Planning a whole house or multi-room music system can be fun but also requires that some very specific determinations be made in advance of buying equipment. Enhanced Home Systems has put together a short checklist of things to review based on our experience in multi-room audio design and installation
Determine the number of Zones (or Rooms) in the system.
The most basic multi-room system involves the use of the “B” channel on a stereo receiver to connect an additional set of speakers in another location. Typically, the same source will play in either zone. Another option is single-source playback in multiple rooms with the use of a speaker selector, which can connect 2, 4, 6, 8 or more pairs of speakers to a single amplifier output. Again, the same source would be sent to any or all locations selected via the speaker selector.
Determine whether you want Single or Multiple sources.
If you are content with having a single source of your choice distributed to multiple areas, then the configuration outlined above will accomplish that. If you prefer different sources to be available in different zones, such as CD audio in the living room and your streaming iPhone music in the bedroom, then you will need a multi-source, multi-zone receiver at a minimum. Many AV receivers feature either powered or line level outputs for additional zones, some providing up to 4 in total. Powered zones can be connected directly to loudspeakers in other rooms, and line level outputs must be connected to external power amplifiers, which can in turn power additional locations. If a greater number of zones is required, then specific equipment that supports the desired level of distribution will be needed. Certain scenarios use separate controllers and multi-channel amplifiers. One example would be a 6 source controller that is connected to a 12 zone power amplifier.
Is Wired or Wireless multi-room audio better?
Sometimes that question can be answered by the nature of the installation parameters. New construction is open to virtually any type of system, whereas a finished home may not allow for in-wall wiring to some or all locations. Wireless systems are a great solution if wires cannot be run, and their performance and functionality is rapidly closing the gap that once existed between wired and wireless systems.
Enhanced Home Systems can ask and answer all of the questions that will help you make a wise purchase for your whole-house audio.