If you are interested in owning a complete home audio system that can play all types of music and covers your entire house with great sound, it is very important to choose the right equipment to complete the deal. The ideal home audio system is one which can play music in your entire home, is reliable, flexible, easy to implement and integrate, scalable, as well as easy to operate.
The primary goal in having a home audio system is getting access to music that you want to listen to from any point that you want. Music can come from different sources – a network storage device, from your computer, or even in the cloud. Regardless of its source location, the better the access that is offered, the better the streaming system. Because finding a good streaming system can be difficult, users often result to having multiple devices for their music rather than feeling free to have access to it anywhere.
At the same time, a whole home audio system should be reliable. It should work in any scenario. It should also be easy to operate. For instance, if there are five members in your family, with each member having their own music library, playlists and listening preferences, it is important to work with all of that. The system should be integrated and seamless and tie everyone together rather than having five separate individuals playing their own music access and not talking to each other. A reliable and easy to use system can work with all of these in an integrated manner without having to force you to spend time collating and updating all of your libraries altogether.
Most importantly, the system needs to be very flexible. If you start with one room and add more rooms later on, you need to be able to do just that. It should also be possible to integrate the system into your currently existing stereo system. It would also be good if you are able to tie it into a TV, either with a sound bar style setting or a specialized sound bar. The need to keep multiple systems for the entire house may cause redundancy, wasted money and unused systems. However, with a flexible whole home audio system, you can get yourself a good deal!
Here are some options that are currently available on the market these days:
Cisco just entered the industry of creating a great wireless home audio system. With this, your Wi-Fi network can be used in order to stream music to various components, which may also be placed in different points all throughout your home. This system definitely allows you to play your favorite music coming from different sources such as from your computer or the new Cisco Media Hub. The entire system is managed by an LCD controller. There is no question that this system has a chance of competing with other whole home audio systems.
Design and Features:
The entire package is composed of different bundled kits, with each of the products also available for purchase individually. The premier kit which costs $1000 is composed of the Player and IR Remote, Director and IR Remote, as well as a Wireless-N Controller. The Executive kit is available at $550 and is perfect for those who have dark paneled walls and a Lexus in their garage. On the other hand, the Trio package, which is available at $850, is composed of two remotes, two players and a controller.
- Good streaming quality
- Multi-format audio support
- The controller acts up at times
- More expensive that the Squeezebox Boom
- Not as stylish compared to Sonos
After a very long day, when you feel ready to just relax and listen to your favorite music, this whole home audio system from Linksys has you covered. It is expandable, supports different formats and works really well. Even though you may not consider the design as beautiful as that of Sonos, this is really great for its price range. If you are looking for a high quality audio system for your home, the features offered by this Linksys system can pass to your must-purchase list.
Sonos just introduced the latest in their ZonePlayer series, the ZP120. It offers different advances in amplifier engineering, power supply design, as well as design, making it the smallest multi-room amp. It is relatively smaller than its predecessor, the ZP100. If you are not familiar with the Sonos system, it was one of the very first plug-and-play multi-room audio systems introduced. It came at a cheap price point.
- Excellent all-in-one digital music system
- Offers superb sound quality
- Access to almost all cloud music service providers
- Comes with a line-in
- Needs separate speakers and a smartphone or tablet
- Does not support iTunes Match
- Needs a hard-wired connection
The Sonos ZonePlayer 120 is a wireless, amplified, convenient and compact system. It comes with a state-of-the-art digital amplifier which can play your favorite music from virtually anywhere that you want it to be – your bathroom, bedroom, and even the backyard. All you need to do is to plug it in, connect the speakers, and there you have it. With its really amazing wireless range, you can feel the music all over your house. At the same time, the design is both cool and compact and you can even just hide it away easily. Each system comes with a Desktop Controller, giving you the ultimate convenience and control.
One great way for you to get music soaring through the walls of your entire home is by your electrical sockets. Arkados has introduced this HomePlug-based technology which incorporates this system inside different audio components, enabling users to use traditional speaker wiring in order to connect speakers to music sources. These devices can be connected by sending the signals through the current power lines at home.
