Any suggestions for Multi-Zone Audio Setup?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ken Woodrow, Sep 11, 2002.

  1. Ken Woodrow

    Ken Woodrow Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 12, 2001
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    Multi-Zone Audio
    I am in the hunt for a cost-effective multi-zone audio solution.

    My principal source is a HTPC (ripped CDs stored as wav files played through Winamp or other software player). I run the analog outputs from the HTPC (a M-Audio Delta 410 card) to a Sony TA-P9000ES preamp, which drives separate amplifiers for 5.1 speaker system.

    All of the ripped wavs are stored on a separate PC (the server) in my home office. It is connected via Cat5 LAN to the HTPC.

    For the other zones, I have a good 2-channel stereo system in my living room; a cheap receiver and speakers with my home office PC; ceiling speakers in my kitchen; outdoor speakers on my patio; and the HT. I also plan to add a set of speakers in my basement workshop.

    My goals for multi-zone include: (1) being able to play the same music on all speakers using my media server as my source (either via the HTPC's sound card or from the office PC's sound card, or via ethernet connections); (2) some sort of remote control of the source available in each of the zones; (3) independent volume and on/off in each zone; and (4) the ability, in certain zones, to play music from the local source (but not to distribute music from that source to any other zone).

    Short of a software based multizone control, which seems unlikely, I will probably go with an analog distribution system with local amplification.

    Solutions that I've found include:
    1. Russound A-Bus system: transmits line-level audio and IR over Cat 5 cable to local amplification and speakers. Assuming that the source (the PC running Winamp or whatever) can be controlled via IR (Girder will do this), I think it is possible to control the source from any zone using any IR remote (pronto). System can provide local amplification where needed (kitchen and workshop speakers only; everything else has its own amplification)
    2. Turtlebeach Audiotron: need one for each zone. Allows any zone to play music from a central server, distributed via ethernet. Not sure whether multiple zones can be sync'ed. Remote control can be acheived via Internet client (webpad, pocket pc) or local IR (pronto).
    3. Standard analog multizone distribution system: requires running line-level connections (i.e., coax) to each zone; not sure how remote control is acheived; perhaps by distributed IR. Requires a multizone controller/preamp unit.

    Does anyone have experience with any of these solutions?

    Or thoughts on this might be implemented and controlled?

    One thing I should mention is that the house is fairly old (1948) and running lots of extra wire may be problematic.

  2. Mike Swan

    Mike Swan Auditioning

    Jan 2, 2002
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    You are asking for alot if your working on a small budget.

    What you need is a multi-source multi-zone selector. Most systems start at 4-source 4-zone then go to 6-source 6-zone. You will need to get all audio sources to one local where the slector will be.From that selector an analog line must be run to the speakers in each zone. Then a cat5 line must be run from the selector to a wall plate. That wall plate can range from a simple source selector with volume control to numeric keypads with macros.

    Russound makes a 4 and 4 starting at around $1,500 with wall plates. Niles also makes a 6 and 6 with a built in tuner and wall plates at around $2,000.

    I have the russound A-Bus 4-zone single source in my house and it works great.I have also installed multizone analog systems that sound great too.

    Another way would be to run 3 conductor wire to each room for I.R. repeating to control each componet. Then run audio to a local with a manual selector then to each room. Disadvantage would be that you would have to go to the selector to change audio signals in each room.But cheaper.

    Check out and for products.

  3. Michael Roderiques

    Michael Roderiques Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 25, 1999
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