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post #1 of 9 Old 10-27-2019, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
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*NEWBIE* Help matching components

Hi everyone,

I'm moving into a new house and need help building a "whole home audio" + Home theater all operating from one central location. It has in ceiling speaker wiring throughout the house including 5.1 for the living room, but no speakers. I also currently have an ancient AVR that I need to upgrade and I need something to control and power all of these speakers... So it's time to go shopping.

So the list is:

• *I think* a channel selector (?) and external amp - was thinking about something like the HTD Lync https://www.htd.com/Products/Whole-H...ithout-Keypads
• New AV receiver - would like something with arc and plenty of hdmi inputs PLUS whatever features make sense for this setup.
• 5.1 in ceiling speakers - was thinking these for the LCR's https://shop.goldenear.com/p/invisa-...eaker-ea?pp=24
• In ceilings for mainly music throughout the rest of the house. Something like this. Its just for music https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=4104
I'm open to any and all suggestions. I will say that I KNOW in ceilings are a sin. It is what it is. My main focus - and what I need help with - is making sure I get the right pieces to accomplish several things. Some obvious and some not...

• I need to be able to first and foremost power all the speakers in the house and currently I'm looking at 23 speakers total in ceiling speakers INCLUDING the 3 htr-7000's.
• Split the speakers into at least 6 zones and 6 sources and more zones would be nice but not totally necessary
• Be able to control all zones and sources from a smartphone or other devices.
• Be able to get speakers in their individual zones to be controlled and integrated via smartthings or some other type of smart home/home automation products
I'm not 100% sold on the products I've linked above. This is just a starting point. I can't seem to find too much competition to HTD.com for this type of thing. Thank you guys in advance for your input!
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-28-2019, 02:02 PM
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How many rooms? How many speakers in each room? Do not include the room with the surround speakers for the music zones.

How many speakers are in the surround room?

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post #3 of 9 Old 10-28-2019, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ifor View Post
How many rooms? How many speakers in each room? Do not include the room with the surround speakers for the music zones.

How many speakers are in the surround room?
There are 5 bedrooms, but if you're referring to how many "sections" or how many speaker wire runs, it looks like there is 9 with 2 speakers in each of these rooms/zones or sections.

I'm sorry if I don't understand the last question.. if you're asking how many in ceilings will be in the living room, 5. There will be 2 other speakers in this general area but a ways over by the kitchen.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-28-2019, 09:02 PM
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So, 9 rooms with 2 speakers per room? Including kitchen, rec room, bar, game room, etc???

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post #5 of 9 Old 10-28-2019, 09:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-29-2019, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Should I be looking for anything in particular with my avr? Is there competition to HTD that is cheaper or better? What are the individual pieces I even need?
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-29-2019, 02:17 PM
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There are similar audio distribution systems.

The first thing to do is create a list of your rooms and your zones. Be aware that if you have two rooms on the same zone, they will play the same source at the same volume! So, if you really want to separate all your rooms with separate volume, then you have 9 total zones.

My home has 20+ zones of stereo audio + 2 surround zones.

So, a list:
Master Bedroom: Stereo - Music only
Boy's Room 1: Stereo - Music only
Boy's Room 2: Stereo - Music only
Girl's Room 1: Stereo - Music only
Kitchen: Stereo - Music only

If an area has two rooms as a single zone, then note it.
For example:
Kitchen Front (2 speakers) & Kitchen Rear (2 speakers) - Single zone, same volume, 4 speakers total

Now, the hard part is that you really want to plan for your audio sources for the zones. HDMI does NOT carry surround sound information for your 5.1 surround sound setup in the family room AND stereo information on it. This is a HUGE pain in the neck and most people completely separate their surround sound sources from their stereo sources.

In my home I use cable boxes which still have analog red/white outputs on them so they give me stereo AND surround sound at the same time.
I also have a number of older sources, including my Blu-ray Disc player and media players which have the same analog audio outputs as well as digital surround sound outputs which can give me both at the same time. But, I use specialized HDMI switching which can downmix surround sound to stereo audio while preserving the surround sound.

