Question Speakers in ceilings and gold ports throughout house

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by meanwhileinhell, Aug 22, 2018.

  1. meanwhileinhell

    meanwhileinhell
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    Hi all,

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    So I recently moved into a new house. One of the things we noticed when we were viewing was that there were ceiling speakers in almost every room of the house. There are also a plate consisting of 4 gold ports (two with red band, two with a black band) in three separate rooms. In each location there is also at least one ethernet port and a telephone port. When I asked the owners what this was I was told that it was a sound system throughout the house, where you could pick what room you wanted the music to play, but that I would have to ask the lady's husband more about it. So I did, but he couldn't tell me what I needed in order to control this, as he had never used it since getting it installed.

    Anyway, I was hoping if someone could help steer me in the correct direction as to what I would need in order to use this please? I have included a couple of photos and more info on the locations.

    Dining room/kitchen
    4 inputs, 2 speakers

    Spare room
    4 inputs, 2 speakers
    Bathroom
    2 speakers
    (the previous owner was able to tell me that the little wall switch (pictured) in the spare room controlled the speakers in this bedroom (pair A) and the bathroom (pair B))

    Master bedroom
    4 inputs, looks like there used to be speakers mounted on the wall

    The living room is more confusing. There are no inputs in this room, but there are two speakers in the ceiling, two at the TV, and two outside. There are a lot of badly labelled white cables under the TV saying things like "external left/right" (obviously the outside speakers), "internal left/right" and then a lot of unlabelled grey cables. I don't know how these would fit into the overall "linked" system.

    Apologies for all of the information, I hope someone can shed some light on what type of system I would need to control this. I do worry that this isn't a fully integrated system, that I will need one control system for each set of ports, and that those ports are only connected to up to four speakers.

    Thanks for reading!


    spareRoomSwitch.JPG spareRoomSpeakers.JPG masterPorts.JPG masterNoSpeakers.JPG spareRoomPorts.JPG diningRoomPorts.JPG
     
  2. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    It would appear that it's not whole house but a series of individual zones. So each set of binding posts/connectors simply goes to the individual speakers. So you'll need a source & amplifier for each zone. In the lounge you'll need an amp with A/B speaker outputs if you want to make use of both pairs.

    No idea what the unlabelled grey cables are so a pic of those may shed more light.

    But I smell BS from the vendor. Who on earth pays for a multi-room speaker installation & then never uses any of it? So maybe it's been bodged & doesn't actually work? If you connect a multimeter across each red/black pair of connectors you should get a resistance reading of between 4 & 8 ohms. If you do then it should be safe to connect a suitably rated system with the volume at zero & gradually wind it up.

    Ideally you need to pop one of the speakers out & identify exactly what it is. Possible something cheap & nasty not worth bothering with. Equally could be top end!
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  3. jonno73

    jonno73
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    Little tip to use for locating speakers and identifying the wires. Take an AA 1.5v battery and touch the two strands of the speaker cable, against the top and bottom of the battery simultaneously.

    You’ll get a little pop of white noise out of the connected speaker!

    If it blows up, not my fault though haha! (Never has in 20 years of doing it though).
     
  4. meanwhileinhell

    meanwhileinhell
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    Thanks for the replies guys.

    @RBZ5416, thats what I had feared. So I went down to the living room and pulled out all the cables I could see. So there appears to be three sets of speaker white cables along with an ethernet cable (the grey one), telephone line and something else (looks to be another ethernet). There is a pair of cables per speaker and the labels are "External Right/Left", "Rear Right/Left" and "Front Right/Centre/Left" (the confusing thing is there is nothing that could be a central speaker, though this one has been snipped). None of the cables for anything have connectors on the end, just raw wires. So I would assume that I would get these hooked up to another plate with the gold connectors? It looks like perhaps this room (which is an extension onto the house) wasn't fully integrated (the electrical wiring is all certified as we have the certs for that so its safe). What would an example source and amplifier that I would need to get?

    @jonno73 Nice tip, I may just give that a go!

    livingRoomCables.JPG cablingBehindTv.JPG
     
  5. meanwhileinhell

    meanwhileinhell
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    So the blue cable is an ethernet cable, and its connected to the home ethernet network. I don't know what the grey ethernet cable is connected to. And the other two cables look like telephone lines (oddly, as there is already a phone line in the living room on the opposite wall.

