Whole House Audio Questions

Threadhead

Member
I have some time off over the holidays and I've been thinking about starting some whole house audio projects, but I'm not sure about some of the cabling/connections.

For an amp I would like to use my old Yamaha receiver/amplifier. If I remember it's 75w per channel, two channels (and Yamaha's power ratings are fairly conservative). I would like to power 6 or 8 rooms with audio. For now, I'm not too concerned about multiple-input (different audio in different rooms). For speakers I'm going to use 8" in-ceiling wired with 14g shielded wire.

Q1) Can I wire the speakers to the amp directly, or do I need an impedance matching selector?
Q2) What would the speaker connections be (parallel or serial)?

For input, I will be using my HS PC running iTunes. I really don't care to have any other input at this time.

Q3) The HS PC is about 60ft from the amplifier. Can I run the audio out from the sound card to the input of the amp this distance? what wire should I use?

It might be really nice to have an output selector that could be controlled via HS, rather than manual knobs/switches.

Q4) Ar there any reasonably priced controlled output selectors? how much? where to buy?


TIA
 

smee

Senior Member
Threadhead said:
Q4) Ar there any reasonably priced controlled output selectors? how much? where to buy?
I don't have one, but this unit seems popular:
HACS AB8SS
There is a plugin for HomeSeer discussed here:
HomeSeer WAF-AB8SS forum

My understanding is that this box should take care of Q1 and Q2 also.

Threadhead said:
Q3) The HS PC is about 60ft from the amplifier. Can I run the audio out from the sound card to the input of the amp this distance? what wire should I use?
I use 2 pairs of wires in a cat5 cable for line level audio. I'm doing this in a couple different cases, both running at least 50 feet. I haven't noticed any problems, but I may not be as picky as others. It's certainly easy to try. If you are concerned about noise, I'd consider using a couple RG6 or RG59 cables (coax) with RCA fittings on the end.

You may need to worry about ground loops, depending on how the two ends of the connection are powered. These typically manifest as a hum in the background of the audio. You can buy a ground loop isolator that goes at one end or the other of the connetion.

My connection between the computer and receiver is handled through 30 feet of optical cable.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
I have some time off over the holidays and I've been thinking about starting some whole house audio projects, but I'm not sure about some of the cabling/connections.

For an amp I would like to use my old Yamaha receiver/amplifier. If I remember it's 75w per channel, two channels (and Yamaha's power ratings are fairly conservative). I would like to power 6 or 8 rooms with audio. For now, I'm not too concerned about multiple-input (different audio in different rooms). For speakers I'm going to use 8" in-ceiling wired with 14g shielded wire.

Q1) Can I wire the speakers to the amp directly, or do I need an impedance matching selector?
You MUST use an impedance matching selector. I tried 2 sets of speakers wired directly to my receiver and I nearly caused a fire and the volue control mounted in the wall melted and fell into the wall. Here's one of the best deal I've seen for an 8 zone Impendance-Matching selector.
http://www.spectravox.com/ism8.html

Q2) What would the speaker connections be (parallel or serial)?
I'm not an electronics person but basically you wire the outs from your stereo to the imputs of the selector. Then its 2 wires to each speaker.
For input, I will be using my HS PC running iTunes. I really don't care to have any other input at this time.

Q3) The HS PC is about 60ft from the amplifier. Can I run the audio out from the sound card to the input of the amp this distance? what wire should I use?
I have the exact same situation. I bought 2 sets of 30ft RCA cables and joined them together to reach my receiver. I used a mini stereo to RCA converted I bought at Radio Shack and a splitter out of the PCs sound card.

It might be really nice to have an output selector that could be controlled via HS, rather than manual knobs/switches.

Q4) Ar there any reasonably priced controlled output selectors? how much? where to buy?


TIA
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
Well I know that your not looking at anything like what I did but after considerable research and planning I felt it was the best solution for the money long term.

The problem with using a single receiver to drive multiple speakers are numerous. First you will have to have a way of impediance matching the speakers to your receiver. The device mentioned above does that but costs more than that reciever you are trying to use. Second you will have to have some way of adjusting the volume in each room that you have your speakers in. You could either use a manual or IR controlled LPAD mounted in the wall. Remember that this LPAD has to dissapate the wattage your driving so plan on it getting HOT. In fact I have read of many horror stories of people having them melt down in the walls. Lets not forget all the work of mounting them and running the wires to them and the speakers you choose to use. A decent LPAD can run you $50-$100 each for manual control and double that for IR control.

