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WHA Options....

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Forgive me if this question is basic but there are so many options for whole house audio out there with very little explanation.

I have a house that has been pre-wired for a few keypads with CAT5 structured wiring and 3 zones pre-wired for speakers. I want to expand to 5 zones.

I want to add a whole house audio system with the following capabilities:

1. Play SiriusXM (internet account).
2. Play CDs from a DVD or CD player.
3. Play TV audio from a Dish or Directv box.
4. Play Pandora.

The options I have been looking at are the Russound C-series MCA-C5, the Nuvo GC system, and the HTD Lync system.

Looks like the HTD is the only DIY system of the 3. Am I correct?

Can all these systems do what I am looking for?

I want to be able to power B&W in-ceiling speakers (8" mids with a 1" tweeter).

I see Russound equipment on Amazon but will I be able to get the config software without interacting with a dealer?

I am leaning towards the Russound, but I want to get opinions. Any other recommendations?

All info is appreciated.
Thanks
post #2 of 24
You can purchase the NuVo gear from authorized dealers and do a DIY install. Pretty simple as you've got the wiring in place. Call Automated Outlet for pricing... No authorized dealer is allowed to list/offer discounted pricing on the Internet.

The difference in these systems will be in:

1) What components are needed to get the 4 sources of audio you mention, and
2) What display / capabilities you get on the in-zone keypads.

For NuVo and Russound, you would be looking for their music server/streamer device in addition to the system itself. In both cases, you'll get full keypad metadata and control of those sources. On the HTD product, you'll need a 3rd party source for Internet/Digital sources, such as a Sonos, and the metadata/control won't be at the keypads, but can be accomplished via iOS devices. NuVo (and probably Russound) systems can also be controlled from iOS devices - but require the music server.

I am biased as I own a NuVo GC, but that with an MPS4 (or MPS4e) is a tough match to beat... HTD will be cheaper, but you lose most of the keypad functionality and integration.

Jeff
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply Juator.
Can the Russound or the Nuvo pull music off of a networked windows PC or does all the music have to be on the 320 or 640GB hard drive?
In terms of quality are Russound and Nuvo equal or similar?

Thanks
post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

Can the Russound or the Nuvo pull music off of a networked windows PC or does all the music have to be on the 320 or 640GB hard drive?

The Elite will allow that.

http://www.nuvotechnologies.com/wire...es/music-ports

And honestly, consider a "subset" of your music for whole-house audio consumption. Navigating very large collections is a burden. I'd like to prune my NuVo-accessed collection to stuff that would "likely" be used for that purpose. And keep the larger, full, digital collection for access from the main A/V system. Which is why I'd consider the MPS4 instead of the Elite, as at a decent 192k MP3 equivalent bitrate (not going to hear differences above that from the ceiling speakers), even the 320GB drive is pretty huge.

That, and I seem to use Pandora/TuneIn on the system more than the digital library.

Quote:


In terms of quality are Russound and Nuvo equal or similar?

Yes.

NuVo seems to be more "popular" and Russound as a company may not be as healthy as NuVo (apparently, but as private companies, we don't know for sure)...

Jeff
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
If I wanted to control the DVD or CD audio from another source I would need an IR system attached to the Nuvo system if I went that way?

Are firmware updates easy for the Nuvo if you are not a dealer? Are they even provided very often?

I know it is only your opinion but how future proof is this system?

Thanks
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

If I wanted to control the DVD or CD audio from another source I would need an IR system attached to the Nuvo system if I went that way?

IR repeating is built in, and if the IR codes are in the database, you can control devices from the keypads. If the codes aren't, you can add them, but will need to buy/borrow the IR learning kit (or find another way).

Honestly, if you have the music server, you'll probably never play a CD. Very easy to rip/sync...

Quote:


Are firmware updates easy for the Nuvo if you are not a dealer? Are they even provided very often?

Not very often, but yes, they are available.

Quote:


I know it is only your opinion but how future proof is this system?

Well, it's the only opinion that matters...

The system itself will be useful for a long time, since it's just an amp and controls. I think it's likely we'll see a "replacement" system in the next year or two - or perhaps just a keypad upgrade. I'm personally hoping for an upgraded server/streamer that looks like their (still not shipping?) new wireless system's server. Assuming they work on either of those, they usually announce stuff at CEDIA in September (as does everyone in this business).

