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skelly99
2007-12-16, 15:58
Hi - I'd appreciate some advice on creating a multi zone SB/SlimServer set up please. Having read a number of posts it appears the general recommendation is a central NAS or PC, a SB3 in each zone on a wired network, each with a local amplifier and speakers.
I've inherited a DIY solution where the house is wired throughout with CAT 5. Eight sets of speaker cables have been ran to a number of rooms but they return to a central point in the study.
Currently only 3 sets of cables are active with in ceiling speakers. I currently have an AUDIOTRON powered through an amplifier and a 3 way control box.
I'm keen to upgrade to a more polished multi room solution and have been looking at a QNAP 209 hosting Slim Server and a SB3 for each zone.
However I'm puzzled how best to handle the speaker situation without running any additional cables. Obviously I will need a multi-channel amp (suggestions welcome) but in order to turn this into a multi room set up will I need a seperate SB3 located centrally for each zone?
Is there a way of having the SB3 located in each of the zones so they can be controlled locally but the speakers still being amplified centrally?
Any suggestions welcome. Thanks, Steve

pfarrell
2007-12-16, 16:07
skelly99 wrote:

> However I'm puzzled how best to handle the speaker situation without
> running any additional cables. Obviously I will need a multi-channel
> amp (suggestions welcome) but in order to turn this into a multi room
> set up will I need a seperate SB3 located centrally for each zone?
> Is there a way of having the SB3 located in each of the zones so they
> can be controlled locally but the speakers still being amplified
> centrally?

Well, you can do it many ways. But the usual way for SqueezeBox users to
do a setup like this is to only run the CAT5 to each SqueezeBox, and
have short runs from each squeezeboxen to powered speakers or a small
amp/speaker setup.

I'm not sure I understand why you'd want to have sources (the SB) in
each room and then run the music back to a central amp. Perhaps I'm just
not following it, but the usual SB setup is to move the music via
Ethernet or WiFi to each room and let each SB handle selections,
volumne, etc.

HTH

JJZolx
2007-12-16, 16:43
~~~~~~~~~~

bflatmajor
2007-12-16, 18:07
I think I encountered the same issue when I purchased a different house. Most rooms were pre-wired for speakers and all the wires returned on a central location.

All rooms have wall mounted volume controls.

This is what I did.

I had an extra receiver, plugged the SB digital output of the SB into the receiver. Ran the speaker wire from the receiver into a monster speaker selection box. This box had ALL the speaker wire from all the rooms running into it.

Slim Server runs on one pc in my office.

I can turn the music off in any room either at the wall mounted control for that room or I can push the appropriate button on the speaker selection button to shut the music off.

My SB is connected to my pc wirelessly.

In my main listening area, I run the speaker wire into my tape-in
To a second receiver. Now that is a long story. Suffice to say, it works.

I have access to the SS via my laptop when I'm not in the office.

If you need any more information let me know.
If this works great, if not sorry.

Regards,

razzbuddy
2007-12-16, 18:25
I use a similar set up to wat you are describing. I have ceiling speakers in 6 different rooms. All speaker wires go to a central area. Each room with these speakers has a wall unit which is wired via cat 5 cable that also goes back to the central area.

I have both the speaker wire and the cat 5 wires hooked up to a multi-zone amp. In this case, a Russound CAA6. The squeezebox is hooked into the Russound multi-zone. This allows the Squeezebox to play in any of these rooms of my choosing. Volume is handeled in each room by the wall unit. I can, of course, handle the volume to all rooms using the squeezebox volume control as well.

By using my laptop, I can control the squeezebox while in a different room from it. For easy, non-critical listening it works great for me. I would think any multi-zone amp would be able to do this.

I also have the Squeezebox hooked up to my regular amp in my 5.1 set-up in living room for more critical listening.

JJZolx
2007-12-16, 18:30
I think I encountered the same issue when I purchased a different house. Most rooms were pre-wired for speakers and all the wires returned on a central location.

All rooms have wall mounted volume controls.

This is what I did.

I had an extra receiver, plugged the SB digital output of the SB into the receiver. Ran the speaker wire from the receiver into a monster speaker selection box. This box had ALL the speaker wire from all the rooms running into it.

