Whole Home Audio Systems - Wired or Wireless?

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Multi-room audio systems allow you to utilize multiple inputs in various rooms within a residence. The systems are scalable and most come with the option to easily expand to meet your personal preference. If considering purchasing a whole home audio system, you will have to decide whether or not you want to purchase a wired or wireless whole home audio system. You have to assess the benefits of selecting either option.

Wired Systems

The main benefit to using a wired whole home audio system is that you will be able to enjoy music from any location within your home. Because you are able to personalize the design and configuration of the audio system, you will be able to control where in the home you will be able to enjoy the system. You can also configure the system in a way that will allow you to play multiple broadcasts simultaneously. Higher performance quality is also touted as a benefit of the wired home audio system. Several things that should be considered if exploring the option of purchasing a wired home audio system.
Location of audio gear
Hard wired whole house systems usually have all the equipment located in one area. Sometimes the audio components are in the main theater room whereas others prefer the equipment to be located in the basement or a closet. Speaker wire data cable will run from this centralized location to every room you want wired for sound. Location planning is vital for a successful install.
How many rooms will be connected?
Many Surround Receivers have a zone 2 capability. This allows users to wire another zone (patio speakers) with 1 pair of speakers. Zone 2 offers the flexibility of playing a different source in each zone, but is generally limited to 1 additional room. If networked, some of these receivers offer the convenience of controlling the receiver via the manufacturer's free smart device app. If users would like to connect additional rooms with sound, then an external amplifier and speaker selector box will be needed.
How many speakers will be on at the same time?
If you would like to play one set of additional speakers, no selector is needed. If you would like to play more than one set of additional speakers, an amplifier and speaker selector is needed. Speaker selector boxes connect up to 4 or 6 pair of speakers around the home. These boxes are usually located next to the main A/V receiver and is connected with speaker wire to each set of speakers. Users can push a button on the selector box to turn wired rooms on or off. This setup works very well, if you would like all of the remote speakers to play the same source.
Seperate volume controls for each room?
Raising or lowering the volume level in a system, as previously discussed, may require users to walk back to the main theater room and manually turn down the volume. A more elegant solution is to add volume controls to each room. This allows users the freedom to stay in the same room and easily turn down or mute the volume with little effort. Niles audio even makes weatherproof volume controls for outdoor of applications.
Different music in every room?
Despite the benefits of speaker selector boxes, they do not allow different music in every room. If users want the flexibility to play a different source in each room of the home, then users may consider investing in a true multizone receiver These receivers are designed to power 6 different rooms with 6 different sources and are expandable up to 18 independent zones if desired. With the addition of control keypads to each room, volume and source can be independently controlled while bass and treble can be configured separately for each room.

Wireless Systems

Wireless systems work well for installations where hard wiring the system is not an option. If you are renting or are unable to run wiring in walls. The best type of wireless systems utilize a wireless network independent of your Wi-Fi network. This prevent slowing down your computer network to have wireless audio. Some of the most sophisticated wireless networks will give you control over your system through your networked smart phone or tablet.
Sonos
Overview

One great example of a true wireless multi-room system is Sonos. This company makes wireless speakers that can be placed around the home and expandable up to 32 independent zones. Each room can have a different song playing and the entire system can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet. This innovative company has the ability to stream media from portable devices, home computers and a wide array of online services as well. The abundance of content has allowed them to boast they can stream “All the music on earth.”

Speakers

This flexible system offers several different sizes of tabletop speakers to fit any size room. Many users also decide to mount these speakers on the wall or place them on speaker stands for better speaker placement. For true stereo sound, two single speakers can be linked to make a stereo pair if preferred. In addition, users can build a complete wireless 5.1 home theater system using the PlayBar soundbar for the center speaker and their wireless subwoofer to supply low-end bass.

WiFi or SonosNet

Larger homes often have trouble getting WiFi everywhere in the home. Sonos Has its own proprietary network called SonosNet which doesn’t have a centralized broadcast area. Using this configuration, the speakers link to each other so the wireless network expands as more speakers are added. Reaching the basement, garage or far corners of the house is easily accomplished. Using SonosNet requires the purchase of an additional “Boost” component that is connected to the router using an Ethernet cable. Sonos speakers can also bypass SonosNet and simply use WiFi only if desired.

AirPlay
iPhone & iPad controlled

Another popular wireless system is Apple's Airplay. If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you can stream music wirelessly throughout the home to a compatible speaker or receiver. Unlike Sonos, they do use existing WiFi to stream the content so a router is required.

Benefits

The benefits associated with using a wireless AirPlay system are many. This option is perfect for those who are not interested in exhausting hours in the planning and design process of installing a wired home audio system. Access to all your iTunes media is easy and the app is simple to use.

Limitations

Unlike Sonos, MusicCast and many other multi-room solutions, AirPlay users cannot stream to multiple speakers simultaneously from an iPhone or iPad. Only when using a PC or Mac running iTunes is streaming to multiple devices possible and even then streaming media will be the same to all speakers. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to play different songs in different rooms.

MusicCast by Yamaha
Overview

Yamaha, the maker of premium receivers, speakers and musical instruments, has developed their own multi-room wireless solution called MusicCast. The system uses your existing WiFi network and allows users to stream music from a smartphone or tablet to MusicCast speakers or a compatible receiver.

Wireless Speakers

To suite various rooms in the house, Yamaha has provided different types of speakers including small wall mounted speakers, stereo speaker pairs and soundbars.

MusicCast Receivers

Adding a MusicCast receiver to your home theater system not only allows users to stream music from portable devices, but it also allows any component connected to the receiver to be played in another room of the house as well. This means your favorite vinyl albums can be played on your turntable and streamed to a wireless MusicCast speaker anywhere in the home.

