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Looking for suggestions for audio/media in new home construction (2 Viewers)

iainb

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My wife and I are building a new house and we are having some low-voltage stuff installed by the builder's sub (SmartCom) which includes home audio, home theater, etc. I am hoping to get some input on the locations of the 5.1 pre-wires in regards to their height/location as well as some soft recommendations for fairly simply equipment to get me started.

Our decisions aren't final but this is what we are looking to have installed:

WBhGojhl.jpg
ZKKhfv5l.jpg
m2dIHUBl.jpg


LN = Data network tap (Cat6)
TV = TV tap (RG6Q)
MM = Multimedia (2x Cat6 & 2x RGB)
PH = phone tap
KP = security keypad
MO = security motion detector
AD = Audio Distribution (one for the pre-wires and one for the installed speakers)
SS = Home Theater Source (where 5.1 wiring terminates)
SP (arrow) = wall speaker
SP (circle) = ceiling speaker
SUB = subwoofer
SWP = structured wire panel

All speaker wiring will terminate on the main level in the family room to one of the "AD" flags. Pre-wires (5.1 wiring, basement SP and outside back SP) will just be wiring behind a blank wall plate at one "AD" flag. All other SP locations will be a Klipsch 1650 ceiling speaker and terminate at a wall plate with terminals at the other "AD" flag. There is an option to upgrade the speakers to Klipsch 3650 (or a comparable Origin Acoustics) but that's another $340 per set and we just don't have the money in the budget. I'm not sure we really need such a fancy speaker for our purposes anyway. The security system stuff is standard. We will eventually go with something else for security like Simplisafe.

To to break it down by room:

Lower Level (unfinished basement)
Structured wiring panel - they include a 16" panel but I have it upgraded to a 30" panel ($185)
Ceiling speaker pre-wire - I have them running just a pre-wire there so I can tap into the distribution at a later date

Upper Level
Every room is getting a Cat6 data port and a RG6 tv port.
Master suite - in-ceiling speakers
Master bath - in-ceiling speakers

Main Level (we don't have the fireplace in the family room and the floorplan doesn't show our 4' extension which has a small office in the back-right corner)
Opt Study - MM (this is my office)
Mudroom - Security keypad
small office - Cat6 data and phone tap
Breakfast - in-ceiling speakers
Outside - in-wall speaker pre-wire
Family room - motion sensor, Cat6 data, RG6 tv port, 5.1 pre-wire (fronts and center in-wall, rears in-ceiling, sub in corner), 2x audio distribution points (one for installed speakers, one for pre-wires)

The 5.1 in-wall fronts will be located at around 5' high, the front center at around 3'. These are just pre-wires so when I eventually put speakers in I'll be able to play with the placement some depending on if I go in-wall or with external/floor units. When I talked to the rep (who seemed knowledgeable) he said we could position them lower (or higher) but those are the heights install them for the majority of their customers.

Does anyone have any suggestions in regards placement or if I'm missing anything (preferably don't add anything lol)? When installing speakers they are in pairs and I can put them anywhere in a room but I can't put one in a small room then another somewhere else, which is why there are two in the master bath.

All told, everything tallys up to $4770. The single biggest item is the 3 installed speakers but for the price it's really not bad for them to include it. The prewire is $315, with the two speakers it's $585. The speakers are $120 each at Crutchfield so it's really only $30 more for me to just have them to include the speakers and then terminate them with terminals at the AD.

We currently have no home audio equipment. We have a TV (55" Samsung LED LCD), a few game consoles and a WDTV Live streaming box. We also have a Sonos: One for some music but aren't very happy with it for our use (iTunes purchased music). We will need to get a receiver that will eventually need to handle the 5.1 duties but for now it'll just need to get audio to the installed speakers. We'll also need some sort of audio distribution box or switcher to turn on/off the ceiling speakers. Something that can handle the 3 sets of installed speakers but also can support the other two sets of pre-wires (basement and outside). So 5 channels total. It could be something as simple as a switch box that turns each set of speakers on or off. Obviously something networked that we can control through our phones would be awesome down the road.

Monoprice has a simple speaker selector like this for only $20.

For now the receiver would solely be for putting out audio to the ceiling speakers in the bedroom, breakfast area and master bath. Eventually I'd connect it to the TV when I put the 5.1 speakers in. I just need to make sure the receiver has at least 2 zones. Right?

