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post #1 of 45 Old 04-29-2017, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
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34 speaker audio system setup (long)

I have a large home which came with built-in ceiling and wall speakers, including both indoor and outdoors. It's a 2.5 story house. There are 2 separate locations for the speaker terminals, one of the first floor, and one of the topmost level.

The plate downstairs has terminals for speakers for stereo pairs in 4 different rooms, plus 1 outdoor pair, plus 5 speakers in the home theater. That's 15 speakers terminals - I think one more for sub in the HT which ends nowhere, so 16 terminals on this plate (but only 12 being actually powered).

The plate upstairs includes 7 indoor pairs, plus 2 outdoor pairs, or a total of 18 speaker terminals, all powered.

Until now, I have used a few stacks of old 5.1 receivers, daisy chained through both analog and optical inputs, to drive all the speakers. I use DSP modes like 5/7 channels stereo preset, as well A/B main speaker selector, to drive 2 to 3 stereo pairs from each receiver. It was inexpensive (I picked up a few receivers for cheap on craigslist, and used some of my older ones rather than sell them). I have X10 appliance modules on each receiver for power conservation, which I can control remotely from my smartphone through a Raspberri Pi with USB to serial to PLC interfaces .

The downsides of this approach are many.
First, what I will call functional limitations :
1) very limited ability to turn rooms on/off individually . I put my outdoor speakers on the last receiver in the chain so I can just easily power those off. If I want just the speakers driven by one of the amp in the middle of the chain, I'm SOL, though.
2) no per room volume control either, for the same reasons. I can control the volume for each receiver, but that's 2-3 rooms at a time. The rooms all have the same speakers are of widely different sizes, with very different acoustics as well, even though the speakers are all identical.
3) can't play the same audio source in both the upstairs and downstairs zones - they are completely separate currently. I can play one source in all the downstairs zones, and another source in all the upstairs zones.
But there is no way to play the same source in both (say, the same CD/SACD, or same media file from either one of the HTPCs). This would be useful for house parties for example.
4) zero integration with sound from smartphones/tablets. For example, I often watch video on my tablet when cooking, but I just can't hear it even at max volume with the noise of the appliances (especially very strong hood fans). I would love to be able to use the ceiling speakers in the dining room nearby. In the ideal case, I could pair my tablet with a "dining room" bluetooth audio device and everything would just magically work.

And second, usability limitations :
5) remote controlling the amps is very challenging . I have a URC RF remote control with IR blaster attached to one receiver in each of the 2 locations of the terminals . I have a few macros programmed. I control the source from the first receiver in the chain. I can't use the IR blasters with all the receivers, because most are of the same brand (mostly Yamaha) and use the same codes .
6) remote controlling the source is another issue that I haven't solved yet. The typical source is a pair of HTPCs, one in each of the 2 locations. Both have optical audio outs connected to the first receiver of each chain. The downstairs HTPC has HDMI out in addition. I also have analog RCA in from SACD changers in each room. The main home theater receiver downstairs also has a few other HDMI sources connected (satellite, Chromecast, Amazon fireTV stick)
7) power management of sources is challenging. I can't afford to leave everything on 24/7 with California's high power rates & time of use. I can use WOL to wake either HTPC through one app on the smartphone
8) power management of receivers/amps is also challenging. I use X10 appliance modules, and I set up the Raspberri Pi recently, and haven't put a UI on it yet - so at the moment, I login to its terminal and type commands there to turn on the amps (don't laugh)
9) remote control of the source also varies widely. I can control JRiver on the HTPC from smartphone, and while it may support WOL when first connecting to the server, it doesn't integrate with X10 to power up my receivers, or allow changing volume control of the receivers
10) remote control of source selection is also challenging - it needs to be done on the top receiver in the chain . I can use the URC RF/IR remote control, but I usually end up physically running to the location to do so

The system as built sounds great, and "works", but for obvious reasons of usability/ergonomics, I rarely use it . And forget trying to explain to my husband how to use it. I use it so infrequently myself that sometimes I have to look at the wiring on the back of the receivers to get the right source & sound to a particular room

The ideal UI is probably something web-based and/or app-based, that can be controlled from any tablet or smartphone, probably running from a low-power computer like the Raspberry Pi.

What would the AVS experts suggest to try to make the system more usable and to solve some of the functionality and usability problems mentioned above ?
I prefer suggestions that don't require modifying the existing inside wiring of the home.

I have looked at speaker selector switches, but the ones I have seen either come up short when it comes to volume control, or remote control abilities, but even if I found the ideal switch, it would only solve some of the functional problems, but it still wouldn't increase the usability - in fact, it would probably decrease it even more. Rich functionality and usability are often conflicting requirements, unfortunately. I don't believe they necessarily need to be if there is a proper integration, likely highly customizable software, but that's completely lacking in my system right now.

The problems are both hardware and software related. I have about 2/3rd of the hardware pieces in place, but they are completely disparate and just don't integrate well.

I'm a software engineer by day and I'm sure I could hack things on the Raspberry Pi in terms of providing a web UI for example, though UI isn't my specialty at all and it would likely be very crude. I would probably just write a few scripts to set things up for the most common use cases. But that's still assuming I could control all the necessary pieces from the Pi . Right now it only controls X10 PLC . Ideally, if it could also control all the IR components (amps, receivers, speaker selector, etc). I haven't done research in that area yet, but it probably exists. I can probably stream audio from the Pi to receivers over the network through DLNA also (there is one DLNA receiver in the chain downstairs, not in upstairs chain yet). For streaming from mobile devices, I think the Pi has bluetooth as well - but the reach is not likely long enough for the whole house. Also it would need some fairly advanced software to expose multiple bluetooth zones and support multiple connections, and multiplex to each receiver, not sure if it's even possible . Surely someone else has been there before. Ultimately, I have more money than time to throw at the problem, but I'm just not sure what already exists on the market that could be built on to meet all requirements. And I very much dislike being locked into a single vendor, either software or hardware - I have seen too many tech companies disappear over the years. For the software parts, I have a preference for open source for this reason - at least someone can still fix it if the main developer disappears.

Am I dreaming in thinking all the above problems can be solved together in my lifetime ? All advice from AVS forum experts and pointers to further reading is greatly appreciated !
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post #2 of 45 Old 04-29-2017, 10:51 AM
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You really need something designed for that purpose. You can use one receiver and a couple of multichannel amplifiers to simplify source selection and control somewhat but will still be quite limited in your ability to control volumes in rooms individually, mix multiple sources etc. A bunch of sonos modules would probably do what you need but not cheap. Maybe something from HTD (home theater direct) but not sure if there is a solution that doesn't expect a wall control of some sort in each room.

