or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home A/V Distribution › Hole in the Whole [Home Audio]
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Hole in the Whole [Home Audio]

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Either I am completely missing something or there is a small (and it really is small) hole in the Whole Home Audio market. There really isn't a perfect solution for multi-zone audio in a distributed layout with mobile devices being the main method of control. I have been researching this a lot for the past 4 months in preparation for a new house we are building.

Sonos is the closest thing I have found for what I am looking for. I love the interface and how easy it is to control each zone from any iOS device. Wall-based keypads on in-wall volume knobs are nice as a backup but i am guessing most (or at least many) people these days would default to a mobile device as the primary method of control and Sonos got that part right. HTD with a web app for $149 missed the boat. However, Sonos is really designed with wireless connectivity and mobility in mind. This is great for retrofitting WHA but it is overkill and costly for a distributed system. In my case, with 8 zones, it seems a little ridiculous to have 8 Connects stacked in a rack on a shelf, all in a wireless mesh when they are 12" away from a switch.

Does no one make a multi-zone source/controller like Sonos? Sonos would be genius to make multi-zone unit with 6 zones all in one (kind of like HTD's MC-66) for those that are going to distribute from an AV rack or closet. Or, HTD needs to come out with a better mobile solution and add better integration with things like Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, etc.

I'd be curious to hear thoughts. Am i the only one in this boat?
post #2 of 24
Overall I think the entire WHA thing is a very small market. Products are sold on the magnitude of thousands of units. When you look at something like a HTD product, then you have a $149 software solution, which likely cost them thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars to implement.

How many people do you personally know with the HTD solution?

I currently know none.

On the flip side, Sonos pushed into big box stores and is regularly sold at a much higher level so their product is far more polished, but they have never sold, or acted like they have wanted to sell WHA. Should they go that route, they may just do so, but it will be fairly cost prohibitive. For that matter, why not just get a HTD product and throw a Sonos unit or two onto it and call it a day? It's one of the least expensive solutions on the market that I could imagine.

WHA has a million solutions out there, and eventually we will see more and more of it which is iOS enabled, but certainly at the moment, it is a tiny niche of what is already a niche market. It doesn't help that people want the world and never want to pay for it at all. You want a really solid iOS driven system that gives you local keypads in each room, full control of any product you hook up that offers control with two-way communication, and offers a dozen, or a hundred different interface options?

Crestron can do that...

Oh yeah, it'll cost you! biggrin.gif
post #3 of 24
NuVo P3100. Three zones in a 1U box with wired Ethernet. So a 3U stack would get you 9 zones.

But yes, we are definitely in a market transition, and there will certainly be more products coming (two new ones mentioned at CEPro.com today, in fact) that will use mobile devices as a primary, or only, control method.

http://www.cepro.com/article/russound_xstream_wireless_audio_is_decentralized_all-ip_Integration_friendl/

The Russound piece is very interesting, as they mention that the existing keypads will work with the system - this is going to be very important, IMO. I think the "correct" solution for the future WHA systems will be keypads AND mobile device support. As they both have their strengths and uses - and with cat5e connectivity to the existing systems' keypads, changing those out for Ethernet/PoE-based IP keypads is a snap.

So yes, a nice centralized multizone amp/streamer combo like the P3100, with (optional) keypad support - that's my definition of a fantastic setup for the next generation of these products. The folks that were part of Colorado vNet have formed a new company that has a lot of the pieces, although what they've shown so far is still that collection of small boxes instead of a clean multizone unit, but it's new-new, so there's certainly time to see that come later...

http://tiohome.com/

Jeff
post #4 of 24
I have all of my Connects in a rack, hardwired to a switch, with the wireless radio turned off in each unit.

There are 4 bridges around the house so the existing CR100/CR200 controllers can connect. Since these controllers are no longer being made when they die they will be replaced with some sort of mobile device and when they are all gone I suppose the bridges can go as well.

I happen to like having each zone with a separate device. A failure of one unit only takes out that zone.
Edited by fcwilt - 6/22/13 at 4:21pm
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

For that matter, why not just get a HTD product and throw a Sonos unit or two onto it and call it a day? It's one of the least expensive solutions on the market that I could imagine.

