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Brilliant Whole House Audio System
on June 2, 2015
I am using Sonos differently than most people do. I have used five Sonos Connect:Amps to create a whole home audio system using built in ceiling mounted speakers.
To start with, about six months ago I installed one Sonos Connect:Amp for my outdoor speakers around our pool, and it has worked very well for us. I have it connected to four outdoor speakers around our pool, the kind that look like rocks.
I used 10 gauge outdoor wire to connect the Sonos to the outdoor speakers -- the kind that is used for outdoor lighting and is designed to be buried. This wire is made from finely stranded copper, and is easy to work with. So the Connect:Amp is loaded to 4 ohms (two 8 ohm speakers on each channel), and it works well. More than loud enough for us.
This got me thinking that Sonos Connect:Amp units would greatly simplify our whole home audio system. Our home was previously equipped with a very expensive, high-end, whole home audio system that is not user friendly.
But the speakers were good quality Boston Acoustics ceiling mounted speakers, all wired back to the equipment in our a/v equipment room at one end of the house.
Previously we had to use a control that is installed on the wall in each room that has a set of speakers to select the audio source (CD player with 5 CD tray, ReQuest Audio Server (photos attached), and iPod), change volume, turn on or off, etc, but we had to go to another place to select the music. I would rather be able to control all parts of the system from one place, and our phones, tablets, and computers are the perfect way to do this using the Sonos app. I have attached a photo of that control device -- it is the device with 12 buttons.
So now we can play Internet radio or music from our NAS, control the volume, etc., and it is all done from the Sonos app, which can run simultaneously on as many devices as you need. This way we can choose what we want to hear in any room, control the volume, turn the audio on and off, all from any phone or tablet, or my iMac, whatever.
Since we have a large library of CDs that I have ripped to iTunes and stored on a Synology NAS, I am ripping that high-end clunky system and replacing it with, to start, 4 Sonos Connect:Amp units, installed in the equipment room where the whole home audio system equipment is presently located, which is where all the wiring from the various speakers around the house terminates.
I will probably purchase several more Connect:Amp units to complete our system as we originally had a 12 zone system, although we never used it in some of the rooms it was installed in.
This is not a cheap replacement for the old system, but for someone starting out would be much less expensive than installing the typical whole-home audio systems that the professional audio/visual companies charge over 5 figures for. I see large systems using Sonos Connect:Amp units as potentially economically disruptive to the professional whole home audio business.
I have found the sound quality very good for the CDs I have ripped using Apple Lossless, and have not had problems with any audio drop out when playing from my NAS. Since all 5 of my Sonos Connect:Amp players are in the a/v equipment room, I have them connected to my network via Ethernet cables. Same with Internet radio, although a few times one of the stations my wife likes to listen to was obviously having problems with their stream.
The Sonos app works well; we have over 3,500 songs in our iTunes library (all ripped from CDs) and have created various playlists.
Some time ago I merged our two (wife and me) iTunes libraries into one library and using the various sort options in the Sonos Music Library it is easy to find an individual cuts of music if that is what I want to do.
Hope this can help anyone considering a whole-home audio system
Update July 2, 2015:
I have completed my Sonos setup. I am using 5 Sonos Connect:Amp units and 2 Sonos Connect units with an external 12 channel Niles amplifier:
Our home has several open areas where I combine two sets of speakers on one Sonos Connect:Amp unit, and that works fine because my speakers are 8 ohms and the Connect:Amp will work fine with 4 ohms. It did not make sense, for example, to have a separate Connect:Amp in our kitchen and family room, which are a larger open area, because you could not be listening to one song or program in one room and another program in the other room since they were open to each other.
And I find the Connect:Amp has plenty of power to drive this arrangement.
But I had two areas where I wanted three sets of speakers connected to one Sonos unit, so I am using two Sonos Connect units, each of which feed three stereo channels on a 12 channel Niles power amplifier:
The niles amp has individual volume controls for each of its 12 channels, so I am able to fine tune the volume from each speaker.
Here is my setup (see photo)
Connect #1 - through 3 stereo channels of Niles Amp for two sets of speakers around pool and a set of stereo speakers in our "outdoor entertainment deck"
Connect:Amp #1 - guest bedroom
Connect:Amp #2 - second guest bedroom (my wife uses this room for her office)
Connect:Amp #3 - drives two sets of speakers in kitchen and family room (which is really just one open area)
Connect #2 - through 3 stereo channels of Niles Amp for speakers in living room, foyer, and dining room (of which all these rooms are open to each other)
Connect:Amp #4 - drives two sets of speakers in master bed room and master bath room
Connect:Amp #5 - my home office
I hope this helps you visualize how you could use Connect and Connect:Amp in a whole home audio setting. From the reviews it appears a lot of people are doing just that.
Update February 12, 2016:
In order to more effectively control my Sonos system, I have installed 6 wall mounted iPad Minis around the house. I am using the Vidabox wall mount:
My previous whole house audio system used a proprietary control and was connected by cat 5 cables from the control back to the "rack room" where the audio equipment was located, so I was able to re-purpose those cat 5 cables to power the iPads via a POE (power over ethernet) to USB box, also made by VidaMount:
I also use these iPads to control other systems around the house, such as thermostats, my pool and spa, and even my player piano.