I've had mine for three years now, and the keypads are still "up to date" from a style/technology perspective. That would be my concern long-term, that they'll eventually end up looking outdated like the hard-button/intercom keypads from <10 years ago look now. But since these systems (not just NuVo) all use a cat5 cable and RJ45 connectors for keypad communication, it will be much easier to swap out when something better comes along... Hey, sometimes the standards actually work!

NuVo does have a decent history of upgrade paths. The GC came from the "Concerto" system, and the keypads/system unit had upgrade paths.

I could go into my concept for an ideal NuVo system upgrade - replace the keypads with an Android-powered color touchscreen, connected with Ethernet/PoE back to a new server/streamer - but that will take us well into the future...

Jeff
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
OK....so I have been mulling many options over the last few weeks.

I thought I had decided on a Nuvo Grand Concerto system.....

It does not seem to be a popular option with the higher end stores near my home. Some do carry it but they claim it is not a very popular option. Either you go extreme with Cresteron (way out of my budget) or many are recommending a Sonos setup with their AMPconnect modules.

These look appealing because you can 1. Expand your system endlessly for $500 per zone, 2. They have so many connectivity options without having to buy expensive media servers (example MPS4), and 3. Can be controlled via ios or android devices for free (if you already own them).

I do not like the fact that if you had 6 zones you would have 6 modules to plug in but that is a small issue.

I also like the fact that you have 55 watts per channel instead of the 30 or 40 that the others offer.

Any reasons why NOT to use the Sonos system? Seems more economical with many more options.

Thanks
MIKE
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

many are recommending a Sonos setup...

I also like the fact that you have 55 watts per channel instead of the 30 or 40 that the others offer.

55 vs. 40 watts not going to make a huge difference for these systems.

Quote:


Any reasons why NOT to use the Sonos system? Seems more economical with many more options.

"more economical" depends on if you include the cost of the iDevices and the PC/NAS/whatever, and the readily accessible control placement in the zones... That's what you get with the keypads - you always have the display available in each zone.

I find the keypads to be very valuable, for both their metadata display and the local control. Fiddling with the iDevice for very casual use is a PITA. Example: I use my NuVo every morning in the bathroom to listen to the news. Walk in, touch one button on the wall. Unless I dedicated another iDevice to sit in a dock in the bathroom, I'd have to go get one, then launch the app, make the selection, etc. etc. etc. Probably wouldn't use it nearly as much as I do...

The dealers' stance is probably due to the economy and the state of the new construction business. Really easy to retrofit a Sonos system - NuVo or Crestron not so much. (which is why NuVo has their wireless system coming out "real soon now", to compete with Sonos)

But no, nothing wrong with a multi-zone setup using Sonos. And the scaling is a very compelling part of their story - start small and add for essentially a fixed fee. Now, if they'd do a cat5-based in-wall controller, they'd kill!

I hadn't thought about that until now - if Sonos added had a keypad control/display option, powered/run by Cat5, that would really be ideal...

Jeff
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

55 vs. 40 watts not going to make a huge difference for these systems.



"more economical" depends on if you include the cost of the iDevices and the PC/NAS/whatever, and the readily accessible control placement in the zones... That's what you get with the keypads - you always have the display available in each zone.

I find the keypads to be very valuable, for both their metadata display and the local control. Fiddling with the iDevice for very casual use is a PITA. Example: I use my NuVo every morning in the bathroom to listen to the news. Walk in, touch one button on the wall. Unless I dedicated another iDevice to sit in a dock in the bathroom, I'd have to go get one, then launch the app, make the selection, etc. etc. etc. Probably wouldn't use it nearly as much as I do...

The dealers' stance is probably due to the economy and the state of the new construction business. Really easy to retrofit a Sonos system - NuVo or Crestron not so much. (which is why NuVo has their wireless system coming out "real soon now", to compete with Sonos)

But no, nothing wrong with a multi-zone setup using Sonos. And the scaling is a very compelling part of their story - start small and add for essentially a fixed fee. Now, if they'd do a cat5-based in-wall controller, they'd kill!

