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Whole House Headphones...and then some

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm a AV systems installer and I've recently gotten a unique request. The designer on a project I'm working on is asking for a wireless headphone system that can work throughout a 2500 square foot home (already I'm stumped, I haven't had that request, and I'm not sure what to suggest). Then he goes on to ask about features like the phone and doorbell interrupting the audio in the headphones and giving you the ability to talk to the person on the other end. Has anyone ever come across something that even gets close? Any suggestions would be great. Thanks.
post #2 of 12
Probably not helpful, but what jumped to my mind is the headphone systems they use in foreign language programs at the high school and college level. Instructor can play aux media that all students listen to, can talk to or listen to all students or individual students, etc. the system I remember wasnt pretty to look at but it worked and was pretty portable other than the wiring for the antenna. Hope that maybe gives you a starting point.
post #3 of 12
Not the answer you're looking for, maybe carry an iPhone in the pocket. I'm sure there's a wan link to a door intercom.
post #4 of 12
I've seen some Bluetooth headphone sets that had a pretty remarkable range (can't remember any vendor in particular). Use the (hopefully present!) whole house audio zone to integrate the doorbell/phone chime interrupt. Not going to get a headset/two-way with that, though.

Depends I guess if they really intend to "wander" the house with headphones on, or do they just want it to work in more than one room. Don't know how painful the pairing process for Bluetooth would be if you installed multiple base stations...

Would really be funny to suggest that revolutionary device as a way wander with both local and Internet sources: the iPod.

post #5 of 12
I would call a good distributor, e.g. Capitol Sales, for ideas. And, I'd post this question at remotecentral.com Custom Installer's Lounge forum, with more details (audio sources).

You may be looking for an IP-based commercial warehouse product.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Awsome, thanks for all the good feedback everyone. I've already contacted AVAD's design department and Tyll Hertsens (from innerfidelity.com and head-fi.org) but they didn't really have any great suggestions either. I think the best approach depending on how important it is to the owner, is either the foreign language lecture hall solution Yegg suggested, or somehow get an iOS device to receive a stream from the whole house audio. If anyone knows of an iOS (or Android) app that can receive a local audio stream, I welcome the suggestion. Thanks again guys (and gals).
post #7 of 12
Random thoughts ->

Would an RF repeater from Commscope + a set of Sennheiser RS220s work? You'd probably have to come up with a multiple-charger solution (maybe Senn can help). Once that's done then you're basically dealing with an audio server if you want "receive only". Does the customer want to walk around with a headset (i.e. mic on headphone) or are you going to have microphones in each room? "Something" would need to be hit to answer the door or phone (wallpad, etc.). An X10 Powerflash unit combined with a current sensor/s could be used to trigger your automation server (i.e. detect phone or doorbell).

Another completely different idea would be to use a low power FM transmitter + FM headphones. I'd imagine that privacy concerns would be an issue though (OK for music, not for phone calls).
post #8 of 12
How about a low power FM transmitter and some old-school headphones with the radio built-in? You could always use more than one of them if a single one didn't cover a wide enough area.
post #9 of 12
Originally Posted by wkearney99 View Post

How about a low power FM transmitter and some old-school headphones with the radio built-in? You could always use more than one of them if a single one didn't cover a wide enough area.

I just had the same thought (someone posted a response in another thread that made me think of that, too) - that would get him good coverage, they can use any number of sources and headphones. Doorbell can be handled, but the two-way phone stuff, still out of luck (don't think he'll find a solution for that).

post #10 of 12
Given the state of Bluetooth you're not going to find that kind of earpiece any time soon.

Going bi-direction requires having a base point for the device to connect with. You're not going to find one that will have enough range to cover a whole house. Nor are you going to find one that's got enough smarts in it to understand how to automatically roam between different bases and headsets. Don't forget fidelity, most headsets aren't engineered for much bandwidth, making them a poor choice for music.

And then there's the problem of battery size, nothing that had all those features (if they existed) would be small enough to wear comfortably.

The final nail in the coffin is target market, there's just not enough people out there that would want/need such a thing as to justify making it, let alone get to economies of scale that make it affordable.

So, step back, what is it the customer thinks they want to do? Be constantly yammering on the phone while walking all over the house, but ready to hear a doorbell or listen to music all at the same time?

A telephone system using cordless handsets would be able to integrate with a door intercom pretty easily. Background audio through in-wall speakers would handle most music situations. One with wall-mounted controls would eliminate the fumbling-around-for-a-remote hassle when they need to silence it. You can often integrate doorbell or intercom notification into them too (not bidirectionally though). Most modern cordless phone setups can handle up to 10 handsets, so that'd cover most houses.

Otherwise the closest they come to making it work would be using a regular cell phone with a bluetooth headset and some phone system features to handle forwarding calls from the house (for the intercom/doorbell) out to the cell phone. But then they're stuck walking around with the cell phone, and headset and keeping them charged all the time.

So, what's the real driving influence here? Because you're not going to find everything all together in one setup. What need gets the greatest priority? That'll drive the solution choice.
post #11 of 12
Steal one (or at least the equipment vendor's name) from Jack-in-the Box?
post #12 of 12
you can easily accomplish this with a FM listening system, this has large coverage and you can use your own ear/headphones.
like this one:

as for the doorbell interuption, this is done by using a whole house audio system that has this feature, but I don't know of anything that allows 2-way for talking to the doorphone, this is usually done by using the telephones in the house. doorphones are from Viking or Channel Vision.

The user can listen to music through the house and when someone presses the doorphone, the headphones cut out by way of the WHA system, then they can pick up a phone to talk to whomever is at the door.
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