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31 posts

Geek


Topic # 100068 2-Apr-2012 18:57 Send private message

I've spent the last week reading years worth of posts regarding home networking for new builds and a bit of research in to multi-room audio as well.  Enough to be dangerous anyway.

I'll be building a 4 bedroom, 2 living house this year - completion date basically Xmas 2012.  I have uploaded a floor plan.



Overkill is under-rated.  As such, the house will be wired to the hilt to accommodate serious networking, HDMI distribution, wireless access points, network printers, phones, NAS and gaming consoles.  I will also be wiring for automation features, such as IP cameras, intercoms, door sensors, fire/smoke alarms, irrigation and water tank control. Hardware for most of this will not be purchased.  Just wired in, ready to go.  The central cupboard will be located at one end of the hot-water cupboard (which is large) - see attached image.  This will house the patch panel and the planned unimaginable amount of cabling.

To the audio...Below is a list of what I am currently looking at.  I have been in touch with some people with regard to this.  i'm having a meeting next week and I'd like to be as well informed as possible.  Suggested multi-room equipment has included Russound and the Nuvo Grand Concerto.  Personal research has come up with the obvious - SONOS and BOSE.

BUDGET = $20,000 give or take.

HOW I WANT TO OPERATE MY MULTI-ROOM AUDIO
  • All music to be on a NAS.  That way the computer doesn't have to be on
  • Nice and tidy music library set up.  Like my iTunes
  • Controllable from an Android and/or "i"device.
  • Controllable via WiFi (Macbook Air)
  • Controllable via hardwired iMac
  • I want it to be very very easy to use
  • I'd like guests to be able to play their own music from their portable device over WiFi.
 HOW I WOULD INSTALL THE SYSTEM
  • Along with the patch panel and all the other cables, the entire Multi-Room audio is planned to be set up in the same cupboard.  As such, if SONOS was the way I went, I would still have all the SONOS units in there - simply piggybacked together with long and short speaker cable runs to the named zones.
  • If required, I'd still have discreet locations near the master bedroom and the garage to set up a SONOS Connect:AMP (still hard-wired).
ZONE 1 - Main Living Room (Stage 1)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - V35 with premium jewel cube speakers
  • BOSE - 791 in-ceiling speakers (Compatible with amplifiers or receivers rated 10-100W per channel/rated 4 to 8 ohms & 50W IEC continuous power handling; rated 6 ohms)
  • SONOS: AMP - powering the 791's (Class-D. Rated output 110W RMS (2x55W continuous average power into 8 ohms, THD+N

ZONE 2 - Cinema Room (to be wired for future hardware - Stage 2) (XBOX and iMac in this room)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - T20 with jewel cube speakers (to be purchased at a later date)
  • SONOS - CONNECT (to be purchased at a later date)

ZONE 3 - Kitchen and Dining (Stage 1)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 191 in-ceiling, (Set in the kitchen and a set in the dining room - both powered by the single SONOS: AMP) (Compatible with amplifiers or receivers rated 10-100W per channel/rated 4 to 8 ohms & 50W IEC continuous power handling; rated 6 ohms)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)

ZONE 4 - West Courtyard (Stage 1)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 251 outdoor speakers (Compatible with amplifiers or receivers rated 10-200 watts per channel/rated 4 to 8 ohms & 100W IEC continuous power handling; rated 6 ohms)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)

ZONE 5 - North Deck (Stage 1)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 251 outdoor speakers, (as spec'd above)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)

ZONE 6 - Garage (Stage 1)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 301 bookshelf (hanging in the corners of the garage) (Compatible with amplifiers and receivers rated from 10 to 150 watts per channel. Rated 4 - 8 ohms)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)

ZONE 7 - Master Bedroom (to be wired for future hardware - Stage 2)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 191 in-ceiling, (as spec'd above)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)
  ZONE 8 - Garage Outdoors (to be wired for future hardware - Stage 2)
------------------------------
  • BOSE - 251 outdoor speakers, (as spec'd above)
  • SONOS: AMP (as spec'd above)

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31 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604081 2-Apr-2012 19:00 Send private message

Let's have a quick price up:



Excluding wiring, Stage 1 is looking OK. Obviously, this is the price for the "easy-to-get-your-head-around" SONOS setup. There are plenty of speaker options available in similar price brackets. Examples from KEF, Polk Audio, and Boston Acoustics all make speakers with similar prices.