Would this Yamaha RX-S601 receiver be future-proof enough for me? It has iPhone USB support, Ethernet and WiFi, 6 HDMI inputsHDCP 2.2 for 4k:


Of course the installer offers fancy "connected" distribution stuff like NuVo and HEOS Drive but it's 1,000s of dollars and just completely out of our budget. The wiring is the main thing we want to accomplish.

Years down the road when we get around to finishing the basement a dedicated theater/media room will be built but a simple 5.1 system for the great room will definitely do what we need for now.

Thanks!
iain
 

iainb

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This receiver won't actually work for what I want to do. The Zone 2 feature replaces the rears of the 5.1. I need to find a receiver with a true, separated Zone 2.

EDIT: This Denon AVR-X1400H looks like it'll do what I need and it's even a little cheaper.
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Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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The 5.1 in-wall fronts will be located at around 5' high, the front center at around 3'.
When I talked to the rep (who seemed knowledgeable) he said we could position them lower (or higher) but those are the heights install them for the majority of their customers.
I’m not impressed with your “knowledgable” installer. The left and right speakers should be at ear level – at your seated ear level, that is. Ask yourself, would anyone put regular in-room speakers on 5-foot stands??? People typically make the mistake of positioning in-wall speakers as if they were hanging a picture on the wall, but your installer should know better than that.


We'll also need some sort of audio distribution box or switcher to turn on/off the ceiling speakers. Something that can handle the 3 sets of installed speakers but also can support the other two sets of pre-wires (basement and outside). So 5 channels total.
I’m counting seven in-ceiling speakers for the second zone. And that’s not even including the outdoor speakers you mentioned that don’t show on the maps.

That’s way too much for a budget amplifier like the X1400H to handle. The Monoprice speaker selector will make sure the impedance load is right, but you still have the situation where the available amplifier power is divided out between all the speakers connected to the Zone 2 amplifier channels. Assuming 80 watts per channel (actually less, because Denon’s figure is predicated on stereo operation, not multichannel), that means each speaker will be getting less than 25 watts. That’s not a lot, so what you end up with is the amps running full-steam all the time. I’ve seen amplifiers fail when loaded down like this. It’s kinda like getting a Toyota Camry to pull a camper trailer. Don’t expect 200k miles from that motor!

Your best bet for the secondary zones would be to get a multichannel amplifier.

Another issue I see is the Denon’s power rating of 80 watts in stereo is for a 4-ohm load. If you use 8-ohm speakers, the output will be more like 40 watts, which is pretty pitiful. I suggest finding a receiver with an impedance rating that’s the same as the speakers you intend to use. Eight ohms for both is pretty common (a 4-ohm receiver is fairly rare).

In addition, the sub would better be located in the opposite right-side corner

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

iainb

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Thanks for the input Wayne.

So the Denon just wouldn't have the power to drive both the 5.1 and the more then a few of the ceiling house speakers?

For the separate amp would it just be a separate piece that would go between the home theater receiver and then the speaker selector like this - https://www.crutchfield.com/p_543P75/Russound-P75.html?tp=77822

I take it I'd need a receiver that has a pre-amp output for zone 2 because I'd be relying on the amplification of the external multi-channel amp?

But if you're suggesting that I need to buy a $800, 8-channel amp just for the ceiling speakers- I don't know that it's really necessary, at least for our needs. We aren't audiophiles and we aren't going to be putting high-end speakers in the ceiling that require a ton of power to run. We also aren't going to be running all the speakers at once. It would be 1 or 2 rooms at a time. My in-laws have been driving a house full of in-ceiling speakers with a simple, budget 2-channel audio receiver and a speaker selector for ~10 years without any issues. And they don't even bother turning any of the speakers off, they just push to all of them.

Why should the subwoofer be in the opposite corner?

I do really appreciate your input and look forward to your response.

thanks!
iain
 
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iainb

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Also, one thing my wife and I are considering...

The installer only installs ceiling speakers in pairs, even when they are installing stereo speakers. This is why there are two in the master bed and 2 in the master bath. By only having them put in the pre-wires (4 wires at each location) we'll be free to just install a single, stereo speaker in both rooms. There will be extra wire in the ceiling but we just won't use it.

