Any decent 'smart' whole-home audio solutions? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 10:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Any decent 'smart' whole-home audio solutions?

Please forgive my ignorance on these things, I'm very much a newbie when it comes to these things.

Requirements:
  • Decent audio but not an audiophile (maybe better than a standard Alexa speaker)
  • Able to play audio in all rooms and select room groups if possible
  • have alexa (google home?) control
  • physical buttons is a plus, app control a plus
  • ability to use a tv soundbar as one of the speakers is a plus

What I have considered:
  • Bose SoundTouch - PROS: I like the physical buttons and easy to setup and is whole-house. LIMITATIONS: no integrated Alexa so if i hook an alexa DOT up to the spearker through AUX, then all the physical buttons dont work. It's either Alexa or Bose features but not both at the same time
  • Classic Sonos whole-home: lLIMITATIONS: Same limitations as Bose SoundTouch
  • New Sonos speakers with Alexa builtin - LIMITATIONS: version of Alexa does not support Amazon-supported whole-home audio according to my research
  • Alexa speakers in all the rooms - LIMITATIONS: poor quality sound by comparison, no other features, must use voice to control (and klugy app)

I dont know if what I want exists. I want to be able to have sound in all rooms, ask questions to Alexa, be able to control with multiple methods (app, voice, physical buttons)

Thanks for your help!
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post #2 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 11:06 AM
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post #3 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
Please forgive my ignorance on these things, I'm very much a newbie when it comes to these things.

Requirements:
  • Decent audio but not an audiophile (maybe better than a standard Alexa speaker)
  • Able to play audio in all rooms and select room groups if possible
  • have alexa (google home?) control
  • physical buttons is a plus, app control a plus
  • ability to use a tv soundbar as one of the speakers is a plus

What I have considered:
  • Bose SoundTouch - PROS: I like the physical buttons and easy to setup and is whole-house. LIMITATIONS: no integrated Alexa so if i hook an alexa DOT up to the spearker through AUX, then all the physical buttons dont work. It's either Alexa or Bose features but not both at the same time
  • Classic Sonos whole-home: lLIMITATIONS: Same limitations as Bose SoundTouch
  • New Sonos speakers with Alexa builtin - LIMITATIONS: version of Alexa does not support Amazon-supported whole-home audio according to my research
  • Alexa speakers in all the rooms - LIMITATIONS: poor quality sound by comparison, no other features, must use voice to control (and klugy app)

I dont know if what I want exists. I want to be able to have sound in all rooms, ask questions to Alexa, be able to control with multiple methods (app, voice, physical buttons)

Thanks for your help!

Yeah there are various whole audio systems out there. Plenty of threads on this forum on Nuvo and other streaming options. Some are more limited and/or costlier than others. They're all streamers at their core. So you have to decide what's important.



Physical buttons? I'm not sure how many have that. If you're talking about tablet on your wall, sure you can do that. But if you starting the music from an app or via voice with Google Home or Alexa physical buttons may not be a deal-breaker.

Don't use the Amazon made Alexa speakers for whole-home audio. Some companies make better sounding speakers that have Alexa built-in but the grouping feature in the Alexa app leaves a lot to be desired. And I don't know how or if the non-Amazon Alexa speakers group without any trouble in the Alexa app. Amazon has been really shady about allowing non-Amazon products to work well with some of the newer features in the Alexa app, see routines. And because grouping is somewhat new in the Alexa app, it could be as limited a Routines. There are sound bars with Alexa built in.

The limitation with using speakers that have Alexa built-in is that outside of Amazon Music, there isn't one music streaming app that has native support built-in for sending music to speakers, whether it's Echos or non-Amazon made speakers. You'll be limited to using your voice for getting the music going. This could be a limitation in certain situations.

Another option is Chromecast Audio. Plenty of threads on this forum on Chromecast. Chromecast offers plenty of flexibility when it comes to grouping. You can buy Chromecast Audio 'pucks' that you can connect to the back of a multi-zone audio amp if you have speakers in your ceilings or you're thinking about going in that direction. There are a ton of speakers from various manufacturers that have Chromecast built-in if you want to go that route. You can use a tv sound bar that has Chromecast built-in as a part of a speaker group. There are several sound bars that have Chromcast built-in. You can use your voice to get music started by speaking to a Google Home or opening the Google Assistant app on your phone. You can also start music by going to the music app and casting from the app as long as the app has Chromecast built-in. If it doesn't have Chromecast built in, you can use a Android device to stream music from that app to your cast targets.