Nuvo’s Renovia uses HomePlug technology in order to distribute audio to various locations in your home. It also uses A/C wiring in order to distribute music as well as metadata all throughout your home. The central hub has the capability to send music to various in-wall amplifiers in different zones. This kind of technology is so convenient.
- Quick and easy installation
- Distributes 6 sources up to 8 zones
- Energy friendly and efficient
- Great for retrofit installations
- Limitless music choices
- Powerline strength in bigger homes may vary
- Navigation and access of iPod menu on the touchpad may be challenging
- Place to hide the amplifier
Nuvo’s Renovia is considered as a retrofit-friendly audio system which can send music signals digitally through the electrical lines of your home. This means you can expect to have less hole drilling and wire pulling than you would with other systems. This system is highly compatible with various sources, including your own stored digital music. Therefore, the combination of vast amounts of music and easy installation makes it a very attractive offer.
IntelliTouch EOS is equipped with a digital wireless whole home audio speaker system which is designed for iPod devices. This system only uses Wi-Fi in order to connect the home base and consists of up to four sets of wireless speakers across a maximum range of 150 feet. All you need to do is to plug in your iPod to the home base dock. You can easily stream music to different sets of speakers in your home. If you are searching for a great way to stream PC music in your entire house, but want to keep it just right in your budget, EOS from IntelliTouch has got you covered. As a matter of fact, IntelliTouch EOS can handle three rooms for around $350. Aside from being affordable, it is also intuitively designed.
- Strong wireless signal
- Easy set-up
- Clean audio performance
- No remote control
- Uses PC audio output
IntelliTouch EOS is relatively easy to set up. Even though it may be lacking in certain features, such as a remote control, it is a very affordable way to offer high quality wireless audio all throughout your house. The wireless technology introduced by EOS uses frequency-hopping technology in order to avoid cell phone, Wi-Fi and cordless phone interference.
While it is true that Sonos is considered the leader in the multi-room audio systems, DTS also gives good competition by introducing the Polk Audio Omni Wireless Music System. DTS comes with a licensed Play-Fi to several high-profile audio/speaker manufacturers, Polk included, launching a complete line of Play-Fi enabled products.
- Easy to install
- Great, solid quality
- Small size and weight
- Not as good looking as Sonos
- Limited features
Polk audio has been designed to stream all types of music that you love to any room in your house. It uses Wi-Fi technology to stream the music, incorporating DTS Play-Fi technology into an easy-to-use and reliable setup which allows listeners to stream. It also features wireless control of music coming from the most famous music services, personal music libraries or internet radio stations. The advantages of buying something from the Polk line is that they are generally less expensive compared to the bigger names in this category.
Best Whole Home Audio System – The Buying Guide
A well-planned home weaves interconnected systems effortlessly to keep the occupants happy and comfortable. Designers and architects often work wonders in terms of climate systems, lighting, furniture, appliances and fabric. They often create the best settings for family bonding, relaxing, entertaining visitors and other activities.
However, most of the time, there is one aspect which is often neglected – the sound system. Just imagine the flow of music through the rooms like light coming from the windows. This is what you can expect if you have the best speakers built in to your ceilings or walls. If you feel that built-in speakers are not good for you, then you can easily use compact wireless speakers that you can place on your table top, bookshelf or kitchen counter.
Modern technology in sound has introduced sophisticated whole home audio systems that provide you several options at a very affordable price. They are also very easy to install and use. Since you can choose to make your tablet or smartphone, you do not have to deal with complex instructions involved in the operation. Your music can also come from internet sources such as Spotify or Pandora Internet radio, or from your hard drive or computer that is attached to your home network. You do not have to worry about browsing through stacks of CDs in order to find the music that you want to listen to. It would become relatively easy to play a song from your family room and another one in the bedroom, or simply play the same music in the entire home.
Wireless vs. Wired vs. Hybrid
If you are planning to build a new house or simply renovating an old one, you have the best opportunity to hide your wires and speakers in your ceilings and wells. It can be surgically done into a currently existing home, but it may not be easy to do by yourself. Therefore, you may want to consider professional assistance.
