Best Amp for ceiling speakers

Paulbleach

Novice Member
Hi,
Apologies if I am posting this in the wrong area but I struggled to find the correct location.
I have recently built a house and rightly or wrongly have put speakers in most of the rooms ceilings.
I am now in the situation of needing amps to control about 9 different zones which is going to be very costly. Sonos is the most obvious choice as I can run upto 4 speakers of 1 amp but I wondered if there is a better cheaper solution that somebody could suggest?
I need to be able to control the speakers through an app.
It's possible I'll also link the TV to speakers in a couple of rooms with a sound bar too, in case that makes a difference. Any help would be gratefully appreciated.
All the best
Paul
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
For that number of zones it might work out cheaper to use a bunch of Raspberry Pi and Amp Hats (running something like HiFiBerryOS) for each room and then look at some 3rd party software to stream to them all. If you're wiring the speakers back to a central location you could share one large power supply between the 9 RPi setups.

HiFiBerry have also released a new DAC hat that can piggyback a Amp board and an optional DSP module if you wanted to up the quality for one or two zones and add room correction into the mix.

If you have a NAS already you could look at installing something like Logitech Media Server for free (you'll also want to enable the Material Skin plugin so that it has a decent UI), which will stream to the RPi/HiFiBerryOS via the Squeezelite multi room protocol.

At the high-end something like Roon would be another option, with the Roon Core running on an Intel NUC running Rock OS (streaming to the RPi via Roon's RAAT multi room protocol). Even factoring in the cost of a lifetime Roon membership and a (possibly used) NUC to run it on (plus 9 RPi's + hats) it will likely work out cheaper than 9 Sonos Amps.

HiFiBerryOS also supports Spotify (via the Spotify app) and DLNA/UPnP (via a DLNA/UPnP desktop or mobile app) - as well as Bluetooth and AirPlay - without any 3rd party server. But if you're going to the cost of 9 amps for each zone I'd suggest paying out for a lifetime Roon membership and a NUC to run the Core/Rock on — you could get both for <£1k.

The Roon (or LMS) route gets you a really flexible multi room setup without being tied to Sonos kit (although both Roon and LMS can also stream to Sonos kit as well). You can then control the setup from any laptop or mobile in the same way you would with the Sonos app, albeit with a far better/richer interface in the case of Roon.

For the TV I would get a standard AVR and wire the ceiling speakers into that, you could then stream music direct from Roon to the AVR (if it was 'Roon Ready'). Or if not you could easily add a RPi and DigiHat (ie. just an optical output) and plug it into the AVR's optical in to add Roon support.

On the other hand Roon (or LMS) doesn't fully support the wide range of streaming services that Sonos does, so if your wedded to an obscure streaming service then Sonos may be your only option.
 
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Paulbleach

Novice Member
For that number of zones it might work out cheaper to use a bunch of Raspberry Pi and Amp Hats (running something like HiFiBerryOS) for each room and then look at some 3rd party software to stream to them all. If you're wiring the speakers back to a central location you could share one large power supply between the 9 RPi setups.

HiFiBerry have also released a new DAC hat that can piggyback a Amp board and an optional DSP module if you wanted to up the quality for one or two zones and add room correction into the mix.

If you have a NAS already you could look at installing something like Logitech Media Server for free, which will stream to the RPi/HiFiBerryOS via the Squeezelite multi room protocol.

At the high-end something like Roon would be another option, with the Roon Core running on an Intel NUC running Rock OS. Even factoring in the cost of a lifetime Roon membership and a NUC to run it on (+ 9 RPi's + hats) it will likely work out cheaper than 9 Sonos Amps.

HiFiBerryOS also support Spotify (via the Spotify app) and DLNA/UPnP (via a DLNA/UPnP desktop or mobile app) without any 3rd party server. But if your going to the cost of 9 amps for each zone I'd suggest paying out for a Roon membership and a NUC — you could get both for >£1k.