This will also free up some money to run a few more pre-wires on the main floor of the house so we can better distribution.
 

iainb

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If I have to go with a multi-channel amp for the ceiling speaker zones will either of these be sufficient?

https://www.amazon.com/Dayton-Audio-MA1240a-Multi-Zone-Amplifier/dp/B003DKVZHQ

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004S3PY9M/ref=psdc_537344_t1_B003DKVZHQ

I take it the receiver would be a non-powered (pre-amp?) output?

For the ceiling speakers we won't be getting very fancy, price point will be around ~$50/ea for rooms with paired speakers and ~$100/ea for a single stereo speaker for a small room like the master bath. Like this:
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_107RC6S/Polk-Audio-RC6s.html
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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First, disregard what I said about the Denon receiver being 4-ohm. That website quoted Denon’s specs wrong.

So the Denon just wouldn't have the power to drive both the 5.1 and the more then a few of the ceiling house speakers?
I didn’t say the Denon didn’t have the power to drive all that. I said it would be working hard to do it.

I take it I'd need a receiver that has a pre-amp output for zone 2 because I'd be relying on the amplification of the external multi-channel amp?
An outboard amp of some kind would be recommended for the secondary-zone speakers. It would make life easier for the Denon, or whatever receiver you choose.

But if you're suggesting that I need to buy a $800, 8-channel amp just for the ceiling speakers- I don't know that it's really necessary, at least for our needs. We aren't audiophiles and we aren't going to be putting high-end speakers in the ceiling that require a ton of power to run.
The laws of electrical physics don’t care how much the speakers cost. Impedance (load) is impedance.

We also aren't going to be running all the speakers at once. It would be 1 or 2 rooms at a time.
I made my recommendations based on the information that was available. :)

My in-laws have been driving a house full of in-ceiling speakers with a simple, budget 2-channel audio receiver and a speaker selector for ~10 years without any issues. And they don't even bother turning any of the speakers off, they just push to all of them.
Hard to quantify without knowing exactly what that the receiver is, or how much actual use has been in play the past 10 years. If you’re talking several hours daily, that’s certainly impressive. Once every month or two – not so much.

That said, I’ll bet that stereo receiver weighs as much as the 7-channel Denon 1400 (19 lbs.). The point being, stereo receivers typically have a more robust power supply than modern budget multi-channel receivers. The former will deliver its full rated power with both channels driven, but the Denon (and much if its kind) won’t deliver its rated power when all channels are driven simultaneously.

Manufacturers have really had to cheapen things up to keep prices down to a level people want to pay these days. On top of that, the power supplies are also having to power big LED displays, digital processors etc., which leaves less power available to the amplifiers. And the price has to include licensing fees to Dolby Labs, DTS, Audacity, Sirrius and a whole slew other stuff.

Bottom line, at a given price point, a stereo receiver is going to have a more robust power output – probably more watts per channel and the ability to operate at 4-ohms – than a multichannel receiver.

So you might want to find one of those old stereo receivers for yourself. It would probably give you good service for your secondary zones, utilizing something like the Monoprice speaker switching device.

Why should the subwoofer be in the opposite corner?
Subs perform best in or near a corner with uninterrupted wall lengths in both directions. You don’t have that in the proposed location, and even worse it’s at an open stairwell. Such situations typically give nulls (holes) in frequency response and deliver less maximum output (read volume) compared to a good corner.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

iainb

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The Denon has the power but it struggles vs it not really having the power at all. Potato, potatoh I guess. Running something to the ragged edge doesn't really seem like a feasible long-term solution to me. If I need some more power then I need some more power. I'd rather spend a little more on the receiver now then need a new one in a few years, you know? I balked when I started looking at these dedicated multi-channel amps and they were $700+ on top of the receiver I also need to buy.

I am looking at a few other receivers because that particular Denon doesn't do AirPlay which is specifically what I need to make my wife happy (which makes all of this possible amiright?). I either need to go to the latest unit (X1500H) or jump to another brand like the Onkyo TX-NR676.

