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post #1 of 24 Old 02-13-2014, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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We're building a new house and I'm looking for a 6 zone 12 channel amp. I'm going crazy looking at options and don't really know what I should be looking for. I've been pouring over ebay and craigslist the last few weeks and there are a TON of options and I'm not sure what's "best" I'm ALL about getting the "deal" thus I don't want to just buy something new smile.gif

3 Zones of 2 speakers - 8" monoprice in wall, 89 db sensitivity
1 Zone of 4 speakers - 8" monoprice in wall, 89 db sensitivity
1 Zone of 4 outdoor speakers - monoprice ~87 db sensitivity
1 Zone of 2 outdoor speakers - Monoprice ~87db sensitivity
All speakers are 8 ohms

Amp Source - Sonos or Apple Airplay/ Airport Express.
Ideally I'll have 4 or 5 sources feeding the 6 zones
We have ALL apple products, thus I'm open to airport just don't want to deal with drop outs or resets

Listening - background music, I'm not an audiophile but I like "nice" stuff smile.gif

I'd like to spend the least amount possible for an amp but an open to spending $1000 if it's "worth" it. Ideally I'd be closer to $500 for the amp.

Thus far I've had my eye on the amps below- all watts are based on 8 ohms
Sonamp 1250 MKII - 50 watt class A/B - $500 ish
This looks beefier with lots of options, not sure if it's beefiness really important
Episode EA-AMP-12D-70A , 50 watts class D $350 is
Seems decent but looks pretty basic
ADA PTM -1260, 75 watt, class A/B - just lost out on ebay tonight for ~$600 (still a little miffed I missed this)
Really hoping I would have won this since it was ~$6k brand new.
This thing was a beast and would have probably lasted through my kids!
Elan D12 or D16 - Class T, can't recall the watts

HTD DMA 1240 - 40 watts, class D
Open to this, but don't want to spend $700 on a new one. Seem pretty similar to the Episode amp for $350.

Are there other options I should be looking at? Do I "need" 50+ watts/ channel or is 30 or 40 watts fine? Any major musical differences between class A/B or Class D? I kind of like the class D due to running cooling and producing less heat but don't plan on working it crazy hard for the whole day.

Help me out! We don't move it until May thus I don't "need" anything until May or later, but I'm seriously obsessed with this right now, thus need some direction on what I should be keeping my eye out for biggrin.gif

Thanks!!!

P.S. - I've search for reviews the forum on just about every amp I've found. Maybe I'm not just looking in the right spots.
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post #2 of 24 Old 02-13-2014, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by kwoody51 View Post

Ideally I'll have 4 or 5 sources feeding the 6 zones

You should be looking at a Whole House Audio system / controller, not an amp. To share sources or select from more than one source in each zone, you need a WHA system. The amp is just a amp...
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I'm not an audiophile

Most popular phase on this board, it seems... wink.gif
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Are there other options I should be looking at? Do I "need" 50+ watts/ channel or is 30 or 40 watts fine? Any major musical differences between class A/B or Class D? I kind of like the class D due to running cooling and producing less heat but don't plan on working it crazy hard for the whole day.

For WHA zones, the systems are typically 20-40W/channel. The rest of the amp specs / design won't make a bit of difference for this application, except in power consumption possibly... You'll see mostly Class D amps for WHA purposes.
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Help me out! We don't move it until May thus I don't "need" anything until May or later, but I'm seriously obsessed with this right now, thus need some direction on what I should be keeping my eye out for biggrin.gif

If you're in the process of building, you should be concentrating on the pre-wiring and making sure you've got that all correct, especially the keypad and speaker wiring so you can use any of the WHA systems on the market. Take a look at HTD.com for a good set of 'budget' options that would pair well with some Airport Express sources.

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post #3 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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jautor thanks for the information! I've been on HTD and have poked around there a bit as well as read MANY of your posts about wiring and audio distribution. I worked up my wiring plan last weekend, hence the focus on equipment now.

I should have stated earlier that I'd like to control everything with an iOS device and have it be easy to use for my wife. I'm fully able and willing to use keypads and do additional steps… she is not! Thus the strong look at using multiple airport expresses or Sonos as the primary/ only source. Primary listening will be Pandora or iTunes radio. I don't have a large central music collection.

Based on this do you have any additional recommendations?

Thanks!
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post #4 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 07:45 AM
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A stack of Sonos Connect:Amps or the NuVo P3100 / P3500 units, one output per zone, and you're done. Can't beat the ease-of-use and the single-app integration of either of those two. Sonos has the edge in terms of streaming sources, but both products have "the majors".