You're looking for whole house audio systems. I suggest looking down a few forums for the home audio distribution forum and asking there.
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post #3 of 45 Old 04-29-2017, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Am I dreaming in thinking all the above problems can be solved together in my lifetime ? All advice from AVS forum experts and pointers to further reading is greatly appreciated !
you and I are both dreaming this could be achieved in our lifetime

unless you want to invest a huge amount of time and $$$ yourself, the only alternative is to pay someone who has to continually tweak your system: what has changed is this can all be done off site now: but it is still needs to be done on a custom basis

really a shame: many of us put in more time programming and updating integration tasks that should be easy to do

many will tell you about the latest integration systems but they most require a CI (custom integrator) to do the basic install and programming and every job is different: it is a mess...and unfortunately it is the current state of the art

ps: I can move this to the proper forum if OP wants...

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post #4 of 45 Old 04-29-2017, 08:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigus View Post
You really need something designed for that purpose. You can use one receiver and a couple of multichannel amplifiers to simplify source selection and control somewhat but will still be quite limited in your ability to control volumes in rooms individually, mix multiple sources etc. A bunch of sonos modules would probably do what you need but not cheap. Maybe something from HTD (home theater direct) but not sure if there is a solution that doesn't expect a wall control of some sort in each room.

You're looking for whole house audio systems. I suggest looking down a few forums for the home audio distribution forum and asking there.
Thanks, I'll take a look at Sonos and HTD. I'm not 100% opposed to adding some wall controls, but would prefer to avoid it - some web UI would be better, IMO, and should cost less in theory (less hardware, digital volume controls somewhere without any knobs).
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post #5 of 45 Old 04-29-2017, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markrubin View Post
you and I are both dreaming this could be achieved in our lifetime

unless you want to invest a huge amount of time and $$$ yourself, the only alternative is to pay someone who has to continually tweak your system: what has changed is this can all be done off site now: but it is still needs to be done on a custom basis

really a shame: many of us put in more time programming and updating integration tasks that should be easy to do

many will tell you about the latest integration systems but they most require a CI (custom integrator) to do the basic install and programming and every job is different: it is a mess...and unfortunately it is the current state of the art

ps: I can move this to the proper forum if OP wants...
Thanks. Please move the post to the right forum.
What are the changes that allow the job to be done on site ? Doesn't the install still involve a lot of hardware ? Or are you talking about offsite programming of ongoing changes to the system like remotes, new devices, etc ?
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post #6 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 03:48 AM
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thread moved to more appropriate forum: a redirect was left in original forum

please take the high road in every post:do not respond to or quote a problematic post: report it
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post #7 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 04:31 AM
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Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Thanks. Please move the post to the right forum.
What are the changes that allow the job to be done on site ? Doesn't the install still involve a lot of hardware ? Or are you talking about offsite programming of ongoing changes to the system like remotes, new devices, etc ?
Remote programming can be used for just about anything that can be done on site:first you would need hardware (processor) that can be programmed remotely: like Crestron, Savant, RTI, AMX etc:

I had 2 way drivers written to control a Krell Foundation 4K from an RTI system: everything was done remotely including testing... the steps involved:

1) Setup a VPN and send the login credentials to the programmer (I sent a screen shot of the router page)

2) Send the IP address of the processor

3) Hook up the Krell to the processor and tell programmer what RS-232 port it is using.

there are many threads here you should read: especially this one:
A "modern" approach to Whole House Audio





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post #8 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 07:46 AM
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Yeah, you're trying to build a WHA system out of parts. If you just want this to work, and be able to use it and enjoy it, get a zone streamer-based WHA system, perhaps a pre-amp streamer to use as a source for your main system (TL;DR) and to allow you to pipe other sources in via line inputs.

Ditch the HTPC for this purpose, store your music on a low-power, inexpensive NAS and be done...

Zone streamer systems from Sonos are the most popular, but if you'd also like wall controls and some flexiblity in amp power, the NuVo Player line has options on both fronts (but with fewer streaming services, although the majors are covered).

Jeff

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post #9 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 12:26 PM
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I'm going to agree with Jeff in concept, but I'd recommend the Mirage system over Sonos just because it can support airplay. I would use something that already runs a good UI, no sense taking a bunch of time to make something that still probably won't be as nice as what has already been created.

If you're not using apple products for airplay, you can just plug a chromecast audio into one of the available ports of on the amps. You would not be able to link between the two centralized systems though with the Chromecast. You WOULD however be able to link your streaming source between all zones, no matter where they are (e-cast audio).

Downstairs:

MMS-1e Single Zone Streamer
MMS-801e for the 5 Rooms + Preout for HT Zone

Upstairs:

MMS-801e
MMS-401e

Solves control, linking of zones, airplay (or chromcast), control, ui, etc.

This is a write up I had a contributor do: http://myeasytek.com/2016/09/12/mira...s-alternative/

If you're unsatisfied with 2 available streams downstairs and 1 upstairs (the e-cast one, that can be shared to both) then you could do a second MMS-1e. You could also do the 5A, but then you lose the e-cast and ability to link upstairs and downstairs zones.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JT Babin View Post
I'm going to agree with Jeff in concept, but I'd recommend the Mirage system over Sonos just because it can support airplay. I would use something that already runs a good UI, no sense taking a bunch of time to make something that still probably won't be as nice as what has already been created.
A lot of the need for Airplay may go away with the right streamer anyway.

But +1 on the Mirage systems, too, they also have a keypad option as well as a wall-mount iPod solution...

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post #11 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Ditch the HTPC for this purpose, store your music on a low-power, inexpensive NAS and be done...
I'm considering moving my entire music collection from the HTPC to the Raspberri pi for this purpose, with an external drive, and just run JRiver on it for serving. No need for NAS at this point.
There are some limitations for SACDs though, it's not powerful enough to do on the fly DSD to PCM (even an old 8 core AMD struggles). I think I'll bite the bullet and just duplicate all the DSD content to PCM upfront for streaming purpose. Even then, there are some issues, though, it converts to 2.8 MHz/24 bit PCM and ends up taking far too much space, much more than the original 2.8 MHz/1 bit DSD content. And there is still massive CPU overhead for converting that 2.8 MHz/24 bit PCM to 96 or 192 kHz/24 bit PCM . Very unlikely the Pi can handle it. I just need to find a better DSD to PCM offline converter.

Even when I do get that setup moved away from HTPC, I still need some way to pipe the music onto all the zones, both upstairs and downstairs, though. For downstairs, there is a DLNA receiver, upstairs, none. Even if I add DLNA receiver upstairs, there will still be an issue with synchronizing (whole house) and distribution per-zone. Or I could add Raspberry Pi at each location (currently the one Pi I have is in my office). But the only way they currently output audio is via HDMI, and none of the receivers upstairs has HDMI either (they are really old, we are talking 2 decades for one of them ).

