Multi-Room Audio

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What is a Multi-Room System?

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Multi-Room System

Multi-Room System – music sets the mood of your home, providing the perfect backdrop whether working, entertaining or relaxing. Being able to enjoy your favorite songs in any room is a great way to improve your lifestyle, and many of our systems allow you to enjoy different tunes in different areas.

Our wide array of architectural speakers not only blend in with any home’s décor, but come in a range of styles to meet individual performance needs. And beyond your personal music library or music played on a docked iPod, you can enjoy an unlimited variety of tunes streamed from the Internet: Tidal, Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify, Songza, SiriusXM, TuneIn etc. We carry a wide range of multi-room systems including some that work wireless for easy installation in existing homes.

If you goal is to provide sound throughout the apartment so that in each and every room you can choose to listen to different music, watch different content, to manage all equipment both locally and remotely – then you need a multi-room system. It consists of the signal sources, amplifiers, cable network, various types of speakers – indoor, outdoor, in-ceiling, in-wall, architectural, heat and moisture resistant (for pools, saunas and bathrooms).

The simplest multi-room setup can be considered a two/three zone audio AV receiver. It is usually sufficient to cover several areas such as your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, hallway etc. Music can be listened to in different zones from different sources or from the same source. All receiver zones may be combined into “Party Mode” where a single source is used for all zones with a single volume control.

The latest models of AV receivers also include a second HDMI zone, which allows you to use 2 different HDMI sources for video. For example, playing a film with a Blu-ray-player in your living room, and having IPTV signal in your bedroom. In this case the entire system can be controlled from a mobile device (smartphone, tablet), which is very convenient.

Now, If the idea is to distribute video and audio to more than three rooms (large apartments or private homes), then this kind of AV receiver will not suffice. In this case it is necessary to use more advanced equipment and distribution network.

There are two types of network design – centralized and local, each of them with its advantages and disadvantages.

Centralized: Centralized system assumes that all of the equipment – signal sources, amplifiers, switches – are housed in one place, usually in a special server rack to which speakers and TVs and projectors are connected via cables. The rooms then include wireless or wired touchscreen control panels in order to operate the system. Alternatively, most Apple or Android devices can perform similar functions. This approach is the most common one, designed and built by certified technicians. It can be found in any Multi Room system around world, and until recently, it was the only possible solution in the multi-segment.

Local: Several years ago, we saw the appearance of localized system (such as Sonos). They have no central core modules, so these systems are installed directly on the premises/zones.

Data exchange and management takes places over the wireless network, so it needs to be stable and reliable.
All modules have a capacity to work with local or Internet based network content: a computer folder, the NAS-servers, Internet radio (TuneIn), streaming services (Spotify, Tidal etc), as well as line input and USB-in some models.

No touchscreen panels or keypads are required here, the whole system is controlled from a mobile device through a native application (if necessary the panel can be set separately).

Here, with a mobile phone /tablet, you can control the sound in as many rooms as you want, group or ungroup different zones and see all the information about the status of the system on a real-time display. Zones can be arbitrarily added at any time, which is virtually impossible in the case of a centralized system.

The implementation of multi-room systems has several stages:
— Extensive consultation with a client where your integrator can get a clear idea of the desired system.
— Confirmation of the system’s configuration
— Designing multi-system, with the calculation of the cable network and the arrangement of components;
— Feeding and acceptance of cable network
— Installation, configuration, system programming
— Release Date to the customer and production for Servicing

Call us to find out more about integrating Multi Room audio and video in your home!

What is a Multi-Room Audio System?

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Multi-Room Audio System

Multi-Room audio system – is a network of audio distribution throughout the premises, controlled by touchscreen panels, mobile devices and / or by a universal remote control.

As we have already mentioned, this system can be centralized or local. The structure of a local system is very clear – it involves a direct placement of the necessary modules in the required amount, from one to thirty-two per system, and add them as add more when needed.

However, this particular type of multi-room is not suitable for all installations, such as homes with more complex home automation system, or in offices, hotels and business premises. In those cases it is common to use centralized systems of varying degrees of complexity.