But you should wire for keypads regardless. Bury the wires behind the sheetrock if you don't want to see the blank plates.


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post #5 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Do you see any benefit to going with a separate amp and then using the Sonos connect vs the connect amp? Logistically I'm fine with either and realistically having a separate amp might be a little less expensive, hence my heavy ask on if there are any other benefits.

I have nothing to base it off of but just wondering if the output of the connect amp with 4 - 8 ohm amps will be an issue?


Ultimately I'd like spend less than $2k. for the entire setup and ideally the lower amount the better. Hence my original question/ goal of using airport expresses as my sources.
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post #6 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 01:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwoody51 View Post

Do you see any benefit to going with a separate amp and then using the Sonos connect vs the connect amp? Logistically I'm fine with either and realistically having a separate amp might be a little less expensive, hence my heavy ask on if there are any other benefits.

No 'real' benefit in your configuration, except for the potential for a bit lower cost, and the ease of splitting sources to cover multiple zones, at least initially (e.g. one Sonos Connect to 3 zones).
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I have nothing to base it off of but just wondering if the output of the connect amp with 4 - 8 ohm amps will be an issue?

Sonos Connect:Amp is 4-ohm stable.
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Ultimately I'd like spend less than $2k. for the entire setup and ideally the lower amount the better. Hence my original question/ goal of using airport expresses as my sources.

The Zone player pricing (Sonos and NuVo both) is really simple. $500 per zone, grow as you can... The ease-of-use and lack of reliance on the mobile device(s) as the streaming source(s) are worth the price delta when starting from scratch.

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post #7 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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As much as I try to fight Sonos it seems this really may be the way to go! It doesn't help that I talked to a good friend that just build a house and he put in a Sonos system.... :biggrin.gif

I'm a tight wad, so humor me on my amp question. If I was looking for a separate amp to use with Sonos connect units which way would you steer me?
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post #8 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwoody51 View Post

I'm a tight wad, so humor me on my amp question. If I was looking for a separate amp to use with Sonos connect units which way would you steer me?

To the cheapest one. biggrin.gif

If one of them has a "bus" input that allows the selection of a single 'shared' source among some zones, you might find that useful if you start out with a few sources. The rest of the functionality, including power output, probably won't make much difference in this application.

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post #9 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I see some zp100 for sale on eBay for around $200. These are the older version of the connect amps. Thoughts on these?

They are "seller refurbished" so clearly have had some issue that has been dealt with. The price seems great just not sure if the feature set is such I should go with newer models.
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post #10 of 24 Old 02-14-2014, 05:16 PM
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If it's the seller I'm thinking of, I bought one from him a little while ago. He's had quite an inventory of these things. Haven't had any problems, they're just a little scratched up as you may know.

It's the most I was willing to pay for Sonos, so I think it's a fair price. Here's the differences: https://ask.sonos.com/sonos/topics/zp100_vs_connect_amp_features

I think it's worth picking up the ZP100 to keep the analog outputs.

I was also surprised by how large the older model is.
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post #11 of 24 Old 02-17-2014, 05:20 PM
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Do you want to listen to different sources in different rooms or have all rooms play the same source? <-- this makes a HUGE difference in your options and cost.

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post #12 of 24 Old 02-17-2014, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Both.... smile.gif

Actually I've been playing with 2 airport expresses at my current house to discover its potential or limitations.

I've discovered with these and the remote app I can play the same thing in both zones or two different sources.

Aside from the dropouts it's great smile.gif In my house system I'd have them hard wired which I think would help greatly.

Realistically I'll probably try to make the airport system work. If it doesn't I'll sell the airports on Craigslist (where I'll buy them from).

Semi related ordering wire tonight
2000' rg6 belden 7915A
3000' Cat6 from monoprice
2500' 14/2 speaker wire from monoprice

Seems like a lot of wire!!!! I'm sure many have much more smile.gif
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post #13 of 24 Old 02-17-2014, 06:09 PM
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I'm not saying it won't work because I've never tried it, but the Cat 6 from Monoprice is 24awg. The majority of good Cat6 manufacturers use 23awg wire as it makes the twist not as much of as factor in it's reliability. This is why Monoprice's cable is cheaper than most.