For what it's worth this is what my in-laws have and they use it multiple times a week hours at a time. I know it's not entirely relevant, it's just the only first-hand experience I have with distributed audio through a house.
haGSpddh.jpg


What I might end up doing is just going with a receiver with a dedicated Zone2 and features that I want and trying out the "dumb" speaker selector. If it turns out that it's just not working out I'll look into one of those 8-channel amps I posted earlier and put that between the receiver and the speakers.that I posted in a previous post.
 

Dave Moritz

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Just a suggestion but since this is a new construction and even if you go with a 5.1 for now. I would prewire for 7.4.4 and if you never use all those channels it is an investment for the future if you end up selling later and if not and you decide to upgrade you are already wired.

5.1 plus two rear channels
prewire for 4 subs just to have flexibility for placement even if you never go beyond 2 subs
prewire for 4 Atmos speakers

It is better to wire beyond what you will use and not have to have someone come back out and start having to cut holes in your walls!

I would strongly urge you to get a newer receiver with 4K switching capability and can at least decode Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

And I wouldn't run any front speakers in the ceiling.
 

iainb

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Thanks for the suggestions!

We have an unfinished basement that will eventually get a dedicated media/theater room. A simple 5.1 system in the family/great room will be plenty for us until then.

And yes, the receivers I've linked and have been looking at are all 4k switching with HDCP 2.2/HDR because we will definitely upgrade to a 4k TV at some point.

The front 5.1 speakers (L/R/C) are going in the wall. The only ceiling speakers for the 5.1 are the rears.
 

DaveF

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My opinion: Don't pay for whole-house speakers. Buy Sonos or HomePod or Alex speakers for room ambient audio. Put the money saved into upgrading your main living room or media room equipment.

If you're putting in any HDMI runs, have them run conduit with a fishline, so you can later upgrade that video cable to the then-current specification. While speaker wire has been speaker wire for 50 years, video standards have changed every five or ten years.
 

iainb

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My opinion: Don't pay for whole-house speakers. Buy Sonos or HomePod or Alex speakers for room ambient audio. Put the money saved into upgrading your main living room or media room equipment.

If you're putting in any HDMI runs, have them run conduit with a fishline, so you can later upgrade that video cable to the then-current specification. While speaker wire has been speaker wire for 50 years, video standards have changed every five or ten years.

If you had suggested Sonos yesterday or the day before I would have just flat out said no. We've had a Play:1 for a couple years now and we have had nothing but issues with it playing our iTunes-purchased music. Worst $300 we ever spent on anything... But now that AirPlay2 is coming we might actually consider going that route in lieu of the ceiling house speakers. Hopefully Sonos releases it sooner rather then later in July before we have to finalize our low-voltage selections for the house.

The main plus with the in-ceiling speakers is that they a) don't require a nearby power outlet and b) they are out of sight. The main down-side is to get truly separate zones that can be controlled over WIFI it gets expensive- either a $1500+ multi-channel amp or a $500 sonos Connect: Amp for each room.

The 5.1 for the living room will still be wired and we'll keep that separate if we go the Sonos route.

I'm not having any HDMI runs put in. I'll be wall-mounting the TV in the great room and will use one of those in-wall conduit kits.
 

JohnRice

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I have both home and work set up with multiple, independent systems. Of course, I'm completely Mac based, but I have set up rooms for $100 total. If you're talking just being able to play music. Our break room at work has a refurb AirPort Express ($50) a little Tripath amp ($20) and a pair of Dayton speakers ($30). Remote controllable with a computer or ios device. I bought my parents a closeout Denon receiver that has AirPlay for $250. I've been using AirPlay extensively for ten years. Not a single problem.
 

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The main plus with the in-ceiling speakers is that they a) don't require a nearby power outlet and b) they are out of sight. The main down-side is to get truly separate zones that can be controlled over WIFI it gets expensive- either a $1500+ multi-channel amp or a $500 sonos Connect: Amp for each room.
I have neither whole-home audio nor wireless speakers, so I'm only speaking as an observer. But from what I've seen, that's not a practical issue. New home construction has lots of outlets along walls. If you toss the wireless speaker in a corner, under a coffee table, in a decorate shelf, it will soon fade from sight.

I think pre-wiring for 5.1 in a living room is cheap and good; with the caveat previously noted of be wary of working with "experts" who recommend putting speakers five feet up in a living room.

Running Cat6 to all rooms is good. I did Cat5e six years ago, and I wish I'd caught it and made them do Cat6 as more futureproofing.

