Whole House Audio + Intercom + Sonos Oh My!


Active Member
We're having a house built (our first, yeah!) and I am planning all the home automation and wiring stuff. The security and wiring makes reasonable sense to me, and I am leaning towards an M1. Audio and video are an area where I'm a bit confused.

We currently live in an apartment and have a sonos system and love it, mostly for the user interface and rhapsody integration. It is our primarly music system, and we don't really play CD's anymore, and I don't think we'd care to integrate XM since we like the Rhapsody radio stations quite a bit.

I want to add an intercom to the plan, with 7-8 stations, and have looked at the Russound and On-Q products. I'd also like the intercom to play announcements from the M1 and any future automation system we add (HS or CQC). We also want music in probably 4 or 5 rooms and currently have 3 sonos units and one controller.

It seems the M1, Russound CAV6.6 and their intercom product can do all of the above, although I am not sure how this would all be integrated into the sonos. I am picturing a stack of sonos units wired to the CAV but feel like there should be a better way.

I'm also wondering if we could dump the CAV and use the intercom for system announcements, and the sonos for music. Cons I see with this approach are needing more sonos units and controllers (expensive, and perhaps on par with adding a CAV if we add 2-3 controllers and sonos boxes) and having a single-use box and speakers in each room where we want music. Pros are that the wife already knows how to use the device, and there is no complicated switching, it just works.

I've also toyed with a hybrid solution of Russound zones hooked to one "shared" sonos, but that seems to be overkill.

We don't do much television watching, other than some PVR'ed shows and movies, so video switching may not be needed, although we may end up with some kind of media room or kids room in the future (I imagine we'll want more than one TV when Barney and his buddies invade).

Overall I'm confused and would like any thoughts on how to tie sonos, whole house announcements/intercom, and audio/video switching together.

Thanks for any advice!
A very interesting question. I prefer to use a phone system (Panasonic KXT 824) for my intercom and announcement needs but I really like networked music systems like Sonos or Slimserver Squeezeboxes for music.

In theory you can do everything you want with the Sonos platform except the intercom. If you use an M1 with Homeseer for example you can have Sonos do all of your HA announcements, mute the music when the phone rings or goes off hook, and of course you can distribute your music any way you like.

There are a lot of ways to handle intercom so I would decide on the music and HA stategies first and then choose something to do intercom that works with those choices.

Not a big fan of in-wall keypad based music systems myself but they work well for many folks here. Try to picture yourseld using a full blown Sonos system and then a Keypad based system like Russsound or NuVo. The picture you are most comfortable should be your staring point in figuring this out.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think I am leaning towards sticking with Sonos, and perhaps doing in-room speakers for some rooms and hiding the sonos unit. If we limit ourselves to maybe one more unit and a couple of remotes the cost it not too bad.

I really like the Russound intercom product (the name escapes me at the moment) since it appears to be one of the few that will do point to point or broadcast. Could this handle whole house announcements from Elk or an automation server since there won't necessairly be a sonos in every room?

I have an asterisk-based VoIP PBX with Cisco phones at the moment, and I don't think they have a page function. I'm pretty happy with that system otherwise.

ooh ooh ! Here's one a newb can actually help with!

I have the exact same issue -- sonos, russound compoint, elk.

Essentially, for each you have 3 audio inputs you need to drive over 1 set of speakers. The solution is...... well, there isn't one -- at least not an easy one that I could figure out. However, It is easy for the Elk and the Compoint to share a speaker as the compoint units have a pass-thru. So here's what I've got.

1) Sonos. Oh yes, the sonos is awesome. It'll handle all the zoning you want, you won't need any other sort of distribution system. Just tether the sonos bricks to your speaker pairs and you're rolling. Just buy enough bricks and controllers. I have four bricks and two controllers and will likely add a few more. I tend to use the PC interface on our "kitchen computer" as often as I do the handheld controllers. The sonos all drive the main "high quality" in-ceiling and in-wall speakers throughout the house. They aren't shared by the elk or compoint. (a side note: my kitchen, dining room, and porch are all sort of open to each other, so I use one brick split to those 6 speakers using impedence matching volume controls)

2) Elk / Compoint. Like I said, the compoint has speaker pass-thrus so connection is easy. The trick here is (as I learned from the people on this board) that the wattage of the compoint single-gang speakers is such that the Elk may well "blow them out". So, you don't want to use the little compoint speakers. You'll still want to use a small, relatively non-obtrusive speaker for these two systems to share. I went with these 1 Gang Speakers and am very happy with them. They sound absolutely fine for voice messages and seem to handle the Elk alarm sounds with sufficient gusto.

Well... I feel like the dumb kid in the class who finally knew the answer to teacher's question. I hope this helped.


Edited for sanity
pgray007 said:
I have an asterisk-based VoIP PBX with Cisco phones at the moment, and I don't think they have a page function. I'm pretty happy with that system otherwise.
Hey, a fellow asterisk enthusiast! Last time I mentioned it here all I got were confused stares :unsure:

You can do paging/intercom with Asterisk. With asterisk or later, there is a Page() command. See this:


Cisco phones (and a few others) support auto-answer with speakerphone, and you can use this to set up a "page" button. Here's the details:


(BTW if you're interested there is an article on getting a doorphone like this one hooked into the paging system.)
markthomas said:
Hey, a fellow asterisk enthusiast! Last time I mentioned it here all I got were confused stares ;)

I've barely scratched the surface of Asterisk, but I see lots of potential for HA integration there. I'm currently running Asterisk@Home (yeah, I need to upgrade) and am relatively happy with it. My only complaints are around the occasional problems I have with line quality (I use IP trunk lines), although that is certainly not the fault of asterisk.