I have gone back and forth on this very idea. But in this scenario, zone control is only through the HTD controller via a keypad, correct? At that point, Sonos is only used as a source for playing audio to the HTD controller. So, then, you have to use the keypad (or web browser) to turn on the zone first and then use Sonos to activate the music. That two step process doesn't seem elegant. Unless there is a way to control Sonos from the HTD.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

NuVo P3100. Three zones in a 1U box with wired Ethernet. So a 3U stack would get you 9 zones.

I really like the P3100 and its interface and this may end up being the solution. Any input on the interface compared to Sonos? Can Sonos create multiple zone groups playing different content?

I just wish the P3100 would support keypads as well.
post #7 of 24
The P3100 seems nice.

What about the specs?

The P3100 looks to be around 20 watts at %.5 dist.

The Sonos Connect:Amp claims 55 watts at %0.02 dist.

The prices appear to be around $500 per zone in both cases.
post #8 of 24
iRule could overcome the multi-step problem. I haven't downloaded the Sonos module yet (it's an extra $25 by the way), but I likely will soon. I am just testing it while the house is being built, but it seems to live up to the hype it has received here. I have found it VERY easy to program and set up. If I can get a few more IR codes to work, I will claim it to be a 10 out of 10.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I didn't fully understand the capability of the Nuvo Concerto system. This may actually be close to what I am looking for with the MusicPort. Any feedback from people that have the Concerto/MusicPort combo? How is the iOS interface?
post #10 of 24
Regards NuVo:

It looks like the Grand Concerto NV-IG8M gives you 6 amplified zones at around $500 a zone and then you have to add one or two Music Port NV-MPS4 which seem to be around another $500 per zone.

So why is this preferred over Sonos?
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by slorente View Post

Ok, so I didn't fully understand the capability of the Nuvo Concerto system. This may actually be close to what I am looking for with the MusicPort. Any feedback from people that have the Concerto/MusicPort combo? How is the iOS interface?

iOS interface does exactly what you'd expect. Works fine. I'm using the old MusicPort (PC-based), the MPS4 and Elite have more functionality but use the same app...
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

Regards NuVo:

It looks like the Grand Concerto NV-IG8M gives you 6 amplified zones at around $500 a zone and then you have to add one or two Music Port NV-MPS4 which seem to be around another $500 per zone.

So why is this preferred over Sonos?

Keypad support for one - but Sonos is still relatively new in terms of the Connect / Connect:Amp usage for WHA solutions. The larger the system gets, the pricing comparison gets closer (same for the other traditional WHA systems).

You shouldn't have to add more than one MusicPort, since that gives you four simultaneous sources to use in any combination among the zones.

But this is the leap that the traditional vendors are going to have to solve - their "server" products are aging and are being undercut in price by the newer systems. I continue to beg NuVo to product a model like the P3100 that would interface to the GC and therefore provide keypad support. I'm hoping we see something at CEDIA, but not holding my breath...

If Sonos created a keypad that would talk to their systems (using Ethernet & PoE since we've got cat5e to the keypad locations), they'd have a killer WHA solution...


Jeff
post #12 of 24
Four sources is not a whole lot. I have 13 zones in my home. And it is not uncommon to have 5-10 sources in use at one time (we have a nice size extended family).

My first WHA system did have keypads in the wall. At the time I thought that was a good idea. But wireless hand held controllers proved to be much more popular with the family members.

Sonos is running around $500 per zone. Do the math for a Nuvo system with 13 zones and 13 source capability. One Grand Concerto and one Music Port Elite is, what, $6000-$7000? For that Sonos will give you 12 zones and 12 sources.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

Four sources is not a whole lot. I have 13 zones in my home. And it is not uncommon to have 5-10 sources in use at one time (we have a nice size extended family).

rolleyes.gifwink.gif

Well, yeah, if you've got 5-10 people in the house... Certainly a "source per family member" is a good rule of thumb. If you've got 5-10 sources in use at a given time, you're getting your money's worth out of that system!
Quote:
My first WHA system did have keypads in the wall. At the time I thought that was a good idea. But wireless hand held controllers proved to be much more popular with the family members.

Yes, the answer is "both" as each has its strengths. But keypad usage will be dependent on the functionality provided. Ability to select content and view metadata is a very different case than simple source selection and volume.
Quote:
Sonos is running around $500 per zone. Do the math for a Nuvo system with 13 zones and 13 source capability. One Grand Concerto and one Music Port Elite is, what, $6000-$7000? For that Sonos will give you 12 zones and 12 sources.