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Last edited by ahard; 01-02-2019 at 12:00 PM.
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post #4 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the repllies. The physical buttons i'm referring to look like this:

(cant post link, was image of SoundTouch speaker with 'preset' and volume buttons on the top)

Buttons are not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to have. I've enjoyed that feature of my one-speaker Bose system so far. But sounds like this will be the first thing to go to get a better system.

I think what is in tension is a higher-quality sound system, speaking commands to the system, and seemless multi-speaker integration.
* Amazon-devices support the entire featureset including playing a particular streaming service to one or many devices but the speakers suck and any features that the whole-home systems have will be lacking (such as play from aux or bluetooth wont work) or any thing you would find in the app or on the hardware (such as physical buttons)
* 3rd-party built-in alexa devices narrow the featureset from Amazon
* 3rd party devices WITHOUT alexa built in requires switching back and forth between speaker and alexa DOT or not being able to use one side of the feature set

Ill consider chromecast but i bet you have the same problem: if the chromecast is plugged in to an input, then no other output method would work (If im using chromecast, i cant use bluetooth, if im using chromecast, the sonos/bose/denon app features wont work.

I think the only chance i have is with the integrated alexa devices in the hopes of one day more support being added. The Sonos One and the HEOS1 both have it built in. But some things arn't supported. Spotify on the Heos and 'phone calls' with the sonos.

The last option I suppose is to throw my hands up and just keep these as two different systems. But the more I think about it it sounds like a bad idea. Maybe I'll look into the Sonos One a bit more.

Thanks again for the help! You got me thinking!
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post #5 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
Thanks for the repllies. The physical buttons i'm referring to look like this:

(cant post link, was image of SoundTouch speaker with 'preset' and volume buttons on the top)

Buttons are not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to have. I've enjoyed that feature of my one-speaker Bose system so far. But sounds like this will be the first thing to go to get a better system.

Some Chromecast speakers have buttons on top; the ones I have do. I really don't use them because I either control the voice using my voice or I do it from my phone or tablet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
Ill consider chromecast but i bet you have the same problem: if the chromecast is plugged in to an input, then no other output method would work (If im using chromecast, i cant use bluetooth, if im using chromecast, the sonos/bose/denon app features wont work.

I'm confused by what you're asking. If you have Chromecast speakers why would you also have bluetooth or sonos/denon/bose in your whole home audio mix? That's not how you build a proper whole-home audio system. It just doesn't make sense to mix and match that way because you wouldn't be able to do cohesive room-grouping; and that's what you're looking for. Don't mix and match. Either have all of the speakers Chromecast or Sonos or Denon or whatever.


My whole home audio system is all Chromecast; Chromecast Audio 'pucks' connected to a multi-zone amp with speakers in the ceilings and speakers that have Chromecast built-in for a total of 12 zones of audio. I don't use bluetooth speakers. I don't have Sonos in the mix. I don't have Denon or Yamaha MusicCast in the mix. Go with one system and stick to it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
I think the only chance i have is with the integrated alexa devices in the hopes of one day more support being added. The Sonos One and the HEOS1 both have it built in. But some things arn't supported. Spotify on the Heos and 'phone calls' with the sonos.

The last option I suppose is to throw my hands up and just keep these as two different systems. But the more I think about it it sounds like a bad idea. Maybe I'll look into the Sonos One a bit more.

Thanks again for the help! You got me thinking!

As I said before they're all streamers. Some are more flexible than others. Your only "chance" isn't just Alexa devices. If you're in the Alexa ecosystem then ok. But Sonos will have Google Assistant support sometime this year. Denon also supports Google Assistant. Don't just limit yourself to only devices that Alexa supports. I have Alexa and Google Home in my home.



Chromecast and Sonos are much better as whole home audio solutions than Alexa based stuff. Alexa is just too limited for whole-home audio.

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post #6 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahard View Post
Some Chromecast speakers have buttons on top; the ones I have do. I really don't use them because I either control the voice using my voice or I do it from my phone or tablet.





I'm confused by what you're asking. If you have Chromecast speakers why would you also have bluetooth or sonos/denon/bose in your whole home audio mix? That's not how you build a proper whole-home audio system. It just doesn't make sense to mix and match that way because you wouldn't be able to do cohesive room-grouping; and that's what you're looking for. Don't mix and match. Either have all of the speakers Chromecast or Sonos or Denon or whatever.


My whole home audio system is all Chromecast; Chromecast Audio 'pucks' connected to a multi-zone amp with speakers in the ceilings and speakers that have Chromecast built-in for a total of 12 zones of audio. I don't use bluetooth speakers. I don't have Sonos in the mix. I don't have Denon or Yamaha MusicCast in the mix. Go with one system and stick to it.





