Integrating Sonos into existing whole house system


Userlevel 2
I love the Sonos UI but have been unsure if the system would work with my single zone whole house system. Could someone help me explore this? 🙂

Current Setup:

One zone, whole house (6 room) music system. All the hardware is in a rack in a closet with home run wiring.

1) Windows XP Fileserver: iTunes & Song library connected to receiver
2) Denon AVR-2803 Two Zone receiver
3) MX-3000 remote to select Zone 2 music source (DirecTV Sat Radio, CD, Tuner or PC)
4) Harmon Kardon hi current amp to power whole house (manual volume controls in each room)
5) Niles manual speaker selection system to distribute power to house

Problems:

1) MX-3000 remote never seems to work properly, wife hates it
2) Controlling my iTunes library is so difficult that I only use it for parties ( I have looked at lots of solutions but nothing beats the Sonos UI)
3) I have to use two “remotes” to play iTunes music in the house: MX-3000 to select source and notebook (remote desktop) to control music
4) Only one zone in the house, would at least like one more for the bedroom

Requirements:
1) 2 Music zones (can’t afford 6 zone players)
2) 1 remote to control MP3 collection if possible
3) Control of other sources (especially CD) would be great but not required. In other words, I am prepared to give up multiple sources to liberate my MP3 collection

Questions
1) What is the best way to integrate sonos into this system?
2) Do you import and manage music using iTunes after purchasing the sonos system?
3) If yes to above, does the sonos system stay synchronized with the itunes library (playlists, song count, ratings, etc) on a regular basis or is it a one time import?

Thanks in advance for any help, I really want to make this work.

pete

12 replies

One thing I'm not sure about is how you are using these two existing zones. It sounds like you have one as "living room" and the other as "rest of house". Is this correct?

I'll work on this basis...


1) What is the best way to integrate sonos into this system?

There is no "best way"; it depends so much on your needs and way of using things. However, you've give quite a bit of info so I'll take a punt:

Firstly you can disconnect your Fileserver from the receiver, connect a Zoneplayer (ZP) to the fileserver network, and the outputs from the ZP to the receiver.

This will allow you to control your music collection from the sonos controller, but you will need your receiver on to hear it. The Sonos controller will NOT currently control any other equipment. This could give you "Zone 1".

For "zone 2", you could plug another ZP output into either the receiver zone 2 or directly into the HK amp (phono level outputs), and use this to create the "whole house" zone

2) Do you import and manage music using iTunes after purchasing the sonos system?

Yes, with the exception of ITunes Store music which is in a proprietary format crippled so it only works with iPods. Stuf you have ripped yourself is fine.


3) If yes to above, does the sonos system stay synchronized with the itunes library (playlists, song count, ratings, etc) on a regular basis or is it a one time import?


You have to tell it when you have changed your library (there is an "Update Music Library") function on the controller. This re-indexes the music. It's very quick if you have just added a few new albums. Sonos doesn't currently support song count, ratings, etc.

Cheers,
Keith
As Majik said there is no obviously superior way of laying out this system -- with or without the SONOS.

I'm adding a devilish little twist to things. I'll bet your wife will love the SONOS so much that you will have little trouble convincing her that adding more SONOS zoneplayers is the thing to do.

Plug the zone2 output into a zoneplayer's Line-in and connect the Line-out to the Harmon Kardon. This zoneplayer will service the house.

Insert an automatic speaker switcher into the main room's front left and right speaker wires. Connect the automatic speaker switcher's default input to another zoneplayer's speaker terminals. (This zoneplayer will always be connected to the speakers unless the receiver is playing something in zone one)

At this point, your wife can use the SONOS controller to play music from the file server or internet radio in any area of the house. As far as the SONOS system is concerned, there will be "house" and "main" zones. While she won't bother, you'll be able to switch the zone2 output to the house zoneplayer as needed.

The next obvious addition would be a bedroom zoneplayer.