    I used the battery trick to identify which speaker is which and seems to match the crap labels (centre one must just be terminated somewhere). So since the living room is a zone, it might make more sense to use these speakers as a home cinema setup? But again, I don't know what source/amp I would need for this either.
     
  6. Barcoing Mad

    Barcoing Mad
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    I'd just be wandering around the house with a receiver, connecting them up in turn and listening for where the noise came out.
     
  7. meanwhileinhell

    meanwhileinhell
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    Hi @Barcoing Mad , thanks for your comment. What do you mean "a receiver"? I want to make sure that they are all working correctly, and that the speakers aren't crap before I shell out for some fancy hardware.
     
  8. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    Possible that the phone cable was a control system for an old whole house system. Maybe it goes to the telephone sockets on the wall plates that aren't phone extensions but controlled individual amps.

    I'm really intrigued as to why the vendor lied to you & said it was never connected. The state of the bare copper on the speaker wire clearly shows otherwise. Also why it was decommissioned with wire cutters! Maybe it was a failed attempt by a well meaning amateur but still no reason to lie about it.

    Going forward, it depends what you want to achieve & how much you want to throw at it. A basic 5.1 AVR would do the job for the lounge but you'd need to add a centre & probably a sub.

    For the others it depends on what you want to output, CD, radio, streaming,etc. A basic all-in-one like the Denon DM41 would be under £200 per extra zonet. Possible exception being the bedroom/bathroom combo as the switch may configure the speakers in parallel when both are selected, which will halve the impedance. So if they're 8 ohm speakers using both would present a 4 ohm load to the amp, which is below the rating of the Denon.

    You could also do something with Sonos Connect Amps or similar if you do want an integrated whole house system but that's nearer doubling the cost. That's assuming the ethernet ports are all live & connected to a switch/hub somewhere. Otherwise you'd be reliant on WiFi which may or may not be reliable.

    But you really need to get at least one set running to find out if the speakers are any good! What equipment do you own already?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
  9. leenorm1

    leenorm1
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    Hi,

    We can all take a guess at what you have but without being there it would be impossible to confirm. From what we can see I would suggest that;
    The switch in the wall is a speaker selector switch as someone has said, so you can either play 1 pair of speakers or two pairs ( possibly internal & external ) without doing any harm to the amp ( or AVR ) but the amp must be capable of feeding a 4 ohm load.
    With my Installer/Retailer head on, the system setup would probably have been similar to this;
    1. Main room - Denon AV Receiver feeding TV sound in the main room and externally via the speaker switch
    2. Denon Heos amp in each room with speaker inputs, the inline volume control on the wall would allow you to adjust the volume without having to use an app.
    3. An Ethernet switch in the main room to connect the Ethernet cables feeding each room to give you a more reliable connection.

    This system would allow you to;
    1.Play different music in each room
    2. Play the same music in each room
    3. Listen to whatever is on your TV around the house
    4. Independent volume control via the app in each room

    As for cost....
    The AVR - £500
    Amp for each room with connections - £400

    My advice would be to call a professional but there is no reason you couldn’t work it out yourself after a little research online.

    Good luck
     
  10. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    I am guessing but this may originally have been a linn system with roomamps connected to the Ethernet and speaker posts. Just a guess but may be worth a read up. Expensive in its time but room amps are cheap now but the controller box and remote are more expensive.

    The cheap way of getting them all going, assuming you have internet is a chrome cast audio and a cheap smsl amp in each room, less than £100 and you can set up as many zone combinations as you like. You can add an avr in the living room as already posted.

    Hooking up whole house audio using only Google...
     
  11. meanwhileinhell

    meanwhileinhell
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    Wow, thanks everyone for all the comments. Definitely plenty for me to research there. I don’t think I’d want to spend hundreds on getting a potentially poorly installed system running. I do think I will do something with the lounge setup.
     
  12. Barcoing Mad

    Barcoing Mad
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    Receiver as in AVR or amplifier.
     
  13. Joe Fernand

    Joe Fernand
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    RBZ5416 - 'Who on earth pays for a multi-room speaker installation & then never uses any of it?', you would be surprised!

    meanwhileinhell - referencing the above the first question has to be what do you want to achieve in each Room/Zone, it is likely to be rather different to what is currently wired.

    Joe
     

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