Now that I have usable circuits in the basement, it's time to finish up a sub-project that I have been picking at while I was waiting for the sub panel to be installed (and while taking a break from electrical planning).
Before I close up the walls and ceiling I need to do all of the upstairs distributed audio stuff that I want to do. I looked at a lot of different systems, but all were going to cost a lot of money. (e.g. The Sonos system would have been real easy to install, and it has a nice slick interface, but I would be out over $2k just to get my basics).
My end solution was:
- a central line-level mixer to collect all the audio sources
- (very) basic amp to amplify
- speaker distribution box
- in-wall volume controls
For the line-level mixer, my local music store had the perfect unit for about 60 bucks: the ART Powermix III. It can combine up to 3 signals and I can independently control each signal level.
For the basic-basic amp, the Audiosource AMP100 (Tigerdirect, $100) gives me 2-channel 100W.
For the in-wall volume controls, well that is a slightly longer story. I grabbed 3 Leviton slider volume controls at the local HD, expecting the price to be in the 30-40$ range. When she rang them up they were over $100 apiece! Forget that. Time to go online again.
Monoprice to the rescue again ... almost. So I ordered a 3-pack from Monoprice and when they arrived I opened them up - and they were crappy. The plastic was cheap, and the slider was broken on 2 of the 3. I took them downstairs to my little testing bench and took the intact unit and tried it out:
Well, it worked okay but the slider was really hard to move and it still was cheap feeling. Contacted Monoprice and they were great: full refund of everything.
In the end I am using Nile rotary-style controls. For what I want to do I discovered that the control will always be indexed (click points when you change it, not smooth like a light dimmer) and a rotary control gives you more hand power and does not require you to anchor your hand. I'm thinking wife and kids here, but I like to be lazy too.