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post #1 of 20 Old 06-19-2013, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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We recently bought a home that's been pre-wried for in ceiling speakers. I was really excited about it when we started looking at the house so I've been doing some research. I've heard from a couple other people who had houses built previously by the same builder that when they wire for speakers they pre-wire for the A-BUS type systems. I had no idea what they were initially but I found a couple of threads on here that helped me understand. Sounds like there's a central hub that connect to amplified key pads in each room via CAT cable. The speaker wire only extends down to the keypad then and doesnt need to all run back to some central place. This made sense and I figured that's what they had done. However, after we closed, I pulled a plate off the wall and found that there's a CAT cable, two 2 conductor wires (one for each speaker I assume), as well as 4 conductor wire. This has me slightly confused. The CAT cables and the 4 conductor go down to the basement central wiring panel and the CAT cables are labelled as 'IR' for each room.

So can I assume I have the option for A-BUS or a more traditional system? While I spent a lot of time reading up on A-BUS, I really dont know where to start on a traditional wiring system. Why would there be 4 conductor wire going to each keypad location? Why not just 2 conductor? Im assuming that I need some kind of splitter to plug each keypad into and then feed it a single amplified source but Im not really sure on that either. I didnt think all of the 4 conductor wire would go to the basement which also has me a little confused.

Im sure this is a easy one and I've searched the forum. Seems that the 2 conductor for speakers is common and that the 4 conductor wire is alos common but I dont know why.

Appreciate any feedback.

Thanks
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post #2 of 20 Old 06-19-2013, 09:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

However, after we closed, I pulled a plate off the wall and found that there's a CAT cable, two 2 conductor wires (one for each speaker I assume), as well as 4 conductor wire.

Awesome! You're in great shape.
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So can I assume I have the option for A-BUS or a more traditional system?

Yep, they pre-wired the house correctly, allowing for either a central amplifier or the keypad/distributed A-Bus / Digi-5 solutions. Which is why that's the recommended "standard" for Whole House Audio pre-wiring.
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While I spent a lot of time reading up on A-BUS, I really dont know where to start on a traditional wiring system.

Search this forum for WHA "whole house audio", look at the systems from Russound, HTD, NuVo, and Sonos. Note that the "wireless" systems like Sonos can also be used with this wiring, just without keypads, but with the gear tucked away.
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Why would there be 4 conductor wire going to each keypad location? Why not just 2 conductor?

Two speakers, 2 conductors per speaker = 4 conductors. It's just a cleaner wiring solution than home-running two individual speaker wires back to the central closet. With a simple system that uses passive volume controls in each room, the home run and the two individual speaker wires are all attached to the volume control. In a more advanced system with keypads, where volume is handled at the amplifier, the 4-conductor cable is simply spliced to the two speaker wires.
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I didnt think all of the 4 conductor wire would go to the basement which also has me a little confused.

Ok, go figure that out - if all of the home-run speaker wires and the cat5 cables from the keypad locations don't go to the same place, you'll have a problem. More than likely they all do and you've just missed them...

Jeff

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post #3 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 06:12 AM
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i think the first thing you need to figure out is where all the speaker wires go. Once you have that figured out, you will have a good idea of what you can setup with your system.

Give us some feedback once you have figured it out.

Good luck...
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post #4 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. So all of the 4 conductor wire goes to the basement wiring closet from all of the rooms. There appears to be a tube that I can pull wire through that goes up to the entertainment center in the living room. Im not sure why I didnt think of the 4 conductor being used for 2 pairs of wire (1 for each speaker), seems obvious now.

So if it all goes down to the basement wiring cabinet, can I assume that I'd need some sort of splitter to take one source and split it to the feed for each of the rooms? Im assuming that I can take an output off the receiver in the living room, send it down there, and then split it to each room.

So I guess my question now would be what to use for the splitter as well as if I need some kind of amp for this WHA system itself. Im looking at buying a Yamaha receiver that has 2 zones so maybe I could use the second zone for those speakers?

Appreciate the feedback and you guys helping a audio newbie out!
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 11:40 AM
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You have the wiring in place to support basically any of the WHA systems or solutions. An AVR with zone2 output shared through a speaker selector is the "simplest" form, and the cheapest, but the least flexible. Do some reading on the subject, think about what you want the system to do, and decide on the budget...

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post #6 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. I've been doing some research and I think I'll start with the speaker selector option with in wall volume controls in each room. Is it common to just leave all of the speakers selected on the splitter and just control the volume from the in wall volume controls? Im hoping so since I'd like to control it from each room rather than have to go downstairs to select speakers.

I'll do some more research and come up with a parts list.

