2 - 4 Zones Help & Ideas - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-13-2013, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I recently purchased a house that was built in 2007 and is "wired" for the most part (speaker wires, audio & video cables run to every room).

There's an existing WHA (kinda) in that there are speakers in the following rooms:
  • Living Room
  • Master Bedroom
  • Master Bathroom

There are control panels in both the Living Room and Master Bedroom. But it's an older system and rather limited in my opinion. Right now it looks like there's only one source selection available and volume control. Here's what the system is:

http://www.3vnetco.com/digital_audio.php#

There are speakers in a downstairs family room as well speakers on the deck that all terminate in the utility room (along with all the internet and other audio/video cables as well as the equipment from the link above).

Basically, I'd like to have at least two zones (the current living room/bedroom/bathroom zone and then a family room/deck zone), but if I can get four zones that would be a bonus. I'm going to need control panels in 3 locations--living room, bedroom, and family zone.

I'm going to need these sources: Music NAS (right now a computer full of MP3s, but can put it on a dedicated NAS--namely a NetGear ReadyNAS Duo), internet music stations (primarily Spotify and Pandora--Spotify is a must and Pandora would be nice), as well as local radio stations and potentially the audio feed from TV (for football games), but that's not a must have.

So as I figure it, I need
  • 3 Control panels
  • 12 channel amp (I know I've only got 5 pairs of speakers, but 12 channel amps seems so much easier to find)
  • At least a 2 zone controller
  • Media streamer (for both current MP3 and internet radio)
  • Local radio source (tuner likely--which could probably also serve as the source for TV audio(maybe))

I see that HTD has a ready made solution (Lync6), but I don't need that many controllers and I still have to solve the media streamer problem. I know people like Sonos connect, but then I'm going to have the problem of multiple remotes--one for the Sonos to select the music, and another for volume and zone control.

Is NuVo/Russound my best option for integration even though I don't need that many sources? NuVo will get me Pandora, but I don't see Spotify listed as part of their Music Port (or Elite) streamer. Same problem with Russound--gets me Pandora, but not Spotify. Sonos gets me Spotify, but then I lose integration.

Are there other options our there that would provide a integrated solution at a reasonable price ($2 - 3k)? Or am I just going to have to decide between integration and having a wider selection of internet radio stations?

Suggestions? biggrin.gif

-Willie
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-13-2013, 11:43 PM
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Nothing like getting a house with a system that is going to be defunct soon. Sorry.

What wiring is going to the speakers from where?
Are there speaker wires going to the utility room? Do all the speakers wires to this location?
Are there volume control locations in each room?
You said that it has a 3Vnet system (kinda), what does that mean? Are you missing the control unit? Keypads? etc?

If you have volume control locations in each room, then I would do 4 Sonos Connect Amps for each zone and volume controls for the master bedroom and master bathroom. You could also get a fifth Sonos Connect Amp for the master bathroom as well, adds more flexibility. If you do 5 units, then volume controls are not needed and you can patch over the holes in the wall or, get blank wall plates.

The Sonos can see your music on your ethernet as well as having internet radio stations, streaming stations (Pandora, Spotify, etc) and a line in, if you can feed the audio from a tv receiver, to play over the speakers.
Then all you need for control is any Android or Apple device on your network.

fyi, a lot of local stations also stream online.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-14-2013, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks ifor.

I think all of the wiring for the speakers terminate in the basement utility room. But I'm going to have to verify that. I see that you can hook speakers up to the vNet system control panel (A-BUS style), but I'm actually hoping that's not what they did, otherwise I think that will complicate it further.

The two rooms that have the vNet control panels in them (Living Room and Master Bedroom) do have volume control--and source control--but the source control is really limited when you only have one source option. And that's what I meant by the kinda vNet system. Meaning that the house has the vNet switch and the vNet router, but it only has the one Vibe audio encoder. It does also have the Vibe dock for the old skool iPod, but that's pretty much obsolete by now. I do have an iPod, but I really don't want to have to resort to that to get my MP3s into the system. According to the diagram, you used to be able to get a Vibe Audio Server or Media Streamer, but I've searched for those on eBay and elsewhere, but I don't think anybody carries them anymore. If I could find one, that could solve my problem, because I found a news release from 2011 that said their music streamer would us Spotify.