HTPCs still have other purposes - to play physical discs (DVD, blu-ray) to the projector in the home theater, and TV in the bedroom, web browsing, possibly games, so I will keep them. But I probably won't use them as sources for the whole house audio.

Quote:
Zone streamer systems from Sonos are the most popular, but if you'd also like wall controls and some flexiblity in amp power, the NuVo Player line has options on both fronts (but with fewer streaming services, although the majors are covered).
Jeff
I'm really not so interested in any of the streaming services, either music or movies. Part of the reason is that I want the highest quality/bit rate, both for audio and video. I still buy new CDs and SACDs rather than use any streaming service. I rip them all to hard drives (SACDs using a PS3). I have found that to be cheaper than streaming services for my taste of music, and I own the content and can take it anywhere including my car without a cell signal (very poor data signal in my area). For video, I mostly play blu-rays, or content from my satellite (Dish hopper). I have done some 1 off rentals from Amazon and Google (chromecast) for content I couldn't easily get elsewhere, but I just don't subscribe to any service and don't really wish to. I still haven't moved on to 4K/UHD. Proper native 4K projector prices are still out of this world. PowerDVD 17 can finally play UHD BR, but is severely crippled in terms of hardware requirements. Standalone UHD BR players are affordable, though. I'll still wait some more for the new projector - am on my 3rd lamp for my old Sanyo PLV-Z2000.

Another reason I dislike streaming services is that they are really rentals, and you don't own the content. And if the service ever goes away, so does your collection. So, I'm going to stick with ripped disc media for the foreseeable future.

Unless I missed something, Sonos seems mainly targeted at streaming services, and such seems like it's not a good fit. Is there any way it can actually integrate Sonos with non-streaming sources like physical disc players ? Or even non-subscription local streamer like JRiver running on my Pi ?

The other thing is that Sonos seems like it would require replacing all the speakers with their own models. While I'm not in love with all those built-in Bose speakers that came with the house, I'm also not crazy about replacing them all. Lots of drywall and painting involved which would mean a lot of cost. And electrical wiring may not be there for any of them, AFAIK there is just the speaker wiring at each location. So potentially a lot of electrical work in addition. This is the same reason I don't want physical volume controls that require access to the speaker wires. Just too much work involved in fishing all those wires. It's OK if those are just wireless remote volume controllers, though, but then at that point, they might as well be plug-in, too, they don't need to be installed in an electrical gang box.

The ideal system for me would be something that lets me keep the existing speakers and the 2 speaker terminal plates. So, some kind of multi-channel amp / source selector / zone selector / volume control. But the big wildcard is the remote control abilities. I have Wifi AC mesh (Orbi) throughout my house so that can be used. The home theater location downstairs has CAT6 too. I could move one of the Orbi (or add one) near the upstairs speaker plate too, which would add ethernet connections there too.

And of course there is the problem of integrating with the various very disparate sources (physical disc players, JRiver on Pi, bluetooth smartphone/tablets), that use a wide variety of connection methods - HDMI, optical or coax SPDIF, analog RCA, or wireless bluetooth. Receivers usually handle that disparate set of methods. The problem is that they often don't send the audio through the preout, especially for digital sources, when using zone2/zone3 outputs. They only send those through the main zone preouts. But at that point, you can no longer rely on the receiver to send the signal where you want it. Even then, most receivers only have up to 3 zones too, not 17. So maybe a receiver should not be a part of the system at all. Rather, some individual bluetooth to RCA wireless audio receiver, optical to RCA converter, HDMI to RCA audio (is there even such a thing?) to plug in to the multi zone/multi channel amp. Still doesn't solve synchronizing one source throughout the whole house. And of course doesn't solve any usability problem, only functionality.

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post #12 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JT Babin View Post
I'm going to agree with Jeff in concept, but I'd recommend the Mirage system over Sonos just because it can support airplay. I would use something that already runs a good UI, no sense taking a bunch of time to make something that still probably won't be as nice as what has already been created.
Thanks, I'll take a look at Mirage too. Airplay may not be a huge factor for me as the only Apple device I own is an old iPad 2. I'm not a big Apple fan, always found Apple stuff vastly overpriced for what it provides - and often usually functionality is too limited/locked/not expandable. I do admit their UIs and usability are good, but the walled garden functionality is not something I can live with in general. I still build my own PCs and often end up filling every possible storage connector / RAM slot / PCI-PCIe expansion slot on the motherboard I don't want to start a flame war so I'll leave it at that.

Quote:
You would not be able to link between the two centralized systems though with the Chromecast. You WOULD however be able to link your streaming source between all zones, no matter where they are (e-cast audio).
Not sure I completely understand. When you say "streaming source ", does that equate a commercial streaming service only ? Or would something like a JRiver source with DLNA streamer qualify and be able to be linked to any zone ? I would need multiple Chromecasts for this, right ?

Quote:
This is a write up I had a contributor do: http://myeasytek.com/2016/09/12/mira...s-alternative/
Thanks, lots of reading to do now !
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post #13 of 45 Old 04-30-2017, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
I'm considering moving my entire music collection from the HTPC to the Raspberri pi for this purpose, with an external drive, and just run JRiver on it for serving. No need for NAS at this point.
Well, a Pi with an external drive is a NAS, essentially. "Network Attached Storage"...

Quote:
Even when I do get that setup moved away from HTPC, I still need some way to pipe the music onto all the zones, both upstairs and downstairs, though. For downstairs, there is a DLNA receiver, upstairs, none. Even if I add DLNA receiver upstairs, there will still be an issue with synchronizing (whole house) and distribution per-zone.
The decent or better zone streamer boxes will do this - pull files from your local library on the network, stream and sync among multiple zones as desired.

Quote:
HTPCs still have other purposes - to play physical discs (DVD, blu-ray) to the projector in the home theater, and TV in the bedroom, web browsing, possibly games, so I will keep them. But I probably won't use them as sources for the whole house audio.
And that's the only context I was speaking about. Plenty of other purposes, just not needed for WHA systems.

Quote:
I'm really not so interested in any of the streaming services, either music or movies. Part of the reason is that I want the highest quality/bit rate, both for audio and video. I still buy new CDs and SACDs rather than use any streaming service. I rip them all to hard drives (SACDs using a PS3).
I have my whole CD library stored on the NAS in FLAC and a downconversion copy at decent-rate MP3 to copy to the car/phone/etc. where space is a premium. The good WHA zone streamers support FLAC and ALAC for CD quality playback.