So, make a list of your sources that you want to deliver to your stereo zones. These sources can be fed into a surround receiver either as a passthrough, or as a dedicated source to your surround receiver in the family room.

As I said, I have over 20 zones, so I have a couple of stereo feeds which go into my surround receivers to allow my house audio sources, like Sonos, to feed my theater and family room stereo audio properly. These outputs take up a zone each on my distribution units. So, family room system (1 zone), basement theater (1 zone), take up 2 zones.

Your setup sounds like it is 10 zones total, and you will rightfully need 2 HTD level systems to feed all your zones with stereo audio accurately.

You want to know your sources for these zones ahead of time. Be aware that 6 sources can be fed individually to your 10 zones in this configuration. So, you can rightfully listen to 6 different things in any combination to 10 zones, and each zone will have independent volume control and source selection functionality.

For an A/V receiver, any of the big brands will run your family room properly. Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Pioneer, etc. You should add a subwoofer to the room to help fill out the terrible bass you won't be getting from the ceiling speakers. I won't rail on you about ceiling speakers since you have what you have. I would recommend you check in with audio forums to get very specific advice and consideration of different ceiling speaker options in the family room if your goal is best quality surround sound for the long term. I can't give it. I used Monoprice almost everywhere in my home, even in rooms with TV audio being piped through ceiling speakers. My two surround areas use wall mounted or floor standing speakers.

My system isn't for most, but is a 16x24 Crestron audio system. Preamps (switching/volume) for 24 zones + processor is under $300 on eBay these days. Amplifiers are probably $200-$500 each, covering up to 6 zones (you would need 2). But, it doesn't come to your home ready to use, so you would need to set it up and get some programming done. This may not be ideal.

Go back a bit to the basics. Figure out your sources. Make sure you have analog stereo connections for your sources that are going out to the house.
My sources:
Cable 1
Cable 2
Dune 1
Dune 2
Apple TV (converted from HDMI)
Roku (converted from HDMI)
Sonos
FM
XM
Blu-ray
PS4 (converted from HDMI)
PS3 (converted from HDMI)
Wii
BD/VCR (don't ask)
3 Streaming Devices
Airplay

All of these provide analog audio feeds. Some have HDMI/surround sound feeds as well. My list of zones is extensive.

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post #8 of 9 Old 10-29-2019, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of this detail! Wow that's a lot of zones...Some more questions!........ So the receiver doesn't really matter at all in relation to the rest of the WHA speakers and components? Does the receiver need to connect to the channel selector or amps at all? Remember, all of my electronics will be in one central location.

Also noticed the guys who installed the wiring put in wiring for a volume knob in each zone or room. These should JUST control the speakers in that area and nothing else right? Meaning, if I have two rooms and I'm going to combine them making them one zone (kids bedrooms next to each other), the volumes in each of those rooms will only control that room and not both simultaneously right? Also I wonder how this would work with bluetooth capable setups where volume can be controlled from your phone.. I'm guessing it would override what the wall knobs are set to or something?

What is a "surround zone"?

Is a preamp and processor essentially the channel/zone controller?

Should I explore doing mono speakers instead of stereo? Is it safe to assume they planned this out for stereo since there are going to be two speakers in every room?
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post #9 of 9 Old 11-02-2019, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theben07 View Post
So the receiver doesn't really matter at all in relation to the rest of the WHA speakers and components?
An A/V receiver does audio processing and typically amplification for a surround sound area. So, my theater is 5.1 surround sound. There are a few ways to get 5.1 surround sound, but the newest formats of surround sound require a HDMI connection to get it. So, that's my surround zone. I have another in my family room. Just 3.1, but it (once again) needs an A/V receiver to decode surround sound into proper 3.1 audio.

This is completely different than stereo. Stereo is 2 channels. A left and a right signal. You feed stereo zones all the audio information across those two channels. If you start with surround sound (5.1 audio or similar) then you need some sort of digital signal processor to convert from 5.1 surround sound to 2.0 stereo. Stereo, generally speaking, does not have a separate audio track for a subwoofer. So, just two channels.

