Multi-room speakers and amps - 'high end' vs 'low end' - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Multi-room speakers and amps - 'high end' vs 'low end'

Hi everyone, I've been a member for 8 years and never posted, I wonder if that's a record?

With an upcoming house purchase/remodel I'm thinking about adding in-ceiling speakers in some parts of the house. My previous house had a system comprising Rotel RMB-1506 amps and Bowers & Wilkins CCM665 speakers with Apple Airport Expresses providing the audio via AirPlay.

It looks like I can hop online now and buy the same kit at $1000/amp and $400/pair but do I need to?

I can get an Audiosource amp for ~$130 and a pair of 6.5" Klipsch or Polk Audio speakers for under $150.

Based on a 3 room setup (max with the RMB-1506) it would be $2200 for Rotel + B&W vs <$1000 for an Audiosource + Klipsch/Polk setup, and with the latter I can add additional rooms/zones for under $300.

So my question to people far more knowledgeable than me is whether there is any benefit (except vanity) to the Rotel/B&W setup, for what is ostensibly 'background' music from a streaming service like Apple Music?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:00 PM
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I have cheap polk speakers in my dining room and B&W CCM663s in my kitchen. Both are powered by the same Emotiva amp. For low volume background music, both are fine. But I do prefer the B&Ws enough that I'll be switching out the polks. But the main reason for that is that my main living room speakers are also B&W so I want the sound signature to be consistent from room to room.

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post #3 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by cavalier240 View Post
I have cheap polk speakers in my dining room and B&W CCM663s in my kitchen. Both are powered by the same Emotiva amp. For low volume background music, both are fine. But I do prefer the B&Ws enough that I'll be switching out the polks. But the main reason for that is that my main living room speakers are also B&W so I want the sound signature to be consistent from room to room.
Thanks for the reply, which Polks do you have?

I'm thinking I might 'dip my toe in the water' with the 'cheap' setup and see how it sounds. Worst case I'll be out $300, but more likely I can either sell, or relocate to the garage or similar. We moved out of the house with the Rotel/B&W setup 2 years ago and we've been renting since so our living space music has been provided by a variety of sources including a Vizio soundbar and an Anker bluetooth speaker!

Out of interest do you do anything to isolate/insulate the speakers from the joist cavity/second floor, if you have one? That was the only negative about our old system, the sound came right through the floor into the room above...
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post #4 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chiefsilverback View Post
Thanks for the reply, which Polks do you have?

I'm thinking I might 'dip my toe in the water' with the 'cheap' setup and see how it sounds. Worst case I'll be out $300, but more likely I can either sell, or relocate to the garage or similar. We moved out of the house with the Rotel/B&W setup 2 years ago and we've been renting since so our living space music has been provided by a variety of sources including a Vizio soundbar and an Anker bluetooth speaker!

Out of interest do you do anything to isolate/insulate the speakers from the joist cavity/second floor, if you have one? That was the only negative about our old system, the sound came right through the floor into the room above...
I have a pair of the Polk RC60i. I stuffed some batt insulation in each end of the joist cavity, but the only insulation to the rooms above is the 2nd floor carpet and carpet pad.

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post #5 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a pair of the Polk RC60i. I stuffed some batt insulation in each end of the joist cavity, but the only insulation to the rooms above is the 2nd floor carpet and carpet pad.
I'm not sure there is an effective way to cut down the noise transfer to the second floor when you've got a couple of 6" or 8" drivers pumping away 6" below the subfloor? When I get around to remodelling the rooms above speakers it might be interesting to open up the subfloor and try installing a concrete slab or similar above the speaker?
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post #6 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:50 PM
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I'm not sure there is an effective way to cut down the noise transfer to the second floor when you've got a couple of 6" or 8" drivers pumping away 6" below the subfloor? When I get around to remodelling the rooms above speakers it might be interesting to open up the subfloor and try installing a concrete slab or similar above the speaker?
The guys over in the Dedicated Theater subforum are the experts on soundproofing. I'd maybe do some searching in there. I don't sweat it because in my house when sound is pumping downstairs, no one is sleeping in the bedrooms above.
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post #7 of 14 Old 03-07-2017, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't sweat it because in my house when sound is pumping downstairs, no one is sleeping in the bedrooms above.
My boys are in bed by 8, if we're lucky! That said the older two could probably sleep through the apocalypse, and the younger one isn't far behind them, so it probably isn't too much of an issue!
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post #8 of 14 Old 03-08-2017, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by chiefsilverback View Post
I'm not sure there is an effective way to cut down the noise transfer to the second floor when you've got a couple of 6" or 8" drivers pumping away 6" below the subfloor? When I get around to remodelling the rooms above speakers it might be interesting to open up the subfloor and try installing a concrete slab or similar above the speaker?
The flexible retrofit backer boxes can help a lot...

http://www.dynamat.com/architectural...home-dynabox/#

I wish there were some competition for these, they're not cheap...

