Thoughts and recommendations for a new whole house audio system

BaduFamily

Active Member
Just for some clarification on your system wide paging requirement,

ecborgoyn
- do you intend to have that dedicated input override all the current room's audio, and turn on those rooms which may be off?
 

pete_c

Guru
But would anyone recommend the HAI system?? Is is dated??
 
Here have two Russound CAA-66's for hardware.  Folks using the HAI audio system appear to be happy campers.
 
I do not work for HAI nor Russound; just mentioning what I use.
 
I could drop the two boxes off a 3 story building and would probably work just fine. (they sit on rack and I haven't paid attention to them in years now).  They are more functional than something to stare at.  (just plain black with little blue LEDs).  I was in to the needing to see a speaker mode originally in the 1970's to the 1980's; guessing now I am more in to the sound of what I hear rather than the looks of a speaker. 
 
The above said my sources for media are whatever I want as it not part the pure hardware zoned ampliers and keypads.
 
Dated - I guess so because the system is not an all in one type audio zoned system and it is old now and uses RS-232 9-Pin cable rather than a network Ethernet cable.  The keypads though utilize standard Cat5e cabling.
 
I did install in wall speakers and keypads everywhere many years ago.  They are basic functional LCD's.  I also utilize tabletop touchscreens (or wireless tablets if needed) for playback of whatever sources I want.
 
Many folks have gone to just connecting a Sonos media box to the zoned amplifiers. 
 
Here I savor my old stored music and use a variety of internet audio services.  I replicate same in automobiles and most of the time listen to my stuff and only much of the time satellite radio (although now too internet radio).  I should switch off the satellite radio as it is not needed anymore.
 

ecborgoyn

Active Member
BaduFamily said:
Just for some clarification on your system wide paging requirement,
ecborgoyn
- do you intend to have that dedicated input override all the current room's audio, and turn on those rooms which may be off?
Yes, the paging audio should go to all zones.  Turning them on if necessary.
 

picta

Active Member
ecborgoyn said:
It's not exactly what I had in mind... But would anyone recommend the HAI system?? Is is dated??
 
Sure, here have 16 zones/8 sources HiFi2 system connected to HAI omnipro. Airplay connected as a source for streaming from local devices and iMini as a music server. Paging announcements from HAI to all/select zones. Also, Leviton has recently announced integration with CasaTunes music servers, I am looking into that option, seems it may be better than multiple Sonos players.
 
We also have an old Russound controller, it still works just fine, but in terms of integration with HAI controller, HiFi2 is a better option.
 

ecborgoyn

Active Member
The Monoprice device has popped into view...   I realize that it doesn't have a network interface (serial only).  Hence no mobile control apps..   But the price makes it attractive.  I wouldn't use the keypads (probably).
 
I the device quality OK?  Probably doesn't compare with other devices.  But is it commensurate with the price?   But I'd need an integration app/tool/etc...   
 
Thoughts...
 

355spider

Member
I've heard the monoprice sounds excellent. And most people aren't using it to power B&Ws anyway so your not likely to notice any sound quality difference in that or Russound. They're both cheap class D power anyway.
 

pgray007

Active Member
I'll throw my vote in for the Sonos. I hate the intial price, and yes they're "Apple like" in their marketing, but the darn thing just works, and you can do everything audio related from a single, high quality app. We sat in the backyard around our fire pit last night, and could change the music playing and volume from an iPhone in about 8 seconds. I've had some of their devices for about 10 years now. One Amp broke, and they still provided phone support, and then replaced with a new unit for about 30% of the cost of a new one, so they stand behind their products.
 
I'm setup with in-wall speakers in several rooms, but after doing the "multi-app dance" on other home automation devices I wanted audio to be dead simple. The multi-room sync is also pretty neat, and we can have the whole house and outside playing the same song, synced across all zones.
 
I wouldn't worry about the WiFi, uPNP, etc., as all that is taken care of. The negative is you can't tinker and tweak, but the positive is you're not getting the stink eye from your wife and daughter when they can't play "shake it off" for the 500th time.
 

srodgers

Member
Sonos works great and has a plugin for Homeseer that lets you customize anything if you want to tinker. I use mine for whole house announcements from Homeseer.
 

pete_c

Guru
Just a repost here of a couple of articles from EH.
 