And that's the math NuVo (and the other WHA vendors) is hopefully paying attention to...
post #14 of 24
At first my wife (who is kind of a technophobe) was like "What's wrong with a radio?" Now she uses it more then I do.

One of her favorite activities is playing environmental noises (live recordings or oceans, storms, etc) at night to help her get to sleep. I got her a recording of a thunderstorm that is so realistic that the dogs get upset and want to jump into bed with her.

The system really gets a lot of use by the whole family. One of my better purchases.

One thing I should have mentioned that I see as an advantage for systems, like Sonos, that have single zone players - you can expand your system one zone at a time.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

iOS interface does exactly what you'd expect. Works fine. I'm using the old MusicPort (PC-based), the MPS4 and Elite have more functionality but use the same app...
Keypad support for one - but Sonos is still relatively new in terms of the Connect / Connect:Amp usage for WHA solutions. The larger the system gets, the pricing comparison gets closer (same for the other traditional WHA systems).

You shouldn't have to add more than one MusicPort, since that gives you four simultaneous sources to use in any combination among the zones.

But this is the leap that the traditional vendors are going to have to solve - their "server" products are aging and are being undercut in price by the newer systems. I continue to beg NuVo to product a model like the P3100 that would interface to the GC and therefore provide keypad support. I'm hoping we see something at CEDIA, but not holding my breath...

If Sonos created a keypad that would talk to their systems (using Ethernet & PoE since we've got cat5e to the keypad locations), they'd have a killer WHA solution...


Jeff

Jeff, if you were to design a solution again (today) would you still go with NuVo? Have you had a chance to compare it with Russound's C-series? I am kind of leaning towards those two...or just going with a bunch of Sonos Connects and calling it a day. I just hate the idea of not having keypads.
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by slorente View Post

Jeff, if you were to design a solution again (today) would you still go with NuVo? Have you had a chance to compare it with Russound's C-series? I am kind of leaning towards those two...or just going with a bunch of Sonos Connects and calling it a day. I just hate the idea of not having keypads.

I looked at the Russound line four years ago when I was building - I had not spent any time with any of these systems prior to that, so it was all new. At the time, Russound didn't have a digital media library/streamer product, but NuVo did. That was the major decision factor for me at the time. Russound now has one, although I wish they supported more of the streaming services (Pandora, etc.) natively instead of relying on mobile devices to send the content.

The other factor for me was the keypad displays - the dual-gang NuVo GC displays can be read easily from halfway across the room or more, because of the high-contrast OLED design. The LCD / screen size on the Russound keypads are only viewable at close range (but are certainly usable). If budget allows, the color touchscreens on both systems can provide a better experience. I ruled out the color screens for (1) cost and (2) in the case of NuVo, the non-standard cutout size.

Picking a system right now is a tough call - I wouldn't give up the keypad support, as I can quickly and easily call up Pandora, Internet Radio stations or switch sources to listen to the TV audio (news programming in the morning). Which for me, covers more than 80% of my usage. So I'd probably still go with the NuVo GC and bite the bullet on the MPS4 server. I'd squeeze my library to fit into the MPS4 to avoid the extra cost of the Elite to gain NAS storage though. I don't use the NuVo system for my primary listening system, so keeping a high-bitrate MP3 subset of the digital library for WHA usage would be fine for me - and is easier to navigate through the keypad / app, too.

The per-zone costs of a Sonos (or NuVo P100/200) is compelling in comparison, and I would expect folks that haven't lived with the keypads to not "miss" that convenience like I would now. If NuVo would just bring the server pricing down or build an amp-less P3100 companion to the GC, they'd have the best of both...

Jeff

PS - I got a deal on a P200 this week to give it a test drive, so I'll have some first-hand experience to report soon...
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

...and I would expect folks that haven't lived with the keypads to not "miss" that convenience like I would now.
Jeff

We did live with them and nobody misses them.

There now we have balance. wink.gif
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

We did live with them and nobody misses them.