Thanks
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post #7 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

Thanks. I've been doing some research and I think I'll start with the speaker selector option with in wall volume controls in each room. Is it common to just leave all of the speakers selected on the splitter and just control the volume from the in wall volume controls? Im hoping so since I'd like to control it from each room rather than have to go downstairs to select speakers.

I'll do some more research and come up with a parts list.

Thanks

Well first consider yourself lucky. I'm almost done doing exactly what you describe to the house we've had for 10 years. It's all completed except still need to cut holes for kitchen speakers and i'll be done. 20 more minutes of work to top off several long weekends of wire pulling. I always wanted WHA and it was a glaring omission back then but is a hundred times harder to wire after the fact.
With your set up you can do either the cheap but less control method or the far more expensive but a bit more control method where you actually use the category wire. I opted for the version where you use impedance volume control knobs in each room and rely on the new breed of wifi app controlled AVR's to change your source and volume for up to 3 zones (cant change volume in zone 3 with the app like you could in the more expensive solution). I wired for any solution but opted to go with the cheap solution and didn't use the cat wire that I ran sitting behind each volume control knob. Up until just a few years ago, before these wifi controlled avr's existed, you could not accomplish the cheaper method without losing a lot of control. The apps allow you to have almost as much control as a sonos type system for a lot less $.
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-20-2013, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

Thanks. I've been doing some research and I think I'll start with the speaker selector option with in wall volume controls in each room. Is it common to just leave all of the speakers selected on the splitter and just control the volume from the in wall volume controls? Im hoping so since I'd like to control it from each room rather than have to go downstairs to select speakers.

Nothing wrong with starting small... The "investment" in a few volume controls is minimal. If you get decent (look at HTD.com models) impedance-matching volume controls, you don't really need the selector - you can just wire-nut the wires together and connect them all to your amp. There are some barrel-strip connectors that can make this a bit neater than the wire nuts, but no need to spend more than $10.

The limitations with the simple volume / selector solution are the lack of flexibility (same source playing in all zones), and more importantly, the system is completely manual in terms of zones. Meaning, the volume in each room is exactly where you left it last. So you may have to visit every room to turn off unwanted music unless you get into a habit of turning every room's volume control down to zero when you turn the system off...

Jeff

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post #9 of 20 Old 06-21-2013, 03:51 AM
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If you have any interest in playing different sources in different zones, check out the htd mid level system , it is very reasonably priced.
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post #10 of 20 Old 06-21-2013, 07:31 AM
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I vote we BAN this guy for buying a house with speaker wire and CAT pulled to a wiring closet. Is he going to start talking about his Victoria Secret model wife next? rolleyes.gif

Just kidding. You're in GREAT shape. smile.gif
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-21-2013, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post

I vote we BAN this guy for buying a house with speaker wire and CAT pulled to a wiring closet. Is he going to start talking about his Victoria Secret model wife next? rolleyes.gif

Just kidding. You're in GREAT shape. smile.gif

Yeah, if you run into this guy buying lottery tickets, DON'T let him cut in line ahead of you! biggrin.gif

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post #12 of 20 Old 06-21-2013, 10:49 AM
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I have a tattoo on my arm that says 'prewired WHA' I'm so jealous.
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post #13 of 20 Old 06-21-2013, 09:36 PM
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+1, I also retrofitted most of my WHA system. Still not completed after a few years, but 95% there!

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 #14 of 20 Old 06-24-2013, 08:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Ha! Yeah, I'm pretty lucky that it came wired. Im not sure why the guy who built the house never used any of the cabling but I suppose his loss (paying for it to be installed and not using it) is my gain!

So the HTD mid level system looks pretty awesome. Looks like for a $1000 I can get a 6 zone 6 source system with all the keypads. While it would certainly be cheaper to do it without the fancy control volumes, having the ability to pick source seems like something Im going to want at some point anyways. Anyone have one these? Thoughts? The KC7 keypad looks pretty awesome, wondering if its worth the $150 upgrade for all 6 keypads. Am I right that if I get the MCA66SET-KC6 kit that it has a built in amplifier? So I could just feed inputs into the main controller and not worry about amplifying?

Also looks like I can get a pair of speakers for $60 from HTD so I could do the whole house for $1500 and just feed it any input I want. Im going to search the forums for HTD reviews but that looks promising!

So if I did the mid level system, I'd want to tie the speaker wire (2 conductor wire) to the 4 conductor wire in the local room box to get the speaker outputs down the basement. Is that correct?

Thanks guys!
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post #15 of 20 Old 06-24-2013, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Darn, the system is back ordered.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-24-2013, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

So the HTD mid level system looks pretty awesome. Looks like for a $1000 I can get a 6 zone 6 source system with all the keypads. While it would certainly be cheaper to do it without the fancy control volumes, having the ability to pick source seems like something Im going to want at some point anyways. Anyone have one these? Thoughts? The KC7 keypad looks pretty awesome, wondering if its worth the $150 upgrade for all 6 keypads.