If you really want to think ahead, consider having Cat6 and power runs to some judicious locations for a Mesh wifi system -- maybe even ceiling locations.
 

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If you will use Verizon FIOS in your new home, have Cat6 run from the fiber-optic entrance to your "home run" connection box.
 

iainb

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I have neither whole-home audio nor wireless speakers, so I'm only speaking as an observer. But from what I've seen, that's not a practical issue. New home construction has lots of outlets along walls. If you toss the wireless speaker in a corner, under a coffee table, in a decorate shelf, it will soon fade from sight.

I think pre-wiring for 5.1 in a living room is cheap and good; with the caveat previously noted of be wary of working with "experts" who recommend putting speakers five feet up in a living room.

Running Cat6 to all rooms is good. I did Cat5e six years ago, and I wish I'd caught it and made them do Cat6 as more futureproofing.

If you really want to think ahead, consider having Cat6 and power runs to some judicious locations for a Mesh wifi system -- maybe even ceiling locations.

The point is to not have speakers everywhere on counters, etc. If we go Sonos I'll be buying Sonos One speakers and wall mounting them up near the ceiling. I'd just install them above an existing outlet and then add an outlet up near the ceiling where the speaker is. That's easy enough to do, just tap into the existing outlet below. Figure ~$10 in materials per outlet. No biggie.

Going the Sonos route should just be much cheaper in the end and get us the true zone control we want. Keeping the pre-wires is roughly $2200 for all of them. Then I still have to buy and install the speakers (at least $1000 for 14 of them) and I still don't have true zones, just a bunch of speakers feeding from a single source. To get those ceiling speakers to work in true zones is then another ~$1500 in hardware. I can buy 24 of those Sonos One speakers for that same $4700, not that I'd ever need that many.

I'm still definitely getting the 5.1 pre-wire in the family room. I will also keep the outdoor speaker pre-wire as well, which will go into the Zone2 of the HT receiver.

I already have Cat6 running all over the house. I should be more then covered for network drops if I have to add an access point/repeater anywhere in the house.

If you will use Verizon FIOS in your new home, have Cat6 run from the fiber-optic entrance to your "home run" connection box.

Yup, we will have FiOS (I can't wait to see how they screw up my change of address from our current home to the new one...) All of the house Cat6 and RG6 will terminate in the structured wiring panel in the basement and that's where Verizon's lines will feed into.
 
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DaveF

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Yup, we will have FiOS (I can't wait to see how they screw up my change of address from our current home to the new one...) All of the house Cat6 and RG6 will terminate in the structured wiring panel in the basement and that's where Verizon's lines will feed into.
Explicitly confirm they are running ethernet from the FIOS ONT box down to your wiring panel along with the coax. I'm FIOS in a new build. They only ran the coax from the ONT box in the garage to the homerun in the basement. They use a FIOS modem there to take coax in send out TV (coax) and Internet (ethernet). You specifically want ethernet cable from the ONT box down to your main panel. With that, you can choose to not use FIOS modem completely.
 

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Also on home wiring: wire for ceiling fans in every major room. That way you've got the three-way switch and the ceiling box already there for if and when you want overhead lighting.

Make sure there's an outlet in little spaces like a garage mudroom. We almost missed that, but having an outlet in such spaces is so helpful.

For your exterior lights (front house light and garage light, say), skip the flip switch and put in in-wall timers that do location-based dusk-dawn auto-DST.
https://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-PL...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=46YEE65ZHPQDHZHV4CS2

It appears you've got the plumbing rough-in for your basement rec space. That's good.
 

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You've got a living space over the garage. If it's not too late, talk with the builder about going above and beyond on the insulation between second floor and the garage. I've never known anyone happy with standard construction quality when you've got a garage under living space, especially master-bedroom space. It's always colder and hotter. We have that in our house, under guest bedrooms. I very much wish I'd had the presence of mind to have them do extra insulation above the garage.

We didn't want to spend up for a true dual-zone AC system, but I wanted better control than I had in my previous two story. So I split the difference and got a two-zone dampered system. If you're not true dual-zone, look into a two-zone damper, with thermostats in your downstairs living space and a thermostat in your master bedroom. I've been happy with that choice.
 
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