Question

Whole House Audio Setup (Sonos integration)

  • 8 August 2017
  • 4 replies
  • 8608 views

Building a new home and went with a modest amount of distributed audio in the house but will be bringing 3 Sonos Play 1s to the new house. Here is the setup. How will I need to power the in-ceiling speakers and utilize the best setup for whole-home setup.

Outdoor Living area- Set of in-ceiling speakers
Kitchen- Set of in-ceiling speakers
Master Bath- Set of in-ceiling speakers
Master Bedroom- Two Play 1 sonos wireless speakers
Office- 1 sonos Play 1.
Living Room- I may get a Sonos Playbar but hate how tall and bulky it is. Has anyone utilized a smaller, sleeker surround bar directly connected to the TV above it, but then connected it to a sonos Connect that way it serves dual purpose. Connected directly to the TV for better TV sound but the Connect allows it to be used as a sound source in that room.

Could easily add sonos wireless speakers to other rooms and switching and powering them is a moot point.

My question is the 3 rooms listed above that will be routed back to the data closet. Do I need 3 Sonos amps (expensive at $500ea) or what do you recommend? Also, because the data area is under the stairs should I place the sonos power boost outside of the closet? I actually have an old bridge (the non-wireless version as well as the power boost bridge) anyone ever used them both? (ie. old bridge directly connected in the data closet and then the powerboost hardwired in another room that has a data jack).

Thanks!

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4 replies

Userlevel 6
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For the in ceiling speakers, you have only two real options:
1) Connect:Amp directly powering the speakers,
2) Connect feeding a power amp then powering the speakers.

Both are going to be expensive, but you have an advantage in that you have a central distribution closet. An amp with multiple channels could be a cost saver. I have one at home, not being used yet, that was left by the previous home-owner. It's a Yamaha amplifier with 2 stereo inputs, and 2 pairs of separately powered speaker outs. The amp is switchable between one input to both pairs of speakers, or input 1 to speaker pair A and input 2 to speaker pair B. I'll try to remember to get the model number when I get home, but I think it's the MX-35 (https://reverb.com/item/5296041-yamaha-mx-35-vintage-natural-sound-2-4-channel-power-amplifier-0uw). The problem is this amp has only 20/40 watts per channel, but for the bathroom and kitchen, that's probably enough. The outdoor will likely also work best with a Connect and separate amplifier - I'm using an old ZP100 to drive my outside speakers and it's a bit underpowered - the neighbors haven't complained even once!!!!

For the living room, I would go with a real hifi and a Connect, but that's just me. Someone else will have to chime in on the Soundbar/Soundbase/Sub pros and cons.

Cost: I have never bought a single Sonos device full price. I found my first on the open box table at Best Buy in 2009: a ZP100 for $100. It was my only Sonos device for years, and it's still going just fine, runs my patio speakers. I've got three Play:3's, all either sale or open-box at the BX, two Play:1's in the kitchen at the BX (open-box during the Sonos Christmas sale, so they added the Sonos sale to the open-box clearance price, got them for $130 each) and a NOS ZP80 I got last year on eBay. If you have time to wait and plan, you can outfit your house without the super expense.
You could use one CONNECT:AMP to power two of your rooms/zones, say the kitchen and outdoor. However, that would limit your ability to control source and volume separately. You can add manual volume controls and switches to that setup, but you would not be able to have different sources. I've done it before myself, but it's not ideal.

Is your kitchen and living room is an open concept...all one room essentially? If so, and depending on the layout, you might want to think about using a PLAYBAR bonded to the CONNECT:AMP powering the kitchen speakers. With that setup, your kitchen speakers are surround speakers when watching tv.

I personally don't find the sound bar too bulky, but I imagine that depends on the size of your tv. I have used a different soundbar and connect, like you recommend, but didn't care for it much. Part of that was that it was a cheap soundbar, but part of it was that I had to switch inputs on the soundbar to change from tv to sonos audio. It added a complication. The PLAYBAR can auto switch to tv when tv is on. When opting to play music, it switches when you've selected a music source.

To me, I think the decision to go with a PLAYBAR or other system depends on how you use the room. If it's a dedicated home theatre, 95% of the time you're using the tv, then I wouldn't use Sonos. You won't take advantage of the multiroom much, and wireless isn't as big of a plus if you haven't put up walls yet.

As for your question on using the BOOST, I probably would go without it at first. That also depends on the size of your house and proximately of neighbors with wifi. Again, since you don't have walls and are using a data closet, you can directly connect a PLAYBAR and CONNECT:AMPS. Perhaps the PLAY:1s too, if it makes sense. You can add a BOOST later if you're having connectivity problems.
Userlevel 2
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Living Room- I may get a Sonos Playbar but hate how tall and bulky it is. Has anyone utilized a smaller, sleeker surround bar directly connected to the TV above it, but then connected it to a sonos Connect that way it serves dual purpose. Connected directly to the TV for better TV sound but the Connect allows it to be used as a sound source in that room.
This is fairly common. Most good sound bars are in fact mini-receivers, so you can run an optical or dual RCA from a Connect to the sound bar. However, the volume control is independent of the Sonos system, and of course there's more cabling to deal with right under your TV - not a deal breaker, just something to be mindful of. If you do this, I highly recommend the Logitech Harmony Hub, since then you can control the Sonos and your sound bar from a single interface. Of course, I recommend one of their remotes anyway, just go with a cheaper model if you use the Play:Bar.

There's also the choice of a sound bar with external amplification (e.g. there's an AVR actually powering it) so you can tuck away the AVR (and hence wiring) into a closet somewhere, but those sound bars tend to be much larger to take advantage of the additional power resulting from removing the amplifier from the soundbar itself. If the TV is going to be wall mounted (you don't say) then you could also do in wall speakers and make them disappear entirely - or even do an in-ceiling surround sound system, which is quite reasonable with aim-able in-ceiling speakers.

You're also right at the edge of where it would make sense to run a more traditional system, like a Niles Auriel (which can natively control Sonos) or Russound, and simply feed one or more Sonos connects to it. Financially it doesn't make sense at only three zones, but add a few more and it starts to. You're building the house, so you get to do whatever you want, after all!
Userlevel 2
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I connected my TV audio to my connect and could not resolve latency issues where the audio was behind the video - for which what I gather from other posts - there is no way to adjust audio that is behind the video, only audio that is ahead of the video. Hoping SONOS will resolve the issue maybe by redesigning their devices with an HDMI I/O
passthrough.