---

If the Harmon Kardon amplifier will not manage its own power, it should be left ON. If you find this offensive, it is possible to arrange for power to be switched ON when music is present, but it is somewhat messy.
Userlevel 2
Majik & Buzz -

You guys were a great help! I think this is really going to work. Below are two drawings, my current setup (at least the music part of it) and a sonos integration:

http://8000x.com/wp-content/SonosSystem.jpg

The first goal was to leverage the sonos remote that I love. The second was to eliminate the unreliability that I have been experiencing in my source switching and control.

I believe that this design allows me to control (almost) the whole house with the Sonos remote and nothing else. If we want to listen to music in the living room, all we have to do is hit a simple (and hopefully reliable) macro on the MX-3000 remote.

What do you guys think??

pete
Looks good to me!

Cheers,

Keith
pmauro,

A disadvantage of your plan is that the Denon and SONOS volume controls will fight and one must wrestle with both the SONOS and the DENON in order to play music in the 5.1 area.

If your wife primarily listens in the areas served by the HK and the second SONOS, everything will be fine for her and she can ignore the DENON and the MX-3000.

Time permitting, I'll draw my scheme, but you may need to hold your breath for a day or two.
Userlevel 2
pmauro,

A disadvantage of your plan is that the Denon and SONOS volume controls will fight and one must wrestle with both the SONOS and the DENON in order to play music in the 5.1 area.

[...]

Time permitting, I'll draw my scheme, but you may need to hold your breath for a day or two.


Good point buzz, I would love to see what you have in mind (at your convenience). If you like, I can email you my visio doc to save some time.

pete
pmauro,

For various reasons, I can't post images.

Connect the speaker outputs of zoneplayer #1 to the default input of an automatic speaker selection box and connect the left front and right front speaker outputs from the Denon to the other input on the selection box.

This will allow zoneplayer #1 to play through the front speakers anytime that the DENON is not playing. Switching will be automatic and the SONOS controller will have absolute control of the zone when listening to music.

I'm a little confused by your drawing. If your file server has audio outputs, connect them to the line-in of zoneplayer #1 and to the DENON by using a "Y" cable. This will give the player access to that music without involving the DENON. (the "Y" usually works but there may be a rare, but obvious, problem when the DENON is turned off -- it is solvable, but I won't go into that now)

Connect the Line-in of zoneplayer #2 to the DENON zone2 output.

Connect the Line-out of zoneplayer #2 to the HK input.

I really want you to connect the speaker output of zoneplayer #3 to the bedroom speakers. The system will be much friendlier if you do. And, I want you to locate that zoneplayer as near to the bedroom as possible.The extra expense will allow the SONOS controller to seamlessly operate throughout the house. There will be no need for your wife to fumble with any of the other remotes (unless she wants satellite radio).

You can use the unassigned SONOS Line-in's for other sources such as a "Y" to the satellite receiver or an old stereo receiver tuned to your favorite local station.

---

Yes, I know that you could connect the bedroom to zoneplayer #2's speaker output, but you'll have constant little "accidents" and problems (such as turning on the other rooms when you want music only in the bedroom). Also, the SONOS volume control will be active on both the Line-out and speaker out. Any adjustment of the bedroom volume will pass through to the house.
Userlevel 2
Buzz –

Thanks for responding in detail. It’s taken a while for me to respond because this design raised a lot of questions. I decided to just draw what I thought you were talking about. (Bottom of post)

I have a slew of questions. I hope that this discussion is helpful for other people in the forums. I sure am learning a lot. 🙂


Connect the speaker outputs of zoneplayer #1 to the default input of an automatic speaker selection box and connect the left front and right front speaker outputs from the Denon to the other input on the selection box.

This will allow zoneplayer #1 to play through the front speakers anytime that the DENON is not playing. Switching will be automatic and the SONOS controller will have absolute control of the zone when listening to music.

1) This makes a lot of sense – great ideas. It appears that I will loose my subwoofer when using the sonos system though. Any way around that?


I'm a little confused by your drawing. If your file server has audio outputs, connect them to the line-in of zoneplayer #1 and to the DENON by using a "Y" cable. This will give the player access to that music without involving the DENON.


2) I thought that the way the Sonos system works is that the first Zone Player receives an audio stream via TCP/IP. I thought I was “saving” an extra RCA line-in for another source. Am I wrong here?


