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Multi zone audio - overwhelmed!

Dmanc

Novice Member
i recently bought a house with speakers in many rooms. Each pair of speakers in the room looks to be wired back to and independent room volum control (see attachment). I think this in turn is wired back to a panel in the family room. I would like to get the speakers up and running and currently have no audio equipment. I was hoping to just buy and amp but best buy and independent firms have tried to sell me denon Heos ($2500) and control 4 ($$$). I would like to future proof and scale to more automated solutions in the future but new house and new baby will put that on hold. The first challenge I have is that the speaker panel in the family room appears to be commercial grade 'speakon' sockets (both best buy magnolia or independnat had never seen them. Have front and back of panel picture attached. So can I just get and amp for now and scale later to play independnat sources in each room? I assume I would need a speaker selector although I am not sure how they work with the in room volume controls? I have been reading for weeks and more confused now than ever.

If the amp is in the family room how can I control sources, music selection and volume from the bar?

The longer term - I would love to relocate the speaker panel to the basement (assume I can extend the copper speaker wire), put more Ethernet home runs and a few hdmi also back to the basement and create a better solution out of a central hub. But for now - using the speakers already in my ceiling in at least a few rooms like the kitchen and bar would be great.
 

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Ghostrider

Active Member
Each connector is set up to be served by a stereo amp and will take two pairs of wires and you have 6 zones / 12 speakers to drive - this is going to take more than one amp and ideally one amp per zone.

Personally I think that the advice given to you by the retailers you have spoken to is spot on - multiple DENON HEOS or SONOS CONNECT amps are the way to go.

I can't see any point in spending money on the Connect 4 system unless you want to go deeply into home automation - both the Denon and Sonos kit have excellent APP support for iOS or Android devices.

One amp plus a speaker switch will work - all the speaker switch is doing is providing a physical connection from the amp to any one or more pairs of speakers.

You would need : Source, Amp, Speaker Switch.

The Denon and SONOS systems have the advantage that the AMP is also the source as they are network connected and can access either steaming (spotify, deezer etc.) or locally stored content and using your phone / tablet you can direct whatever you want to each zone and individually control the volume.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
You are comparing a multi-zone power amp (Niles) with a multi-zone music system (Denon).

You would use the Nikes power amp with a front end combination of Source/Control gear - the Heos/SONOS systems are a complete digital music system.

You have an 'old world' (pre SONOS) wiring configuration - you can either stick with the 'old' way of doing things (Niles or similar) or go 'New world' with SONOS/Heos/Yamaha musicast.

Joe
 

Dmanc

Novice Member
Here is what I am thinking.

The 4-conductor/speakon panel is in the family room. For now run one of the pre-wired room connections local to an AMP capable of supporting one room/Maybe two to at least enjoy music in the bar through the ceiling speakers.

I was also thinking of running 8 x 4-conductor speaker wires from the patch panel though the walls to the basement but leaving them coiled in the wall. Then at a later date I can take the panels out, splice the existing and the new 4-conductors together and present all my in cieling speakers in the basement (future central hub)

So my questions are:

1. Can I start with something like a Yamaha RX-V479 now to get one or two rooms up and running and then stack/scale out at a later date? My understanding is this is the cheapest of Yamaha devices that support MusicCast.

2. How do you remote IR control the AMP if it is downstairs and you are in the bar upstairs. I would like the ability to change music sources and volume.

3. I also want to enable different music sources in different zones at a later date as well as potentially play my TV in the bar through the ceiling speakers.


I was tempted not to pre-wire but go Sonos but now I am thinking more along the lines of Yamaha with MusicCast or Denon Heos. But I am not all in for the $2500 spend right now (as I am building the bar). So I want to start small, play a few rooms but future proof and scale as I can afford.

I will run several CAT6/HDMI baluns while I am running hte speaker cable

Any advice welcome

Thanks

Damian
 

Ghostrider

Active Member
1. Can I start with something like a Yamaha RX-V479 now to get one or two rooms up and running and then stack/scale out at a later date? My understanding is this is the cheapest of Yamaha devices that support MusicCast.

The RX-V479 does not have multi-zone support therefore connecting to more than one room is going to be problematic.

2. How do you remote IR control the AMP if it is downstairs and you are in the bar upstairs. I would like the ability to change music sources and volume.

If you find an amp with multi-zone support you will be able to drive 2 zones - forget about IR control over a distance however - what you need to ensure is that you can control the amp via a separate smartphone app - this connects via the Wi-Fi network and enables non-line of sight control.