Quote:
Unless I missed something, Sonos seems mainly targeted at streaming services, and such seems like it's not a good fit. Is there any way it can actually integrate Sonos with non-streaming sources like physical disc players ? Or even non-subscription local streamer like JRiver running on my Pi ?
You're missing it... The zone-player-based WHA systems will also play from your local library, and provide a good UI for controlling it.

Quote:
The other thing is that Sonos seems like it would require replacing all the speakers with their own models.
Nope, absolutely not. Look at the Sonos Connect and Connect:AMP, for attaching to your system as a source, or with a moderate amp built-in ready to attach to speakers. There are similar products for most (if not all) of these types of systems.

Quote:
While I'm not in love with all those built-in Bose speakers that came with the house, I'm also not crazy about replacing them all. Lots of drywall and painting involved which would mean a lot of cost. And electrical wiring may not be there for any of them, AFAIK there is just the speaker wiring at each location. So potentially a lot of electrical work in addition. This is the same reason I don't want physical volume controls that require access to the speaker wires. Just too much work involved in fishing all those wires. It's OK if those are just wireless remote volume controllers, though, but then at that point, they might as well be plug-in, too, they don't need to be installed in an electrical gang box.
You really need to do some reading in *this* forum, to understand all the products available for WHA systems...

Quote:
The ideal system for me would be something that lets me keep the existing speakers and the 2 speaker terminal plates. So, some kind of multi-channel amp / source selector / zone selector / volume control. But the big wildcard is the remote control abilities. I have Wifi AC mesh (Orbi) throughout my house so that can be used. The home theater location downstairs has CAT6 too.
It's called a Whole House Audio system. Lots of choices available. Stop typing and start reading...

Quote:
And of course there is the problem of integrating with the various very disparate sources (physical disc players, JRiver on Pi, bluetooth smartphone/tablets), that use a wide variety of connection methods - HDMI, optical or coax SPDIF, analog RCA, or wireless bluetooth. Receivers usually handle that disparate set of methods. The problem is that they often don't send the audio through the preout, especially for digital sources, when using zone2/zone3 outputs. They only send those through the main zone preouts. But at that point, you can no longer rely on the receiver to send the signal where you want it. Even then, most receivers only have up to 3 zones too, not 17. So maybe a receiver should not be a part of the system at all. Rather, some individual bluetooth to RCA wireless audio receiver, optical to RCA converter, HDMI to RCA audio (is there even such a thing?) to plug in to the multi zone/multi channel amp. Still doesn't solve synchronizing one source throughout the whole house. And of course doesn't solve any usability problem, only functionality.
TL;DR but I bet the answer is "WHA system"...


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post #14 of 45 Old 05-01-2017, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Thanks, I'll take a look at Mirage too. Airplay may not be a huge factor for me as the only Apple device I own is an old iPad 2. I'm not a big Apple fan, always found Apple stuff vastly overpriced for what it provides - and often usually functionality is too limited/locked/not expandable. I do admit their UIs and usability are good, but the walled garden functionality is not something I can live with in general. I still build my own PCs and often end up filling every possible storage connector / RAM slot / PCI-PCIe expansion slot on the motherboard I don't want to start a flame war so I'll leave it at that.

Not sure I completely understand. When you say "streaming source ", does that equate a commercial streaming service only ? Or would something like a JRiver source with DLNA streamer qualify and be able to be linked to any zone ? I would need multiple Chromecasts for this, right ?

Thanks, lots of reading to do now !
Read up on the Mirage.. it'll give you the hardware and UI that you're looking for. I'm not sure about DLNA control with metadata feedback, but at the bare min you would get audio from a connected source input. Connected source inputs would not stream between zones, only the e-cast from the MMS-1e for, yes, your commercially available streaming sources.

Two Chromcasts, one up one down, couldn't mirror between zones up and down for the same reasons. Sonos will let you do this on their connected line in's, but if you're not an Apple person you probably won't be a Sonos person either. It's worth reading up on though. I'm not Apple person either FYI.

Read about these two systems, maybe tell us what your plan is and we'll find the holes in it if they exist.

Also, if you're a software engineer maybe read my post in tweaks about getting my Open GL 2.0 to work on my machine
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post #15 of 45 Old 05-01-2017, 11:25 AM
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So since you are a software engineer, you have some options that normal folks wouldn't have in terms of being willing to do setup and control, esp since you like the app based model for control.

I would say that you are fortunate to not have volume controlled knobs and such in each room. They are a pain to integrate and I would recommend removing them and bypassing them if you had them.

I would take a set of multichannel amps that have the ability to be switched on by audio detect - like the Dayton ones you can get from parts express, or any number of used ones from ebay that are good quality, and just feed each zone with a chromecast audio dongles. You can group them together for sync'd playback (even if the gear is distributed through the house) and control them all remotely from smartphones, and they are really really cheap, and have excellent DAC's in them for high quality playback. Hardwire them all though, don't depend on wifi if you want good sync for a lot of zones.

As for the app to access all your music collection with full metadata, I like Plex a lot. It supports flac and gives you access remotely (outside your house), and does transcoding and such on the fly. It has full Cast support fully integrated, and can access all your media stored on a NAS. Some NAS's even will run Plex media server natively.

I would stay away from keypad solutions or things like Nuvo, Russound etc... that have poor software integration with Android and iOS native streaming capabilities, and are expensive to boot. This solution doesn't handle straight line inputs as well as others, but that doesn't seem to be a requirement for you.

I am doing something similar for a new house I am building which has a ton of zones.

On the automation side, I would suggest you look into homeseer, which can run on an appliance, or on a PC or as a VM (the way I do it). It supports integration with Google home, and has plugins for music management etc... If you are a software engineer, you'll like it a lot.

Thanks,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
I have a large home which came with built-in ceiling and wall speakers, including both indoor and outdoors. It's a 2.5 story house. There are 2 separate locations for the speaker terminals, one of the first floor, and one of the topmost level.

The plate downstairs has terminals for speakers for stereo pairs in 4 different rooms, plus 1 outdoor pair, plus 5 speakers in the home theater. That's 15 speakers terminals - I think one more for sub in the HT which ends nowhere, so 16 terminals on this plate (but only 12 being actually powered).

The plate upstairs includes 7 indoor pairs, plus 2 outdoor pairs, or a total of 18 speaker terminals, all powered.

Until now, I have used a few stacks of old 5.1 receivers, daisy chained through both analog and optical inputs, to drive all the speakers. I use DSP modes like 5/7 channels stereo preset, as well A/B main speaker selector, to drive 2 to 3 stereo pairs from each receiver. It was inexpensive (I picked up a few receivers for cheap on craigslist, and used some of my older ones rather than sell them). I have X10 appliance modules on each receiver for power conservation, which I can control remotely from my smartphone through a Raspberri Pi with USB to serial to PLC interfaces .