App Controlled

A free control app is used to control up to 10 zones and is fully compatible with Apple and Android devices. Play different sources in every room or sync your entire house for seamless audio. Setup involves holding down a button on the receiver or speaker and within moments you’ve linked your multi-room system to your phone. Whole home wireless streaming has never been easier!

Bose® SoundTouch™ Multi-Room Speakers
Overview

If you’re looking for a great sounding wireless speaker that’s easy to setup and has unmatched style, consider building a multi-room system with Bose SoundTouch loudspeakers. This system requires an existing WiFi network in order to access internet radio and streaming services. When deciding on which speakers to place in the best locations, you can choose between three different tabletop wireless speakers, home theater speaker systems or countertop wave radios.

Elegant Simplicity

All of these different products can be easily setup and controlled from a smartphone or tablet. Once the system is setup, however, an app is not required for the whole house system to work. Simply press the preset button on the top of the wireless speaker and your favorite music is instantly streaming. The control app can be a big help if you have multiple speakers throughout the house and wish to play different music in each zone.

Definitive Technology
Overview

Definitive Technology wireless speakers take whole-home audio to the next level with Play-Fi technology. Not only does this app-controlled system connect up to 16 speakers home-wide but its ability to stream audiophile-grade lossless audio uniquely sets it apart.

Speakers

Choose between two tabletop compact speakers for sound anywhere in your home. The W7 speaker is ultra-compact and designed to fill any room with sound while the W9 Flagship adds advanced sound dispersion with increased bass. For rooms with TVs, choose the flagship W Studio soundbar with wireless sub or discover the ultra-compact W Studio Micro for an even lower profile.

Components

Already have an awesome receiver and want to add lossless streaming content for your favorite internet services? Adding the W Adapt to your rack and expand your music library to include nearly every song ever recorded on your existing system.

Maybe you’ve got some great speakers but no receiver to power them? Link the W Amp to your favorite loudspeakers and enjoy the same great lossless internet streaming content through your prized speakers.

HEOS by Denon
If you’re looking for a wireless multi-room sound system that’s easy to use and sets up in minutes, then HEOS may be the perfect solution. This system operates off an existing WiFi network users can start small with only 1 speaker or expand the system up to 32 different zones. There are currently 4 different HEOS speakers to choose from as well as 2 HEOS components that allow existing speakers or receivers to be tied into the wireless system. Denon’s free mobile app allows complete control of the speakers, volume, and source all from your smartphone or tablet.
The Speakers
Denon currently offers 4 different speakers to fit any room or need:
  • HEOS 7 HS2 – This full size speaker is specially designed for large rooms. Features 2 tweeters, 2 mid-woofers, a large subwoofer along with 2 passive radiators. The entire speaker is powered by 5 dedicated Class D amplifiers.
  • HEOS 5 HS2 – Designed for medium to large rooms, this wireless speaker includes 2 custom sized tweeters, 2 mid-woofers and a passive radiator powered by 4 dedicated Class D amplifiers. A handle allows for easy portability.
  • HEOS 3 HS2 – Horizontal or vertical placement allows this flexible speaker to fit into any situation. With 2 full-range drivers powered by a 2 channel Class D amplifier. Use individually in small to medium size rooms or use two at a time for synchronized stereo sound.
  • HEOS 1 HS2 – Designed for medium to large rooms, this wireless speaker includes 1 mid-woofer and 1 precision dome tweeter and is sealed for humidity resistance. Perfect for the kitchen, bathroom or other small room, listen to a single HEOS 1 HS2 pair 2 speakers for great wireless stereo sound.
The Components
For users with existing speakers or receivers, Denon offers several components and adapters to link them to the HEOS multi-room system:
  • HEOS AMP HS2SR – Connect a pair of speakers you already own to your new HEOS multi-room system and enjoy 100 watts x two channels. Simply run speaker wire from your speakers to this amp and enjoy streaming content from your smartphone or tablet. A subwoofer out jack on the back allows for the addition of a powered sub while the analog RCA input jacks, auxilary 3.5 mm jack and optical input allows users to connect external components.
  • HEOS LINK HS2SR – You want to build a multi-room sound system but you already have a stereo? Why not tile that existing receiver into your new HEOS system with the LINK! Simply connect the HEOS LINK using the pre-amp outputs to an available input on your existing stereo or AV receiver. The LINK also includes coax and optical outputs, an optical input, stereo RCA inputs, an auxiliary 3.5mm input and subwoofer output jacks.
  • HEOS EXTEND – Since HEOS by Denon operates on an existing WiFi network, what happens if you’re in a large space with WiFi dead zones? The HEOS EXTEND allows users to expand their existing WiFi network to include all desired locations. Simply place this extender near the edge of your existing WiFi to expand the reach of your network. This will benefit not only HEOS speakers but any other wireless device or tablet in the house as well.
The App
Get the free Denon HEOS app on your smartphone or tablet for complete control of your new multi-room sound system. Features include:
  • Easily control individual zones or the entire house
  • Friend and guests can be added to create a unique mega party playlist
  • Streaming audio from Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody & TuneIN
  • Play music on your smartphone, from analog sources or from USB storage
  • Multiple free HEOS accounts allow different users in the house to have personalized settings and preferences
Both wired and wireless home audio systems have their share of benefits. You have to consider the amount of patience and time you have, if you decide to go with a conventional wired home audio system. Consider the limitations that a wireless home audio system may come with where sound quality and the lack of a power source for speakers are concerned. Visit our site to learn more about our home audio products, or look through over 6,000 products.