3. I also want to enable different music sources in different zones at a later date as well as potentially play my TV in the bar through the ceiling speakers.

For this you ideally need SONOS / HEOS / MusicCast.

Whilst you are not into £2,500 now, buying a AVR is not going to be a sensible way forward as at no point in this thread have you mentioned wanting a 5.1 Home Cinema setup, which is what AVR's provide.

If you are happy with 2 zones at the moment then just buy 2 SONOS/HEOS amps and aim to buy more when funds allow.
 

Steroc

Well-known Member
You could always buy a decent multi-zone AVR of eBay as a starting point for cheap. I have a similar set up to what it sounds like you're trying to achieve. I have two 3 zone AVRs which allows me to have 5.1 sound in 2 locations and/or stereo sound to 6 locations. Controlled by the SimpleControl (used to be Roomie) app via a Global Cache iTach IP2IR unit connected to a Xantech multi-zone IR block which allows for individual source and volume control on each zone, sounds complicated but is very easy to set up. I use a Google Chromecast Audio to stream music from Spotify or from my NAS using the DS Audio app.
Everything cost under £500 with the exception of the NAS and speakers/wiring.
I paid
Yamaha RX-V2700 AVR = £180 off eBay (over 2 years ago so probably a lot cheaper now)
Yamaha RX-V1700 AVR = £95 off eBay
Global Cache iTach = £65 (imported from US)
Xantech multi-zone IR block = £20, receivers approx £5/10 each, emitters approx £2 each. All off eBay (don't come up very often, especially receivers but go for cheap when they do). You could manage without this and control amp direct from iTach but handy if you plan to expand what you control.
Chromecast Audio = £30

NOTE: SimpleControl is subscription based (I was lucky enough to get it before the subscription was introduced)
 
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Dmanc

Novice Member
The RX-V479 does not have multi-zone support therefore connecting to more than one room is going to be problematic.



If you find an amp with multi-zone support you will be able to drive 2 zones - forget about IR control over a distance however - what you need to ensure is that you can control the amp via a separate smartphone app - this connects via the Wi-Fi network and enables non-line of sight control.



For this you ideally need SONOS / HEOS / MusicCast.

Whilst you are not into £2,500 now, buying a AVR is not going to be a sensible way forward as at no point in this thread have you mentioned wanting a 5.1 Home Cinema setup, which is what AVR's provide.

If you are happy with 2 zones at the moment then just buy 2 SONOS/HEOS amps and aim to buy more when funds allow.


Thanks for the advice. This is pretty confusing for a newbie. The don't make it simple when the tout "From Yamaha’s MusicCast App, you can play different music in any room, combine rooms, or have all rooms play the same source". So have I just read too much to the point where I am back to being overwhelmed (4am now but blame the new baby for that ;-)). Everything I have read suggests that music cast seems to be ahead of the curve from Heos in the support for many formats, bluetooth tx and also featured in many products starting as low as the $400 v479 disucced. I am ant to buy a new 4k TV so word like the option of an AVR. I am certain that my situation is due to my own lack of experience in this field and understanding the basics of different types of kit. So what is musiccast useful for in an AVR that doesn't support multi zone? I though that was the whole point? Sorry again - teaching the basics must get frustrating. But this shouldn't be so complicated. I so,ply want to run my existing 16 in ceiling speaker (8zones) (at least in the long run - 2 or 3 for now would be fine), different sources in different zones and the toon to switch inputs to listen to,sport from the TV through the bar speakers (no point in a home bar otherwise). Again - thanks all for your time and patience


The RX-V479 does not have multi-zone support therefore connecting to more than one room is going to be problematic.



If you find an amp with multi-zone support you will be able to drive 2 zones - forget about IR control over a distance however - what you need to ensure is that you can control the amp via a separate smartphone app - this connects via the Wi-Fi network and enables non-line of sight control.



For this you ideally need SONOS / HEOS / MusicCast.

Whilst you are not into £2,500 now, buying a AVR is not going to be a sensible way forward as at no point in this thread have you mentioned wanting a 5.1 Home Cinema setup, which is what AVR's provide.

If you are happy with 2 zones at the moment then just buy 2 SONOS/HEOS amps and aim to buy more when funds allow.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Since when did a nine Zone system become 'simple' :)

A few years back they were 'simple' - you turned each Zone On/Off or Vol Up/Down.

Nowadays folk want access to multiple Sources in any combination of Zones with multiple control points.

Outline what you want to achieve (not 'this will do for now' - what your long term aim is), how many users, how you want to control it, what Sources and a budget.

