Apparently no one has an opinion on A-BUS. I see some issues having the AMP in a keypad but this is an amazing cost savings if you really have need a bit of audio all around. I doubt it would handle serious volume. Here is an article I found last spring when I was researching A-BUS systems for a friend.
I installed an A-Bus system for a customer in a 8000 Sq Ft house. He purchased everything and just hired me to come in and install it. He had it prewired already actually. There were some zones that ran off a Russound Amplifier. The rest of the zones were running just off the A-Bus keypads. With the Russound, it worked well, but seemed more complex to get going then a typical whole house audio system. In the zones without the Russound amp, the system was grossly underpowered. If you want a very soft background music, it would be ok, anything more and it just wouldn't do without an external amp. I would rather get something simple, like a Nuvo Essentia, and if I needed more zones I would just run sub zones with volume knobs.
I have had an A-bus system in my house for 3 years now and can share my pro's and con's. I purchased the 1 source, 4 zone system from Russound.
Pro's - Cost. Very versitile and simple to install. I like the fact that I can use my remote throughout the house and that the key pads have the amp, volume, and IR in one unit. The sound is good in small rooms, and this system is great for a small house. I like the simple local input module.
Con's - IR creates noise through the system's speakers. The auto on doesn't always pick up the signal. For outdoors listening this system is not powerful enough, I have speakers on my patio and in the garage and the sound gets lost easily.
I highly recommend Russound, but would consider your listening habits before buying A-bus vs. amplified solutions.
I installed the Russound Abus system in my house. I have 4 zones hooked up with the 4 source main control unit, still have two more keypads and a power supply to buy to complete the 6 zones in my house. I have been more than happy with the sound quality and dependability of the system. When I first hooked it up to my receiver I used the tape recorder out rca jacks. This lacked all of the receivers sound processing and didn't sound good at all. Then I picked up a line level output and hooked it up to the receivers "B" speaker jacks. This was a major improvement in sound quality and volume. I think if you had a receiver with a second zone rca outputs with volume control it would be good.
I also have an external amplifier on one of my zones to power some speakers I have on the deck. I would recommend this system to anyone who wants simple music distribution with IR repeating.
Thanks for everyone's feedback. I will likely use the Russound A-Bus system as a subzone for the first floor of my house including the a AOM to provide line in to my family room receiver. This will give me plenty of sound and I would never listen to a different source in any part of the first floor. Later I will add the the CAV6.6 to provide other zone's like patio and garage and bedrooms.
Together with my apps in the bedroom, basement, and familiy room plus the CAV and 4 A-bus keypads I will have well over 600 amps able to pump a source through out the house.
I've got a CAV66 and some slaves zones. One is out on the deck, powered by it's own amp (line out from the keypad, looped back to an amp). The others are in a second bathroom, dining room (off the living room's zone) and a guest room. Works reasonably well in medium sized room. You're not going to crank it loud but that's not usually what you'd be needing in auxiliary sorts of rooms. The main reason to use an Uno master zone is control. When you've got an uno control nearby it's no trouble to use that if you want to make manual changes. Otherwise just point the remote. My only real complaint is the Abus zones don't remember the previous volume setting. Every time you turn it on you have to adjust the volume level. Uno zones allow you to configure the default startup volume.
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