Good point about a lot of radio stations streaming their content online--I hadn't thought of that.

Right now, I think I'm going to end up with Sonos as some part of the system. I had a Sonos system a couple of years back, but wasn't that impressed with it--the mesh wireless web it created seemed slow and didn't seem to have much of a range in the house I had then. But it certainly sounds like it's improved.

I think I'd like to keep the control panels in the Living Room and Bedroom. My wife isn't really keen on having to find a phone to do anything (other than make phone calls), so having a dedicated panel would help. Plus it would seem there's likely Cat-5 cable there anyway, so if I have to replace the control panel, that shouldn't be a problem. I think I'm trying to decide whether I go a cheaper HTD/Sonos mash-up or just invest the money in NuVo/Russound and have greater integration. Either way I think I'd have more expandability if I need it in the future. Although maybe that's what they said when they installed this system in 2007...

-Willie
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-14-2013, 09:59 PM
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Easy solution (and cheaper) would be to get a couple of the cheapest ipads you can find and wall mount them in place of the 2 vnet control panels. A lot of refurbished units available on Apple's website.

Look up the Launchport Wallstation by iPort. It's a great wall mount for the ipad and will charge them when docked, very slim and uses a magnet for hold. It just needs a sleeve for the ipad and you're good to go. You could even install them yourself.

Hobbling stuff together to try and stuff to work will never succeed. While there is a couple of solutions that control Sonos, I would simplify and do what I suggested. Cheap, reliable and easy to use.
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-16-2013, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks ifor. Yeah, I'm going to scrap the vNet equipment and just start over. I really like the NuVo P-3100 as a solution, but I (or rather my wife) needs in-wall control (she doesn't want to have to hunt for a tablet or phone just to change the volume or change the music). That's the only downfall of the P-3100 system.

But I thought about a solution like you suggested, but I have a tough time swallowing $200 for wall mount! The problem is there aren't very many elegant solutions out there. I would have thought by now someone would have a marketed a wall-mounted Android-system (since those are way cheap), but I'll be damned if I can find a good one.

-Willie
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-17-2013, 02:08 AM
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There are many ipad wall mount brackets but only a few ones that will charge the ipad without having to see the wires hanging down.

Your choice.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-19-2013, 02:03 PM
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If you are in a nice home and you are considering this a long term item, then the money you spend on it should not be thought of by itself. This is really about the lifestyle and usability of the system.

Crestron (since that's my expertise) can integrate any number of zones with a single iPad interface, or multiple iPhone connections depending on what you want, or you can drop a 12-button keypad in each room, then offer up a single iPad for deeper level of control if desired.

The problem always exists that starting an FM tuner is easy, and stations are easy to flip though, but Internet connections haven't proven to be that well thought out. A simple tuner for Pandora or Spotify is something I'm unaware of. Something which you can just 'turn on' and have it play your station and flip though a series of stations with a preset-up / preset-down option. Instead, you MUST run it through a tablet or similar interface, which often means you are dealing with some proprietary system which is locked down.

There is little need for a stand alone tuner of this nature, but there is some demand, I just haven't heard of what that is.

At the end of all of this, you will also have to know all the wiring which is behind your walls and you may need to get a few new wires in place if you want some level of specific control which doesn't already have a wire exactly where you need/want it.

But, if you recently purchased a place, and have need for painting, or recently painted, then now is the time to open up walls. You can have them patched and painted to match (or repainted a new color) easily enough and get exactly the results you desire.

Keep in mind that almost all of these systems are 'proprietary' in some manner. I swear by Crestron because the keypads I purchased for my home 14 years ago are still supported by Crestron and their control systems today. Russound systems from 5 or 6 years ago are now defunct and won't work with what they have today. Just something to keep in mind for the long term.

AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology installation in the Washington DC metro area.
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