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Budget home audio distribution.

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
My wife would like for me to put in a home audio system that has at least 1 speaker in each room. She would probably like to have access to internet music and maybe our collection on our home pc. I have enough access from my home wiring hub to get the speaker wire up to the attic for the speakers. And that is also where the network stuff is located so I can tap into that. I have no idea where to start my research so I thought this would be a good place. Throw some idea's and questions at me.
post #2 of 28
One way would be to have all the speakers in the home playing the same source at the same volume, all controlled via ipad/iphone.

You'd need an Apple airport express wired/wireless into your network with its output sent to a multi-channel amplifier, and from there to in-ceiling speakers.

Amp:
http://www.htd.com/Products/multi-channel-amplifiers/DMA-1240 (powers 12 speakers for $700, can be set to output all channels form one input)

Speakers - inceilings from monoprice.com would be least expensive: http://www.monoprice.com/Category?c_id=108&cp_id=10837

I have a version of this with an airport express wired into computer speakers hidden above my kitchen cabinets, and it works great....all I needed up there was power.
post #3 of 28
What does "budget" mean to you? $200? $2000? $10000?

First, always plan for a stereo pair of speakers for most rooms.

A single Sonos Connect:Amp or NuVo P100 / P200 to a pair (or two) of speakers is a great, expandable solution. You can get in for ~$500/zone + speakers and expand to other rooms as budget / desire allows.

The Airport Express route mentioned by Quill will work, but does require your mobile / tablet device to be "tied up" playing the music app. The self-contained streaming devices like the Sonos just use the mobile devices for control, not actual playback.

Going the Airport Express route, the multichannel amp is probably overkill as you won't get the advantages of that unit unless you attach a controller to it. But it does allow for you to grow into those solutions later - although few whole house audio (WHA) systems require the use of an external, multichannel amp to get going. Airport with a cheap amp (AudioSource AMP-100) with an impedance-matched volume control is the minimal cost for a few rooms with a single source.

But note that you'll really want individual on/off and volume controls per room once you get to more than say 2 rooms.

Jeff
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
Budget means cheap to me. I don't need the best speakers and the best amp. She said that she just wants to be able to hear music upstairs while cleaning instead of turning our home theater setup to full volume downstairs. I understand the need for stereo sound, but our rooms are not that big and I think that 2 speakers per room would be overkill. I could probably start with one speaker and add another if needed. I saw a 4 port 2 source speaker switch with volume control from monoprice, and that looked like a good start. Now need a good source that will supply the audio. They also have non volume control ones, and I was wondering if you can wire these together in a series so say I purchased a 4 channel w/volume control and a 6 channel without, could I then use them to control something like 2 rooms on one channel then another 2 on another that would give me the option of turning off more rooms then just 4. And/or could I wire more then one room into the 4 channels the description for the devices is not that great. So not sure how many speakers I can put on each channel.
post #5 of 28
There isn't a good way to start with one speaker in a room and maybe add one later. You will have one of two scenarios:
1: you use "regular" single-input speakers, so you get either the left track or the right track of your stereo sources in every room.
2: you use a stereo input speaker in each room. If you add another speaker to a room, you'll need to change the first one to a single-input type.
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
That is true, maybe install 2 speakers in the hallway outside the bedrooms and 2 speakers in the kitchen/family room area. These speakers are on sale today I think they are single input.
http://www.monoprice.com/Product/?c_id=108&cp_id=10837&cs_id=1083702&p_id=4103&seq=1&format=3#specification
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 
Also we don't have any ios devices, can the airport express be used with all of my android devices?
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
post #9 of 28
Read the manuals before you spend a dime.

You want a pair of speakers in each zone, inside each bedroom.

You (and the missus) will probably be happier with 8" speakers, but not by much.

The amps should not be in the attic.

A stack of Sonos:Connect amps in a closet, or cabinet, would be easy to install, and easily expanded.