The Roon (or LMS) route gets you a really flexible multi room setup without being tied to Sonos kit (although both Roon and LMS can also stream to Sonos kit as well). You can then control the setup from any laptop or mobile in the same way you would with the Sonos app, albeit with a far better/richer interface in the case of Roon.

For the TV I would get a standard AVR and wire the ceiling speakers into that, you could then stream music direct from Roon to the AVR (if it was 'Roon Ready'). Or if not you could easily add a RPi and DigiHat (ie. just an optical output) and plug it into the AVR's optical in.

On the other hand Roon (or LMS) doesn't fully support the wide range of streaming services that Sonos does, so if your wedded to an obscure streaming service then Sonos may be your only option.
Wow.. than you so much. That's great information. I'll look into what you've said tomorrow
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
For that number of zones it might work out cheaper to use a bunch of Raspberry Pi and Amp Hats (running something like HiFiBerryOS) for each room and then look at some 3rd party software to stream to them all. If you're wiring the speakers back to a central location you could share one large power supply between the 9 RPi setups.

HiFiBerry have also released a new DAC hat that can piggyback a Amp board and an optional DSP module if you wanted to up the quality for one or two zones and add room correction into the mix.

If you have a NAS already you could look at installing something like Logitech Media Server for free, which will stream to the RPi/HiFiBerryOS via the Squeezelite multi room protocol.

At the high-end something like Roon would be another option, with the Roon Core running on an Intel NUC running Rock OS (streaming to the RPi via Roon's RAAT multi room protocol). Even factoring in the cost of a lifetime Roon membership and a (possibly used) NUC to run it on (plus 9 RPi's + hats) it will likely work out cheaper than 9 Sonos Amps.

HiFiBerryOS also support Spotify (via the Spotify app) and DLNA/UPnP (via a DLNA/UPnP desktop or mobile app) without any 3rd party server. But if you're going to the cost of 9 amps for each zone I'd suggest paying out for a Roon membership and a NUC to run the Core/Rock on — you could get both for <£1k.

The Roon (or LMS) route gets you a really flexible multi room setup without being tied to Sonos kit (although both Roon and LMS can also stream to Sonos kit as well). You can then control the setup from any laptop or mobile in the same way you would with the Sonos app, albeit with a far better/richer interface in the case of Roon.

For the TV I would get a standard AVR and wire the ceiling speakers into that, you could then stream music direct from Roon to the AVR (if it was 'Roon Ready'). Or if not you could easily add a RPi and DigiHat (ie. just an optical output) and plug it into the AVR's optical in to add Roon support.

On the other hand Roon (or LMS) doesn't fully support the wide range of streaming services that Sonos does, so if your wedded to an obscure streaming service then Sonos may be your only option.

What a great solution. Combining with ROON really would make that a very very polished project.
Maybe you could actually find some form of chassis that you could mound 3 or 4 units in at a time with a single PSU to power it all. Certainly much cheaper than the £4500 for Sonos Amps. Really tempted to go and buy one for testing.
 

Paulbleach

Novice Member
For that number of zones it might work out cheaper to use a bunch of Raspberry Pi and Amp Hats (running something like HiFiBerryOS) for each room and then look at some 3rd party software to stream to them all. If you're wiring the speakers back to a central location you could share one large power supply between the 9 RPi setups.

HiFiBerry have also released a new DAC hat that can piggyback a Amp board and an optional DSP module if you wanted to up the quality for one or two zones and add room correction into the mix.

If you have a NAS already you could look at installing something like Logitech Media Server for free, which will stream to the RPi/HiFiBerryOS via the Squeezelite multi room protocol.

At the high-end something like Roon would be another option, with the Roon Core running on an Intel NUC running Rock OS (streaming to the RPi via Roon's RAAT multi room protocol). Even factoring in the cost of a lifetime Roon membership and a (possibly used) NUC to run it on (plus 9 RPi's + hats) it will likely work out cheaper than 9 Sonos Amps.