Slim Server runs on one pc in my office.

I can turn the music off in any room either at the wall mounted control for that room or I can push the appropriate button on the speaker selection button to shut the music off.


But you have just one Squeezebox that feeds all of the rooms, correct? That's a fairly standard whole-house audio installation, although it's also what many people want with whole-house audio, as it's used primarily for background music. You wouldn't want something different playing in the kitchen and in the dining room right next to it, for instance.

But you might want something different playing in the garage workshop, or out on the deck, or in different bedrooms. That's where individual source selection within those zones would be nice. It just doesn't always work well with existing whole-house wiring.

bflatmajor
2007-12-16, 18:52
But you might want something different playing in the garage workshop, or out on the deck, or in different bedrooms. That's where individual source selection within those zones would be nice. It just doesn't always work well with existing whole-house wiring.

You are correct, I have just one SB. The good thing about my setup is that my wife and I enjoy the same type of music and our kids are grown and out of the house. Since I've taken the time and selectively burned the songs from my cd's, chances are that I've take the best selection from the cd.
Hit the random mix and all is good.

peter
2007-12-17, 01:13
JJZolx wrote:
>
> Yes, but you'd need to run the analog L & R channel outputs from the
> Squeezeboxes in each room back to the centrally located amp.
>
> If you had visual remote controls that could use wifi (such as the Jive
> remote or a PDA or laptop) in each room, then you could have the
> Squeezeboxes themselves in the central location, one for each room.
>

He might even do it on the cheap and put the server in the central
location, put a few sound cards in and let slimslave or softsqueeze
produce the sound and control things over the Jive (when it comes out).
No SB's needed.

Regards,
Peter

WSLam
2007-12-17, 07:18
For this kind of custom installation, what kind of amps are suitable for in-wall, in-ceiling type speakers? I assume something very cheap and low powered would be enough?

ws

dougwise
2007-12-17, 08:18
I use a Niles Audio ZR-4630 in my six rooms with wall / ceiling mounted speakers.

Doug Wise
dougwise (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

meep
2007-12-17, 09:39
And then there's this apporach;

I have a similar star configuration with all my speaker cables running back to a single point. This point is adjacent to my structured wiring panels, network hubs etc. Essentially, everything terminates proximate to each other in my attic.

Beside this mass of cables, I have installed my server running Win Server 2003. This holds all my music files and runs SlimServer.

In the server, I have installed an M-Audio Delta 410 sound card that gives me 4x stereo outputs and one SPDIF output.

The SPDIF runs to my A/V receiver in my HT. The 4x Analog outs run to cheap as chips digital T-Amps stacked beside the server. Each one powers a set of speakers somewhere in the house.

I have set up 5 instances of SoftSqueeze on the server, each one with a different MAC address and mapped to one of the 5 audio outputs.

I use any of the following to access SlimServer and control music in any zone;
-One of two Nokia 770 handhelds accessing the Nokia 770 skin
-A PSP accessing the Nokia 770 skin
-Any PC or laptop anywhere in the house.

Now, not a squeezebox in sight and a fabuosuly usable system! To add more zones, I just need to add more sound cards to my server.

To my mind, this set-up is best for the start speaker config. My next task is to have my alarm system cut off power to the T-Amps so that they do not run needlessly when the house is empty.

Peter

peter
2007-12-18, 02:59
meep wrote:
> And then there's this apporach;
>
> I have a similar star configuration with all my speaker cables running
> back to a single point. This point is adjacent to my structured wiring
> panels, network hubs etc. Essentially, everything terminates proximate
> to each other in my attic.
>
> Beside this mass of cables, I have installed my server running Win
> Server 2003. This holds all my music files and runs SlimServer.
>
> In the server, I have installed an M-Audio Delta 410 sound card that
> gives me 4x stereo outputs and one SPDIF output.
>
> The SPDIF runs to my A/V receiver in my HT. The 4x Analog outs run to
> cheap as chips digital T-Amps stacked beside the server. Each one
> powers a set of speakers somewhere in the house.
>
> I have set up 5 instances of SoftSqueeze on the server, each one with a
> different MAC address and mapped to one of the 5 audio outputs.