SONOS + BOSE appears to tick all my objectives and comes in budget. It doesn't have the ability to be tied in to future automation software though. It may not be able to play others music. IF they have the SONOS App they will be able to control my music though.

OTHER OPTIONS:

Nuvo Grand Concerto - Cost = $5200ish. It has 8 zones of which only 6 are powered/amp at 80w (2*40W/channel). - if I read the specs right. Specs from here: http://www.nuvotechnologies.com//pdfs/Brochures/concerto.pdf
6 source input (not just music).

The Nuvo looks to tick all the boxes as well, it also has IR support, and is accessible with home automation (automation is something I'll be looking in to in a few years time).

The NuVo looks to be slightly cheaper in the long run. Not so sure about the 2 unpowered zones though... The NuVo is not limited to the 6-8 powered zones as it is all expandable (probably at a significant price - but probably cheaper than the $1100/zone for the SONOS.

NuVo - less power per zone compared to the SONOS (80W v 110W)

QUESTIONS:
  1. Would you go SONOS, NuVo or something else?
  2. What speakers would you choose?
  3. Knowing a little about speaker cables but not a lot, if you follow this guide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaker_wire) would you be fine? - ignoring the quoted 15 metre maximum distance.
  4. Is 80W considerably less compared to 110W - Note: I don't plan on raving or shaking the roof off every night. But a good thrash out would not go a miss.
  5. Am I able two power the 2 sets of BOSE 191's with the one SONOS: AMP or one NuVo zone?
  6. Am I overkilling on the outdoor speakers? Should I just go the BOSE 151 outdoor speakers (Compatible with amplifiers or receivers rated 10 to 100 watts per channel at 4 to 8 ohms & 50W IEC continuous power handling at 6 ohms)?
  7. Would I want a system that plays out put from other devices? I don't see myself owning a record player or another CD player for that matter. I certainly won't want the sound of the XBOX playing linked across all zones. Might want the rugby though?
  8. What does this mean in simple terms (Compatible with amplifiers or receivers rated 10 to 100 watts per channel at 4 to 8 ohms & 50W IEC continuous power handling at 6 ohms)? Does it mean I can plug this speaker in to any amp that powers between 10-100W (over 100W will blow the speaker) and that has an output impedance of between 4 to 8 ohms? I assume that is 100W (50W per channel - 2 channels)?
  9. Should I stick to kit with a higher impedance output so I can run longer speaker cables? Or is there a negative side (distortion) resulting in the higher impedance?
  10. If the higher impedance kit is OK to use, and I can afford it, should I get the lowest gauge speaker wire I can? Would there be any benefit in doing this? Basically run 12AWG everywhere even if I could get away with 14AWG?
Thanks to anyone who has made it to the end! What a monster. Why not get it all done in one post? Saves me time in the long run. Remember: Overkill is under-rated.

156 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 1


  Reply # 604082 2-Apr-2012 19:03 Send private message

Sonos all the way. It does everything you've asked.



31 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604084 2-Apr-2012 19:07 Send private message

As you can see, I'm leaning heavily towards SONOS as well.  Wondering if there is anything else out there that would trump it though with expandability and control in the future.  Ease of use is a big one.  Also, I would imagine SONOS would add a lot more application improvement over the coming years compared with competitors.
 

2110 posts

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  Reply # 604100 2-Apr-2012 19:43 Send private message

Here's a question...
Have you listened to the Sonos / Bose kit you've listed? Or are you still spec hunting?
I understand the appeal of setups like this (and I too would choose Sonos over Bose), but I have been impressed by multiple Airplay setups using an entire Apple eco-system.
My advice, listen to the speakers + amps first.
Then figure out where you're heading.

In all honesty though, I wouldn't recommend Bose to any of my friends who were looking to get the best out of their Cinema Room... I would however recommend talking to a few different installers and getting their views on the plan - as some setups do throw up issues you'd never factor in initially (audio delays in separate zones etc).