Good wiring makes the Ideal Home Technology System Possible An essential part of a system integrators job is implementing a solid wiring plan to enhance the form and function of your home’s design and electronic systems.
 
Jason Griffing • September 17, 2015
 
Ask someone to describe their ideal home technology system. They will likely conjure images of the latest 4K TVs. They will describe high-fidelity speakers that can produce an immersive listening environment throughout their home. They will picture a control system that is fully integrated and easy to operate. And they will want this all to blend in seamlessly, without compromising the design of their home. While all of these technologies are wonderful, it is much less glamorous to discuss what makes these coveted systems possible: the wiring.
 

Good Wiring Yields Placement Flexibility

A proper infrastructure will serve as the foundation of any home technology system. Yet more often than not the infrastructure receives far too little planning. This has the potential to create a number of problems that may only come to light near the end of the project, when they are difficult and expensive to fix. With a little planning these issues can easily be avoided, allowing the technology to shine, without any compromise to the home’s aesthetic value.
 
A common issue that results from improper wire planning is the inability to locate devices in areas where they can perform their function without being visually intrusive. A standard practice employed by many home systems integrators to combat this inflexibility is known as structured cabling. With structured cabling all of the wires throughout the home are pulled to a centralized location, such as a garage, closet, or basement. These wires are then landed inside specialized panels, where each cable can be properly labeled, terminated, and certified. Having a structured cabling plan ensures a level of flexibility as the owner’s technology needs evolve. It also reduces clutter throughout the home by allowing devices such as cable modems and routers to be hidden in a centralized location.
 
Wiring Lets You Hide A/V Components

While the term structured cabling is typically used to describe telecom wiring, the same principles apply when designing the infrastructure for a home’s audio and video systems. Today’s design aesthetic demands a minimal amount of visual intrusion from A/V components, and an effective way to hide these components is to run the wiring for a distributed audio and video system. Utilizing this method will allow components such as amplifiers, A/V receivers and cable boxes to be placed in a centralized location like a basement or mechanical room. From there, the audio and video signals travel over wiring (which has been fished behind the walls) to speakers and TVs throughout the house.
 
Utilizing a distributed approach not only eliminates clutter, but also protects the equipment from damage. Over extended periods of use, electronic components generate heat; without adequate ventilation they can be compromised. Often, the most effective way to avoid heat build-up is through the use of motorized fans. Although helpful to the well-being of the equipment, fans are noisy. This can be particularly bothersome in critical entertainment areas like media rooms and dedicated theaters. By centrally locating all of these components, adequate cooling and ventilation will only need to be ensured in one area, instead of in various cabinets and closets throughout the home.
 
Wiring Fosters Synergy of Design & Tech

Getting the wire to its central termination location is only half the battle. One of the most time consuming and important parts of wire planning is determining exact landing locations—in other words, where the wire will meet up with the technology (speakers, keypads, TVs, etc.) that will be installed into each room. Making technology blend seamlessly into a home is only accomplished through an eye for detail. Ensuring that speakers line up perfectly with the surrounding lights, or that TVs get mounted in ideal viewing positions are two great examples. But if care is not taken to precisely land wires during the rough-in, attaining this seamless look will become all but impossible.
 
Implementing a home technology system is no easy feat. Doing so without making compromises to the home’s design is even tougher. The very definition of an integrator’s job is to provide technologies that homeowners can see, touch, and hear. Ironically it is what homeowners do not see — the wiring — that makes it all possible. It is only through careful planning and execution of the infrastructure that technology can be blended seamlessly into today’s homes.
 
What About Wireless?
 
