whole house audio question

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Old 05-16-06, 08:04 PM
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whole house audio question

Hi All,

I'm pretty good at electrical, drywall, flooring, baseboards, etc....but know very little about audio/video equipment, so please bear with me..

I'd like to install a whole house audio system. After talking it over with the wife and doing a little research, we've decided on a single-zone system with 6 speaker pairs (5 pairs ceiling mounted, 1 pair outdoor) controlled remotely at the source. No local volume control. We feel that this is all we need, and since we will not be in the house for more then 4 years or so, it's the right fit for us.

From doing my research, this seems like the simplest install out of the many options. But I had a few questions.

Can someone point me in the right direction as far as what kind of amp I need? Perhaps a link or brand/model? I think all I need to do is to connect my existing receiver/tuner and cd changer to the amp, and that's it...?

I'll be running 14awg due to a couple of 50+ runs to the speakers. What types of speakers would you recommend? Maybe a link to something online?

Also, how do you connect the 6 pairs of speakers to the amp (or is it the receiver)? Just can't picture it in my head.

Thanks for all the advice !!
 
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Old 05-17-06, 06:31 AM
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First a couple clarifications. Single zone means means one room. I don't think that is what you are looking for. If you are installing speakers in multiple rooms, that is called multizone. Also what do you mean by "controlled remotely at the source." That seems to be a contradiction. Do you want to be able to control volume, source selection, etc. from each room or just where the receiver / amp is installed?

This is a good link that exlains the different options for an entire house audio / video system.
http://www.smarthome.com/wwaudvid.html
http://www.electronicsoutfitter.com/...15-604034.html

If you google "whole house audio" there are plenty more links with different products and solutions.

What solution you choose will depend on your budget and how much control / flexibility you want in the system. What components you already own will also affect which would be the best solution. The simplest and cheapest solution would be to have a single receiver with a speaker switch like this one: http://www.electronicsoutfitter.com/...15-604034.html
(I'm not recommending the linked product, just showing what I was referring to) The switch gets connected to the receiver and each pair of speakers gets connected to the switch.

It is difficult to recommend speakers without knowing budget and listening habits (type of music, how loud, etc.) My first suggestion would be to try to figure out a way to use bookshelf or tower speakers instead of ceiling speakers. There are many more choices for bookshelves then ceiling speakers and you will get better sound for your money. For bookshelves you could put them on stands, shelves or in-wall.


-Mike
"It's more comfortable for you to label me as insane."
 
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Old 05-17-06, 08:10 AM
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Thanks Mike. As you can tell I'm a newbie at this !

Currently I have a Sony receiver, model STR-DE475. It's probably 4 years old or so. I'd like to use that ,as well as a CD player/changer that is connected to it.

I'd like to control the volume and source selection from the receiver...not from each room. If I have to do that manually, ok, but using a remote would be good to. Sorry for the confusion on that one.

So would I need an amp in this case? Can I just connect the speaker selector into the receiver I currently have? No idea here...

As far as speakers, well, the must will be background music. Nothing fancy. Wife just wants to listen to something while she cleans, reads, etc. And I was thinking ceiling speakers, but it seems you would recommend wall speakers? I'm just thinking from a visual point of view that ceiling speakers would be more eye-pleasing, but what do I know..

Thanks for the help Mike !!
 
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Old 05-19-06, 09:39 AM
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Since you already have a receiver and cd player, the easiest and cheapest solution would be to buy a speaker selection switch. The switch is all you need. The switch has right and left speaker inputs and X number of outputs. You connect the right and left channels from your receiver to the input on the switch. Then you connect the speaker pairs to the outputs on the switch. The switch allows you to independently turn each pair of speakers on or off and some allow independent volume control for each pair. Independent volume control is helpful because some rooms may need more power to achieve the same volume. Just make sure to look for "impedence matching" on the switch you buy. Your local circuit city, best buy, etc. should have these switches in stock or just search on the net.

If the speakers will only be used for background music, ceiling speakers should be ok. I still think you could get sound quality for your money going with bookshelf speakers but ceiling speakers definately have a better WAF. (wife acceptance factor) Just shop around and listen to as many different speakers as possible. Listen to speakers outside of your budget just to see if you can tell the difference in sound quality. Try to find an audio store that will let you audition speakers in your home before you buy. If you can't find a store like that, only buy one pair of speakers so you can test them and see if they sound ok in your application. Try and make sure the store has a good return policy in case the speakers end up not sounding good in your house.

The other thing to think about is how are you going to get the wire to the speakers. Are you going to run the wire in the wall and ceiling so it is hidden? Depending on the room, ceiling speakers are going to be harder to wire without ripping out the dry wall. One other choice I didn't mention earlier would be to get smaller bookshelf speakers and use speaker mounts on the wall like these:
http://www.omnimount.com/consumer/pr...=54&mp=4.3.1.1

I'll say it again, before you buy your speakers, try to listen to as many different types, sizes, brands, etc. as possible. Different people have different tastes in speakers. Just find one that sounds good to you and has good WAF.

Happy shopping and listening.

-Mike
"Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention."
 
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Old 05-19-06, 10:09 AM
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Thanks Mike. I did exactly what you just posted. Got a 6 pair switch selector, 5 pairs of in-ceiling 5 speakers and 1 pair of outdoor mountable speakers. My entire attic is accessible, and Ive remodeled my entire house so no issues with drywall, mounting, wiring, etc.

A couple more questions, if you please:

The further wiring run will be from the selector to the backyard, approximately 60 ft. The others will be between 5 and 50 ft. Should I use 14 awg for all? 16 awg for all? 14 awg for the longer runs?

Looking at the configuration, I have 6 pairs of speakers, so 12 wires total. So I would need 24 binding posts...? The best I can do is fit 12 per double gang box, so 2 double gang boxes. Is there any other way to compact this?

Thanks again !!
 
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