The downsides of this approach are many.
First, what I will call functional limitations :
1) very limited ability to turn rooms on/off individually . I put my outdoor speakers on the last receiver in the chain so I can just easily power those off. If I want just the speakers driven by one of the amp in the middle of the chain, I'm SOL, though.
2) no per room volume control either, for the same reasons. I can control the volume for each receiver, but that's 2-3 rooms at a time. The rooms all have the same speakers are of widely different sizes, with very different acoustics as well, even though the speakers are all identical.
3) can't play the same audio source in both the upstairs and downstairs zones - they are completely separate currently. I can play one source in all the downstairs zones, and another source in all the upstairs zones.
But there is no way to play the same source in both (say, the same CD/SACD, or same media file from either one of the HTPCs). This would be useful for house parties for example.
4) zero integration with sound from smartphones/tablets. For example, I often watch video on my tablet when cooking, but I just can't hear it even at max volume with the noise of the appliances (especially very strong hood fans). I would love to be able to use the ceiling speakers in the dining room nearby. In the ideal case, I could pair my tablet with a "dining room" bluetooth audio device and everything would just magically work.

And second, usability limitations :
5) remote controlling the amps is very challenging . I have a URC RF remote control with IR blaster attached to one receiver in each of the 2 locations of the terminals . I have a few macros programmed. I control the source from the first receiver in the chain. I can't use the IR blasters with all the receivers, because most are of the same brand (mostly Yamaha) and use the same codes .
6) remote controlling the source is another issue that I haven't solved yet. The typical source is a pair of HTPCs, one in each of the 2 locations. Both have optical audio outs connected to the first receiver of each chain. The downstairs HTPC has HDMI out in addition. I also have analog RCA in from SACD changers in each room. The main home theater receiver downstairs also has a few other HDMI sources connected (satellite, Chromecast, Amazon fireTV stick)
7) power management of sources is challenging. I can't afford to leave everything on 24/7 with California's high power rates & time of use. I can use WOL to wake either HTPC through one app on the smartphone
8) power management of receivers/amps is also challenging. I use X10 appliance modules, and I set up the Raspberri Pi recently, and haven't put a UI on it yet - so at the moment, I login to its terminal and type commands there to turn on the amps (don't laugh)
9) remote control of the source also varies widely. I can control JRiver on the HTPC from smartphone, and while it may support WOL when first connecting to the server, it doesn't integrate with X10 to power up my receivers, or allow changing volume control of the receivers
10) remote control of source selection is also challenging - it needs to be done on the top receiver in the chain . I can use the URC RF/IR remote control, but I usually end up physically running to the location to do so

The system as built sounds great, and "works", but for obvious reasons of usability/ergonomics, I rarely use it . And forget trying to explain to my husband how to use it. I use it so infrequently myself that sometimes I have to look at the wiring on the back of the receivers to get the right source & sound to a particular room

The ideal UI is probably something web-based and/or app-based, that can be controlled from any tablet or smartphone, probably running from a low-power computer like the Raspberry Pi.

What would the AVS experts suggest to try to make the system more usable and to solve some of the functionality and usability problems mentioned above ?
I prefer suggestions that don't require modifying the existing inside wiring of the home.

I have looked at speaker selector switches, but the ones I have seen either come up short when it comes to volume control, or remote control abilities, but even if I found the ideal switch, it would only solve some of the functional problems, but it still wouldn't increase the usability - in fact, it would probably decrease it even more. Rich functionality and usability are often conflicting requirements, unfortunately. I don't believe they necessarily need to be if there is a proper integration, likely highly customizable software, but that's completely lacking in my system right now.

The problems are both hardware and software related. I have about 2/3rd of the hardware pieces in place, but they are completely disparate and just don't integrate well.

I'm a software engineer by day and I'm sure I could hack things on the Raspberry Pi in terms of providing a web UI for example, though UI isn't my specialty at all and it would likely be very crude. I would probably just write a few scripts to set things up for the most common use cases. But that's still assuming I could control all the necessary pieces from the Pi . Right now it only controls X10 PLC . Ideally, if it could also control all the IR components (amps, receivers, speaker selector, etc). I haven't done research in that area yet, but it probably exists. I can probably stream audio from the Pi to receivers over the network through DLNA also (there is one DLNA receiver in the chain downstairs, not in upstairs chain yet). For streaming from mobile devices, I think the Pi has bluetooth as well - but the reach is not likely long enough for the whole house. Also it would need some fairly advanced software to expose multiple bluetooth zones and support multiple connections, and multiplex to each receiver, not sure if it's even possible . Surely someone else has been there before. Ultimately, I have more money than time to throw at the problem, but I'm just not sure what already exists on the market that could be built on to meet all requirements. And I very much dislike being locked into a single vendor, either software or hardware - I have seen too many tech companies disappear over the years. For the software parts, I have a preference for open source for this reason - at least someone can still fix it if the main developer disappears.

Am I dreaming in thinking all the above problems can be solved together in my lifetime ? All advice from AVS forum experts and pointers to further reading is greatly appreciated !
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post #16 of 45 Old 05-03-2017, 10:59 PM
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Is there any cabling between the 2 feed zones?
Like cat5e wires between the upstairs plate and the downstairs plate?

I would highly suggest you contact a professional company that deals in Clare Controls, Autonomic Controls or Sonos or other devices that can bridge the 2 equipment areas.

Sonos would be the easiest way to change your system over with the least amount of labor as most of this can be diy installed as long as you know what you are doing. And I don't mean "I am an engineer, so I should be able to figure it out". Knowing what zones you may be able to combine or what ohms the speakers are pulling from the amplifier. And also how to do the connections properly, are crucial for a reliable and long lasting system.

For Sonos, it can see a drive and play any music (your burned music) on that drive in any location. You will have full individual control via the Sonos app, including treble and bass controls and volume control for each zone. You may also feed the Sonos other sources including a cablebox, turntable, Chromecast, Airplay via Airport Express, etc.
Yes, you will have many Sonos ConnectAmps (13 to 14), but you can easily make the installation look good with the appropriate mounts and installation accessories. Easy control via an Android, iPad or iPhone.

Any of the other products would require a professional for installation and programming.

In any case, take Jautor's advice to heart as he has never pointed anyone the wrong way.

