Simple solution for a 3 zone system? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi All.

I have been doing a lot of research and a lot of reading and I fear that I am at a point of information overload or at a point that I am lost in the various technologies.

I want to do something that, I thought, would be fairly simple, but so far the simple is escaping me.

I want audio only in three zones. The requirements are:

stereo in all zones
in wall speakers
audio to stream from my NAS where the files are in FLAC format over a wired system
controllable from my Android phone over the WiFi in the house (volume in each zone, song selection, etc.)
no control panels on walls, etc., all strictly from the server to the amp run through the Android phone
DIY

Nice to have, but not a deal breaker would be:

different music selection in each zone
sub woofer in one zone only

I can run the speaker wire back to an equipment rack and install the speakers all fairly easily. I just am in over my head regarding what equipment I need to buy to do this.

I have no specfic budget in mind yet until I can get a good idea of what my options may be. I do not require extremely beautiful sound quality just something decent enough to appreciate.

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thanks

Bart
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post #2 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 01:53 PM
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Sonos Connect with an external amp, or three Sonos Connect:Amp units, which will give you a true three-zone system. The three Amp units would give you independent volume on/off for each room, whereas the "shared" Connect would play in all rooms at the same volume. The relative volume in each room could be adjusted if you used a multi-channel amp, but they'll still move up/down together.

The NuVo P3100 would be another choice, but it requires the library to reside on a PC/Mac as far as I can tell so far. It uses a 'sharing app' running on the PC/Mac, so a NAS-based library may not work. But otherwise that would have been a very clean, simple solution.

EDIT: I found the NAS support - it's in the app under Library - the PC sharing app is just a shortcut to get a network path. The NuVo app allows you to enter a //server/share and username/password, so anything with Windows / Samba shares should be fine.

Three Connect:Amp units would be my recommendation. You can add any subwoofer if you can run the wiring to support it, or buy the Sonos Sub which integrates easily and wirelessly with their system. Very slick.

Jeff


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post #3 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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So this would be 6 components in total for the true zone control? Three connects plus three amps? Have I got this right? If I do then how are the amps controlled? I read the Sono system has an app. I will have another look at their site. I didn't think anything there really did what I wanted in terms of number of devices but maybe I missed something obvious.

Thanks.

Bart
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post #4 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 02:49 PM
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Sonos Connect:Amp is a controller/source/amp in one unit. Need one per zone. It does exactly what you want.


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post #5 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, I see where you are going with this. I looked at the specs again and I have some reservations about this system. Low power and the need to buy three units for a combined price of more than an A/V receiver but less function than the A/V receiver. The A/V was already overkill for a system that requires no video but if I was spending more just to get audio then.... you get the idea. It isn't very cost effective. Now if they did the same thing in one unit for less dollars then three separate units and ramp up the power output it would probably be perfect.

The pro side to it would be the ability to do the system over time to spread out the costs but that is the only pro for me.

Certainly not ruling it out at this stage of the game, but there must be a better solution.

Thanks.

Bart
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post #6 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 04:08 PM
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nope.

not if you want zone capability, android or ios control, streaming audio and nas support.

don't worry about the power, most times you won't be using more than 8-10 watts anyways.


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post #7 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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That's depressing then. I might as well go for the A/V Receiver then even if the video portion never gets any use. What would be decent options on that path?

edit: Actually the Sono will not work. I do not see it on the list of DLNA devices. DLNA would be a must.

Bart
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post #8 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 06:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbusse View Post

That's depressing then. I might as well go for the A/V Receiver then even if the video portion never gets any use. What would be decent options on that path?

An AVR with three zones supported (e.g. Denon AV-X4000, Onkyo NR616, etc.). Which will likely require one or two external amps ($100 each - AudioSource AMP-100). User experience through DLNA is typically icky, but you'll at least get a single stream of Internet services and/or a music library - but probably not more than one of those (the AVR's internal "source" is likely all tied together) at a time.
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edit: Actually the Sono will not work. I do not see it on the list of DLNA devices. DLNA would be a must.

Yes it will, you don't need DLNA. It pulls content from the NAS via the filesystem - doesn't require the DLNA "media server".

https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/79/kw/nas/session/L3RpbWUvMTM3NzEzNDU0OS9zaWQvcDZoU0VteWw%3D

The Sonos setup is one of the slickest systems available. If you don't want to swallow three Connect:Amp units at once, get one and add with a speaker selector. If it's not enough power, add a $100 external amp. When you want to separate the zones, buy another one...

Jeff


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post #9 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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So no A/V receiver can do this without additional add ons? Boy I am surprised by that since the most I am looking for is 2.1. + 2 + 2. which isn't even a full 7.1 system.

Good to know the Sono can work then with my existing NAS drive.

How does a digital amp on a Sono compare to others?

I still can't rule out the Sonos then but it still strikes me as a very round about way of doing this with the least amount of clutter.