As I said before they're all streamers. Some are more flexible than others. Your only "chance" isn't just Alexa devices. If you're in the Alexa ecosystem then ok. But Sonos will have Google Assistant support sometime this year. Denon also supports Google Assistant. Don't just limit yourself to only devices that Alexa supports. I have Alexa and Google Home in my home.



Chromecast and Sonos are much better as whole home audio solutions than Alexa based stuff. Alexa is just too limited for whole-home audio.
+1

Are you trying to use Bluetooth or Denon support for pushing through audio from a TV? That's one area that hasn't been integrated well because of the proprietary STB's that US consumers suffer from. I use these boxes to override the Chromecast audio feeds to speakers that are shared between TV's and WHA audio system support: https://www.newark.com/mcm-custom-au...tor/dp/29X0259 When the TV audio goes active, it switches the feed to the amp from the chromecast to the TV or whatever other source you have.

Or is the reason you are trying to use other sources to try and save money? The nice thing about the Chromecast audios is they are only $15-25 each. Maybe another $15 of you have a lot of sones and want them hardwired with ethernet instead of WiFi, which I recommend for more than a handful of zones. Com pare that with Sonos or HEOS, and you can see how cheap it is to make your WHA system be all Chromecast.

Also note, the Google home devices can act as Chromecast audio speakers as well - you'll want a few of those to enable voice control of playback too.

Alexa may get better on multiroom playback, but as ahard says, they are way behind now at least when it comes to media playback. And Chromecast has video support to for playback on TV's etc..., and you can take that Chromecast source and stream music in the WHA system through a reciever too. It all works, though you have to deal with source selection and volume control in the receiver context unless you have really good CEC support.

thx
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post #7 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahard View Post
I'm confused by what you're asking. If you have Chromecast speakers why would you also have bluetooth or sonos/denon/bose in your whole home audio mix? That's not how you build a proper whole-home audio system. It just doesn't make sense to mix and match that way because you wouldn't be able to do cohesive room-grouping; and that's what you're looking for. Don't mix and match. Either have all of the speakers Chromecast or Sonos or Denon or whatever.
I think I misunderstood you. I'm not talking about mixing solutions. When you said the 'pucks' then that would mean it plugs into aux in a speaker, yes? If this is true then it disables all functionalty of the speaekr. The fundamental problem is that the traditional whole-house audio has a feature set and the new smart devices (alexa and chromecast) have their own feature set. But once you put the puck into aux you lose all thoe other features, it isnow a chromecast speaker. The benefit of the integrated devices is that you hopefully get the best of both worlds (but this is a *BIG* hope im guessing). So if you were talking about chromecast SPEAKERS then I guess I see what you're saying, but the problem I was referring to was the pucks.

Here's a non-ehaustive list of use cases that my family has. Would you be able to tell me if chromecast speakers or pucks would have the following features?
  • Wife likes a physical preset button on the speaker (not a deal-breaker)
  • Volume on the speaker is nice ('alexa volume down....alexa volume down...OR alexa volume 3...uh...i mean alexa volume 6..no wait 4
  • Create multiple groups of speakers (a single speaker in multilple groups (this is an alexa limitation) I would like to have a single alexa device exist in a whole-house group and a 'tv' group' and a 'tv+outdoor' group etc
  • Voice control for other things like weather and alarms and shopping lists, smart home control etc
  • send tv (soundbar?) audio to kitchen ad vice-versa
  • stream anything online (spotify, amazon prime audio, google play, pandora, youtube audio, echoes.org, bandcamp, soundcloud etc) with
    1. without using any app using my voice
    2. using an app
    3. again preset button is nice (as with the bose)
  • sream anything from bluetooth to various groups
  • stream anything from aux to various speaker groups
    [(] stream anything from a laptop, desktop, phone, tablet etc (bose does a decent job with this)
  • define 'presets' (not necessarily buttons) of local radio stations (bose does great with this)

But i must say, it sounds like you're right. Google has always been better with ineroperability than amazon. It annoys me to no end how much amazon hates chromecast. But Id like to keep the house all google smart speakers or all alexa because I ahve to develop a lot of apis and hacks and home automation scripts and Id rather not do it twice. But seeing as how we have eccobee thermostats that are already alexa and a tv that is google, my guess is I wont be able to get around this issue.
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post #8 of 19 Old 01-02-2019, 05:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
I think I misunderstood you. I'm not talking about mixing solutions. When you said the 'pucks' then that would mean it plugs into aux in a speaker, yes?
Yes. Or an multi-zone amp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
If this is true then it disables all functionalty of the speaekr.
Ok. But I still don't understand the 'problem'. If you're connecting a Chromecast to the speaker what functionally are you losing that you wouldn't get with the Chromecast? Streaming wise you're not loosing any functionality. And you're getting a much more stable connection than you'd get with Bluetooth and you're taking your phone or tablet out of the equation once the connection is established.