(the "Y" usually works but there may be a rare, but obvious, problem when the DENON is turned off -- it is solvable, but I won't go into that now)

3) Hmmm. If the denon is turned off, what could the problem be? I don’t care about listening to the fileser via the Denon if that’s what you mean.


Connect the Line-in of zoneplayer #2 to the DENON zone2 output.

4) Confused again. Is the idea to here to allow me to offer additional sources via the Denon? This means using two remotes – something that I am trying to avoid at all costs.



And, I want you to locate that zoneplayer as near to the bedroom as possible.

5) Why do I need to locate the zone player near my bedroom? I have home run wiring so I was hoping to keep everything in my equipment closet. Is this a concern regarding wi-fi reception? If so, wi-fi reception there is fine.


Yes, I know that you could connect the bedroom to zoneplayer #2's speaker output, but you'll have constant little "accidents" and problems (such as turning on the other rooms when you want music only in the bedroom). Also, the SONOS volume control will be active on both the Line-out and speaker out. Any adjustment of the bedroom volume will pass through to the house.


6) Understood. However, I only need 2 zones (whole house and bedroom). Can I consolidate ZP1 and ZP2 in your design? RCA out to HK and speaker out to livingroom. Right?

pete

http://8000x.com/wp-content/SonosSystem2.jpg
pmauro,

The drawing is perfect.

The one point that I was fuzzy about was your file server. From your discription I wasn't sure if its output was ethernet (a NAS device) or line level audio (RCA jacks). Your drawing shows it as the latter.

With regard to your questions.

1) This makes a lot of sense – great ideas. It appears that I will loose my subwoofer when using the sonos system though. Any way around that?

Connect the subwoofer as usual. If you want to use the subwoofer with the SONOS, plug the DENON subwoofer output to the left channel subwoofer input and the SONOS to the right channel input (don't use a Y-cable). Adjust the subwoofer input level to match the SONOS, then adjust the DENON subwoofer output to match the SONOS.

2) I thought that the way the Sonos system works is that the first Zone Player receives an audio stream via TCP/IP. I thought I was “saving” an extra RCA line-in for another source. Am I wrong here?

Sorry, I missed the part about "XP server". Delete the RCA connections from the server. SONOS will fetch the music from your server via the TCP/IP connection. This will leave at least one ZonePlayer Line-in available.

3) Hmmm. If the denon is turned off, what could the problem be? I don’t care about listening to the fileser via the Denon if that’s what you mean.

Since we have no RCA connection to the server, we have no "Y", and the potential problem is gone. Sorry about the false alarm.

4) Confused again. Is the idea to here to allow me to offer additional sources via the Denon? This means using two remotes – something that I am trying to avoid at all costs.

My goal is to give your wife a seemless experience. For the house, if you want to listen to a source other than server music, internet radio, or Rhopsody (available only in the US), you'll have to deal with zone2. But, you can do that and she can't. If she wants the additional sources, she'll have to learn to deal with zone2 -- but we wouldn't be having this discussion if she was willing to do that. If you want to listen to a source other than the SONOS in the livingroom, turn on the DENON and use the appropriate remote(s).

5) Why do I need to locate the zone player near my bedroom? I have home run wiring so I was hoping to keep everything in my equipment closet. Is this a concern regarding wi-fi reception? If so, wi-fi reception there is fine.

Yes, I'm just making sure that the controller will have a good wireless connection to a ZonePlayer. If you get good coverage of the whole house from your central equipment location, there is no compelling advantage of locating a zoneplayer in the bedroom.

6) Understood. However, I only need 2 zones (whole house and bedroom). Can I consolidate ZP1 and ZP2 in your design? RCA out to HK and speaker out to livingroom. Right?

I don't think this is a good idea because the SONOS volume control will adjust both the Living Room and the House. Also, you will have no convenient way to shut off the livingroom and listen in the house.
Userlevel 2
The design of my dream Sonos system continues. I am a total gadget freak and I think sometimes most of the fun for me comes in the planning process. Having a great community behind the product makes it even better. (Reminds me of the “EMPEG” mp3 hard drive player that I bought for my car 4 years ago).