I hadn't thought about that until now - if Sonos added had a keypad control/display option, powered/run by Cat5, that would really be ideal...

Jeff

Thanks for the information and opinion Jeff.

Any other amplifier options out there that you would recommend with more power?

I am concerned that when you go to an outdoor speaker zone that even 55 watts will not be enough. I have looked at some of the Audio Control amps designed for multi zone setups and they go up to 150+ watts which I think is a lot for indoors but maybe necessary for outdoor usage. Any thoughts?

I really like the Nuvo setup. I just have a hard time digesting the price they want for the media server when Sonos basically gives it to you in their controller. The main things I want out of this system is the ability to utilize my SiriusXM sub, use Pandora, and MAYBE some AM/FM stations in the morning. I also want to be able to access my large MP3 collection from my existing server which the Sonos lets you access with no issues. The Nuvo systems require you to upgrade to the MPS4E just to get to your collection.

I do agree with you that if there was a keypad option with the Sonos it would be a killer option.

Not to expand on this thread but I am also having issues picking speakers. I want to go with B&W but have been getting urged by many to go with Paradigm since B&W has "sold out" by going to the big box stores like Best Buy. Any opinion?

Thanks
MIKE
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

I am concerned that when you go to an outdoor speaker zone that even 55 watts will not be enough. I have looked at some of the Audio Control amps designed for multi zone setups and they go up to 150+ watts which I think is a lot for indoors but maybe necessary for outdoor usage. Any thoughts?

Ah, yes, for outdoor setups, I'd use a larger external amp. For NuVo systems, you'd use one of the "unpowered" zones coupled with an amp.

Quote:


I really like the Nuvo setup. I just have a hard time digesting the price they want for the media server when Sonos basically gives it to you in their controller.

Yep, you're not the only one. I really hope NuVo will revisit the server once they get the wireless system out the door. At $1499 for 3-zones for the central wireless setup, they're at the right price point. If they created an un-amplified version of that box, and made it a NuVo source that worked with the keypads, they'd really have it right. And in case they're listening, I'd have no problem with a $1499-1999 price point for that box. And I mean "street price"...

Quote:


The main things I want out of this system is the ability to utilize my SiriusXM sub, use Pandora, and MAYBE some AM/FM stations in the morning. I also want to be able to access my large MP3 collection from my existing server which the Sonos lets you access with no issues. The Nuvo systems require you to upgrade to the MPS4E just to get to your collection.

(for clarity to others reading - the NuVo MPS4 server plays your MP3s, but they must reside on the server's 320GB drive. The Elite also allows network-based storage)

I think you've described almost everyone - you're not unique in this regard. Who in this day and age has a CD player hooked up to a whole house audio system, or relies solely on AM/FM radio? Internet streaming, Internet radio, digital libraries, and then "other". Actually for me "other" is audio from the Satellite set-top box to listen to "TV audio"...

Jeff
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Ah, yes, for outdoor setups, I'd use a larger external amp. For NuVo systems, you'd use one of the "unpowered" zones coupled with an amp.



Yep, you're not the only one. I really hope NuVo will revisit the server once they get the wireless system out the door. At $1499 for 3-zones for the central wireless setup, they're at the right price point. If they created an un-amplified version of that box, and made it a NuVo source that worked with the keypads, they'd really have it right. And in case they're listening, I'd have no problem with a $1499-1999 price point for that box. And I mean "street price"...



(for clarity to others reading - the NuVo MPS4 server plays your MP3s, but they must reside on the server's 320GB drive. The Elite also allows network-based storage)

I think you've described almost everyone - you're not unique in this regard. Who in this day and age has a CD player hooked up to a whole house audio system, or relies solely on AM/FM radio? Internet streaming, Internet radio, digital libraries, and then "other". Actually for me "other" is audio from the Satellite set-top box to listen to "TV audio"...

Jeff

I guess it depends on the size of your back yard. Mine is a modest yard, large enough for a deck, patio and pool, with room left over to play catch/frisbee. I use the Nuvo GC built-in amp and my neighbors scream when I turn it up too much!!!

If you've got a back yard the size of a football field, then yeah, you probably need a bigger amp.