Now 75 watts might seem like a lot of power but it really isn't. I doubt you are looking for audiophile quality but even trying to drive 4 seperate rooms of 'get you by' speakers is going to tax that amp to the limit and no doubt cause a melt down if you push it.

Again after weighing all those ideas (and trust me I was planning on going that route at first) I decided to take a different approach. First I live in a home that has wet plaster walls and its a real pain to mount anything in the walls so I was not looking forward to LPADS in each room anyways. I also wanted IR control so that I could use a touch screen and Homeseer to control it down the road. That meant spending big bucks on the speaker switcher/impedience matcher and all the IR controlled LPADS.

What I came up with ended up costing much less and really being much less work.
I decided to purchase Technics 200 watt stereo receivers for each room. So keeping my main Hometheatre system as the main zone I purchased 4 extra receivers. Each receiver is IR controllable from Homeseer and can be powered off seperately. Each zone then has its own volume, power, mute, bass & treble controls. Since the wiring came down to running speaker wires from the 4 aux zones to each of the rooms it was much easier as I had no LPADS to buy or install. Each room has its own 200 watts RMS so there is no chance of a melt down. Once I chose the model of receiver I looked on Ebay and bought 4 receivers at an average cost of $50 each. Thats less than the 4 manual LPADS I would have had to buy. All four receivers are close to my HS server and are out of site. No need to have access to them with IR control.

Now with 5 seperate receivers it opened up a few options. Each zone had its own tuner so that was a bonus. When I first did this I shared a 400 Disc CD changer for all 5 zones. I have since went to a hard drive solution that enabled me to really endulge by having 5 distinct zones. All this is controlled via a GUI interface done in Netremote/JRMC/HS/hsGirder.

Every day I sit down at my PC in the den and using my Now Playing GUI front end I have access to over 800 CD's, internet radio stations, and 10 preset FM local stations. My wife can play what she likes in the living room, bedroom or kitchen and I play what I like.

I am sure its more than you thought and I only stated it here as a glimpz of what you could do for about the same cost and a lot less risk. Those melt down stories are real. Trust me Ohm's law comes into play dissapating that power and will do so in the form of heat.

If you search the HS board you will find more of my posts.

Just my 2 cents.

John
 

smee

Senior Member
My actual setup is similar to John's in at least one way - I use multiple receivers. I essentially have 3 areas in my apartment divided into 2 zones. The first two areas use the A and B speakers from one receiver. Since the A and B speakers output the same audio, this is effectively one zone. The third area (second zone) uses another receiver. The first receiver is the master. I have a line level output from that receiver connected to a line level input of the second receiver.

In my case, the receivers are in different rooms (closer to the speakers) and the source is distributed between them.
 

Mark S.

Active Member
I use the AB8SS, mainly because I wanted the ability to switch the zones on and off via HS. The AB8SS is a very simple solution and works very well. I feed it with a 100W Sony amp/receiver hooked to the PC line out.

Per the supplier, the AB8SS does impedance matching, but I was skeptical and installed impedance matching volume controls anyway. I will be adding my fourth and fifth zones soon. No heat and I haven't melted anything ...yet.

Mark
 

TechTooth

Member
As you guys probably know by now, I know nothing about HA at all. I have also never tried multiple audio zoning so have no real experience in this so please feel free to disregard everything I say.

I do know a little about amps and speakers though and seriously agree with John's comment:
Now 75 watts might seem like a lot of power but it really isn't. I doubt you are looking for audiophile quality but even trying to drive 4 seperate rooms of 'get you by' speakers is going to tax that amp to the limit and no doubt cause a melt down if you push it.

You'll probably get away with it in 3 or 4 zones, but the amp will get hot apart from at very low volumes. If you overdo the amp, 1 of 2 things will happen to it:
1. It will turn itself off when it gets too hot (you would be lucky).
2. A capacitor will blow (smells pretty bad and you may see a bit of light smoke rise from the vent and hear loud pop when it happens) or the transformer will go (this is dangerous and could cause a fire). Either way the amp will be dead.

There may be people who have got this to work, but I assume there was a bit more to it than just impedance matching, as I say I have no real experience in this.

To be on the safe side, I would personally recommend no more than 3 zones per amp (unless it is a very powerful one) and there should certainly be no problem with 2.

Please tell me if I'm wrong, I don't mean to scare people.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Well I have 7 zones/sets of speakers running through a 100 watt Sony stereo receiver. I have Boston Acoustic in wall speakers in my dinning room and they sound outstanding. It's a 2 channel only receiver and it doesn't get hot at all. I bought it on a recommendation from Palm Audio/Video a professional installation company in town.
 

