What's Multi-room Audio & Should I Care?: Part II

(Continued from previous post: There are also a few wireless multi-room audio systems available which can make for fairly easy installation without the expense of running wires.)

Controlling Multi-room Audio

The most advanced systems typically use keypads and/or touch screensthroughout the house for control. The simplest ones may just have a volume control in each zone with no other control available from that zone. Like so many other devices today, some of these systems let you control them with your smartphone or tablet. Some systems include doorbell options, telephone and/or security interfaces.

Speakers for Multi-room Audio Systems

In most cases the speakers for these systems are installed in ceilings or walls for a relatively stealth appearance. Although they’re not invisible, they can be pretty unobtrusive. And their quality has improved significantly over the past several years to the point where the better ones offer real high fidelity performance when properly located and installed. There are also thin speakers that can be mounted on the wall and even some speaker devices that can be mounted behind sheet rock or other surfaces that make the surface they’re mounted to a speaker!

There are speakers available today that can withstand exposure to the outdoors and survive installation in showers, saunas, steam rooms and other “difficult” environments. That means you can have music around the pool, the hot tub, in the shower, around the deck or patio, and just about any other location you choose. 

When designing a distributed audio system you’ll want to determine whether there’ll be any zones where someone will seriously listen to music as opposed to background use only. Because the type, quality and location of the speakers installed in the listening zone will usually be different for serious listening as opposed to background enjoyment.

Flexibility of Multi-Room Audio Systems

One of the nicest aspects of a many multi-room audio systems is, if you wish, you can start small and add on to the system, as your needs and budget allow.In particular, the wireless packages that are out there are most flexible this way. So you can have music in the kitchen and dining room for example and over time add the great room, den, master suite (or if you like me, the bedroom) and more. You can even do this with the flexible Sonos system we mentioned at the beginning of this topic.

The best part of this is you can get basic distributed audio in limited locations in your house at reasonable cost. And imagine the increased enjoyment you’ll get with a good music system available in select areas of your house.