Quote:
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The fundamental problem is that the traditional whole-house audio has a feature set and the new smart devices (alexa and chromecast) have their own feature set.
Yeah. This isn't a problem. I'm not sure which traditional whole-home audio solutions you're referring to, but the more traditional whole-home audio systems typically work with integrator based home automation systems. Those traditional systems do work with Alexa and Google Home via the home automation system. Again, all of thess whole-home audio systems are streamers. Streamers by themselves weren't smart to begin with. They become smart when combined with voice control and home automation scenes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
But once you put the puck into aux you lose all thoe other features, it isnow a chromecast speaker.
Sir or ma'ma. You aren't "losing" any features when you connect a Chromecast Audio 'puck' to a speaker that has a aux input. The only "features" of such speakers are their ability to play music by connecting a external source. And of course it is a Chromecast speaker. I'm still not sure what features of these speakers that have an aux input you're losing when connecting a Chromecast. A little research into speakers reveal that many of them are just your standard speaker. If you're referring to losing Bluetooth I'd just say that you don't need Bluetooth to stream audio if you have a Chromecast connected. That's pointless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
The benefit of the integrated devices is that you hopefully get the best of both worlds (but this is a *BIG* hope im guessing). So if you were talking about chromecast SPEAKERS then I guess I see what you're saying, but the problem I was referring to was the pucks.
I don't understand what you mean by best of both worlds but I'd guess you're referring to smart control, by which you mean Alexa or Google Assistant. To be clear, if you connect a Chromecast Audio 'puck' to any speaker or amp I'd suggest you get a Google Home. That way you'd get the "best of both worlds". You'd be able to control the Chromecast Audio via voice or a music streaming app.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
Here's a non-ehaustive list of use cases that my family has. Would you be able to tell me if chromecast speakers or pucks would have the following features?
  • Wife likes a physical preset button on the speaker (not a deal-breaker)
  • There are physical buttons on Chromecast speakers.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • Volume on the speaker is nice ('alexa volume down....alexa volume down...OR alexa volume 3...uh...i mean alexa volume 6..no wait 4
There are volume controls on Chromecast speakers. You can also adjust the volume using your voice by asking a Google Home change the volume. Google has a number of appropriate phrased on their Google Home site for volume control. You can also adjust the volume by using the physical buttons on the device you sent the cast from if you cast that way. You can also adjust the volume by going to the app you're streaming from and adjust the volume in the app.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • Create multiple groups of speakers (a single speaker in multilple groups (this is an alexa limitation) I would like to have a single alexa device exist in a whole-house group and a 'tv' group' and a 'tv+outdoor' group etc
  • Yes. This is one of the strongest points to Chromecast. I have about 20 groups and I reuse the same speakers in multiple groups. I have an outdoor group with speakers. Those same outdoor speakers are included in my 'All' and 'Common Area' groups. I have a Master Bedroom group that includes speakers that are in the master bedroom, master bathroom and master closet. Those speakers are included in the 'All', 'Common Area' and 'Kitchen Master' groups. With Chromecast there is no limit to how many groups a speaker or speakers can appear in.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • Voice control for other things like weather and alarms and shopping lists, smart home control etc
  • Google Home will provide you with these things. I use Google Home for smart home control and finding out what the weather will be.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • send tv (soundbar?) audio to kitchen ad vice-versa
  • There are sound bars with Google Home built-in.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • stream anything online (spotify, amazon prime audio, google play, pandora, youtube audio, echoes.org, bandcamp, soundcloud etc) with
    1. without using any app using my voice
    2. using an app
    3. again preset button is nice (as with the bose)
  • Yes.
    Yes.
    On the speaker.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • sream anything from bluetooth to various groups
  • Sir or ma'ma you're confused. Again you don't need bluetooth to stream when you have Chromecast. Chromecast is a streamer. It is pointless to use Bluetooth to stream when you have Chromecast. Chromecast is a more stable connection for streaming than Bluetooth. Why would you need to stream with Bluetooth when you have a Chromecast? You wouldn't need to.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • stream anything from aux to various speaker groups
  • Yes.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
    [(] stream anything from a laptop, desktop, phone, tablet etc (bose does a decent job with this)
    Yes, yes, yes, yes

