Posted by Michael, December 16th, 2010
Multi-zone and multi-source audio for the house. Sounds pretty sweet, eh? I’ve been wanting to do this since we first purchased our home. It was just too expensive to go through the builder. And even if we had the cash to do it, they didn’t exactly offer what I had in mind. I wanted functionality with components Rebecca and I were already comfortable with (read: iTunes and Apple products). Builder wasn’t offering such capabilities.
I also thought about doing a ton of pre-wiring throughout the house while it was being built. I figured this might be a good idea. But much like everything else, even this was insanely expensive. They wanted $125 to run one network cable from the basement to the master bedroom. If you don’t know about network cable, it’s relatively cheap so this was pure profit for them – something I just couldn’t stomach.
So where does this leave us? Right now, I have an Apple TV powering our “entertainment center” in the family room. The Apple TV allows us to manage our music on a remote computer and stream it to the family room. The thought here is to expand this streaming capability throughout our house. Music in the formal living and dining rooms, music in the master bedroom and bathroom and music in the basement. But here is the catch: I want to be able to control each “zone” independently of one another. That is, if Rebecca is in the bedroom and wants to listen to Jack Johnson at a very low volume, she can. And at the same time if I’m downstairs in the family room, I can be rocking out to, and pretending to be, Justin Timberlake at a very high volume.
But how do you pull this off? And how do you pull this off using Apple products? Oh and how do you do this without going broke? The answer is the a combination of some stereo equipment collecting dust, some speakers, the Apple Airport Express and the Apple TV. Plus the iPad’s and or iPhone’s Remote app to control everything.
First mission? Get speakers mounted in the living and dining rooms. The speaker wires will be routed through the walls and into the basement. The basement will hold all the wonderful stereo equipment. I’ve used my elite Photoshop skills to show you what this might look like. Displayed below is the living room looking into the dining room. Between these rooms, we have columns (with just enough room inside for me to fish some wire without wanting to kill anyone).
On each side of these columns, we’ll have a speaker. Once complete, we’ll have two zones — each zone will have two speakers. For those out there who are interested, I went with Polk for the speakers. I wanted something a bit more towards higher end, but these were ridiculously cheap on sale and solid white, so I could not pass on these (plus they’re refurbished so I saved even more money).
So there you go, the first mission. Stay tuned.