>
> I use any of the following to access SlimServer and control music in
> any zone;
> -One of two Nokia 770 handhelds accessing the Nokia 770 skin
> -A PSP accessing the Nokia 770 skin
> -Any PC or laptop anywhere in the house.
>
> Now, not a squeezebox in sight and a fabuosuly usable system! To add
> more zones, I just need to add more sound cards to my server.
>
> To my mind, this set-up is best for the start speaker config. My next
> task is to have my alarm system cut off power to the T-Amps so that
> they do not run needlessly when the house is empty.
>

Disgusting. Logitech is not making a penny here! ;)

This was what I had in mind earlier, except I'd probably want to add one
or more Jive remotes in a later stage so that Logitech makes a few
pennies at least.

Regards,
Peter

meep
2007-12-18, 10:21
I am aware of that!

I'm presently building a garage with loft that's going to be my home office. This is seperated from the main house and I'm not running speaker cable to it. I'll be purchasing a Squeezebox for aural entertainment there -(and to ease my guilty conscience!)

Peter

blorty
2008-01-08, 13:24
Hey meep,

Cool setup.

How easy is it for you to play all your zones synchronized or set different music in each of the zones?

Thanks.

schatzy
2008-01-08, 14:07
meep,

Sounds like a great set up.

I use a Russound R235LS amp which draws less than one watt when the audio inputs are not feed from the SB. Then when the SB is putting out audio the amp turns on immediately and stays on for 10 minutes after the last note so that if you have a break in the music like for track changes or some other reason the amp is not turning on and off all the time.

These Russound amps can also take a second speaker level for a pass thru of a local stereo.

Schatzy

Zaragon
2008-01-08, 15:18
The main problem here is a number of amplifiers are needed to power all the separate speakers especially if you want them to be able to independantly and simultaneously play different music. I'm sure there are multi-room amps but they are probably at professional prices.

One solution, except for the amps, would be the new Duet with extra receivers. It would be a simple job to put all the receivers in the central location on a Cat5 switch. A multi-amp or even separate amps in the same place driving the speaker wires.

The wireless controller then is full multi-room use.

If you want to consider SB3s in each room there are systems that will provide ethernet over the speaker wire that is in place. These used to be called line drivers but are essentially limited power DSL systems usually designed to be retrofited into hotels that have only telephony wiring to the rooms. You could also look at power line systems to get cat5 into the rooms.

Skunk in another thread mentioned a 12 channel amp (6 stereo pairs) so I thought I'd add the link he provided: http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&Partnumber=309-172

meep
2008-01-08, 17:36
Hey meep,

Cool setup.

How easy is it for you to play all your zones synchronized or set different music in each of the zones?

Thanks.

Guys

Sorry, did not have notification on this thread and happend across it just again today.

Different songs, different zones = easy.
Syncronisation = Moderately easy

Though, with SS 6.x, syncronisation was not precise and would produce odd echoes standing between adjacent zones. Have recently upgraded to SS 7 but have not tried zone sync yet.

@schatzy
That Russound Amp certainly looks like a good, low power, flexible solution. However, the T-Amp is hard to beat for price at around $40! I really like that switching, though.

@Zaragon
Yes, additional zones require speakers and an amp, and a second soundcard if going over 4/5 zones. However, SBs will need some kind of amp anyway.

I've spent about 4 years looking at a cost effective, DIY multi-zone whole house audio system. I've looked at the matrix switching, multi-zone ,1,000+ amps, the various in-wall solutions etc. For my money, the best solution to a star-topology pre-wired speaker set-up is as described. Slim Server is such a flexible system. I still feel guilty about leveraging all the free bits though and will be purchasing a squeeze box anon.

Now if they only did video as well.....

gsawdy
2008-01-08, 20:41
I've spent about 4 years looking at a cost effective, DIY multi-zone whole house audio system. I've looked at the matrix switching, multi-zone ,1,000+ amps, the various in-wall solutions etc. For my money, the best solution to a star-topology pre-wired speaker set-up is as described. Slim Server is such a flexible system. I still feel guilty about leveraging all the free bits though and will be purchasing a squeeze box anon.