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
  • define 'presets' (not necessarily buttons) of local radio stations (bose does great with this)
  • When you say presets I think presets like a radio where you have your favorites stations programmed to certain buttons. You don't set presets with streamers. You can ask the voice assistant to play your favorite playlist from your favorite streaming service. You can create routine in the Google Home app so that it plays your favorite play or a radio station from Tunein or Iheart at a certain time or day. But you don't walk about to a Chromecast speaker, press a button and you preset station begins to play.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
    But i must say, it sounds like you're right. Google has always been better with ineroperability than amazon. It annoys me to no end how much amazon hates chromecast. But Id like to keep the house all google smart speakers or all alexa because I ahve to develop a lot of apis and hacks and home automation scripts and Id rather not do it twice. But seeing as how we have eccobee thermostats that are already alexa and a tv that is google, my guess is I wont be able to get around this issue.
    Well actually, Amazon has started selling Chromecast again. In my home I have Alexa and Google Assistant devices, but I find myself using Google Assistant more. It's more accurate weather. It's better at answering questions and it controls all of my smart home devices just like Alexa. The added benefit is that it also controls my Chromecast Audio and Chromecast video setup. I also use scenes from my home automation system in conjunction with my Chromecast Audios via Routines in the Google Home app to create music scenes.

    Google Home works with Ecobee.

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    Last edited by ahard; 01-02-2019 at 06:03 PM.
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    post #9 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 07:27 AM
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    Is there a keypad solution that works with a chromecast/Google home based system or are you stuck with voice and app control for everything?

    ie, if I (or wife) wanted to turn volume in a zone down by using a wall mounted keypad/device, is that possible? And I don't really mean an old school analog volume control requiring local zone speaker wire looped through it. Or maybe more specific, can cqc or another powerful automation controller integrate with a chromecast based system in that way?

    You may ask why would it need to, since cqc can manage media on its own. I think the main point being asked is whether you can mesh a traditional system using wall keypad devices whether HTD or CQC or whatever with a voice based system like Alexa/echo or Google Home/chromecast. The ability to use a wall mounted device to start a desired source in a certain zone/zones one day, say Alexa play Christmas music downstairs the next day, and the later that afternoon say Alexa play Christmas music everywhere but then a few minutes later the wife walks over to the wall and turns volume downn in that zone.

    What gets closest to that?
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    post #10 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
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    [quote=ahard;57366446] Ok. But I still don't understand the 'problem'. If you're connecting a Chromecast to the speaker what functionally are you losing that you wouldn't get with the Chromecast? [\QUOTE]
    Any functionality that is built into the speaker itself that is not paprt of the feature set of chromecast. Let's just take the most obvious one:
    * physical preset buttons. Does the chromecast have these? The 1,2,3,4,5,6 buttons on the top. That is, can I press a single button on the chomecast and have it play my favorite local radio station? My wife doesn't want to use voice, she's right there, it's easier for her. If not then you lose this functionality of chromecast is in aux. Because now when i press the button the speaker I lose aux and the power of chromecast, but if I keep it in aux I cant use the buttons.

    [QUOTE]Streaming wise you're not loosing any functionality. And you're getting a much more stable connection than you'd get with Bluetooth and you're taking your phone or tablet out of the equation once the connection is established.[QUOTE]
    Agreed.


    [QUOTE]
    Yeah. This isn't a problem. I'm not sure which traditional whole-home audio solutions you're referring to, but the more traditional whole-home audio systems typically work with integrator based home automation systems. Those traditional systems do work with Alexa and Google Home via the home automation system. Again, all of thess whole-home audio systems are streamers. Streamers by themselves weren't smart to begin with. They become smart when combined with voice control and home automation scenes.
    [\QUOTE]
    I think this is what I'm referring to. I'm trying to make a distinction between the established players that had one purpose: to do whole-home audio and those smart devices that came in that added whole-home audio as a secondary feature.
    'Traditional Whole-home' audio = pre-smart-device whole-home = Sonos, Bose, etc (the non-smart, kind)
    'Smart devices' = Alexa, Chromecast which can be turned into whole-home systems

    [QUOTE]
    Sir or ma'ma.
    [\QUOTE]
    It's sir'. And i think you meant mam (or madam)


    [QUOTE]
    You aren't "losing" any features when you connect a Chromecast Audio 'puck' to a speaker that has a aux input. The only "features" of such speakers are their ability to play music by connecting a external source. And of course it is a Chromecast speaker. I'm still not sure what features of these speakers that have an aux input you're losing when connecting a Chromecast. A little research into speakers reveal that many of them are just your standard speaker. If you're referring to losing Bluetooth I'd just say that you don't need Bluetooth to stream audio if you have a Chromecast connected. That's pointless.
    [\QUOTE]
    Maybe the issue is what I mean by 'lose'. Here's what I mean. With chromecast plugged into aux in my bose SoundTouch:
    1) Press a presset button to play favorite online radio station
    2) Now say 'ok google play spotify'
    Notice: spotify doens't play because aux isn't active, one has to manually change over (this is what I mean by LOSE, and something that wouldn't happen with an integrated speaker)
    From the other direction
    1) 'ok google play spotify' (with aux active) -> spotify plays
    2) press '2' on remote or speaker to play favoritte local radio station
    Notice: now aux has been disabled.