You are not off the hook yet Buzz. 🙂


If you want to use the subwoofer with the SONOS, plug the DENON subwoofer output to the left channel subwoofer input and the SONOS to the right channel input (don't use a Y-cable). Adjust the subwoofer input level to match the SONOS, then adjust the DENON subwoofer output to match the SONOS.

You totally lost me on this. My Energy XLS-8 subwoofer has L+R high level inputs but only one rca input – is this mono??? Even if it did have L+R low level, wouldn’t the subwoofer be garbled if the Sonos and Denon were both on? (i.e. Someone watching TV in the living room and someone else listening to the radio in the house.)

Here is a picture of the sub backpanel. There is a little more info in the manual.
http://www.8000x.com//wp-content/subwoofer.jpg


I only need 2 zones (whole house and bedroom). Can I consolidate ZP1 and ZP2 in your design

I don't think this is a good idea because the SONOS volume control will adjust both the Living Room and the House. Also, you will have no convenient way to shut off the livingroom and listen in the house.


I really don’t think we will mind it if the living room is a part of the house zone. After all, it’s just another room in our house. If it becomes a hassle, we can always cough up another $500.

pete

p.s.

Whaddya think of this Speakercraft SL-One A/B Speaker Switch?
Userlevel 2
I have the infra red MX-3000 for my family room system which consists of the following: Onkyo TX602 receiver, Bose Accoustimass 16, Sony 42" HDTV, Xbox, Sony VCR, Sony 985vx DVD player, Sony VCR/DVD recorder, Directv 10-250, Zoneplayer and Polk XM tuner.

I have the XM plugged into "line in" on the Sonos and the "line out" on my Sonos to my "Tape Input" on the Onkyo then I have the MX-3000 to just cut the receiver on to the "Tape Input" which I have labeled "Listen to SONOS" and I have XM radio on all 4 zones and the family room system works just fine.

Once you cut the receiver on you never have to touch the MX-3000 again to listen to music on the Sonos or XM.

I have 3 other zoneplayers connected to speakers in my master bedroom, living room Bose 48 and to my office infinity speakers.

I am happy as a "pig in slop" because everything works as it is supposed to. 😃

[ ... ]
You totally lost me on this. My Energy XLS-8 subwoofer has L+R high level inputs but only one rca input – is this mono??? Even if it did have L+R low level, wouldn’t the subwoofer be garbled if the Sonos and Denon were both on? (i.e. Someone watching TV in the living room and someone else listening to the radio in the house.)


Yes, subwoofers are mono. They usually have L & R inputs that are simply added. Since the poor little subwoofer is too dumb to figure out that the inputs are from separate systems, everything works out fine.

If both systems were running, the output from both systems would be presented to the subwoofer. This is one reason why I wanted a separate ZonePlayer for the main room.

Another side effect of your two ZonePlayer arrangement is that bass would not be presented to the house. (It would be routed to the subwoofer.) Since you would normally use smaller speakers in the house that don't have much bass to begin with, I don't see this as a major issue.

Don't use a "Y" cable. Most subwoofers I've seen have stereo inputs and my original plan would work fine. You do have two inputs on your subwoofer, but they have different sensitivities. Mostly, this will complicate the setup and operation, but it can still be made to work. Each time you use the system, you may need to adjust the subwoofer level control. I say may, because I don't know the subwoofer output adjustment range for your receiver. If you are able to fabricate little reistor networks, you could work things out, but I can't tell you from here exactly what that network might be.


[ ... ]
I really don’t think we will mind it if the living room is a part of the house zone. After all, it’s just another room in our house. If it becomes a hassle, we can always cough up another $500.



p.s.

Whaddya think of this Speakercraft SL-One A/B Speaker Switch?


It will work, and it is relatively inexpensive.

Consider using a SONANCE AVL1 and AS1. These will eliminate the level difference, allow easy adjustment, and use video sync as your switching signal (this is much more reliable than simple audio signal sensing.)

Watch the cost creep. As you get closer and closer to the $600.00 mark, a ZonePlayer starts looking more attractive. (I had to get in one last lobby for another ZonePlayer.)

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I know you will have more questions -- let'em fly. I could probably anticipate most of them but I'm out of time at the moment.

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