Multi-zone speaker home system

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by yomav, Jun 10, 2023.

  1. yomav

    yomav Newbie

    May 31, 2023
    Likes Received:
    Hey all. I could really use your expertise.

    I am in the throes of a housing model and trying to figure out how to set up a multi-zone home system.

    My basic objectives:

    • 7 zones
    • Alexa integration
    • Home-theater integration
    • Simplicity (everybody's goal I presume)

    My general questions:

    • Best overall system - Sonos / Lithe Audio?
    • Speaker layout?
    • Wired vs Wireless vs Bluetooth speakers?
    • Multi-zone amp?
    • L/R speakers for every zone vs just 1 speaker?

    Attached is an unmarked house layout and my crude attempt at figuring out a layout.

    I suppose I've snuck in a second question by listing home theater integration under my objectives. My mind starts to melt when I consider how to augment multi-room speakers to include some form of home theater audio system in TV area.

    Anyhow if there's a system or resource you could point me to, that would be super appreciated.


    thanks in advance for any help
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2023
  3. Crinklebumps

    Crinklebumps Rock Star

    Nov 1, 2017
    Likes Received:
    I have a Sonos soundbar and two satellite speakers. The sound is great. The problem is they like to restrict you to playing music through their software and that's limited - the library especially with a track limit of around 1000 tracks (may be a bit more but certainly not enough). Also, no aux options, no way to stream audio to the Sonos as a device in Windows (or any other OS so far as I know). I would love to have Ableton connected to it directly as another speaker option but it's impossible. I know I could stream to my TV from the computer but then the TV has to be turned on all of the time.

    If it's only for TV and music it's excellent. I get around the library limits by using an audio player app on my ipad that streams music from my server with the ipad audio transmit feature (not sure when they first implemented that) streaming to Sonos.

    Regarding the sub, although it adds a great deal to the sound by freeing up the bar of low frequencies, I never bought it because it was too expensive and I don't play anything very loud so was afraid I wouldn't even notice it. People who do use it like a cinema experience often have problems with their neighbours due to the sub.

    I think WiFi is superior to Bluetooth, low to none latency and the connection has been solid in my experience.
  4. George Santos

    George Santos Kapellmeister

    May 16, 2023
    Likes Received:
    • Best overall system - Sonos / Lithe Audio?
    • The best will be the intersection of what you can afford and what sounds good in your home. Test everything you can first before making major purchases based on online opinions. Find retailers with easy returns - I've demo'd most devices from best buy without issue. Every now and then you'll pay a restock fee but it's better than being stuck with junk.
    • Speaker layout?
    • I'm a home theater person first then audio producer so I'll share my approach. My ideal layout is one that can play Dolby Atmos movies in 5.1.2 or more channels in room 1(living room) and 2.1 pcm in room 2(studio). My av receiver has a 2 zone system so only my living room and studio have speakers. I've considered adding a smart speaker in the shower area and will probably get an Alexa compatible smart shower head with integrated speaker/microphone.
    • Wired vs Wireless vs Bluetooth speakers?
    • WiFi is better than Bluetooth but both are lacking compared to wired when it comes to latency. Also, 5g wifi systems suck at penetrating walls. 2g wifi systems are prone to disconnect if there are other home devices operating in that frequency range(neighbors, Xbox controller, Xbox headset, old router). Wires are an eyesore and pain to hide though.
    • Multi-zone amp?
    • I bought the most expensive one I could find at best buy but it only supported 2 zones. I think it's a $900 Denon. There's probably more online but I needed to be able to replace it right away if/when it blows so I went for a locally available receiver(it blew once already - user error). Also, HDMI 8k passthrough was important to me and that receiver was the only one that had this at the time.
    • L/R speakers for every zone vs just 1 speaker?
    • If you're trying to setup intercoms in the home then one speaker near the doors of each zone can do it(smart speakers also have microphone + pair it with an ikea smart button to have a faux "push-button" intercom system). Two smart speakers at opposite ends of the room may work better for larger/taller rooms(not L/R stereo afaik. both will be playing same stereo signal just x2).

    Tldr - the easiest, cheapest(non-hifi) way to get Alexa audio to 7 rooms is to buy Alexa compatible wifi smart speakers. One/two per room based on room size. Find a hidden corner for it or mount in the wall for a nicer finish(tuck away power cable). You can also buy smart light bulbs/appliances with built in speakers for the ultimate stealth install(not sure what the audio quality is like). On the Alexa phone app you can configure the speakers to as many zones as needed and do other cool automations with 3rd-party smart devices.

    For home theater, if your av receiver doesn't support Alexa, then connect it to a smart device like an Xbox/tv that can.

    Have fun, happy listening!!
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2023
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