Bart
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post #10 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 08:00 PM
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I can do this for you with a Crestron Sonnex system w/Mirage MMS-5. No receivers to speak of, high powered amps and full control via Android or iOS. But it's not DIY


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post #11 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I doubt you have anyone that would service where I live although I'm curious what system you would sell me and why it would be so complex that I couldn't install it myself.

Bart
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post #12 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 08:10 PM
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Programming is proprietary to programming dealers and the products are only available through said dealers.

About $12k.















Sonos looking better?


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post #13 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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No 12K is not acceptable. That would be overkill.

My problem with the Sonos system is the lack of power and a digital amp vs the price for what I'm getting for an audio only system. It is overpriced for what it is and I have no way of listening to it locally to be convinced it is worth it.

On the other hand, I've been digging deeper into it and like that I could just keep adding to it and add a sub for every room if I wanted and usng their own contoller could be even simpler than using my phone.

It's a 50/50 toss up now on the pros and cons, but in the end I do not get a warm and fuzzy feeling for it. If the units had better specs for their price I'd feel better about them. Right now I just see over priced for an audio only 55 watt amp.

Still reading, but not ready to accept it as the only simple solution for a given price point.

Bart
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post #14 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbusse View Post

So no A/V receiver can do this without additional add ons? Boy I am surprised by that since the most I am looking for is 2.1. + 2 + 2. which isn't even a full 7.1 system.

That's true only for the amplifier section. And many 7.1 AVRs allow the choice of 5.1 + 2. If you move up to a 9.1 AVR, you might find one that gives 5.1 +2 +2. There are a few multi-room receivers, but they will lack the surround, video, and network capabilities for a "single box".
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How does a digital amp on a Sonos compare to others?

It will be fine - speaker choice will dwarf any differences in amplifiers for the range of gear you're looking at...
Quote:
I still can't rule out the Sonos then but it still strikes me as a very round about way of doing this with the least amount of clutter.

The NuVo P3100 is a single 1U box with three zones, but I don't believe it will work with NAS-based storage. It really doesn't get much simpler than the Sonos setup. One small box per zone, they can be located anywhere as you'll never need to touch them.

EDIT: Yes, network shares are supported without the PC utility (which is a shortcut for setting up a share...)

Jeff


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post #15 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Up here each unit will be $600 before taxes. A 9.2 Yamaha amp just pulled out of the air without spending time looking at it is $1600 and it has 10X the functions. I just don't need all that video function - none of it to be exact so don't want to pay for it anymore than paying a high price for an audio only Sonos. The Sonos at $300 a pop would be more inline for what they do (and don't do).

I'm still stuck on over-priced and under powered single function box.

NuVo appears to be another one of these custom deals which won't do for a simple system and information about the NAS and contol is hard to come by.

I'm finding lots of stuff that may or may not work, but nothing that truly meets my needs.

Bart
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post #16 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 09:26 PM
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If you don't like the amp section of the Sonos, then get the Sonos Connect and get 3 stereo amps or an 8 channel amp.
But I don't know why you are so stuck on power?
Or is it an aversion to digital amps?

Like Jautor said, your speakers will make a significant more impact than the amplifier.


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post #17 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Which means a secondary control needed for the amp which probably gets even more muddled for an android control if possible at all. Something to control the connect then something again to control the amp. Not sure it even pays to go there on confusion alone.

Bart
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post #18 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 09:34 PM
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?

No need to CONTROL the amp.


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post #19 of 30 Old 08-21-2013, 10:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbusse View Post

Which means a secondary control needed for the amp which probably gets even more muddled for an android control if possible at all. Something to control the connect then something again to control the amp. Not sure it even pays to go there on confusion alone.

An external amp doesn't require any control. Volume would be set within the Sonos unit (and its app) with a variable output. The only thing you'd want in an amp is music-sense so the amp turns on/off by itself.

You don't mention your location so we don't know where "up here" is - but Sonos units are available at Best Buy and other nation-wide chains (same for Canada). Amazon carries them and you can always send it back if you don't like it.


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post #20 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 07:20 AM
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Boy let me tell you - Power with the sonos is not an issue - I have a 2 zone system: 1 in my kitchen and 1 in my bedroom - (Both with in-ceiling Klipsch spreakers) as you have read you can hear music and control each zone independantly. Power has not been an issue - we have hosted a few parties and with just 1 zone it was plenty loud to get the party crankin. Best of it all, we control it from our iphone and add music into our itunes and have it set up to automatically back-up the music library every night (3am). Bass is definetely lacking but the music sounds great. Go for it - you will not regret it.
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post #21 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 11:56 AM
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I can also say that I believe Sonos (I have the basic Connect) shows up as a DLNA device. I have lot of custom playlists and smartlists created in jRiver media center. I use jRiver's Gizmo app on my phone to send these playlists to the Sonos for distribution in my WHA system. I can access the same media files with Sonos and do so if looking to play a specific album. I could recreate the playlists in Sonos but figured why bother. When I want to play my Country Top 100 list I don't even need the Sonos app on my phone, just pull up Gizmo, select the Sonos box as the destination player rather than the phone or my PC and it starts right up. My openELEC XBMC boxes show up the same way. If not looking to break the bank and all you're looking for as far as streaming is playing your own files (rather than Pandora and the other services Sonos offers) a $59 raspberry pi running XBMC would enable DLNA connection to something like jRiver at a really low price point.