A wireless whole home audio system is a good choice for an already existing home. However, it can also serve as a great choice for a new home. As of the moment, Sonos has emerged as the market leader, but there are a lot of other manufacturers stepping up to the challenge of producing the best whole home audio system to their customers.
For a bigger home, especially those in which you want to hide the equipment as much as possible, you may want to take into consideration a hybrid system which includes a combination of concealed wiring and wireless components for ceiling or in-wall speakers. All hardware may be hidden away in an equipment closet or a utility room, and you can still expect to enjoy the convenience of having a touchscreen app for remote control; while the options for music service are provided by the wireless system.
A wired system for your whole home audio system should be well-planned during the actual construction or renovation. It can significantly add great value to your home. These systems have become really popular. However, there are some people who find a traditional wired system easier to use as compared to a system which involves the use of a home network as well as a tablet or smartphone. Wired system installation may turn out to be challenging for a DIY project. Some home owners choose to have an installer or electrician do the installation and pre-wiring.
These days, the wireless systems that are available have reached popularity for a very good reason. Setup and installation barely takes minutes to complete. There is no need to deal with complex home theater receivers. A wireless speaker can easily be carried from one room to another. In fact, you may even bring the whole system upon your move. The choice of components and equipment for a particular room varies on the layout and the size of a room, as well as your preference when it comes to listening in that specific room.
There is a common misconception regarding wireless systems at times. For instance, some actually believe that hardware should be present in every room in order to have a complete system. This notion can kill a deal if speakers installed in ceilings are all you have in the dining room as well as the living room. The good news is this is not the cause with modern whole home audio systems.
The solution to this dilemma is to find one audio system modules within your utility room while running speaker wires to the ceiling speakers that are found in the dining room as well as in the living room. The system may also include other components that are installed in other points of the house. For instance, you may want to have a sound bar for TV music or sound in the family room. Powered speakers may also be placed in bedrooms as well as in other spaces in which your hardware can fit nicely. If you are also interested in installing sound systems in an outdoor location, you definitely need to have weatherproof speakers in order to evenly distribute the sound around the patio and pool areas. With this, you can expect to play the same music all throughout your speakers outdoors.
Which System is Best for You?
So which one is best suited for you? There are several advantages and disadvantages of using the systems. Most modern receivers are equipped with speaker outputs for your second room. A lot of users opt to connect a home network to access internet music sources. Remote control apps for tablets and smartphones are commonly used these days. The features often create a receiver based system, resulting in a solution that is satisfactory in certain situations.
If you plan to install a system which can serve more than one zone in your home and you want to use it a lot, it is recommended that you keep the whole home audio system separate from the multi-room music system. This option is relatively safer and simpler. There are different ways in which you can build a foundation on your wired music-only audio system.
For one, you can install a multi-channel power amplifier along with wall-mounted volume controls for each zone or room. Also, it comes with a wall mounted keypad for your remote control of music sources. It can also route signals of music to your powered keypads.
Regardless of which system you choose, you also need one vital aspect – one or more music sources, such as a CD changer, stereo receiver, or an iPod. Of course, you also need to have ceiling speakers or in-wall speakers for music zones in each room. Systems that come with simple wall-mounted systems with volume control need speaker wiring alone. They also need CAT-5 wiring as well as infrared flashers in order to relay commands of the remote control to the components of the musical source. There are other keypads that come with a screen which displays the metadata.
Playing music that is stored on a computer is a great option for several systems. However, there are also some drawbacks. For one, the computer needs to be turned on. If you have a huge music library, the hard drive may not be able to hold your music. On the other hand, storing the music library on a high capacity hard drive that is networked is also possible.
Regardless of your music sources, or the type of whole home audio system that you choose, your needs and preferences should always be on top of the list. While you may have other factors to consider such as the budget and the appearance of the system, identifying what you really need can lead to the best options available. The list above highlights the best available options these days, and reviewing each one of them can assist you in making the best choice.