One other gotcha (and I hate to say this, it's not a knock on the Nuvo so much as a limitation of the 3rd party they use) - the MPS4 relies on TuneIn to access Am/FM signals over the internet. If you are relying on that, and any of your preferred channels are owned by Clear Channel Communications, forget it. They won't license their content to TuneIn.
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1812 View Post

I guess it depends on the size of your back yard. Mine is a modest yard, large enough for a deck, patio and pool, with room left over to play catch/frisbee. I use the Nuvo GC built-in amp and my neighbors scream when I turn it up too much!!!

If you've got a back yard the size of a football field, then yeah, you probably need a bigger amp.

One other gotcha (and I hate to say this, it's not a knock on the Nuvo so much as a limitation of the 3rd party they use) - the MPS4 relies on TuneIn to access Am/FM signals over the internet. If you are relying on that, and any of your preferred channels are owned by Clear Channel Communications, forget it. They won't license their content to TuneIn.

I have a very large backyard but I only want to play music on my patio. What kind of speakers are you running outside? Enough bass for you?

Thanks
MIKE
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
So I have been looking at products from Nuvo, Russound, and Sonos....none of them are perfect.

Is it even possible to get a Cresteron or Elan system to do what has been talked about above at a slightly higher price or is the price increase MUCH MUCH more than a NUVO GC with a media player for example?

These systems are touted as expensive but HOW expensive? I am assuming the cost is based on the equipment as well as programming.

I am not looking for much (in terms of complexity).....
I want Whole House Audio with keypads and a media server. As long as I am at it I would like the option to add surveillance cameras. Not looking for the lighting control or other more complex automation.

Thanks
MIKE
post #14 of 24
Much, much more... Probably 2-3x to start (but it "could" do a lot more). Because it will require a dealer to program, and you'll get likely no discount off list for the hardware. Definitely not a DIY system.

"Add cameras" bridges into video switching/distribution, which obviously is not a WHA system topic. If you move into the Control4/Elan/Crestron automation category, sure. But you're going to pay for that integration.

The only thing you've mentioned as an issue so far is price. What else is missing in a Sonos/NuVo/Russound setup for you?

Jeff
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Much, much more... Probably 2-3x to start (but it "could" do a lot more). Because it will require a dealer to program, and you'll get likely no discount off list for the hardware. Definitely not a DIY system.

"Add cameras" bridges into video switching/distribution, which obviously is not a WHA system topic. If you move into the Control4/Elan/Crestron automation category, sure. But you're going to pay for that integration.

The only thing you've mentioned as an issue so far is price. What else is missing in a Sonos/NuVo/Russound setup for you?

Jeff

Yes Jeff....2-3 times more is out of the budget plan Should have done it when I was single and no kids.....

The price is only an issue because I see and hear of so many items coming out with much more functionality that I do not want to get something and miss the boat on a system that will do much more at the same price point.

It seems like these systems are gaining some popularity and the manufacturers are listening to consumers and providing more functionality to stay in the game.

What I really want is the Sonos system with touch pads. This does not exist.

I guess the last thing missing is wattage per channel for outdoor speakers....
Like you said I could most likely drive the outdoor speakers with an external amp off the unpowered zones on the Nuvo.

Thanks
MIKE
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

It seems like these systems are gaining some popularity and the manufacturers are listening to consumers and providing more functionality to stay in the game.

What I really want is the Sonos system with touch pads. This does not exist.

Yep, here's hoping they listen and one of them figures that out...

Quote:


I guess the last thing missing is wattage per channel for outdoor speakers.... Like you said I could most likely drive the outdoor speakers with an external amp off the unpowered zones on the Nuvo.

That's really how any of these systems will handle this setup. None of them are going to have "big" amps for all WHA zones, as it's unnecessary. Most of us have only 1 or 2 zones max that could take advantage of the headroom - so the external amp solution is the intended solution...

Jeff
post #17 of 24
Nuvo sells amps for this purpose, for outdoor zones.

My outdoor zone is plenty loud enough, though, with 40 watts.

The local installation companies will push what they do commonly. If they're not Nuvo dealers, the will try to sell you something else. Will take them more installation and programming time if they are unfamiliar with the system.