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post #17 of 45 Old 09-17-2017, 10:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifor View Post
Is there any cabling between the 2 feed zones?
Like cat5e wires between the upstairs plate and the downstairs plate?
No actual cabling directly, unfortunately. The downstairs feed is wired to my main router in another room through Gigabit Ethernet.
There are no Ethernet jacks of any kinds upstairs.
I have an Orbi system which can be used as Wireless bridge between the 2, with 4 Ethernet ports on the back of each of the satellites. Measured effective throughput is about 400 Mbps. Latency is a bit higher than gigabit Ethernet but not too much, about 3ms vs 1ms.

Quote:
For Sonos, it can see a drive and play any music (your burned music) on that drive in any location. You will have full individual control via the Sonos app, including treble and bass controls and volume control for each zone. You may also feed the Sonos other sources including a cablebox, turntable, Chromecast, Airplay via Airport Express, etc.
Yes, you will have many Sonos ConnectAmps (13 to 14), but you can easily make the installation look good with the appropriate mounts and installation accessories. Easy control via an Android, iPad or iPhone.
It sure seems like a lot of devices. I'm surprised they don't sell anything modular that can handle at least a couple of zones at once.
Looks like each one has a stereo IN . Is the input tied only to that particular ConnectAmp, or can I, say, directly feed the output of analog device (say, SACD player) to ConnectAmp #1 , and play that source back to the output of ConnectAmp #2 ?

Seems like extra A/D and D/A steps would be involved. That would defeat the point of using DSD in the first place. I guess that is the price of convenience. Many sources are digital these days (SPDIF or HDMI) and the ConnectAmps don't have those inputs. I can feed them to a receiver and get RCA OUTs from preouts, but that would complicate the switching or limit the number of sources that can be switched.

Price would be significant. 14 ConnectAmps = $7K.
Since I already have power for all speakers with my AVRs, in theory the Connect instead of ConnectAmp might work, as long as there is volume control on the RCA line out of the Connect. We are still talking about $4K . I guess that isn't so bad.
Hardware wise, I think this could be done more more cheaply.

For example, a Saffire Pro 40 Firewire interface has 8 RCA IN / 8 RCA OUT. Multiple units can be used with one computer.
These used to go for $600 each but are now on closeout at $300 each.
I could have 2 Pro40 at the upstairs feed, and 2 Pro40 the downstairs feed, and one PC at each location control them. The PC build would probably be $500 each to be generous in pricing truly silent components (fanless CPU, SSD). Would use WOL to limit consumption. Total $2200 in hardware. And you get 32 channels of balanced in & outs for this price. This is all from off the shelf parts.

Of course, what would be missing would be all the software part - mixer with remote control apps for Android / iOS / web UI and routing capability. I suppose that is where the value of the Sonos Connect really is, not in the hardware.
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post #18 of 45 Old 09-18-2017, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
It sure seems like a lot of devices. I'm surprised they don't sell anything modular that can handle at least a couple of zones at once.
NuVo's Player line includes several 3-zone boxes in rack-mount form factors, but you can stack Sonos units 3 across on a shelf, too...

Quote:
Looks like each one has a stereo IN . Is the input tied only to that particular ConnectAmp, or can I, say, directly feed the output of analog device (say, SACD player) to ConnectAmp #1 , and play that source back to the output of ConnectAmp #2 ?
The analog input on each streamer unit is made available to all zones. So with 14 streamer units, you have 14 additional sources to play with!

Quote:
Seems like extra A/D and D/A steps would be involved. That would defeat the point of using DSD in the first place. I guess that is the price of convenience.
Yes, but some streamer products are providing support for hi-res audio formats (files) or services. None of that will matter for most zones though...

Quote:
Many sources are digital these days (SPDIF or HDMI) and the ConnectAmps don't have those inputs.
Unless the audio is accompanying a video source, the content is likely available through the native support in the streamer, instead of through another device.

Quote:
Price would be significant. 14 ConnectAmps = $7K.
Since I already have power for all speakers with my AVRs, in theory the Connect instead of ConnectAmp might work, as long as there is volume control on the RCA line out of the Connect. We are still talking about $4K . I guess that isn't so bad.
Lots of ways to do this cheaper, but $500 per zone is typical for a decent WHA setup... If you're willing to start will less flexibility, you can use multichannel amps (with the shared 'bus' input) and a few Connect units to spread across zones, adding Connect units as budget and/or usage directs.

Quote:
Of course, what would be missing would be all the software part - mixer with remote control apps for Android / iOS / web UI and routing capability. I suppose that is where the value of the Sonos Connect really is, not in the hardware.
Firmware is the most expensive substance on the planet, by weight or volume...

And yes, all of this hardware is just a firmware delivery vehicle.

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post #19 of 45 Old 09-18-2017, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
NuVo's Player line includes several 3-zone boxes in rack-mount form factors, but you can stack Sonos units 3 across on a shelf, too...
Thanks, just looked at this. A P4300 is $2300, so we are talking over $700/zone unfortunately. I would have thought cost per zone would go down with multiple zones integrated into one unit, but that isn't the case apparently.

Quote:
The analog input on each streamer unit is made available to all zones. So with 14 streamer units, you have 14 additional sources to play with!
Yes. At cost of extra network traffic though, potentially up to 14x as much. Again, just seems weird that Sonos only has single zone units.

Quote:
Yes, but some streamer products are providing support for hi-res audio formats (files) or services. None of that will matter for most zones though...
Well, some audiophiles may disagree. My current solution uses RCA analog out and receiver with all processing turned off.

Quote:
Unless the audio is accompanying a video source, the content is likely available through the native support in the streamer, instead of through another device.
Not necessarily if we are talking CDs/SACDs.

Quote:
Lots of ways to do this cheaper, but $500 per zone is typical for a decent WHA setup... If you're willing to start will less flexibility, you can use multichannel amps (with the shared 'bus' input) and a few Connect units to spread across zones, adding Connect units as budget and/or usage directs.
What do you mean by "shared bus" input ?

Quote:
Firmware is the most expensive substance on the planet, by weight or volume...
Ha! Well, it's not a substance at all, really.

Quote:
And yes, all of this hardware is just a firmware delivery vehicle.
I think some of this could be achieved potentially with a general purpose OS and general purpose hardware with what I proposed in my previous post, so we are talking software rather than firmware. Almost equally as expensive, though. Of course realtime / custom OS would be better. I have worked on software audio mixers before and I think this would be within my abilities to code the audio mixing, routing and networking parts, but I most definitely don't have the time, and this would have to be done for more than a party of 1. I'm not a UI design person though.
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post #20 of 45 Old 09-18-2017, 06:49 PM
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Thanks, just looked at this. A P4300 is $2300, so we are talking over $700/zone unfortunately. I would have thought cost per zone would go down with multiple zones integrated into one unit, but that isn't the case apparently.
That's list price... Talk to a dealer... The P3100, which is more comparable to a 3x Connect:AMP, can be had for $1200 (last I checked)... But it's not a huge discount, and this is two different brands.