2110 posts

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  Reply # 604162 2-Apr-2012 21:16 Send private message

Oh yeah - one other thing to think about...
Your bedroom may be better serviced by an iPod/MP3 dock, so connecting to that via Bluetooth or Airplay / direct dock may reduce the number of zones you require?
I use my dock to charge my phone every night, very handy.



31 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604284 3-Apr-2012 08:05 Send private message

I've read bad things about drop-outs with Apple Express systems. Also, I met with an A/V installer in his house. He used an Express to play music from his iPad to 2 in-ceiling speakers. He said it wasn't very good. Dropped out all the time. He had to be holding the iPad at funny angles etc. He may have had better luck if he was using the iPad as a remote to play music on his computer as his computer was hard-wired to his main wireless device (can't remember what it was). I suggested that to him, not sure if it would improve it though.

Anyway, an all Apple solution is not sound enough in my opinion. From what I've read (which is heaps) it still needs to be hard-wired to be stable. That is why I would link the SONOS together.

Re: listening to it all. I have listened to the BOSE cubed speakers a while back and I thought they sounded OK. My job doesn't allow me much time to whip off to test this stuff out. I am often out of the country for extended periods of time. That is why I was kind of hoping “installers” popped their noses in to this website from time to time.

I should add another question to my list.
  1. Should I just choose (and wire in) the speakers, get some different systems together and test them out in my specific environment?
 RE: the dock in the master bedroom.  Definitely worth looking in to.  Thanks. 

433 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 604294 3-Apr-2012 08:21 Send private message

Have you looked into the range of networked media players from Logitech - the Squeezebox range? They are a lot more cost effective than SONOS but the downside is they are potentially a little more work to configure - I can't comment as I only have the Squeezebox system - and have never owned a SONOS.

It is definitely worth looking into however, as I think you would end up saving a lot of dollars.



31 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604326 3-Apr-2012 09:06 Send private message

Earlier I had looked in to SqueezeBox. It looked like a version for people who had no ability to run cables.  

On second look, it still appears this is the case.  There is also no way to power in-ceiling or outdoor speakers.  The SqueezeBox-TransporterSE is their flagship and it all about WiFi.  I would need to have a SqueezeBox-Radio or SqueezeBox AirPlay Speakers in whatever zone I wanted. This is not the level of discreet I am after.

I have the ability to run cables and to install in-ceiling speakers.

Cheers though. 

Watchmaker Wizard
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  Reply # 604330 3-Apr-2012 09:17 Send private message

Unless you're mainly going to be listening to opera in the lounge(s), then don't install the Bose speakers, especially if you want to use them in a 5.1 surround environment to watch movies, they're too gutless to have any decent punch at a "reasonable" volume. The smaller units are probably okay for the garage, bedroom etc though. They're also horribly overpriced for their quality, but I get the impression that money is no object in this scenario.

If you're in Wellington I'd suggest going to have a chat to the guys at Soundline who have had a lot to do with Sonos setups.




433 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 604331 3-Apr-2012 09:19 Send private message

Not quite true - yes they do all support WIFI (much like the SONOS) but they also support wired connection. All my devices are wired directly back to a patch panel where they are all connected to my central home server which is running the Squeezebox server software.

I have just moved into my new home and went through a very similar process as you.

You sound like you want a bank of 'music streamers' in a central location, which then are wired up to various speaker locations around the house. 

You have two options, either you have active speakers, or you have a multi-zone amp in your server cupboard driving passive speakers. Either way your music streamers won't be driving any speakers directly - which is exactly how the Squeezebox Touch is designed.

You can then control each of these zones individually from any i-Device or Android phone/tablet. There are plenty of options available for both.

You would need to have a PC (either Windows, Linux, or Mac) running the server software 24/7 in order to serve up your music, although the system can operate without a PC by connecting the MySqueezebox servers over the internet to play internet radio etc.

Entirely up to you, but I would do a little more digging before discounting these devices altogether. 