Meep,
This is an impressive acheivement. I'd guess it must have taken a year or so just to figure how to get it all to work. I've looked at PC audio cards and my sense of it is that most folks who are not into recording feel that decoding inside the PC box is very detremental to the sound quality. That if you want quality playback, you need some form of external DAC. On top of that, M-Audio's reputation is that it offers good value for the $ for the home recordist, but it doesn't seem to have a top quality sound reproduction reputation.

I've been hanging out on a number of forums and I believe these to be widely held views. Not saying its right as I don't know, just my sense after a lot of reading.

Were you able to compare the output of your sound card system with that of a Squeeze3? If you were to do it again would you use the M-Audio card or is there another you would choose next time? I've looked at multi output channel cards by supposedly "better" manufacturers and we are talking around $1000.00+-. And I'm not certain that the sound quality would be any better than the squeezebox.

George

JJZolx
2008-01-08, 20:54
I've looked at PC audio cards and my sense of it is that most folks who are not into recording feel that decoding inside the PC box is very detremental to the sound quality. That if you want quality playback, you need some form of external DAC.

That's certainly not the impression that I've gotten recently in (probably) those same forums. Certainly, the _potential_ for better sound reproduction lies with having an external DAC, but a lot of audiphiles are running systems with professional sound cards and are quite happy with the sound.

That direction of discussion, though, probably isn't relevant to the vast majority of multi-zone audio systems, which are seldom set up with the best sound quality as a priority. Spending $400 to $1000 per sound card per zone wouldn't doesn't much sense when using inexpensive in-wall speakers and a cheap amp.

meep
2008-01-09, 04:31
That's certainly not the impression that I've gotten recently in (probably) those same forums. Certainly, the _potential_ for better sound reproduction lies with having an external DAC, but a lot of audiphiles are running systems with professional sound cards and are quite happy with the sound.

That direction of discussion, though, probably isn't relevant to the vast majority of multi-zone audio systems, which are seldom set up with the best sound quality as a priority. Spending $400 to $1000 per sound card per zone wouldn't doesn't much sense when using inexpensive in-wall speakers and a cheap amp.

Just what I was about to post! I happened to have the m-audio left over from a previous HTPC build and found it fit for purpose. If it had not been to hand, I would most likely have used a cheap sound blaster or similar. Given that this is for whole house audio using budget amps and mix and match speakers, the set up is more than adequate. (For serious listening, a more serious system would be advised).

Having said that, I'm more than happy with the sound quality, given that it's always background in any case. One could install RME or higher end sound cards for beter output.

Peter

gsawdy
2008-01-09, 06:12
Meep and JJZolx,
I have to agree that most mutliroom systems are for background music/radio. But I hate that: elevator music, musical wallpaper or whatever you want to call it drives me up a wall. I'd vastly prefer silence, but those are just my oddities. When I first read of your system, I was quite interested in it and tried to investigate further. It does make a lot of sense $-wise. Hence my question regarding a comparison of the sound with the Squeeze3.

Events may have overtaken this thread with the announcement of the $150 Squeeze reciever.

JJZolx, if you can point me to comparisons of sound cards to external DACs I'd be appreciative. My investigations didn't turn up any. I know that folks have talked favorablely about 5.1 and 7.1 sound cards, but those would not work in this type of system--multi independent stereo outputs are needed as I understand it.

George

meep
2008-01-09, 06:41
Meep and JJZolx,
I have to agree that most mutliroom systems are for background music/radio. But I hate that: elevator music, musical wallpaper or whatever you want to call it drives me up a wall. I'd vastly prefer silence, but those are just my oddities. When I first read of your system, I was quite interested in it and tried to investigate further. It does make a lot of sense $-wise. Hence my question regarding a comparison of the sound with the Squeeze3.


George

When I get a Squeezebox, I will certainly post subjective comparison. The thing is, if you have a PC serving tunes anyway, why not leverage it as your playback system as well (for a small extra outlay).

Regarding sound quality, in the past I have used ASIO drivers to bypass the windows kmixer on the m-audio card. This negates many of the arguments against onboard decoding (resampling!) and provided the audio card has decent dac circuitry, you can't really get much cleaner audio out.

Peter

Peter

gsawdy
2008-02-01, 11:12
I PM-ed you. G