    More examples below...



    [QUOTE]
    There are physical buttons on Chromecast speakers.
    [\QUOTE]
    Are there preset buttons? Like does it say buttons 1 to 6 for all my wifes favorite local radio channels?


    [QUOTE]Again you don't need bluetooth to stream when you have Chromecast. Chromecast is a streamer. It is pointless to use Bluetooth to stream when you have Chromecast. Chromecast is a more stable connection for streaming than Bluetooth. Why would you need to stream with Bluetooth when you have a Chromecast? You wouldn't need to.
    [\QUOTE]
    Chromecast will only stream from chromecast supported apps/device. Here's the situation:
    1) I have a ebookreader on my laptop running linux that I really like but it doesn't support chromecast (ie there is no chromecast button) Furthermore, there is no 'streaming' site to go to, this is a local collection of 100 small audio files on my laptop read through my favorite audiobook reader
    2) with a bose or sonos sytem you can stream ANY audio to the entire house nto jsut chromecast supported apps.
    Unless there is a bluetooth input connection into one of the pucks I dont' nkow about (I only have chromecast tv).

    (I've alctually tried a similar with chromecast tv on an android device and chormecast breaks the audiobook players 2x function and I tried to find ANY audiobook player that would do 2x through chomecast and couldn't find any.)



    [QUOTE]
    Yes.
    [\QUOTE]
    I don't think this would work with the pucks (at least the chromecast audio puck I'm considering, correct me if im wrong). Situation:
    I have a record player i want to stream to the entire house. I need to plug it into an aux that will stream to the entire house. I only have pucks into dumbspeakers. Since all aux are occupied, I have no place to plug my record player to play


    [QUOTE]
    Yes, yes, yes, yes
    [\QUOTE]
    I should note. (And correct me if I'm wrong.) That, again this works only with chromecast enabled apps or devices. Say for example I have a video game on my laptop or my phone that does not support chromecast. With Sonos and Bose anything that is goign through the audio out can go to the hosue, with chomecast unless I actually plug a a puck into the device or maybe try a hack by running a browser with 'cast desktop' (which Im sure would ruin the ramerate).

    [QUOTE]
    When you say presets I think presets like a radio where you have your favorites stations programmed to certain buttons. You don't set presets with streamers. You can ask the voice assistant to play your favorite playlist from your favorite streaming service. You can create routine in the Google Home app so that it plays your favorite play or a radio station from Tunein or Iheart at a certain time or day. But you don't walk about to a Chromecast speaker, press a button and you preset station begins to play.
    [\QUOTE]
    I wish I had rep to post images and it would be very clear. Just google 'bose soundtouch' and nlook at the top of any of the devices. There are buttons 1,2,3,4,5,6. These are the ones my family uses often and my wife finds it much more fast and convenient than using her voice.


    Quote:
    Well actually, Amazon has started selling Chromecast again. In my home I have Alexa and Google Assistant devices, but I find myself using Google Assistant more. It's more accurate weather. It's better at answering questions and it controls all of my smart home devices just like Alexa. The added benefit is that it also controls my Chromecast Audio and Chromecast video setup. I also use scenes from my home automation system in conjunction with my Chromecast Audios via Routines in the Google Home app to create music scenes.

    Google Home works with Ecobee.
    Yes I'm leaning towards Google these days--it's just more widely supported. I just have a complicated setup (a home docker/vm rackmount for the house running zoneminder for security cameras, plex/hdhomeruns for video, homeassistant for custom home automation and a few other things) and I already know that I'm goign to have to code up a lot of scripts for customized situation and I'd rather not do this for both Amazon and Google, but it's lookign mroe and more like I might have to do that.
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    post #11 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 08:55 AM
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    Admittedly I did not read every response in this thread, but I see hard buttons/keypads come up quite a bit as a requirement/desire.

    The Nuvo Player Portfolio has a PoE keypad that has 5 presets for various sources/stations to be played. https://www.legrand.us/nuvo/audio-vi...ms/p10-wh.aspx

    They also have a PoE tablet that runs Android which allows you to run their app, or really any app for that matter. https://www.legrand.us/nuvo/audio-vi...nv-p30-bk.aspx

    They have single zone and multi zone main units, and "tabletop" speakers. I have the P4300 3 zone unit, a P10 keypad and a P30 tablet.