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post #9 of 14 Old 03-08-2017, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
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The reviews of the dynaboxes appear very mixed in terms of their effectivness and as you point out, they're not cheap enough to find they don't work...
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post #10 of 14 Old 03-08-2017, 12:05 PM
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The reviews of the dynaboxes appear very mixed in terms of their effectivness and as you point out, they're not cheap enough to find they don't work...
I have a couple of the now-discontinued Russound Flexbox equivalents that I need to install. I would expect them to perform very similarly - and I suspect that "installation quality" will have a lot to do with their performance. I would treat reviews (good or bad) from random folks as unreliable for that reason.

If I do ever get around to installing the set I have, I'll certainly do some before/after measurements. But don't hold your breath - they've been sitting in a closet with a "TO DO" sticker for years.

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post #11 of 14 Old 03-09-2017, 02:14 AM
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Multi-room speakers and amps - 'high end' vs 'low end'

In-Ceiling speakers - some designs have Integral or optional back cans to stop audio going out the rear of the driver.

In-Ceiling speakers - there are third party adds on you can use with any speakers, http://www.dynamat.com/architectural...-home-dynabox/

In-Ceiling speakers - some sound terrible, even for background music. Def experiment a bit.

Multi-room audio - lots of 'modern' more integrated options such as SONOS, HEOS, MusicCast at the front end of the system - your choice of 'system' may guide you on amplification/speakers/Zone players.

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post #12 of 14 Old 03-13-2017, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Joe Fernand View Post
In-Ceiling speakers - some designs have Integral or optional back cans to stop audio going out the rear of the driver.

In-Ceiling speakers - there are third party adds on you can use with any speakers, http://www.dynamat.com/architectural...-home-dynabox/

In-Ceiling speakers - some sound terrible, even for background music. Def experiment a bit.

Multi-room audio - lots of 'modern' more integrated options such as SONOS, HEOS, MusicCast at the front end of the system - your choice of 'system' may guide you on amplification/speakers/Zone players.

Joe


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Thanks Joe. My music source is Apple Music from iPhone/iPad/Mac, and AirPlay has always served me well in the past, so I don't need to incur the premium for Sonos just to access Apple Music through a different app.

There's always a chance Apple will drop AirPlay in the future, but all the time they're supporting it having that system level integration seems like a no-brainer to me.

As I said in an earlier reply, I think I'm going to test the water with one zone of 'cheap' setup and see how it sounds...
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post #13 of 14 Old 03-13-2017, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by chiefsilverback View Post
Thanks Joe. My music source is Apple Music from iPhone/iPad/Mac, and AirPlay has always served me well in the past, so I don't need to incur the premium for Sonos just to access Apple Music through a different app.

There's always a chance Apple will drop AirPlay in the future, but all the time they're supporting it having that system level integration seems like a no-brainer to me.

As I said in an earlier reply, I think I'm going to test the water with one zone of 'cheap' setup and see how it sounds...
An AirPort Express for AirPlay is definitely cheaper than a Sonos Connect or Sonos Connect Amp. You're limited to your Itunes library and no Spotify or Pandora or any of the other streaming services, but for a cheap testing of the WHA waters AirPlay will work.

If you decide at some point in the future to branch out from AirPlay bc you're getting your music from one of the streaming services, keep in mind that Google's Chromecast Audio pucks would be another cheaper alternative to something like Sonos. And you can still play your Itunes library on the Chromecast Audio pucks by using the Plex app. I've found Plex to work very well in streaming from Itunes library to my Chromecasts. Something to think about it for the future.

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post #14 of 14 Old 03-13-2017, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
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An AirPort Express for AirPlay is definitely cheaper than a Sonos Connect or Sonos Connect Amp. You're limited to your Itunes library and no Spotify or Pandora or any of the other streaming services, but for a cheap testing of the WHA waters AirPlay will work.
AirPlay is a system level technology for MacOS and iOS and unless the apps for Spotify and Pandora explicitly prevent you from using AirPlay (which I think would violate Apple's rules) anything that plays on an iOS device can be streamed to an AirPlay receiving device, if not through the app itself then through the Control Panel in iOS.

Also you forget about Apple Music, which serves all my streaming needs.
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