There now we have balance. wink.gif

Were your old keypads simple source/volume controls or did you have a Russound/NuVo/etc. system with metadata and menus? Assuming it was the former, I'd completely understand - especially since the mobile app has more functionality that what they'd have had in the old system. Which is why I struggle with the HTD+Sonos combo solution - the keypads will probably only get used for volume control, and the mixed-product solution means switching apps.

But I still think the correct answer is "both". However, the trend with the newest products, at least for now, is to go mobile-only.
post #19 of 24
It provided various content lists in text form, no graphics.

The issue was simply having to get up from what you were doing to change anything.

For example, you sitting reading a box, your phone rings, you get up to mute the music, sit down and have your conversation, get up to un-mute the music, sit down and resume what you were doing before the phone call.

Since I included a wireless handheld controller for each zone there wasn't a question of finding the controller because you had taken it to another room.

Now when the CR100s/CR200s finally fail and I have to replace them with tablets THEN I can see the tablets "wandering off". I have heard that tablets can often be put into a "kiosk" mode where only the selected application runs. If this is possible I will likely do just that do make the tablet less "interesting" to carry off.

Regards
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

The issue was simply having to get up from what you were doing to change anything. For example, you sitting reading a box, your phone rings, you get up to mute the music, sit down and have your conversation, get up to un-mute the music, sit down and resume what you were doing before the phone call.

Ah, I have IR remote(s) with the WHA controls as a device for those quick-need scenarios...
Quote:
Since I included a wireless handheld controller for each zone there wasn't a question of finding the controller because you had taken it to another room.

That's my biggest issue with the general-purpose mobile device / tablet as controller - if they're not dedicated, they won't be where they're supposed to be when someone wants it.
Quote:
Now when the CR100s/CR200s finally fail and I have to replace them with tablets THEN I can see the tablets "wandering off". I have heard that tablets can often be put into a "kiosk" mode where only the selected application runs. If this is possible I will likely do just that do make the tablet less "interesting" to carry off.

iOS6 has this under the Accessibility settings to go into "single app mode" and allows a passcode-protected exit. The home button is disabled, and there's no lock screen. Works great for iRule!

Jeff
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by slorente View Post

Either I am completely missing something or there is a small (and it really is small) hole in the Whole Home Audio market. There really isn't a perfect solution for multi-zone audio in a distributed layout with mobile devices being the main method of control. I have been researching this a lot for the past 4 months in preparation for a new house we are building.

Sonos is the closest thing I have found for what I am looking for. I love the interface and how easy it is to control each zone from any iOS device. Wall-based keypads on in-wall volume knobs are nice as a backup but i am guessing most (or at least many) people these days would default to a mobile device as the primary method of control and Sonos got that part right. HTD with a web app for $149 missed the boat. However, Sonos is really designed with wireless connectivity and mobility in mind. This is great for retrofitting WHA but it is overkill and costly for a distributed system. In my case, with 8 zones, it seems a little ridiculous to have 8 Connects stacked in a rack on a shelf, all in a wireless mesh when they are 12" away from a switch.

Does no one make a multi-zone source/controller like Sonos? Sonos would be genius to make multi-zone unit with 6 zones all in one (kind of like HTD's MC-66) for those that are going to distribute from an AV rack or closet. Or, HTD needs to come out with a better mobile solution and add better integration with things like Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, etc.

I'd be curious to hear thoughts. Am i the only one in this boat?

I use an HTD MC66 with CQC home automation software, I use Squeezeboxes as some of my sources and I set up the CQC interface to where if I want to listen to something on a Squeezebox I can control the MC66 from the same page. I have keypads but I really don't need them, I don't need metadata on the keypads because I would not want to stand next to the keypad and try and control what is playing on a source, I rather do everything from a tablet.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

iOS6 has this under the Accessibility settings to go into "single app mode" and allows a passcode-protected exit. The home button is disabled, and there's no lock screen. Works great for iRule!

Jeff

Have you heard if Samsung tablets have this "kiosk" mode?

Thanks!
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

Have you heard if Samsung tablets have this "kiosk" mode?

Thanks!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gears42.surelock

Surelock does it - searching for either "Kiosk mode" or "single application mode" gets it...
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gears42.surelock

Surelock does it - searching for either "Kiosk mode" or "single application mode" gets it...

Thanks I'll check that out!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Home A/V Distribution
AVS › AVS Forum › A/V Control & Automation › Home A/V Distribution › Hole in the Whole [Home Audio]