    Matt

    My Area: Sony XBR65X850E / Marantz NR1608 / Polk Speakers / Xbox One X / PS4 Pro | Dining Room: Samsung UN55LS03N ("The Frame" 2018) | Bedroom: TCL 49S405 (Roku TV)
    Nuvo Player Portfolio Whole-Home Audio System (P4300, P200, P10 keypad, P30 tablet)
    Xbox Live: oktober rust | PSN: oktoberrust11 | Steam ID: detroit820 | Origin ID: oktoberrust11
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    post #12 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 10:53 AM
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
    Please forgive my ignorance on these things, I'm very much a newbie when it comes to these things.

    Requirements:
    • Decent audio but not an audiophile (maybe better than a standard Alexa speaker)
    • Able to play audio in all rooms and select room groups if possible
    • have alexa (google home?) control
    • physical buttons is a plus, app control a plus
    • ability to use a tv soundbar as one of the speakers is a plus

    What I have considered:
    • Bose SoundTouch - PROS: I like the physical buttons and easy to setup and is whole-house. LIMITATIONS: no integrated Alexa so if i hook an alexa DOT up to the spearker through AUX, then all the physical buttons dont work. It's either Alexa or Bose features but not both at the same time
    • Classic Sonos whole-home: lLIMITATIONS: Same limitations as Bose SoundTouch
    • New Sonos speakers with Alexa builtin - LIMITATIONS: version of Alexa does not support Amazon-supported whole-home audio according to my research
    • Alexa speakers in all the rooms - LIMITATIONS: poor quality sound by comparison, no other features, must use voice to control (and klugy app)

    I dont know if what I want exists. I want to be able to have sound in all rooms, ask questions to Alexa, be able to control with multiple methods (app, voice, physical buttons)

    Thanks for your help!
    Do you have a budget in mind, and is it new construction vs. retro fit?

    Sounds like you need a control system combined with a wireless audio system. Depending on the budget, number or room, new/retro... you could consider a Control4 system (gives you the physical control, app control and Alexa control) combined with HEOS wireless speakers or Triad Wireless Amps.

    Whichever route you go, for wireless music, make sure you have a rock solid network underneath.
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    post #13 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mntneer View Post
    Do you have a budget in mind, and is it new construction vs. retro fit?

    Sounds like you need a control system combined with a wireless audio system. Depending on the budget, number or room, new/retro... you could consider a Control4 system (gives you the physical control, app control and Alexa control) combined with HEOS wireless speakers or Triad Wireless Amps.

    Whichever route you go, for wireless music, make sure you have a rock solid network underneath.
    No idea on the budget: a few thousand over time?

    This is not new construction (as in house--boy that would be nice) but new system from scratch. So retro house/new system.

    So to be frank, I think I could do a better job with enough hacking than Control4 when it comes to automation. Let me restate that: I can do better with the SOFTWARE. With enough sensors and enough programming I think I can make something actually automated. Control4s 'planner' keeps mentioning 'press button'. You don't press a button with true 'automation'. But what I love about the pro systems is how nice they look. It would be very hard for me to hack something that looks as nice as those systems. But I'm pretty sure I could outdo the automation that the pros offer. Thanks for the links, I'll look into Triad too.

    @oktoberrust11 thanks for the links. I wasn't even thinking about wall-mount like that, but now you got me thinking..hmmmm..
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    post #14 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 03:34 PM
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732
    So to be frank, I think I could do a better job with enough hacking than Control4 when it comes to automation. Let me restate that: I can do better with the SOFTWARE. With enough sensors and enough programming I think I can make something actually automated. Control4s 'planner' keeps mentioning 'press button'. You don't press a button with true 'automation'. But what I love about the pro systems is how nice they look. It would be very hard for me to hack something that looks as nice as those systems. But I'm pretty sure I could outdo the automation that the pros offer. Thanks for the links, I'll look into Triad too.
    Not sure what your local Control4 dealer is telling you, but Control is most definitely true automation system, definitely much more so than what most all DIY systems offer. There's also nothing stopping the owner from programming and triggering actions off of things like dates & times, variables, button presses, sensors, etc., from the simple to the complex, with the Composer HE version of the Control 4 software.
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    post #15 of 19 Old 01-03-2019, 04:23 PM
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    Any decent 'smart' whole-home audio solutions?

    Sounds like you need a full blown control system and system design not just a streaming system which is well beyond your budget without DIY.

    House streaming systems don’t have hard buttons for presets. And, I believe Sonos is the only house streaming system you can route Aux inputs (ie record players) to speaker groups - though I’m not sure if you can do this by voice yet?