TV audio has to be treated slightly differently to a 'music' Source if you wish to keep sound and vision in Sync.

TV's now act as a streaming 'Source' so you need to plan that into your audio system too.

Forget about Brands for now and simply outline the system.

Joe
 

Steroc

Well-known Member
Since when did a nine Zone system become 'simple' :)
If you're referring to mine then it's only 6 zone for stereo music. Main zone on each amp having 5.1 or stereo and Zones 2&3 each having stereo. Zones 3 and the rear surrounds use the same channels so can't be used together.
The set up itself is fairly simple, the control side maybe not so but I managed it having absolutely no knowledge or experience of this kind of thing. Started with simpler older second hand technology with upgrading in mind then realised why changed what works. The only things I've changed is got rid of the CD player and got a NAS and Chromecast Audio.

A few years back they were 'simple' - you turned each Zone On/Off or Vol Up/Down.
Exactly how I've kept mine, nice and simple (wife friendly)
ImageUploadedByAVForums1448019946.669227.jpg

Never listen to different music sources in different zones so done away with the complicated interface for it.


TV audio has to be treated slightly differently to a 'music' Source if you wish to keep sound and vision in Sync.
I seemed to have dropped lucky with that. Have optical (for 5.1) and also analogue RCA to main zones (for music) and analogue RCA to other zones and everything stays in Sync over both amps.
 

Ghostrider

Active Member
Thanks for the advice. This is pretty confusing for a newbie. The don't make it simple when the tout "From Yamaha’s MusicCast App, you can play different music in any room, combine rooms, or have all rooms play the same source".

They are not lying - it will do what they say but you have to understand that most MusicCast products will effectively be an amplified speaker with a network connection. All MusicCast products will connect to the WiFi network and will hence be able to play any content from sources that are accessible via the network - this can be locally held content on a NAS or PC, streamed content from the web or content such as a CD that is being played on a CD player that is connected to a MusicCast device (say the AVR).

This is easy to achieve because each MusicCast component is self contained (amp and speaker).

An AVR is different as it does not have any in-built speakers. If installed in the living room the AVR effectively acts as the amplification node for the living room and the audio is played via the connected speakers. Because it has a lot of external connections it can also act as the hub for connecting other non-MusicCast devices like a CD or Blu-Ray player. It allows the audio from these non-WiFi devices to be fed into the MusicCast network and played via other MusicCast devices.

As you already have the speakers installed throughout your house what you need are MusicCast amplifiers that can drive the existing speakers. This is an issue with MusicCast at the moment because they do not have any MusicCast enabled low-cost stereo amplifiers - the cheapest is the R-N602 at around £450 each and you would need one per zone.

The HEOS and SONOS amps are not much cheaper at £399.

So what is musiccast useful for in an AVR that doesn't support multi zone? I though that was the whole point? Sorry again - teaching the basics must get frustrating. But this shouldn't be so complicated.

As I said above, the AVR you have mentioned will act as the living room (if that's where it is installed) amplification node through which you can access your stored music - it will not act as an amplification node for multiple zones.


I so,ply want to run my existing 16 in ceiling speaker (8zones) (at least in the long run - 2 or 3 for now would be fine), different sources in different zones and the toon to switch inputs to listen to,sport from the TV through the bar speakers (no point in a home bar otherwise). Again - thanks all for your time and patience

Sorry to be direct but we (and your local stores) have been telling you how to do this repetitively - you need to have a separate amplification stage (amp) for each zone that you want to drive. So that would be 8 amplifiers - HEOS, MusicCast or SONOS makes very little difference to the solution.
 

Dmanc

Novice Member
Thanks all for the education (which will continue on I'm sure). So I think I have opted for 2 Yamaha v679 for now. They provide dual zone so I will have the capability to run my main 4 areas downstairs for now. Worked out at less than $1000 so less than 4 zone Heos from what I can tell. Will make my 4k TV and hdmi Bali. purchase over the coming few days. I do have a slight time crunch in the bar floor and bar are being fitted next week and my 4-conductor speaker cables and cat 6 on order have not arrived so will probably be a rush to run the lengths to extend the speakers from where they currently terminate to the basement. I am now on the look out for a modest rack to start my central hub 'journey'. I figured I would bite the bullet and run all coax and Ethernet and speakers down there at cost of cable now but hopefully some flexibility at a later date. Then I can't grow as I learn and as my budget permits. Thanks again for the coaching - happy thanksgiving
 

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