Quote:
Yes. At cost of extra network traffic though, potentially up to 14x as much.
Small amount of traffic, and only when you're using it... Which is what the bandwidth is for!

Quote:
Well, some audiophiles may disagree. My current solution uses RCA analog out and receiver with all processing turned off.
For WHA purposes, hi-res audio is typically a waste given in-ceiling speakers and "background music" use cases. For dedicated listening spaces, perhaps not...

Quote:
Not necessarily if we are talking CDs/SACDs.
SACDs do not make for good distributed audio sources...

Quote:
What do you mean by "shared bus" input ?
Many multichannel amps intended for WHA / multi-zone can select between a zone-specific input and an extra "bus" input that is available to every amp channel. So you can connect a single streamer device and have it play in say, 6 zones - but they will all be tied to the same variable volume control and content. Then, if you add another streamer, to say Zone #1 , you flip that zone to the dedicated Zone 1 input - while the other five continue using the shared source. Eventually, if you end up with six streamers, they map 1:1 to the zones...

Quote:
Ha! Well, it's not a substance at all, really.
But you got my point.

Quote:
I think some of this could be achieved potentially with a general purpose OS and general purpose hardware with what I proposed in my previous post, so we are talking software rather than firmware. Almost equally as expensive, though. Of course realtime / custom OS would be better. I have worked on software audio mixers before and I think this would be within my abilities to code the audio mixing, routing and networking parts, but I most definitely don't have the time, and this would have to be done for more than a party of 1. I'm not a UI design person though.
And therefore you should understand the value of having all that code all bundled up in a nice package... I certainly do. And it didn't get developed for free...

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post #21 of 45 Old 09-18-2017, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
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That's list price... Talk to a dealer... The P3100, which is more comparable to a 3x Connect:AMP, can be had for $1200 (last I checked)... But it's not a huge discount, and this is two different brands.
Thanks. I think I prefer the idea of separate power amp better. 3x Connect would be about $1000. I am not seeing an equivalent Nuvo with 3 zones and no power amp.


Quote:
Small amount of traffic, and only when you're using it... Which is what the bandwidth is for!
Yes, I suppose

Quote:
For WHA purposes, hi-res audio is typically a waste given in-ceiling speakers and "background music" use cases. For dedicated listening spaces, perhaps not...
That may be. Some of the secondary zones are not dedicated listening spaces but I could certainly see myself just listening there. For example the entrance of the house is a huge music room with a grand piano and harpsichord. I would love to be able to play professional recordings in that room with the best possible quality before I proceed to play the same pieces on the instruments myself.

Quote:
SACDs do not make for good distributed audio sources...
But they are part of my requirements Seems like those Sonos or Nuvo systems would work as long as the player has RCA outs. My existing SACD changers do.
Newer players like the Sony UBP-X800 I got on saturday does not have any kind of analog. So receiver preout has to be used... Not sure a DSD bitstream source would work with preouts for zones 2/3. Have not tried it yet. But I got DSD bitstream to work in the main home theater with the RX-A1000 receiver.

Quote:
Many multichannel amps intended for WHA / multi-zone can select between a zone-specific input and an extra "bus" input that is available to every amp channel. So you can connect a single streamer device and have it play in say, 6 zones - but they will all be tied to the same variable volume control and content. Then, if you add another streamer, to say Zone #1 , you flip that zone to the dedicated Zone 1 input - while the other five continue using the shared source. Eventually, if you end up with six streamers, they map 1:1 to the zones...
I see. I think a 7.1 receiver can also handle this similarly if it has a DSP program like "7 channel stereo" to play a stereo source. In fact, this is how I manage to currently power all my zones - but it lacks .
Also, using the 7.1 input, which all my AVRs have, I could hookup 3 Sonos Connect (to front pair, surround pair, surround back pair. or just front / surround pairs for the 5.1 input AVRs) and still get separate volume control per zone on each Sonos Connect. Ie. I could reuse my AVRs without having to pay for amplification again.

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post #22 of 45 Old 09-18-2017, 10:52 PM
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Thanks. I think I prefer the idea of separate power amp better. 3x Connect would be about $1000. I am not seeing an equivalent Nuvo with 3 zones and no power amp.
NuVo P300 is their equivalent of the Connect. No multizone pre-amp-only units...

Quote:
Also, using the 7.1 input, which all my AVRs have, I could hookup 3 Sonos Connect (to front pair, surround pair, surround back pair. or just front / surround pairs for the 5.1 input AVRs) and still get separate volume control per zone on each Sonos Connect. Ie. I could reuse my AVRs without having to pay for amplification again.
If the AVR has a 7.1 analog input, yes, this can work, but the AVR will have to remain powered up 24/7 to allow for ease of use with any of the streamer units. The multichannel amps have signal-sensing on/off.

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post #23 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 02:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
NuVo P300 is their equivalent of the Connect. No multizone pre-amp-only units...
Too bad. Are there any other significant players in this market ?

Quote:
If the AVR has a 7.1 analog input, yes, this can work, but the AVR will have to remain powered up 24/7 to allow for ease of use with any of the streamer units. The multichannel amps have signal-sensing on/off.
I have measured the idle power consumption of several of the secondary receivers. For the 2 upstairs (Denon and Yamaha), it was very close to 0W. They are not using multi channel in currently - optical in and 2 channel in + 5/7 channel stereo DSP programs.

The 2 secondary AVR units downstairs (Pioneer and Harman Kardon) do have idle power consumption issues, and are on X10 modules to turn them on/off. They are both on the same X10 code. They can be turned on with X10 RF remote in the few locations that have X10 RF transceivers. Or by smartphone by logging in to a shell to my Raspberry Pi and using heyu to send an X10 signal - I have been too lazy to create a real UI so far. This is definitely less convenient, but not an unsolvable problem. It makes for a more upgradeable system, though, without having to pay for power amps over and over if the preamp/streamers ever change.
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post #24 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by madbrain View Post
Too bad. Are there any other significant players in this market ?
Several (Russound, Denon HEOS, Chromecast, probably others), but no multi-zone pre-amp units that I know of, and I wouldn't expect to see those.

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The 2 secondary AVR units downstairs (Pioneer and Harman Kardon) do have idle power consumption issues, and are on X10 modules to turn them on/off. They are both on the same X10 code. They can be turned on with X10 RF remote in the few locations that have X10 RF transceivers. Or by smartphone by logging in to a shell to my Raspberry Pi and using heyu to send an X10 signal - I have been too lazy to create a real UI so far. This is definitely less convenient, but not an unsolvable problem.
Is anyone else going to use this system besides you? When WHA systems are dirt-simple to operate, you'll use them daily. If not, they turn into "special event" usage only...

