 audio outputs. Does that mean we should be ok to use it as the 2 zone receiver that we need?

Thanks again!
Hilary
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post #14 of 20 Old 04-27-2013, 07:31 AM
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First step, unscrew the faceplate on one of the volume controls and examine the control. See if there's a brand name or model number on it.

TAKE PICTURES OF IT. And post them where we can see 'em.

There are lots of different ways to distribute and control audio. Some are passive, where the knob on the wall just handles volume. Others have brains in the controller that talk back to a centralized piece of equipment.

The next question is where the wire goes from those rooms. It needs to come back to a source somewhere. This could be those plates at the TV. Your simplest route for finding this is to get a tone unit. This is a gizmo that you connect a tone generator at one end of the wiring and then use a portable sensor to probe to pickup the tone. This is one example: http://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Tone-Generator-Probe-Kit/dp/B00845RZ38 You'd basically put the generator on at the source plugs at the TV and then go room-to-room with the probe to see if the wall control wiring carries the tone. Or vice-versa, put the generator on the wires behind the wall control and see where the tone comes up back at the wall plates.

As for the closet and high shelf, that's likely where they put a wireless router. It's not uncommon to bring the wires to where you can get your best WiFi signal distribution. Once upon a time wifi routers and equipment was pretty expensive. So you'd often move the router to the best place instead of adding more routers or access points. It's still not a bad plan to do it this way.
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post #15 of 20 Old 04-27-2013, 08:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hillybrook03 View Post

We have this Panasonic Receiver the SA-HE100 (http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/SA-HE100?t=specs&support#tabs) It says 2 audio outputs. Does that mean we should be ok to use it as the 2 zone receiver that we need?

It's not a Zone2 output, it's just a duplicate set of connections for the front L/R. These are "A + B" speaker outputs - it's essentially a built-in speaker selector. You can connect the B outputs to your other rooms, but you will be hearing whatever is in the main room, and at the same volume.

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post #16 of 20 Old 04-27-2013, 09:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok so for sure we need a different receiver with 2 zone outputs. And let's hope the rest of the house speakers are all wired up and ready to go.
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post #17 of 20 Old 04-28-2013, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for everyone's help. We got it figured out and working with our (very) old receiver.
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post #18 of 20 Old 01-30-2014, 01:59 PM
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Hi guys,

 

I just bought a house that has speakers in 6 rooms, in each room there is a wall mounted speaker volume switch. These rooms speakers seem to all run back to a built in audio component cabinet that has 4 wires coming out of it. there is a white green red and black wire. At first glance it seems these wires can be connected to my Zone 2 speaker out ports on my Onkyo 787. But somebody tried to sell me a Russound x125 cause he said my amp couldn't handle the low impedence of the speakers. ~~Does this seem logical to you?

 

Dan

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post #19 of 20 Old 01-30-2014, 06:50 PM
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Glad you started a new thread.

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 #20 of 20 Old 01-30-2014, 08:51 PM
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I take it I shouldn't have. Well my apologies. Sorry to waste your time. Thanks for your assistance
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