    For physical button presses to trigger streaming:

    Chromecasts can be controlled over IP via HTTP Post and Get. Find an internet stream for your preset radio station (all stations these days seem to have one). Add a Lutron Caseta Pico remote and Caseta Hub, have your home automation system/script trigger on the Pico remote button press and begin the stream to the appropriate Chromecast or Chromecast group. Check out openhab.com and other DIY sites and maybe a packet sniffer on your network to figure out the right HTTP Chromecast commands.

    For playing audio from another source:

    Use a receiever with IP control and home automation scripts to change the input from Chromecast to the source you want, triggered by whatever you want. If you want button pushes, use another Pico button. If you want voice, wire up a Google Home shortcut to the voice command you want and have it trigger a phantom switch in your home automation system that will trigger a script. You could also use a Harmony Hub or Global Cache IR instead of directly controlling the receiever via IP.

    If you don’t know the guts of your home automation system, consider OpenHab on a Rasberry Pi. Its all open source so you can do whatever you want with it - even the voice control and Google Assistant/Home integration.

    If this all sounds too hard, increase your budget and go Sonos and give up hard button presses and possibly other features, or pay a custom installer $$k to get you to your solution (ala Creston, Control4, AMX).

    I can give more advice for other simpler (and less flexible) potential solutions, but you need to define your exact requirements to a T, otherwise I’m shooting in the dark. It sounds like you have a lot of ideas about what you might want, which is a good start, but refine those ideas into a list of simple one-sentence-per-single-system-behavior requirements, for example:
    I say “play TV in first floor” and the system plays the living room TV to 2 speakers in the living room and 2 speakers in the kitchen.

    One example for simplifying the system is to use line-level auto switchers to route TV audio to other parts of the house when its playing. But if you use an auto-switcher you can’t control it (like with the voice command above), so without requirements, I can’t recommend it. Though, for control, you could route the Zone 2 output of a receiver to the line-level auto switcher though, and control the Zone 2 via voice (or IP control of the receiver through home automation). You may need to use a line level splitter and multiple line level auto switches if you want a different Chromecast stream to each speakerset/room. The problem is, how do you turn off Zone 2 so it doesn’t kick on everywhere when, for example you start the record player the next day.

    Last edited by Lindahl; 01-03-2019 at 10:37 PM.
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    post #16 of 19 Old 01-04-2019, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mntneer View Post
    Not sure what your local Control4 dealer is telling you, but Control is most definitely true automation system, definitely much more so than what most all DIY systems offer. There's also nothing stopping the owner from programming and triggering actions off of things like dates & times, variables, button presses, sensors, etc., from the simple to the complex, with the Composer HE version of the Control 4 software.

    Well color me at least skeptical. I'm looking at the user guide and I don't see the words:
    * python
    * java
    * machine learning
    * facial recognition
    * geofence
    * light sensor
    * mqtt
    * azure or aws
    * artifical intellegence
    * learning

    In the user guide. Don't get me wrong, Im sure it does well for a lot of people and better than most DIY projects. But I'm a bit more sophisticated than regular diy
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    post #17 of 19 Old 01-04-2019, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    Sounds like you need a full blown control system and system design not just a streaming system which is well beyond your budget without DIY.
    ....
    Thanks for many of these ideas. DIY is not a problem. I'm VERY technical from the computer side just really stupid when it comes to home audio. Current solution is HomeAssistant not OpenHAB, and buying up the hardware and programmingscripts for the home now, but the audio piece is the missing piece.
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    post #18 of 19 Old 01-04-2019, 07:27 PM
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    Any decent 'smart' whole-home audio solutions?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjkw732 View Post
    Thanks for many of these ideas. DIY is not a problem. I'm VERY technical from the computer side just really stupid when it comes to home audio. Current solution is HomeAssistant not OpenHAB, and buying up the hardware and programmingscripts for the home now, but the audio piece is the missing piece.
    Cool, then you’ll want to string together IP control of Chromecasts and IP-controlled or auto-switching amplifiers and switchers or receievers.

    Lutron Caseta Pico remotes work well for physical buttons that can trigger anything you want, just get the PRO bridge so you can telnet in. You’ll find their protocol floating around somewhere here (I posted a link to it at one point). I’m not sure if you still can, but you used to be able to get custom engraving on the 2 and 4 button Picos, which would be a nice professional-looking touch.p

    Last edited by Lindahl; 01-04-2019 at 07:33 PM.
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    post #19 of 19 Old 01-05-2019, 03:14 PM
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    Nuvo....

    P500 sound bar, P400 tabletop speakers. Compatible with Alexa, also compatible with Amazon music streaming via Alexa (native Nuvo app does not support amazon, must access through Alexa).

    Both have buttons.... P500 also has IR remote.

    Both can also be paired to a wall-mounted PoE switch (P10, P20).

    Also a variety of amps available for in-wall or ceiling speakers.


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