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It makes for a more upgradeable system, though, without having to pay for power amps over and over if the preamp/streamers ever change.
Yes, that's an advantage to using multizone amps with streamer pre-amps - I wouldn't suggest anyone buy an AVR to use in this way, but completely understand re-using existing gear!

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post #25 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 07:30 AM
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Hands up I had to 'Speed read' - it sounds like you are trying to reinvent the wheel

I'd grab two or three SONOS CONNECT/CONNECT:AMP and give the system a go - stick one unit in your areas which lack LAN connectivity and you can also use them to add a wired or wireless access point using the onboard RJ45 ports.

We have found SONOS to be a handy low cost way to add WHA to some large properties (with the added benefit of expanding the Network) where the cost to re-wire/decorate would dwarf the SONOS cost by a factor of many multiples.

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post #26 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post
Several (Russound, Denon HEOS, Chromecast, probably others), but no multi-zone pre-amp units that I know of, and I wouldn't expect to see those.
Thanks !

I looked at Russound. Seems like there is an 8 zone controller/amp that looks interesting. MCA-88X . It sells for $1800 which is $225 per zone only. I have to read more about its features.
It seems that it can only be professionally installed, which I assume will increase cost significantly. 2 units alone would be $3600 for all zones including preamps and amps, seems like a much better value than Sonos or Nuvo. There must be a catch somewhere !

Chromecast audio - assuming this is the model you had in mind - doesn't have any kind of physical input (no RCA in). Only supports internet streaming services. And only Wifi, no Ethernet. From what I read, there are a lot of limitations even with streaming services. Just totally wrong for me.

I'm unsure about Denon HEOS and whether this helps in my case or not. It seems designed for internet streaming services also primarily. Can I stream my own sources (such as output of SACD device) to any room ? And I hate to be tied in to a particular vendor of preamp/amp for so many speakers especially as I already have amplification. Looks like HeOS drive which is 4 zones costs $2499 - ouch.
HeOS link is single zone but costs the same as Sonos Connect, $349. Not sure which one of those two would be better.

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Is anyone else going to use this system besides you? When WHA systems are dirt-simple to operate, you'll use them daily. If not, they turn into "special event" usage only..
Possibly my husband, but not sure. He is sufficiently savvy to operate the home theater with tons of sources and HTPC using the old RM-AV2500 remote and its set of IR macros. It's all programmed on a single physical remote, though. I have an IR to X10 receiver which integrates nicely and turns on the amps as part of macro. You have to be in the room since it's IR.
Multi-room would be different. Not sure that the power up step would be automatic, but it could be very simple, even cheap X10 remote wall switches in each room to power the whole house system up/down. And then use the smartphone app that comes with whatever WHA system I go with to switches sources and change volume.

Quote:
Yes, that's an advantage to using multizone amps with streamer pre-amps - I wouldn't suggest anyone buy an AVR to use in this way, but completely understand re-using existing gear!
Yes. Those old receivers would pretty much be worthless if I tried to resell them nowadays, and I don't want to pay for amplification that I already have if I don't have to.
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post #27 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Fernand View Post
I'd grab two or three SONOS CONNECT/CONNECT:AMP and give the system a go - stick one unit in your areas which lack LAN connectivity and you can also use them to add a wired or wireless access point using the onboard RJ45 ports.

We have found SONOS to be a handy low cost way to add WHA to some large properties (with the added benefit of expanding the Network) where the cost to re-wire/decorate would dwarf the SONOS cost by a factor of many multiples.
I'm not sure how only 2-3 Connect or ConnectAmp units would help when there are so many more zones. Even if you speed read, it was stated fairly early on in the top post that I desire turning individual zones on/off, and per zone volume. This would necessitate as many Connect or ConnectAmp as there are zones, ie. 14 .
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post #28 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 07:31 PM
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SONOS will ship you units on a 100-Day trial - my suggestion was to grab two or three Zone Players and have a play with how best to deploy them, what additional Features they bring and to get an idea of how easy the system is to work.

I often find folk will quickly add more Zone Players once they realise the Control Software is the important bit not the hardware.

Grouping/un-grouping Zones, adjusting Vol etc is very simple with SONOS and yes you may require Fourteen Zone Players for max flexibility or start out smaller and grow the system as you find you require it.

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post #29 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 07:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Fernand View Post
SONOS will ship you units on a 100-Day trial - my suggestion was to grab two or three Zone Players and have a play with how best to deploy them, what additional Features they bring and to get an idea of how easy the system is to work.

I often find folk will quickly add more Zone Players once they realise the Control Software is the important bit not the hardware.

Grouping/un-grouping Zones, adjusting Vol etc is very simple with SONOS and yes you may require Fourteen Zone Players for max flexibility or start out smaller and grow the system as you find you require it.

Joe
OK, that makes sense about just a few units to try first. I didn't know about the 100 day trial. That is good to know !

Do you have any opinion on Sonos Connect vs Denon HEOS Link ?

The later is on sale for only $169 new from ebay with 14-day return policy and more than 10 units available.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Denon-HEOS-L...EAAOSwB-1Y4qe5

Seems like it has more features than the Sonos Connect, at least in terms of inputs/outputs.

There appears to be 2 models .

The "series 1" is discontinued. .
https://usa.denon.com/us/heos-link-series1
Current model is
https://usa.denon.com/us/heos-link

I am having a hard time finding any differences between the discontinued and current model. My guess is the cheap ebay units are the series 1.

Do you know anything about this and how it compares to Sonos ?

The question is especially how long they support their discontinued products - ie. if their new smartphone app dropping support for older units or not ? If so in 5-10 years these would become paperweights in Android 12-17 or iOS 15-20. I suppose that's a risk of any of these WHA vendors - especially if one vendor goes under., but just EOL policy would do it . Which of course they don't publish.
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post #30 of 45 Old 09-19-2017, 08:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Read some user reviews on HeOS link - many complaints about app, connectivity, and even sound quality. This is mostly on the series 1. Maybe the series 2 is better.

I asked the Ebay vendor to confirm which one he is selling. Edit: it is series 1.

Looks like Yamaha has the WXC-50, again at same $349 price point at Denon HeOS Link and Sonos Connect. Features seem better on the Yamaha. On paper, Denon/Yamaha both have Sonos beat, but they are primarily hardware companies and not known for their software which is likely the weak link here.

Seems like the Yamaha unit has many reported problems too with audio skipping.

Last edited by madbrain; 09-20-2017 at 05:36 PM.
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