Multiroom Upgrade advice

sbun17

Novice Member
Hi, this is a first attempt at multiroom audio for me so bear with me. I have moved into a new house which has a fairly old 4 zone multiroom system (Living Room, Music Room, TV Room, Kitchen Zone with 2 outdoor speakers) run off a Russound A-H41 hub with keypads in the 4 zones. I think the previous owners had an audio amp connected to it for audio and in the 2 zones with TV these appeared to be connected to route the TV through the ceiling speakers.

What I would like some help on;

1. Can I replace the hub and keypads with an up to date multiroom controller which would allow me to stream music and control the zones from a phone app?

2. As a cheaper option is there a streaming box I could connect to the hub which would allow control of music from phone/computer (preferably wireless) subsequently choosing zones for output from the keypads already in place.

3. Maybe recommend a firm in the London area that could come out and advise on an upgrade

Sorry if the questions are not accurate enough, as I say this kind of tech is new to me.

Thanks for any advice
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Various options depending on what you really need / what streaming services you use:

If you want to stream different music to each room then you'd need a separate amp (combined with it's own in-built streamer) for each room/pair of speakers. For the sake of argument a Sonos Amp for each pair (along with a wall mount/rack for them). That would get you a system where you can stream different music to different speakers and easily transfer music from one room to another etc. all from a single desktop/mobile app. You can even start playback on your laptop and continue controlling it via your phone. It will also support a local music collection from a local PC or server. You can also easily add Sonos' standalone smart speakers to this setup. But the cost of one Sonos Amp per Room soon starts to to rack up, on the other hand it is a system you can easily install and expand yourself.

At the low end something like this (Arylic A50) could well suffice. You'd still need one for each room. I've never tried one myself and my key concern would be the quality of the app (which looks a bit basic) and future updates, both to the device itself and the app and the streaming services it supports. But on the surface it looks like it would do the job for a fraction of the price of a Sonos setup — albeit likely sacrificing some robustness / ease of use. If you disliked the included app you could always buy Roon and use the Roon mobile and desktop apps (which are pretty much the 'gold standard' when it comes to multi-room music software). Roon would then stream to the Acrylic directly via AirPlay, bypassing the need to use the devices own app. Or if you only need Spotify, the native Spotify client would work directly.

If you're happy having the same music being streamed to each room (or a subset of) and can live with just two additional rooms/zones then a traditional AVR (with multi zone outputs) powering the TV room along with zone 2/3 outputs for the others two rooms/zones might be a cheap option. You could even get an older / used AVR cheap if you're not bothered by the latest in video features. This is obviously far cheaper than a proper multi-room system, but you may find the AVR's app and flexibility lacking.

You can still get multi-channel amplifiers (that can be switched remotely) from custom installers, but some of the systems are now a bit long in the tooth. Unless you're also tying your lighting and HA devices into the same system I'd probably advise against using them for multi room audio systems as you can probably install a Sonos (or similar) setup for less yourself, which will likely be more flexible and less costly to maintain. Then again you may not want the hassle.

If you're up for some DIY then you could build a really nice system around Roon using low-cost Raspberry Pi's to power each set of speaker. I did a little write up of how to do this in a previous post. Costs: ~£500 for a lifetime Roon licence + ~£400 for a NUC to run the Roon Core on + ~£110 (x4 rooms) for the RPi Amp setups to power each set speakers = £440. Total: £1350 for 4 rooms and £110 for each additional room after that.
 
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