Call some local Russound and Nuvo dealers for a quote. Email or hand them your list of wants/needs, e.g. Outboard amp for the backyard, number of zones, number and quality of outdoor speakers, in-ground subwoofer, in-wall iPad and iPod Touch mounts. If you want to buy the hardware yourself, don't call an installer. The list of wants will reduce the amount of time needed to put together the quote, and will let the installer/salesman know that you've put some effort into this project and you're not going to hand them a blank check. But don't expect an itemized shopping list.
post #18 of 24
There are many costs you're not considering, e.g. Speakers. They're not going to install Monoprice speakers, at $70 per pair. $300/pair is pretty usual. Ask for 'contractor grade' or 'architectural' speakers for those minor zones.

Once you go with a pro installer, you can stop price shopping. They'll, likely, come back with a quote that says in general terms what you want, and a single price. That is, if the installer has been around a while. Make sure you add specifics to the quote before agreeing to a final price.

In-wall iPads and iTouches are an option with Sonos, to satisfy your keypad need. Same thing for Nuvo, not sure of Russound. But as jautor said, iOS control isn't quite as slick as real keypads, for any WHA system. With most high-end installs, the client usually doesn't want keypads, to reduce the wall clutter.
post #19 of 24
Interesting to note that Sonos just announced they are discontinuing their dedicated handheld controller. They did a good job of recognizing the pricing/ubiquity of smartphones/iPods by adapting with the App model. I'm sure they saw the writing on the wall for the dedicated handheld controllers - very hard to sell those devices that "look like iPods" but cost more and "do less". (even if it did a better job for that task than the general-purpose iDevice)
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

There are many costs you're not considering, e.g. Speakers. They're not going to install Monoprice speakers, at $70 per pair. $300/pair is pretty usual. Ask for 'contractor grade' or 'architectural' speakers for those minor zones.

Once you go with a pro installer, you can stop price shopping. They'll, likely, come back with a quote that says in general terms what you want, and a single price. That is, if the installer has been around a while. Make sure you add specifics to the quote before agreeing to a final price.

In-wall iPads and iTouches are an option with Sonos, to satisfy your keypad need. Same thing for Nuvo, not sure of Russound. But as jautor said, iOS control isn't quite as slick as real keypads, for any WHA system. With most high-end installs, the client usually doesn't want keypads, to reduce the wall clutter.

Neurorad,

I have considered speakers. I am torn between B&W 783's and Paradigm AMS or Signature series speakers. Heard the B&Ws and like them but can get the Paradigm's for a less price (and I have heard they sound just as good) but have not been able to hear them myself.

I am also pre-wired for speakers in touch panels in 3 zones.

I like the touch pads better than idevices because they seem more reliable with a direct connection. I can not tell you how many times I have had issues with an app connecting on my iphone.

Thanks
MIKE
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Jeff,

I think most people that are getting into the Sonos system already have some idevice available and just assume not spend the additional cost for the Sonos controller.

Others who would actually spring for the Sonos controller probably already have higher end systems with programmed remotes that do a whole lot more than WHA only.

Sonos probably has to discontinue this device due little to no sales.

Just my opinion.
post #22 of 24
Are you considering a custom installer, or ar you going to DIY?

Talk to the CI, before buying anything. He may offer something better and/or cheaper, and he may balk at installing hardware you've purchased.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

I have a very large backyard but I only want to play music on my patio. What kind of speakers are you running outside? Enough bass for you?

Thanks
MIKE

Sorry, was traveling for the holidays and just now getting to reply to this - Tannoy speakers, I believe the DVS-8 series. And yes, plenty of bass, as these are bookshelf-style speakers mounted on the wall.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapostol View Post

Jeff,

I think most people that are getting into the Sonos system already have some idevice available and just assume not spend the additional cost for the Sonos controller.

Others who would actually spring for the Sonos controller probably already have higher end systems with programmed remotes that do a whole lot more than WHA only.

Sonos probably has to discontinue this device due little to no sales.

Just my opinion.

Oh, 100% agree. I just thought it was an interesting footnote that not only did they adopt the smartphone/iPod-as-controller "option" well ahead of the curve, but that demand for the dedicated controller-that-looks-like-an-iPod has apparently dried up completely...

Jeff
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