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post #14 of 24 Old 02-17-2014, 06:15 PM
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If you want difference sources in different zones playing at the same time you need some sort of Audio Matrix. Most systems matrix in the Amp, but some matrix in the software. Using a regular amp and a couple Airport Expresses will make for a confusing system and rely on your mobile device (all the while killing your battery.)

If you want to do a multizone system on the cheap you could check out Russound CA controllers (or even Abus... which is nearly a dead tech) or Nuvo's Essentia Simplese or Essentia system. They're all a little under powered, but they're about the cheapest matrix amps you'll find out there. THen you could input the airports as sources and do more than a basic amp. I still wouldn't use the mobile devices as main sources, but if that's what you want that might be a way to go. Also, each speaker PAIR, not Zone, will need it's own output. You can only double up on speaker pairs if the output can handle the extra load and has enough power to distribute it.

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Thanks for the additional info! As suggested earlier I just need to worry about getting it wired up and then will worry about what to use to play it. I'll probably have some extra wire and thus will bury some cat6 runs in the walls for future keypads.

FWIW monoprice cat6 solid UTP is 23 AWG. At least according to the website. Looks like the stranded is 24AWG. From what I remember solid is the way to go for in wall work.
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post #16 of 24 Old 02-18-2014, 07:24 AM
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Good to know. I had check someone's link the other day to Cat 6 Shielded by Monoprice and it was 24awg. I just assumed their regular Cat 6 was the same.

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post #17 of 24 Old 05-19-2015, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by kwoody51 View Post
Thanks for the additional info! As suggested earlier I just need to worry about getting it wired up and then will worry about what to use to play it. I'll probably have some extra wire and thus will bury some cat6 runs in the walls for future keypads.

FWIW monoprice cat6 solid UTP is 23 AWG. At least according to the website. Looks like the stranded is 24AWG. From what I remember solid is the way to go for in wall work.
What equipment / set-up did you ultimately decide on? I'm in the same boat... Thanks
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post #18 of 24 Old 05-19-2015, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Sonos connect with episode 12 channel amp.

It's been great this far and works exactly like I hoped.
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post #19 of 24 Old 05-20-2015, 01:49 AM
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Sonos connect with episode 12 channel amp.

It's been great this far and works exactly like I hoped.
Wow that really looks great. In my situation did you initially adjust the gain on each channel and now just control the volume via the Sonos interface? What about turning each channel on or off? From what I've read it looks like all channels are on all the time, so do you a speaker selector switch? Thanks
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post #20 of 24 Old 05-21-2015, 01:15 PM
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Wow that really looks great. In my situation did you initially adjust the gain on each channel and now just control the volume via the Sonos interface? What about turning each channel on or off? From what I've read it looks like all channels are on all the time, so do you a speaker selector switch? Thanks
You are basically correct. Essentially you set the amp once (gain, buss or local input, stereo or mono, etc) and then use the Sonos app for everything else. When you pause a Sonos stream (in Sonos-land pause = off) it will not be outputting any source material, so there is no need to worry about turning the amp on or off. In fact, most multi-channel amps will have the ability to sense whether or not they are receiving voltage, and will shut individual channels off to save power, and turn them back on automatically when that Sonos zone is resumed.

Below is a rack that was mid-build that I just happen to have a picture of while we were waiting on additional ZP's. You can see the lights in the center of the Sonance amp at the bottom of the rack. Whenever a Sonos zone correlating to any of those amp channels was turned on you would see those zones light up green on the front of the amp. A few seconds after a zone is paused the lights will extinguish. Very simple, and seamless for the end-user.


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post #21 of 24 Old 05-21-2015, 05:24 PM
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You are basically correct. Essentially you set the amp once (gain, buss or local input, stereo or mono, etc) and then use the Sonos app for everything else. When you pause a Sonos stream (in Sonos-land pause = off) it will not be outputting any source material, so there is no need to worry about turning the amp on or off. In fact, most multi-channel amps will have the ability to sense whether or not they are receiving voltage, and will shut individual channels off to save power, and turn them back on automatically when that Sonos zone is resumed.

Below is a rack that was mid-build that I just happen to have a picture of while we were waiting on additional ZP's. You can see the lights in the center of the Sonance amp at the bottom of the rack. Whenever a Sonos zone correlating to any of those amp channels was turned on you would see those zones light up green on the front of the amp. A few seconds after a zone is paused the lights will extinguish. Very simple, and seamless for the end-user.
Where did you ultimately buy your Episode EA-AMP-12D-70A from?I can only find them on eBay for $700...