There are several examples of a centralized system:

1. The simplest level – multiply audio source (Network / MP3 / CD / FM / USB etc), 4 to 12 channel amplifier (4 – 12 speakers), local volume controls. This is the most common structure used in apartments, restaurants, cafes, small offices, sports clubs.

2. The second level is an upgrade of the previous system: in-wall keypads, partial ability to control the playback by mobile devices, ability to control a higher number of separate audio zones (for some devices).

3. The next level – completely centralized system with multi zone amplifiers, audio matrices and high-end speakers set up throughout the house. All content is managed by in-wall (and/or portable) touch screen panels and mobile devices. Playback is possible to from any connected source in any zone. Touchscreen panels allow arbitrary programming features, GUI elements, system feedback. The number of zones can be almost arbitrary, signal sources – any. The sound quality is superior to all other systems.

What is a Multi-Room Video System?

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Multi-Room Video System

Multi-Room video system – is a video distribution on the premises. In fact, it’s the same thing as multi-room audio, however here we have to distribute not only the audio but both image and sound. Implementation of multi-room video is slightly more complicated and more expensive, but it allows the owner to control the system the same way as the audio multi-room and enjoy movies and tv-content in all designated areas.

As with the multi-room audio systems, video distribution networks can be centralized or local:

The centralized system usually is designed and installed during new home constructions or home repair projects. This is done mainly because it is rather complicated (although certainly not impossible) to supply a cabled video distribution network in the finished home. As the name implies, all video sources, switches, and control systems are installed in one place, as a rule, in a special rack.

TVs and projectors in the designated rooms are connected either by HDMI cables, or (when the distance is significant) by network cables and signal converters on the receiving end.

If you want a better surround sound (such as 5.1, 7,1, Atmos or DTS:X), you will need to install it in a corresponding room. Speaker system is then connected to either a local amplifier or, via speaker cables, to the main unit in a rack.

All control is performed with a choice of several units such as touchscreen panels, portable consoles and mobile devices (tablets, smartphone etc).

This kind of system architecture is ideal in its design and structure and also very flexible for any future upgrades.

Local system involves the installation of media players on directly in the zones (rooms, outdoor areas etc), which are connected to a centralized source of content. There is a server with audio and video content from which media players in the rooms receive signal. In case you would want a better sound quality, you will need to insure that there is an AV receiver with a speaker set in a corresponding room.

The main difference between a centralized and a local multi-room video system is that at in a centralized design, all sources and all the players are concentrated in one place, and then using matrix switches are distributed to a different rooms via cables. In a local structure, there is usually one centralized source, but no central distribution or playback option. Basically, this is a more affordable and easy to install system, although it has many limitations.

What is a Speaker System?

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Speaker System

To provide sound for a multi-room audio system, almost any speaker system is suitable for the task.

However, there are two types which are being in most case: bookshelf speakers and built-in (in-wall and in-ceiling) speakers. Both of those systems can be the water, moisture and thermos resistant. Additionally, many manufacturers produce all-weather equipment, allowing them to be installed in bathrooms, saunas, yacht, terraces and gardens.

Another type of speakers, sometimes called “architectural”, comes in various shapes and forms, such as rocks (Boston Acoustics), columns, vases, lamps, subwoofers designed to be installed under the ground (niles gss10) etc. Although this particular type is usually oriented towards high-end clients, during the last couple of years we saw an arrival of several more affordable models.

Generally, most speakers used for multi-room systems may be installed in traditional ways – placed on the floor / shelves or mounted on a wall or ceiling brackets. It is considered that such speakers are capable of providing the highest quality for its value. In principle, the installation of this type of system is no different from the usual Hi-Fi system, except that in this case the speakers are connected to a more advanced amplifier. The most common areas of installation are living rooms, outdoor areas, home cinemas, sports centers.