If you want a single source playing at once, you can save a lot of money and use a networked receiver, though you'll need to install in-wall volume controls.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
I did a lot of reading today. I could spend a few extra dollars and upgrade to the 8" speakers, but not sure it will make much difference. The amp will be in my laundry room with all of my other network/tv equipment. I have a unused sony receiver that I was going to use for that. A stack of sonos amps will be way over my budget. As far as in wall volume controls. Would I then just purchase one of the 4 channel switches without volume control and buy 4 volume controls, then run the speaker wire from the switch to the volume control, and from there to the speakers? That would only cost me a few extra dollars and it would give me a lot more control at the point of sound.= more waf.
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
I have some more questions if anyone is willing to help. I was looking at different options and came across a aton dla4. It is a 4 zone speaker selector with ir remote. It runs $300. Now I was originally going to buy a speaker selector and 4 rotary volume controls, wire, lv boxes and such that stuff would have cost me about $200. So for $100 extra dollars I can save a ton of time running wires in my walls, and be able to control the volume with the remote in any room I am in. Does this sound like a good idea? Also with this technology being so old I can't for the life of me figure out why there is no other ways to do this by remote other then this brand.
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

I have some more questions if anyone is willing to help. I was looking at different options and came across a aton dla4. It is a 4 zone speaker selector with ir remote. It runs $300. Now I was originally going to buy a speaker selector and 4 rotary volume controls, wire, lv boxes and such that stuff would have cost me about $200. So for $100 extra dollars I can save a ton of time running wires in my walls, and be able to control the volume with the remote in any room I am in. Does this sound like a good idea? .

The Aton DLA line is probably the best solution for single-source / multi-room setups. Note that you can also run a cat5e line to wherever you would have placed the volume controls and install an Aton DLATP wall control for that zone. If you can do that in some rooms, the RF remote becomes even more useful, as you'll be able to keep it in one place....
Quote:
Also with this technology being so old I can't for the life of me figure out why there is no other ways to do this by remote other then this brand

Because the market for these solutions is small - since it's really for 3-6 rooms, and with more than three rooms, most would recommend a WHA system.


Jeff
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
First thanks for the response. I do however have a few questions. Why would I want to keep the remote in the same place? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Those plates are super expensive and my idea of switching to a remote control switch was so that I didn't have to install all the wiring and my wife can just walk around with the remote. Isn't the dla4 part of a wha system? Could I have more then 2 speakers per zone, say if I wanted to combine a zone later and add another one somewhere else with the leftover input?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

First thanks for the response. I do however have a few questions. Why would I want to keep the remote in the same place? Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

Because it will never be left where you want it... TV remotes are bad enough - and they don't generally wander from room to room. You will find that you'll probably want "remote control" in each room - eventually.
Quote:
Those plates are super expensive and my idea of switching to a remote control switch was so that I didn't have to install all the wiring and my wife can just walk around with the remote.

This is why I asked you what "budget" meant in the first post. If $99 per-room is "super expensive", yes, you're going to be carrying one remote around - or you can buy additional DLA4RM remotes for ~$75 each. While the remote(s) could be left in each room - there is an advantage to the fixed location keypads - they're always in the same, known place. Since you'll be using something else for control of the music, having quick/easy access to on/off/volume is handy - especially when the phone rings. Additional RF remotes, though, don't require any wiring - but having a cat5e wire to a keypad location in some/all zones would be useful in the future for any more advanced setup.
Quote:
Isn't the dla4 part of a wha system?

There's not really a strict definition of what is and isn't a WHA system - but I'd define it as a setup that allows for independent source selection and volume control for >3 zones. But there's nothing wrong with starting with a "multi-room" setup - you can always expand later.
Quote:
Could I have more then 2 speakers per zone, say if I wanted to combine a zone later and add another one somewhere else with the leftover input?

Depends on the speakers, amp, and selector - the Aton DLA is 4-ohm capable, so it could take two pairs of 8-ohm speakers per "zone". But if you expand beyond 4 zones/rooms, you'll probably want to use the DLA6, or start looking at another solution. If you think you'd do more rooms (meaning 5-6 total) in the foreseeable future, think about buying the DLA6 instead so you can grow into it without having to replace / re-buy stuff.