HiFiBerryOS also supports Spotify (via the Spotify app) and DLNA/UPnP (via a DLNA/UPnP desktop or mobile app) - as well as Bluetooth and AirPlay - without any 3rd party server. But if you're going to the cost of 9 amps for each zone I'd suggest paying out for a lifetime Roon membership and a NUC to run the Core/Rock on — you could get both for <£1k.

The Roon (or LMS) route gets you a really flexible multi room setup without being tied to Sonos kit (although both Roon and LMS can also stream to Sonos kit as well). You can then control the setup from any laptop or mobile in the same way you would with the Sonos app, albeit with a far better/richer interface in the case of Roon.

For the TV I would get a standard AVR and wire the ceiling speakers into that, you could then stream music direct from Roon to the AVR (if it was 'Roon Ready'). Or if not you could easily add a RPi and DigiHat (ie. just an optical output) and plug it into the AVR's optical in to add Roon support.

On the other hand Roon (or LMS) doesn't fully support the wide range of streaming services that Sonos does, so if your wedded to an obscure streaming service then Sonos may be your only option.
I thought I'd responded to say thank you for such an amazing reply. I can't see my response so again thank you.
I have spent some time trying to understand how to put your idea together but being rather unsavvy when it comes to tech. Would you mind listing what I need or send me a could of links to websites selling the components. No worries if you're too busy. Thank you anyway
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
The links above should all click though to the relevant products.

But in short,

1) For each pair of speakers you need:


You can save money by buying the parts separately/elsewhere, but if you want an easy life you can order a bundle with everything you need from HiFiBerry. So basically one of these 'bundles' per pair of speakers. You don't need the HDMI cable or remote in the above bundle, so uncheck those options.

You then need to plug the Amp board into the Rasberry Pi and then follow these instructions to install the Operating System onto the Micro SD card which you then insert into the Rasberry Pi.


Plug in one pair of speakers and you should now be able to stream to them via AirPlay, Bluetooth or the Spotify App.

(if you have multiple setups you will want to name each one after the room it is powering, you can easily do this via the HiFiBerryOS web interface)

2) To turn it into a proper multi room setup

- A copy of Roon


You can run Roon on a PC/Mac to get a feel for how it works and how it streams to your RPi's above (or indeed any other Roon supported devices). But....

- A NUC to run it on (optional)

Ideally you want a small dedicated server to act as the central Roon core / server that you leave on 24/7 and hide out of the way near your router or in a cupboard.

You can buy an off the shelf server/appliance to do this called the Roon Nucleus but it's expensive.

A cheaper option, unless you have cash to burn, is to buy a small Intel NUC (which are very compact little PCs) and run Rock OS on it which is basically a DIY version of the Nucleus.


Follow the Amazon links on that page under 'ROCK For Small to Medium Sized Libraries' for the recommend hardware. You don't actually need the latest model NUC but you may find it easier to just take the hardware recommendation on that page.

You then want to install RockOS on it...


============

That may all sound a bit complex, and it almost certainly is compared to Sonos. But it really just a case of following some instructions, once you've setup one unit the rest will take you less than 30 mins each to configure.

Once setup each Raspberry Pi and Amp unit basically acts like an 'appliance' much like a Sonos Amp, with all the updates managed automatically in the background. If you turn the power on and off they'll just restart - ready to receive/play music again - much like a commercial streamer/amp. If you need to configure them ie. for network settings you do so via a simple/clean web interface in your browser, you never need to go 'under the bonnet' so to speak.

I'd probably start off with a single RPi + Amp board bundle and a trial copy of Roon. Then move on from there with more RPi's and maybe a NUC to run the Roon Core, so that you don't get overwhelmed to start.

But if you just want to put one big order in I'd email HiFiBerry direct and tell then how many Amp 'endpoints' you want ie. one per room (you may be able to negotiate a discount) and get a single Intel NUC per the Roon/Rock recommendations to run the Roon Core.

If you're OK with taking the time to read some instruction you will be fine, it's a bit like flat pack Ikea furniture :) There's always help available here, as well as in the Roon and HiFiBerry forums if you get stuck.
 
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