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Whole-house mono or stereo?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm designing a whole-house setup using a 6-zone 12-channel amp, and I'm pricing out my speakers and cable. I'm curious what people think about mono vs stereo for a whole-house system. I'm definitely leaning mono for these reasons:

- It's background music, so it doesn't need to be ultra high quality
- Stereo costs twice as much for speakers and cable
- It seems like two signals coming from the ceiling will be completely blended by the time they reach your ear anyway

Can anyone convince me otherwise?

Side question. Has anyone bridged the HTD MCA-66, or is there a mono-out setting? I don't see anything in their specs or features.
post #2 of 5
Pretty interested in the exact same question. I'm spec'ing out my audio distribution and am trying to determine which sound card to buy. Mono vs. stereo would definitely impact that.

Russ
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew80 View Post

- It's background music, so it doesn't need to be ultra high quality

I can't imagine going through the expense and effort to install a WHA system and only get single-speaker mono at the end.
Quote:
- Stereo costs twice as much for speakers and cable

Cabling won't be quite twice - you run 4-conductor cable for most of the run, perhaps 80% more (using Monoprice pricing, which will be cheap anyway). But you're really talking about using a single speaker in each room. That's much harder to place to get good coverage in most rooms - a pair of speakers is actually much easier to place. Light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc. tend to be in the center of the ceiling - where you'd want a single speaker for best coverage. Two speakers divide the room up much better.
Quote:
- It seems like two signals coming from the ceiling will be completely blended by the time they reach your ear anyway
Can anyone convince me otherwise?

Why would sound coming from two sources on the ceiling be any different than from two bookshelf speakers? Yes, we don't have as much ability to locate sound sources from above our ears, but you'll still tell a big difference with two speakers vs. one - even if they were playing a mono source.

If you're concerned about budget - try this. Run stereo wiring, install stereo speakers. Connect both speakers to the same amp, as long as the impedance rating will allow (make sure you use 8ohm speakers, and if the amp is 4ohm stable, you're in business). You'll get better sound, although in mono in each room, and can upgrade to an amp with more channels, converting some or all zones to stereo, later as budget allows...

Jeff
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the comments Jeff. A few follow-up comments.

I don't think sound coming from the ceiling will be any different than sound coming from two bookshelf speakers. My point is that stereo is great if you're wearing headphones or you're sitting close and perfectly positioned between two speakers. If you are not perfectly positioned, then the balance is off. And if you are far away, you don't hear the distinct channels.

I'm also installing two speakers around the pool, and I have the opposite problem there. I think the channels won't blend enough. The speakers will be about 40' from each other pointing in toward the pool. So one end of the pool will mostly get the L channel and the other end will mostly get the R channel. It seems like mono is the better solution there too.

I do see your point about positioning speakers. There are a few rooms in the house where it will be tricky to put in just 1 speaker, and in those rooms I figured I would put in stereo or double up on the mono. I might even end up with 3 speakers in some rooms.
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew80 View Post

My point is that stereo is great if you're wearing headphones or you're sitting close and perfectly positioned between two speakers. If you are not perfectly positioned, then the balance is off. And if you are far away, you don't hear the distinct channels.

I think you have some misconceptions about stereo... Yes, being in the sweet spot is best for imaging, but positioning of sounds in the stereo soundfield will still be audible. "Far" from the speakers isn't really the issue. You can easily test this for yourself by toggling your receiver to mono output from both speakers and hear the difference.

But again, the real issue you're talking about was a single speaker vs. two speakers per room. That's a very different question compared to whether the source feeding those speakers is producing a stereo output or not (or whether the results are audibly different/better/worse).
Quote:
I'm also installing two speakers around the pool, and I have the opposite problem there. I think the channels won't blend enough. The speakers will be about 40' from each other pointing in toward the pool. So one end of the pool will mostly get the L channel and the other end will mostly get the R channel. It seems like mono is the better solution there too.

Ok, now we're talking mono vs. stereo from 2 or more speakers. Yes, outdoor spaces with very undefined listening positions and challenges for speaker placement, a mono (combined L/R, more likely) signal is probably preferable. If the speakers are planned to be 40' apart, you should be looking at additional speakers for that space, so you don't blast the poor person who walks 2' from one... Same principle as above applies, though, more speakers allows for more uniform sound levels throughout the space.
Quote:
I do see your point about positioning speakers. There are a few rooms in the house where it will be tricky to put in just 1 speaker, and in those rooms I figured I would put in stereo or double up on the mono. I might even end up with 3 speakers in some rooms.

3 would be a bad idea. 4 would be ok in a larger room. Mostly from a practical standpoint - you'll have difficulty matching levels assuming you're trying to share amp channels among speakers. And 3 becomes just weird, in the "odd, why did he do that?" sense... Best not to be weird in that way. biggrin.gif


Jeff
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