Jeff
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
The cheapest I saw the dlatp was $120,+ wires+lv boxes+ my time running wire and fixing drywall. lol but I do see the remotes for $50, I also could use inexpensive universal remotes. Eventually I am hoping that I will have a wi-fi based source that we can control with the multitude of electronic devices we already own like the phones and tablets and all that. I thought all that stuff would exist like using a roku for our audio connected to plex and stuff. I already own one of those saucer shaped rf/ir devices so maybe I could put that to good use. Those pyles are 4-8 ohm and I was already thinking about making the dr/kit and the lr area one zone because it is pretty much wide open, so I will have a few extra zones. That would give me the ability to run a few more speakers, if the selector can handle it because the selector is probably better then my receiver/amp. Right now I was hoping I can use my old http://www.crutchfield.com/S-PQUqsbMDZRb/p_158STDG500/Sony-STR-DG500.html
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

The cheapest I saw the dlatp was $120,+ wires+lv boxes+ my time running wire and fixing drywall. lol

$99 + $2 + ~$20 for wire. No drywall repair needed assuming you can drop wires down from the attic through interior top plates, which you would have to have done for volume controls.
Quote:
I also could use inexpensive universal remotes.

No, you can't. The RF remote is specific to the product - there is no standardization among RF remote products, unfortunately.
Quote:
Eventually I am hoping that I will have a wi-fi based source that we can control with the multitude of electronic devices we already own like the phones and tablets and all that. I thought all that stuff would exist like using a roku for our audio connected to plex and stuff.

They do. Apple Airport Express for $99 will stream from iOS / Android devices. Sonos Connect will stream from the Internet and NAS storage.
Quote:
I already own one of those saucer shaped rf/ir devices so maybe I could put that to good use.

It won't work the way you think it should. Even if you tapped into the IR input on the Aton, the codes will require mapping to each individual zone, so a different set of buttons from one room to another. Not like how the RF remote would work - at least not without a fairly expensive remote control...


Jeff
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
wouldn't a harmony remote do that stuff? I'm starting to think that the aton thing will not help me at all. The saucer thing uses a aa battery thing that is put in the remote and transmits to the saucer which sends out the ir signal. I honestly didnt think about dropping the volume controls wires from the top, I was going to bring them up from the basement, but your idea is better I will just need a lot more wire and they will be longer runs. I really would like to just be able to use the one remote though, but I need to get the ir signal to the aton without spending $120 per location. What about my amplifier will that work for my plans?
post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Do you know why the aton dla2rf that comes with the rf stuff is cheaper then the dla2 that doesn't? I can't figure that out. Too bad I can't find a dla4rf
http://www.smarthome.com/_/ProductCompare.aspx?R=8844+8850
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Maybe I should be looking at a networked receiver instead of the dla4. Then I could control the volume from that right? I am getting way lost now.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

wouldn't a harmony remote do that stuff?

It can, but each zone's control will consume a device on the Harmony because of the way the remote codes work.
Quote:
I'm starting to think that the aton thing will not help me at all. The saucer thing uses a aa battery thing that is put in the remote and transmits to the saucer which sends out the ir signal.

Whatever you do to bring IR to the DLA unit it will have the same control issues because of the remote codes. The NextGen saucer is very cool, but isn't a great solution for this particular problem.
Quote:
I honestly didnt think about dropping the volume controls wires from the top, I was going to bring them up from the basement, but your idea is better I will just need a lot more wire and they will be longer runs.

You can probably wire the whole house with cat5e for $80... Spool of 1000' from Monoprice.
Quote:
I really would like to just be able to use the one remote though, but I need to get the ir signal to the aton without spending $120 per location. What about my amplifier will that work for my plans?

You can do it with one RF remote, but like I said, you'll be carrying it from room to room. You're not going to get this down to one remote without spending some money... Your remote and saucer will work fine for the AVR.
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

Maybe I should be looking at a networked receiver instead of the dla4. Then I could control the volume from that right? I am getting way lost now.

