Whole House Music systems, also known as multi-zone audio systems were one of the earliest requests from consumers, in regards to “cool things they would like to have in their home”. The dream was to own a whole-house audio system that effortlessly piped music throughout your home, where all the components “talk” harmoniously to one another. Today that dream is possible and there are many different ways to distribute music throughout your home including wired and wireless solutions with powered and non-powered options.
Whole house music refers to moving music from one location to multiple locations around the house. These locations are usually referred to as zones. Multi-zone means multiple rooms and multi-source means the ability to listen to different things in different rooms simultaneously.
Type #1 – Multi-Zone / Systems Using a Receiver
The simplest possible approach to multi-room sound is adding a second pair of speakers to an existing home stereo system. You or someone you hire will run speaker wire in the walls and either connect them in a second room at a wall-plate or at the speakers themselves. Some problems with this approach include the following: (1) can’t control the volume of the rooms independently, (2) can’t control the volume from the second room, and (3) can’t control the sources such as CD functions etc.
Type #2 – Advanced Multi-Zone / Multi-Source Control Systems
These types of systems allow you to listen to different sources (ie. CD, iPod, AM/FM/HD Radio, etc.) at the same time in different rooms and are available in many configurations from four to thirty two or more zones.
Type #3 – Whole House Networking
If you were smart enough or lucky enough to have your house wired, you probably have a wire in your walls called CAT-5e (Category Five-Enhanced) or CAT-6 (higher speed and voltage standard wire), both of which are capable of distributing audio signals, though they should not be used simultaneously for a computer network, as well as audio signal distribution.
Type #4 – Dedicated Computer Audio Network – As previously mentioned, you can use your computer to distribute audio over your CAT-5e or CAT-6 network in the form of AAC, MP-3 digital audio files or Internet radio. The first step is to move all your music and related content over to the digital world. This will make it accessible, eliminate the need to store it and organize it and make your whole house music system more accessible.
Type #5 – Wireless Music Distribution
As wireless technology has improved, so have the options for wireless distribution of music. The most common wireless technology is Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) and you should try to stay with wireless N, if at all possible. Wireless G may exhibit glitches or imperfections in the transmission of the music, because it has limited speed and bandwidth.
- Wireless Music Adapter – These devices send a Wi-Fi signal to another adapter connected to your multi-zone home theater receiver, enabling you to listen to music in a remote zone that uses your computer or NAS as a source on you’re A/V receiver.
Now that we know the various types of systems available, we can better decide what will fit our lifestyle, budget and construction parameters. The only other consideration needs to be how do you want to control your whole house music system? Do you want to use volume potentiometers or LPADs to access your systems? Do you want keypads or touch-screens?
The keys to planning your whole house music system reside in the recognition that there should be locations where you plan for higher performance and areas where you can get away with background music. You should also focus on enlisting the aid of an independent expert. They can help you design a system that fits your budget and accomplishes your goals.
Music everywhere will make one of life’s little pleasures more convenient and enjoyable!