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post #22 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Is that poor bass because the in ceiling speakers are not well suited for base or because the Sonos can't properly drive a sub?

"Up here" is middle of now where Canada. Yes I can order but not my preference. I still believe Sonos is very over priced for what they offer. I'd still rather find a better solution for cost vs features and performance.

Bart
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post #23 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 02:22 PM
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In-ceiling speakers are notorious for not having bass. Sonos has a subwoofer output if you want more bass. Use a wireless audio option if you have no wiring available for the sub but wired is best..


Good luck.

You will be looking for a few years.


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post #24 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
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It does appear that way. Must say I'm surprised. I don't believe in rewarding companies with a purchase when the price is out of line. I find prices tend to stay out of line when that's done.

The lesser of two evils is an A/V receiver if I am going to spend money for features I won't use vs lack of features for more money.

However thanks for clarifying the one options possibilities.

Bart
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post #25 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 02:35 PM
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The price isn't even close to being out of line. If they were, Sonos wouldn't be selling them like the hotcakes.

You're just cheap because you're Canadian. I know, because I am a Canadian living in California for over a decade.
You could look at the Pioneer VSX-1523, it has the capability for powering 3 zones and has control apps. But for $1599, it's more than 3 Sonos units with not even close to the functionality of Sonos.


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post #26 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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LOL. You need to move back. It's not cheap to live here anymore and I'm anything but "cheap".

I have a simple Yamaha receiver for my video system that has two zones, talks to my server, has all the internet radio stuff and controlled by my Android that cost $600 (the same as one of those Sono boxes that will do one zone at half the power with no video). The Sono is way over priced by comparison so I stand by my statement. Three Sonos is $1800. A three zone Yamaha A/V receiver can be had for $1600 - my math still makes that less expensive than three sonos and I get more features. The full a/v receiver is the lesser of two evils. It's just more than I need for wanting just audio only. If I were working on a complete audio and video solution it would be perfect. It's still not what I want to do for a simple audio system. I use the second zone for outdoors. Doing something in the rest of the house after being impressed with what I currently am doing got me started on a second system.

If people stopped paying that ridiculous $600 price tag for one zone the price may actually come down to what it really is worth. $200-$300 tops.

I could have been sold on Sonos until I priced it out.

Bart
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post #27 of 30 Old 08-22-2013, 06:49 PM
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How about an HTD setup. Go with either the mid-level or the lync for control plus amplification. For playback you could either use your NAS depending on the setup (win 7 computer vs drobo or qnap etc) or just add an old computer. Even a spare P4 or old laptop would be able to do what you are looking for. You can setup the computer to play back different selections in each zone with a little tinkering.

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Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?
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post #28 of 30 Old 08-23-2013, 01:12 PM
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Hello bbusse,

I am in a very similar situation to you... I do like the Sonos for its apparent simplicity, android control, and apps but the price seems out of line to me.

I am currently investigating the ability to control 3 different zones via an android tablet. I have two receivers, both capable of dual zones. 1 of the receiver is hooked up to a 7.1 home theater system, and associated home server.

If I find anything for my setup, I will pass info along your way. I feel like we have very similar requirements.

1. Easily control multiple zones, preferably from something simple like Android tablet/phone
2. Connect to some form of a home server/storage for media.
3. May only relate to me, but I would also like a Pandora option, as I suck at picking playlists..
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post #29 of 30 Old 08-24-2013, 09:29 AM
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Being a Canadian (the only reason that matters is every Sonos piece is more expensive here than the US) who has researched simple to use whole home audio systems for a couple years, having expendable cash and the understanding to build my own system I've still come to the conclusion that Sonos is the only system worth my time and money to invest in. Because I'm frugal however and there are other things with higher priority for my money at this time, (trips, etc) I haven't bit the bullet and bought any Sonos gear yet. But I will.

Sonos is not overpriced, it is just expensive. It is worth the cost.
If you want a system that performs like Sonos it isn't cheap. I generally don't pay retail or MSRP for anything and that'll be the same when I decide to purchase Sonos. I'll be buying second hand or off ebay.

However, it looks like audio acacia may be the software equivalent to Sonos if you run multiple PCs and use Airplay. The only problem is it's in closed beta and seems to have been that way for a while. No idea what the pricing will be for a licence once it's released. I signed up to receive the beta software but haven't heard anything. I have multiple HTPCs, an Apple TV and different iOS and Android devices which should be what this solution is designed for.
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post #30 of 30 Old 08-31-2013, 04:03 PM
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Just a follow-up that I figured out the NAS support on the NuVo wireless products (P100/200/3100). The PC-based utility is merely a setup tool for getting a share created. The NuVo iOS app under Library setup allows entry of the server name and share (e.g. //myserver/music) along with username/password. So any NAS box should work just as well as a PC.

Jeff


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