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Does the receiver need to connect to the channel selector or amps at all? Remember, all of my electronics will be in one central location.
If you want to have your stereo sources feed into the room which has surround sound, then you will need the output of those stereo sources connected to the receiver. It depends, heavily, on what sources you will be using to feed your stereo zones. Since I wanted my Sonos and FM tuner to feed into my surround zones, the preamp has a set of stereo analog audio outputs which connects to the analog inputs on my family room and on my theater AV receivers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theben07 View Post
Also noticed the guys who installed the wiring put in wiring for a volume knob in each zone or room. These should JUST control the speakers in that area and nothing else right? Meaning, if I have two rooms and I'm going to combine them making them one zone (kids bedrooms next to each other), the volumes in each of those rooms will only control that room and not both simultaneously right? Also I wonder how this would work with bluetooth capable setups where volume can be controlled from your phone.. I'm guessing it would override what the wall knobs are set to or something?
Yes, if you have an amplified output feeding two rooms as a single zone, and you are using volume controls, then the volume controls would adjust audio up/down in each room independently. But, if you adjust the volume of the source, it will impact audio to ALL rooms playing that source at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theben07 View Post
What is a "surround zone"?
Any room with more that stereo speakers. This is one you can Google and probably get video results and more thorough explanations. A surround zone, is a room which has surround sound in it. Which means that it is designed for playback of 2.1 or 3.0 or more speakers in that zone. Surround sound places audio on each speaker independently to place audio where it should be in the room. 5.1 audio, for example, if a plane flies from the front left of the room to the back right of the room, the speakers will play audio in the front left speaker, then move it to the back right speaker, balancing audio across the other speakers to create the proper effect.
Some people think that merely having 4 or 5 speakers in a room is surround sound. No, surround sound is actually placing audio into those speakers to surround the listener with an accurate representation of what is meant to be heard in an immersive audio environment which surrounds you. Key word: accurate

Quote:
Originally Posted by theben07 View Post
Is a preamp and processor essentially the channel/zone controller?
A preamp adjust volume up and down before it gets amplified. Like you previously mentioned with a Bluetooth source that has internal volume control. It is acting (somewhat) like a preamp. In reality, a multi-zone source selector with integrated volume control has a built-in preamp for each zone. So, instead of adjusting audio up and down at the source, which would impact ALL rooms playing the Bluetooth device, you adjust the preamp for a single zone, and that zone would have volume go up and down exclusive to the other rooms.
So, I have 20+ individual preamps. That gives me individual volume control of every single room. My A/V receiver also has an integrated preamp. But, since it also has an amplifier, it immediately amplifies the audio for playback in my surround speakers.

If I were to adjust the audio in the preamp up and down ahead of the audio inside the AV receiver, then I would be controlling volume for my surround zone in two locations. Instead of doing that, I leave the standard preamp alone and just use the volume control (preamp) built into the AV receiver. Yes, that's confusing. But, basically it's two back to back volume controls, similar to how you described your Bluetooth volume followed by an in-room volume control. In most setups, you only want a single point of volume control per room.

Quote:
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Should I explore doing mono speakers instead of stereo? Is it safe to assume they planned this out for stereo since there are going to be two speakers in every room?
In my opinion - NEVER! Speakers are sold as stereo speakers. Unless you get a good preamp which can mix stereo to mono, you can't really get mono easily when you already have a bunch of rooms which are stereo. My particular equipment lets me choose to mix individual rooms to mono if I wanted to. But, the reality is that I still want at least two speakers per room to properly fill the rooms in my home. Perhaps the only rooms in which I might run a single speaker would be the smaller bathrooms and the laundry room. But, two speakers run about $50-$80 on Monoprice for perfectly good background audio.

You are asking a lot of fairly complex questions and my setup is very complex, but incredibly EASY to use. Pick a room, pick a source, audio (and possibly video) plays back. The trick was getting the right equipment and hooking it all up properly.

If I had a better budget, I would use networked 4K video with audio processing to deliver 4K everywhere with surround sound and stereo where I wanted it. Check my link to my equipment (really old video switching portion now), and you'll maybe get an idea of how significant these setups can be. Be aware that half of one rack is all amplifiers and stereo distribution equipment.

AV Integrated - Theater, whole house audio, and technology installation in the Washington DC metro area.
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