Any conversation about a home’s infrastructure wouldn’t be complete without mentioning wireless technology. Home systems integrators are commonly asked “When is all of this technology going be wireless?” The short answer: a very long time from now. Even commonplace technologies like Wi-Fi require infrastructure planning, namely running network cabling to strategic locations for wireless access points. Additionally, transporting digital signals around the home requires a great deal of bandwidth, particularly as technologies like 4K video become more prevalent. There are currently very few options for facilitating this transport wirelessly, and even fewer that actually work. In short, the need for a properly planned, hardwired infrastructure is still paramount. This fact will not change any time soon. —JG

 
The importance of speaker placement to achieve an audiophile setup, you need to look at the location and direction of your speakers.
 
EH Staff • September 14, 2015
 

While choosing quality components is important for any audiophile setup or home theater, speaker placement is equally important to the end result. The location and direction of your speakers will impact the musical image and timbre, as will the shape of the room and its contents.
 
In small rooms, which most home theaters and listening rooms are, it’s important to remember that sound waves don’t just pass directly from speaker to listener—they also bounce and reflect. Depending on how the room is constructed, sound from one speaker can impact a listener from several different directions. Also, different frequencies behave differently in a room, and both placement and décor can improve or detract from the sound. In addition, flutter echo due to parallel surfaces can be problems in small rooms.
 
Just a side note...the above two articles came from an email.  When I clicked on the link to the articles the EH webite removed my Ad blocking software AdBlock Plus and my tracking software Ghostery.  This is the first time I have seen a website do this. Well it was a PITA to have to reinstall the two mentioned programs.  Removed links above.
 

ecborgoyn

Active Member
I'm waiting to see what CEDIA might bring to the table.  Read that Channel Vision is announcing a new WHA product.
 
Also looking at the Niles new MRC 6430 unit.  Is the network control protocol 'well known'.  If not, then what other integration pathways are there?  Otherwise the unit looks good..
 
I'm still lusting after the Russound MCA-88X but probably will need to settle for something lower cost....  I'm starting to look more carefully at exactly the necessary number of channels and how I want to control the system.  And the ease of control.
 
I ALSO just learned/realized that Sonos isn't Apple Airplay comparable.  I see this as great 'future proofing'.  I suppose that Sonos and Apple don't want to play nicely together.  They both have the NIH attitude and both work hard to control their markets...
 

sic0048

Senior Member
I know I'm late to the game, but it seems you haven't made a final decision yet, so I'm going to throw this out there.
 
For whole house audio I use the B&K CT600 (or 601, etc).  It is a 6 zone whole house system with wonderful sound (B&K is a respected audiophile company).  You can pick a used controller up on ebay for just a couple hundred bucks now. (http://www.ebay.com/itm/B-K-CT600-1-Multi-zone-Receiver-Amplifier-/181896097459?hash=item2a59da2eb3)  It does have keypads that you can get, but they are ugly as sin and I would not recommend it.  Instead, connect it to an automation system via the serial controller and use you mobile devices (or other methods) to control the zones as you stated in the original post.  If you need more than 6 zones, you can combine units together for more zones.
 
If you are interested in HD video distribution you can also add the B&K HD-6 which provides HD video via component video distribution.  (http://www.ebay.com/itm/B-k-Hd6-Ct-Series-/281642866999?hash=item4193391937).
 
I've bought used units off ebay for both my house and my parents house.  I bought my unit probably 8 years ago (for about $1,000 at the time) and my parents unit is probably 6 years old.  I haven't had a single issue out of either unit.  They are quality pieces of equipment.
 

rsw686

Active Member
ecborgoyn said:
Also looking at the Niles new MRC 6430 unit.  Is the network control protocol 'well known'.  If not, then what other integration pathways are there?  Otherwise the unit looks good..
 
I've installed two of the Niles MRC 6430 linked together for a coworker. The Niles unit uses a re branded version of the Elan G control software. I personally would pay slightly more for the Russound unit over the Niles. I wasn't impressed with the iPhone application, the unit is missing 12V triggers to turn on/off attached amplifiers, and the single gang keypads are extremely limited in functionality.
 

ecborgoyn

Active Member
Thanks for all of the thoughts, reviews, etc., etc.  Last evening I ordered two of the Monoprice six channel matrix amps.  Not ideal.  Good price (on sale!!).  Tired of shopping.....  We'll see how it goes.
 
Top