2034 posts

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  Reply # 604335 3-Apr-2012 09:33 Send private message

For ease of use the Sonos system can't be beat.
Also for linking zones and having all zones playing in sync, with no echo, the Sonos system again can't be beat.
One way to allow visitors music to be played in the system would be one of the Sonos docks, if they have an Apple device.
The other option would be to have a Sonos Play:5 or Play:3 and use the line-in input on that which you can then link to other zones.

Another option to think about would be to have a Play:5 or play:3 and use that in the garage instead of having a dedicated zone player and speakers there.
You could then move the unit around to have it in the bedroom or where ever.

I would also maybe look at one Connect:AMP for Zone 4 & 5. Just thinking about how often would those zones need to be playing different music, probably never so it wouldn't matter if they were one zone.






31 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604343 3-Apr-2012 09:59 Send private message

@SumnerBoy I'll keep looking in to it. Definitely looking at passive speakers....

@stevenz The BOSE surround would only be for the surround of the TV/XBOX/Blu-Ray and not for music. Thanks for the steer away from the BOSE in-ceiling as well. They don't require back boxes. The house has a skillion (mono-pitched) roof and I'm not sure what depth the rafters are. Might be able to upgrade to 270-290mm? Cheers

@CYaBro I like that idea of the Play:5 in the Garage. I could probably get away with a Play 3: in the Master Bed as well. I would have daily-used gym equipment in the garage, so whatever went in there wouldn't be moved around. The Play:5 ($899) is also way cheaper than a SONOS: ConnectAMP + speakers. The SONOS: Dock ($265) would work well as well. The Dock also charges the iPhone so could be used to charge it next to the bed overnight. Moving away from the suggested in-built wall dock suggested by @Dunnersfella. THe SONOS: Dock is also portable, which is nice. Thanks CYaBro

2034 posts

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  Reply # 604530 3-Apr-2012 13:33 Send private message

I have a Play:5 myself, did have more Sonos gear but sold it when we moved into our rental, and the sound that it puts out is awesome for the size of the thing.
Haven't heard a Play:3 yet.
I'm in the same boat as you and am about to start building our house so am looking at all options.




19 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604732 3-Apr-2012 19:57 Send private message

Looks great - here's some information about other solutions you might want to investigate. I've been looking to do much the same thing. Except I've resisted the Sonos solution. Their product will does what it does well and is the best in the market. The problem I have is that they're the only ones that do - they have a monopoly in this space - which is reflected in the pricing of their product - ridiculously high for the small bits of plastic that it is.

On the plus side - there are now slowly some competitors coming up with products. They've just got a wee way to go before they catch up. If I were you I'd hold off for 3 to 6 months if you can just to see how the competitors mature their products. So ... enough politics... here's my list of alternatives that you might want to look into. I can't provide links as I'm still new. Just google each phrase and you'll find the products:

Arctic Audio Relay
Simple Audio Roomplayer
Sony HomeShare network speakers
Philips multiroom
Proficient Zero
Use rogue amoeba airfoil with AirPlay Speakers
How I Built A Wireless Multiroom Sound System airfoil

Sony's system doesn't include a unit that you can use to plug into existing stereo equipment or speakers that you might have.

Proficient Zero is the other way round. They provide devices you can plug into your existing stereo equipment or speakers, but no device that includes a speaker like Sony or Sonos or Philips do.

Rogue amoeba is software only. But what you can do is combine the software with your wireless network and any number of airplay speakers for a solution; or network it with Apple Airport Express.

Good luck. Would be keen to know where you get in the end and how it all goes.

19 posts

Geek


  Reply # 604733 3-Apr-2012 20:01 Send private message

Oh - some advice from someone else's experience. I have a wealthy friend and he set up his house with lots of built-in good quality speakers, and multi-room system, etc. Eventually he moved and regretted having built-in speakers as they're pricey and he had to leave it all with the house. Sure its small bikkies when it comes to the price of a house - but you don't get any return on the built-in speakers when you sell a house, ie. it doesn't add anything to the price. Something to consider.

Also - if you're building a place from scratch I guess you can allow space for including more portable speakers, eg. hidden above kitchen cupboards, or wardrobes, shelves, etc.

Cheers

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