They have the same basic functionality, but the source names and volume display make it a bit more user-friendly since you don't have to explain what "source 4" is...
Quote:
Am I right that if I get the MCA66SET-KC6 kit that it has a built in amplifier? So I could just feed inputs into the main controller and not worry about amplifying?

Yes, these are systems with the controller / amplifier combined.
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So if I did the mid level system, I'd want to tie the speaker wire (2 conductor wire) to the 4 conductor wire in the local room box to get the speaker outputs down the basement. Is that correct?

Correct. Tie both of the individual speaker wires to the 4-conductor cable - keep a consistent color coding. I don't know if there's a standard, but I used Red/Black=Right +/i, Green/White=Left +/-, which seemed to at least make sense to me... ( I just looked and couldn't find a published standard - but I don't have access to the actual CEA docs that would have them if they exist).

Jeff

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post #17 of 20 Old 06-26-2013, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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So I've changed my mind on the HTD system. Not because it wouldnt be cool and all, but because my wife reminded me that we'd never need multiple sources to different speakers and that if we did I wouldnt mind walking downstairs to do it. That being said, I think Im going to go the cheaper route and just feed the system with a zone2 output from my existing Onkyo receiver. That being said, I have some questions....

Looks like I can split the signal using a speaker selector. This one looks reasonable and provides two source inputs if I ever decide to use them...
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001YJ156Y/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

The volume controls seem to be cheapest on Mono price, I sort of like the slide ones but we'll see...
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=109&cp_id=10903&cs_id=1090302&p_id=8245&seq=1&format=2

Im think I would get speakers like this but arent sure yet...
http://www.amazon.com/Pyle-PDIC51RD-5-25-Inch-Two-Way--Ceiling/dp/B000CHPJAM/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1372265122&sr=1-4&keywords=in+ceiling+speakers

So here are my questions. Im assuming that I'm going to need a amp to feed the amplified signal into the speaker selector. I honestly have no idea where to start on that end of things. Do they make ones that are specific to these types of systems?

The volue controls are rated for 75W and the speakers are 150W so Im assuming that's for the pair. If that's the case, I should be ok there but how does the speaker selector handle the wattage? AKA, if Im only listening in one room is there a chance that I'd be feeding more wattage than I'd like to through to the speakers?

Appreciate the help
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post #18 of 20 Old 06-26-2013, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

So here are my questions. Im assuming that I'm going to need a amp to feed the amplified signal into the speaker selector. I honestly have no idea where to start on that end of things. Do they make ones that are specific to these types of systems?

Yes, look at the AudioSource AMP-100. Amps built for this purpose will have an automatic on/off when it senses a signal on the input.
Quote:
The volue controls are rated for 75W and the speakers are 150W so Im assuming that's for the pair. If that's the case, I should be ok there but how does the speaker selector handle the wattage? AKA, if Im only listening in one room is there a chance that I'd be feeding more wattage than I'd like to through to the speakers?

Those are maximum ratings. The speaker selector has a maximum because of the impedance-matching circuit. There will be a difference in volume if you disengage zones from the selector - usually the selectors are left alone and you use the volume controls to turn zones off (down all the way).

Jeff

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post #19 of 20 Old 06-26-2013, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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So adding that amp from a component perspective you think I'm looking OK?

Makes sense about the speaker selector switch. I had assumed that they'd all be left on and I'd do the controls from in each room. I'm assuming that since I'm using a amp that I can feed the system any sort of input (pre-amp, headphone jack like items, direct ipod into the amp, etc). That will be sort of slick then so I wont have to use channels on my receiver.

Thanks again!

P.S. - How do you know so much about this stuff? That theater in your basement looks like something out of a movie. Awesome work!
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post #20 of 20 Old 06-26-2013, 05:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boomchke View Post

So adding that amp from a component perspective you think I'm looking OK?

Yep.
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Makes sense about the speaker selector switch. I had assumed that they'd all be left on and I'd do the controls from in each room. I'm assuming that since I'm using a amp that I can feed the system any sort of input (pre-amp, headphone jack like items, direct ipod into the amp, etc). That will be sort of slick then so I wont have to use channels on my receiver.

Use "line out" connections, not headphone outputs so the level is fixed (and in the correct range) so that you control volume in one place (the volume controls). The "max" level is then set on the amp (usually mid-to-high). The AMP-100 has an additional feature that is useful for your setup - it has two line inputs and will switch between the two (with priority) based on signal sensing.
Quote:
P.S. - How do you know so much about this stuff? That theater in your basement looks like something out of a movie. Awesome work!

Thanks. Decades of hobby... And that's a 2nd floor theater. We don't have basements in Houston. A trade off for lack of snow. biggrin.gif


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