I guess I still don't fully understand your wiring. You have your 12 channel amp. I see 1 Zone Connect Amp and 3 Connects. Where do they plug into the Amp - are there three inputs? I guess it's not clear to me, why with a 12 channel amp, you have a Connect Amp? I apologize for all the questions, but I'd really like to know, almost with a wiring diagram, how you have everything setup.
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post #22 of 24 Old 05-21-2015, 07:41 PM
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Where did you ultimately buy your Episode EA-AMP-12D-70A from?I can only find them on eBay for $700...

I guess I still don't fully understand your wiring. You have your 12 channel amp. I see 1 Zone Connect Amp and 3 Connects. Where do they plug into the Amp - are there three inputs? I guess it's not clear to me, why with a 12 channel amp, you have a Connect Amp? I apologize for all the questions, but I'd really like to know, almost with a wiring diagram, how you have everything setup.
I think you intended to quote kwoody, but maybe I can help.

The amp I used in the picture above is a Sonance 12-50, I will use it as an example since I haven't used an Episode distributed audio (DA) amp in years. Most DA amps have both local inputs (an input specific to a certain channel) and buss inputs, which can be shared among multiple channels. They also may allow you to bridge multiple channels together to increase power or even change certain channels to mono, which would allow you to actually run 12 distinct zones off a 12-ch amp.

So.... kwoody could have three of his Connects feeding pairs of channels on the amp, and another feeding 4 channels bridged together as two channels to increase the power to a certain zone. The Connect:Amp would not be attached to the Episode amp at all, but simply driving speakers of its own.
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post #23 of 24 Old 05-22-2015, 02:57 AM
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I think you intended to quote kwoody, but maybe I can help.

The amp I used in the picture above is a Sonance 12-50, I will use it as an example since I haven't used an Episode distributed audio (DA) amp in years. Most DA amps have both local inputs (an input specific to a certain channel) and buss inputs, which can be shared among multiple channels. They also may allow you to bridge multiple channels together to increase power or even change certain channels to mono, which would allow you to actually run 12 distinct zones off a 12-ch amp.

So.... kwoody could have three of his Connects feeding pairs of channels on the amp, and another feeding 4 channels bridged together as two channels to increase the power to a certain zone. The Connect:Amp would not be attached to the Episode amp at all, but simply driving speakers of its own.
I appreciate the response. As a follow-up, let's assume I'm using the Sonance 12-50. I can connect a Sonos Connect directly? Building on that, each of my 6 zones (or 12 speakers) would be able to play whatever I select on the Sonos.

Here's where it gets blurry for me. I do not have nor does my wife want independent in-room volume controls. That being said how would I toggle Zone 1 to play without any of the others OR Zone 2 and 5?

Is this even possible? I'm basically trying to have a solution in my house where it's an easier interface. I don't really care about walking to the equipment to select which zones I'd like on. And I'd like to make sure the speakers get enough power. Two inputs max, but not totally necessary. And buying 3 Sonos Amps at $500 per gets pricey quick and because our home is open concept I would never play different sources on 8 of the 12 speakers. I'm really looking for biggest bang for the buck. And it looks like I can get a decent price on a used Sonance amp (like $250 on eBay). Thanks again.
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post #24 of 24 Old 05-22-2015, 05:46 AM
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I appreciate the response. As a follow-up, let's assume I'm using the Sonance 12-50. I can connect a Sonos Connect directly? Building on that, each of my 6 zones (or 12 speakers) would be able to play whatever I select on the Sonos.

Here's where it gets blurry for me. I do not have nor does my wife want independent in-room volume controls. That being said how would I toggle Zone 1 to play without any of the others OR Zone 2 and 5?

Is this even possible? I'm basically trying to have a solution in my house where it's an easier interface. I don't really care about walking to the equipment to select which zones I'd like on. And I'd like to make sure the speakers get enough power. Two inputs max, but not totally necessary. And buying 3 Sonos Amps at $500 per gets pricey quick and because our home is open concept I would never play different sources on 8 of the 12 speakers. I'm really looking for biggest bang for the buck. And it looks like I can get a decent price on a used Sonance amp (like $250 on eBay). Thanks again.
This is by no means my recommendation, but it would do exactly what you are asking. Niles SSVC-4 Speaker Selector

That said, I greatly prefer the Connect (or Connect:Amp) per zone approach. This gives you discrete volume control in each zone straight from your iPad. However, if I had to choose between the solution to which I just linked and VC's in each room, I would certainly locate the volume controls in each room, not at the head-end.
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