TechTooth

Member
Fair enough, I'm an idiot!

Serves me right in trying to talk about what I know nothing about :lol: .

Sorry everyone!

I wasn't making up the part about what happens to an amp when it's overloaded though, I've blown several when testing poor quality ones when I was doing that for a living. We were ready for that though.
 

deranged

Active Member
I use the AB8SS Also, Works Great and does impedance matching just fine. I have 6 rooms with speakers. And use palmpads or stickaswitches to control the volume and speakers through HS. Input A is a 125 Watt per channel amp for audio. Input B is a 50 Watt amp for HS, I used 2 different amps so I didn't have to worry about changing volume before and after HS speaks.

StevenE
 

huggy59

Active Member
I don't see why someone hasn't bought some used Grass Valley analog matrix router gear on eBay from some old TV station or production house and wired their house with complete audio/video selections from/to every room and source... hehehe

There is a 128-point system listed for $1900 there tonight... maybe someone could write a web interface to the serial control, or how about an HS plugin for it? This is the real stuff, guys, what they use at TV stations to route and interconnect high-quality video and audio to almost all their gear. Of course, these systems are all digital now, so the analog systems are not too expensive these days.

;-)
 

Threadhead

Member
I thought I would give everyone an update on my progress:

1) Installed these puppies all over the house. Four rooms so far, total of eight when I'm done. Wow! Holy Cow! Do they sound great ;)

I admit I went a little wild with so many, and they are very large, but I can get them wholesale so they didn't cost much and they sound so, so good. I'm very impressed.

2) To balance the load I decided to go with impedance matching volume controls. I figured that in the future I will put separate zones on separate amps. I would still want independent volume control in each room, but the letting the volume controls do the impedance matching in the mean time. Cheaper then impedance matching switch boxes too. Plus, impedance matching volume controls are cheap (yup, I get them wholesale too).

3) All is connected to my Yammie RX-930. I checked the specs and it is rated [email protected] and [email protected] So, does it do the job? You bet. It drives all four sets of those NXG monsters and barely generates any heat.

Everything has been running for about two weeks now, and there have been zero problems. I have to admit that at first, I was concerned weather the amp could handle it. But the Yammies have a fairly conservative overload protection and it has never kicked in at this point. And I tried driving them pretty hard with a little NIN and passed the Get Down Make Love test. )

There is one thing I sorely regret... not doing this years ago. I and the wife are enjoying the music immensely and now rarely turn on the TV. It's just so relaxing and enjoyable to throw on some Jamie Cullum and unwind.

After I get all rooms connected and working I'll enjoy things and while and then start moving to separate amps and zones.

Any questions?
 

bfisher

Active Member
Couple quick questions:
- you mounting these speakers in ceilings, or in walls, or both? The 10" woofer should reproduce decent bass, and maybe eliminate the need for a seperate sub (most in-wall subs are 10")

- how did you end up wiring from the PC to the amp? Did you use RCA cables or mini-jacks?

I am wiring my setup right now using Line-Level Audio cable connected to mini-jacks, and then using a Mini-jack to RCA adapter at the amp.
 

Threadhead

Member
bfisher said:
Couple quick questions:
- you mounting these speakers in ceilings, or in walls, or both? The 10" woofer should reproduce decent bass, and maybe eliminate the need for a seperate sub (most in-wall subs are 10")

- how did you end up wiring from the PC to the amp? Did you use RCA cables or mini-jacks?

I am wiring my setup right now using Line-Level Audio cable connected to mini-jacks, and then using a Mini-jack to RCA adapter at the amp.
1) I have them mounted in the ceilings. I suppose you could mount them in the walls. BTW, they are big. 10" woofer does not adequately describe the sice of these. Even I was surprised at the size. You cut a 12" hole for mounting, and I would say they are an additional inch (13") in total diameter.

NXG makes in-wall speakers if you are looking for that specific purpose.

2) I don't have them wired to the PC yet. For now, the iPod is driving the input to the amp. To be honest, I'm in no hurry. I will eventually move everything (HS PC, amps, et al) into a wiring closet.

If I were going to wire the PC to the amp's input, I would use Mini-CAT5-RCA and solder all connections by hand. But my run would be over 50'. For short runs, and the connection to my iPod, I would just use an RCA-to-mini cable (no adapter).
 
Top