Home audio distribution -- diagram, please review, have questions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 2 Old 03-03-2013, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm helping my in-laws build a house and one of the things I volunteered to take on was the design of their home audio system. I'm pretty comfortable with electronics but they had some specific needs that, while not super complex, are things I haven't dealt with before. I've made a diagram of how I envision everything coming together (attached below). Please review and then if you can provide input on my questions, I would appreciate it.

Their requirements:
  1. Stream music to any zone (via AirPlay at minimum; bonus points if FM radio from a receiver can be done too)
  2. Distribute audio from the TV in the family room to anywhere in the house (for listening in on sports programs, for example)
  3. Distribute audio from the TV in the basement to the rest of the basement *only*
  4. Play music via distributed audio system while someone is watching TV in family room

We are on a fairly strict budget, which is part of the reason I'm doing this myself.

My requirements:
  1. No multi-source structured audio systems that require input selection. They will get confused and never use it. Aim for auto-switching and just let them understand the priority.
  2. Receiver inputs must be able to be controlled via iPhone/iPad app; so they can set zone B input without futzing with the receiver remote

Strategy: a 12-channel amp to provide for 5 zones (1 of them being bridged). The amp has two main bus inputs (A and B) as well as a local input for each of its 6 possible zones. Each zone can be set to use input A, B, or its local input. Use automatic input switchers (like this or this) to override input from family room receiver in the event of music streaming from AirPlay (satisfying requirement 4). Use another automatic input switch to override anything else *for the basement zone only* if the basement receiver is on (satisfying requirement 3).




My questions:
  1. First off, how does this all look?
  2. Receivers with actual line outs for zone 2, as opposed to amped/powered zone 2, seem to be hard to find at a reasonable price (really want to keep costs under control). What should I do to ensure I get a clean signal to the amp from the receiver? Is there any sort of inexpensive "normalizer" that can take an amped input and make it line-level? Or am I missing something, like can receivers with powered zone 2s be set to send line level signals?

Thanks everyone.
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post #2 of 2 Old 03-03-2013, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogersmj View Post

[*] First off, how does this all look?

Confusing...

IMO I don't think trying to get folks to learn how auto-switching works, especially with multiple priorities and zone-specific behavior is in any way easier than just using source selection. Besides, they really are selecting sources at each AVR (Zone2 output).

One real issue I see is that if Zone2 is turned off in the basement, the basement speakers are going to be playing whatever is being used in the rest of the house. Which means they'll likely be turned down/off most of the time anyway.

I'd suggest looking at a keypad-based whole house audio system like the HTD MCA-66, which have simple source selection buttons (individual buttons, not a cycle-through 'source'). Feed the output(s) from set-top boxes to provide "TV audio" as a source, as well as an Airport Express. Although I'd also suggest using a Sonos Connect as a source instead of an Airport Express, as it will be easier to use.

Setting those up as sources, and having individual source selection in each zone, is also more flexible, so *they* can adjust everything individually, instead of being restricted to a fixed prioritization that can't easily change as they live with the system...
Quote:
[*] Receivers with actual line outs for zone 2, as opposed to amped/powered zone 2, seem to be hard to find at a reasonable price (really want to keep costs under control). What should I do to ensure I get a clean signal to the amp from the receiver? Is there any sort of inexpensive "normalizer" that can take an amped input and make it line-level? Or am I missing something, like can receivers with powered zone 2s be set to send line level signals?

Again, route sources to the system, or use fixed outputs from an AVR. But starting from scratch, for a 6+ zone setup, you'd be better off putting the money into a WHA system than several multi-zone AVRs. Cost probably comes out very similar when you total up all the pieces.

Jeff

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