Built-in speakers are used when the goal is make a multi-room system as inconspicuous as possible. As a rule, embedded speakers are installed in bathrooms, hallways, corridors, kitchens, swimming pools. The actual speaker is covered by a decorative cover (lattice). All latest models include a magnetic cover which simply attaches to the top of the speaker, blending it with the interior. Standard factory finish is usually matte white, but can be ordered in matte black or painted in any color to fit the décor.

Built-in speakers can be integrated in the ceiling and in the walls. There are three main speaker shapes available – round, square and rectangular. For many models, there is a conversion kit that can be used – if, for example, client orders a round speaker and then, for whatever reason, it must be replaced by a square one, the conversion kit allows you to easily do just that.

What is Multi-Room Wireless Audio?

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Multi-Room Wirelss Audio

Wireless Audio Multi-Room is the latest and fastest growing trend in the multi-room audio distribution. First implemented about 10 years ago, this has now become almost the standard for the implementation in certain situations when, for whatever reason, it is difficult or undesirable to make a cabled connection.

Currently there are two recognized leaders in this area – the Japanese company HEOS (Denon) and the American Sonos.

There are two main types of devices: with the built-in speakers and without. The ones without built-in speakers can be either amplifiers (in order to connect conventional speakers, for example, a separate system in the office or bedroom), or only with the pre-out, using a linear (non-regulated ) output for connection to any existing audio / video.

In order to work, all the players require 220V electrical outlet and connection to the Internet. All the players can operate on LAN and WiFi networks.

There is are no dedicated remote controllers or panels in order to operate those systems. All controls, whether it is to control a single player or an entire network, are done through mobile devices – smartphones, iPods, tablets, and applications for desktop computers. Those applications are simple and intuitive for all users, regardless of their technical knowledge.

There is a maximum of 32 units that can be installed in one system. Once initial setup is completed, the system is ready to use.

This kind of wireless system is by no means any less capable then the dedicated wired system. It allows playback from any local and remote storage locations, mobile devices, internet-radio and streaming music providers (Spotify, Tidal, Deezer etc).

Additionally, both Sonos and HEOS deliver high quality sound-bars and wireless subwoofers. What it means is that a client can assemble a full 5.1 system (sound-bar, subwoofer and two surround speakers) without any extra wiring!

Wireless audio multi-room is a relatively new, but already very popular and established approach to creating a good quality audio network in both residential and commercial premises.

What are Multi-Room AV Receivers?

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Multi-Room AV Receivers

If you don’t have any special requirements towards independent multi-room setup and only wish to cover 1-2 rooms, in this case we can offer to setup a 2-3 zone AV-receiver.

Some recent AV-receivers, in addition to supplying the room with the surround sound of your choice, can further cover up to 3 additional zones.

That’s 2 more in addition to your home theater system area. Zones 2 and 3 are powered by the built-in receiver amplifiers (in case of 9 built-in amplifiers, 5 will go towards your main area, or Zone 1, and the remaining 4 can power Zone 2 and Zone 3. Using an external amplifier, Zone 4 can also be added to the system.

However, its important to remember that AV receiver-based multi-room design has its limitations and can never replace a true matrix-based system.

Firstly, there is only one chip processing digital sources (USB, HDMI, Internet radio, streaming servers).Therefore, you cannot use more than version of a digital source in separate rooms. For example, if we listen to Spotify in the kitchen, other streaming services (Tidal, TuneIn etc) wont’ be available in the bedroom or living room (Zone 2 and 3). However, analog sources can be combined and streamed to all zones according to your preferences.

Secondly, to combine different zones and use single volume control is possible on one receiver only. Two or more AV receivers simply cannot work in unified controlled group. This differs from the true multi-room system, where any number of zones may be grouped and ungrouped randomly.

The most common way to manage different zones of a multiroom receiver is via mobile devices – tablets and smartphones (although it is possible by a remote control) connected to the same WiFI network. All system information such zone status, playback update, playlist info etc is shown on the mobile device’s display. Moreover, most of the multizone AV receivers are easily integrated in most home automation systems: Control 4, RTI, Crestron, AMX, Savant, and others.

The biggest advantage of purchasing a multi-zone AV receiver- a relatively low cost of the system.

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