That gets you back to one volume level (and all zones on at the same volume) across the house.
post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 
I think my wife would be fine with one volume level for the whole house. If its going to cost $300-$400 just for the volume control feature. Now I am looking at those squeeze box radio things they add the feature of portability which might come in handy. I could buy 4 of them for $400 and put them wherever she wants and she can move them if needed and such. I think they can all be synced somehow also. This would also provide 4 sources if someone (the kids) wanted to listen to something else in their room. cat5 is cheap volume controls are not. Its all mind boggling.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Jeff I sent you a pm.
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Read the manuals before you spend a dime.


If you want a single source playing at once, you can save a lot of money and use a networked receiver, though you'll need to install in-wall volume controls.

I am starting to like this idea more and more, as I am realizing that my wife just wants to turn the radio on and blast it throughout the whole house. I may just buy a speaker selector with volume control and when the prices for a slim networked receiver with a android app come down I can pick one up. That will give me a nice system, without having to purchase any kind of other internet streaming player.
It would be nice if I could find a 2 channel one, because I don't need 5.1 or 7.1 in that location. I have another receiver set up in my home theater room for that.
post #24 of 28
Sonos is a fine system. You can get by with as little as $200 per room. To get started you can do one room for just $250. Moreover you can expand the system bit by bit .

I would strongly suggest NOT doing a system that can ONLY do one source to the whole house.
post #25 of 28
I personally started out with distributed audio using a single [old] AVR driving 6 pairs of speakers, using an impedance matching speaker box and in-wall volume controls. I enjoyed it tremendously for a couple years.

But I really wanted to play multiple sources at once (2 adults, 3 kids), so I eventually upgraded to in-wall keypads, and a multi zone amp-controller.

Starting out small isn't a bad thing.

Make certain you use impedance matching volume controls, or an impedance matching speaker box (aka speaker selector box - but it's not really for selecting zones, they're always selected, it's a misnomer) if you attempt to drive more than a single pair of speakers from a 2 channel amp.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanly2 View Post

I am starting to like this idea more and more, as I am realizing that my wife just wants to turn the radio on and blast it throughout the whole house. I may just buy a speaker selector with volume control and when the prices for a slim networked receiver with a android app come down I can pick one up..

(info relayed by PM...) You found a good deal on a used, but complete, WHA system for $300... 'nuff said...

A WHA system has a distinct advantage over volume controls and selectors in that each zone is turned on/off explicitly. Whereas a selector just "comes on at the last volume level in each room" - so turning on the setup will play music in whatever room(s) were last using it.

Yes, there's nothing wrong with starting out small - but if you've got to buy speakers, wire, and do all the labor anyway, and you've found a good deal on a good (used) system - the difference in cost is pretty small, especially given the difference in functionality, Not even counting multiple sources!

Jeff
post #27 of 28
My speaker selector box was never touched. All on/off/volume control was performed with the in-wall volume controls. AVR was left running 24/7, tuned to a local radio station.
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcwilt View Post

Sonos is a fine system. You can get by with as little as $200 per room. To get started you can do one room for just $250. Moreover you can expand the system bit by bit .

I would strongly suggest NOT doing a system that can ONLY do one source to the whole house.
More then one source is easy These speakers will all be in common areas that are connected, so you couldn't listen to another source if you wanted too. If the kids want to listen to something else they can go to their room and use a bluetooth speaker or dock with their phone or tablet. With all these apps and stuff for networked receivers and such, those wall plates are going to be obsolete in just a few years. I will be able to tell my xbox to turn on and play my music for me without touching anything. Now as far as the speaker selector goes, I am looking at this one, it says it has impedence protection, not sure about matching though.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=571486&is=REG&Q=&A=details

Jeff if that system was closer to home, I probably would have just bought it. I just don't feel like making the 4 hour drive.
Thanks.

Also here is the link for the deal I found, if anyone else is interested in buying it.
http://jerseyshore.craigslist.org/ele/4201574974.html
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