Multi-Zone Sonos in a single box for head end


It would be great to have a Sonos 'Pro'. This could be a multiple zone system, with multiple digital and analog outputs to drive multiple amps in a whole house system. Basically, you could buy one Sonos 'Pro' box, say a 6 zone model, that would have 6 digital and analog outputs. These 6 outputs could then hook up to a 12 channel amp, or multiple amps, which would in turn drive the inwall speakers.

This could be a product that would have a cheaper 'per zone' cost, but would cost more than a single zone Sonos currently costs. Say, for example, $2000 for a 6 zone model, instead of 6 x $499 for 6 individual sonos boxes. There is a niche for this product, for all of those who have whole house systems. Sonance, Niles, etc. don't have anything that comes close to Sonos, but they have systems that are better integrated into the whole house. They don't seem to realize that CD's are so last century.

Sonos is great because it puts a simple interface to a back-end music server. So many music systems for whole house audio are designed for CD changers; as opposed to being designed around TCP/IP and server based connections.

What I am starting to get is a big pile of individual Sonos amps stacking up in my basement, with individual feeds going to each. A multi zone system could clean this up, perhaps save me a couple of bucks, and offer me the opportunity to utilize the excellent remote control of Sonos and combine that with a different amplifier system. It could open Sonos up to a much higher end marketplace.

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It would be great to have a Sonos 'Pro'. This could be a multiple zone system, with multiple digital and analog outputs to drive multiple amps in a whole house system. Basically, you could buy one Sonos 'Pro' box, say a 6 zone model, that would have 6 digital and analog outputs. These 6 outputs could then hook up to a 12 channel amp, or multiple amps, which would in turn drive the inwall speakers.

This could be a product that would have a cheaper 'per zone' cost, but would cost more than a single zone Sonos currently costs. Say, for example, $2000 for a 6 zone model, instead of 6 x $499 for 6 individual sonos boxes. There is a niche for this product, for all of those who have whole house systems. Sonance, Niles, etc. don't have anything that comes close to Sonos, but they have systems that are better integrated into the whole house. They don't seem to realize that CD's are so last century.

Sonos is great because it puts a simple interface to a back-end music server. So many music systems for whole house audio are designed for CD changers; as opposed to being designed around TCP/IP and server based connections.

What I am starting to get is a big pile of individual Sonos amps stacking up in my basement, with individual feeds going to each. A multi zone system could clean this up, perhaps save me a couple of bucks, and offer me the opportunity to utilize the excellent remote control of Sonos and combine that with a different amplifier system. It could open Sonos up to a much higher end marketplace.


Sign me up. That is exactly what I was looking for when I came across Sonos. While the current offering is very nice indeed, what you describe would blow the existing whole house folks out of the water.
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I'd be interested in something like that as well. Or at least a 2U rack-mount unit that has a couple of Sonos ampless players that I can hook up to my Parasound amps.
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Having designed and installed a traditional 12 zone whole house stereo in a previous home, I agree with everyone so far on this thread. The key advantage of the Sonos system is the remote and the handling of the sources. My wife is not a fan of the controllers in the wall, I was able for the most part to slip the in-wall and in-ceiling speakers by. The missing piece in all of the current Niles, Russound, etc. offerings is a remote only approach that actually provides information like the Sonos remote. I was actually playing around with a Windows CE device with the old system to get a more intelligent remote in place but it would definately have been a hack at best. Leveraging a wireless approach (Sonos) vs. the traditional IR is a huge advance.

The one drawback to the "Pro" approach is the fact that you would have to run the wiring for the speakers in a home run approach which adds cost and some complexity. Essentially this system is I understand it would be the same as what all of the current whole house vendors offer except that you have an intelligent remote and only have to run speaker wiring and no Cat 5 for the "in wall" controller. The current systems definately don't handle MP3s like Sonos. The only approach you could take is a dedicated media server (Russound) or a Windows Media Center pc as one of the inputs and you would have to use a laptop or PC to get the info for the later.

Leveraging Crestron or AMX would allow you to accomplish this but at a prohibitive equipment cost and programming cost. Also getting the information about the media you are playing is not trivial.

I do think that there could be a market for this recommended system. I am actually struggling with placement of the Sonos amps and then how to connect speakers to maintain the aesthectics. I did too good of a job selling the in wall / in ceiling speakers that last time...(-:

If a "pro" system was designed it should definately include video as well.

I am currently thinking of a dual system for our place, Sonos to handle the music and a "zoned" Media Center PC for the video, recording, pictures, etc. Fortunately the newer version of Media Center supports wireless/Lan remotes via a dedicated box or a card in a XBOX.

The great thing about this approach is that if I have to move again I can take the whole house systems with me!
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The idea of a centralized multi-zone Sonos box is super, but there is another (I think more pressing) issue to consider in larger home installations where the speakers (or audio wiring) have been preinstalled and are a significant distance from the player(s) location. Specifically, the remote(s) must have a solid wireless connection to the centralized multi-zone box (or even stacked individual players). In a larger home with one or more central chimneys this could be a serious problem (we're already seeing it). I'd suggest that what's needed first is a low-cost wireless repeater that can be placed strategically throughout the home to provide a distributed wireless signal from the remote back to the players(s). The repeaters would relay signals (through each other) back to the centralized units.
After this product is available I'd love to see a multi-zone centralized box that could reduce the multi-unit approach.
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I have just bought a house which was centrally wired, exactly as described in the other posts. The existing system, with the exception of the built-in speakers, actually detracted from my impression of the home, as I knew that I would want to connect my own stereo components and that that would be a major hassle to e.g. reprogram the remote system / keypads built in throughout the house.

I'm planning to go the Sonos route instead.

However, all the runs from the speakers (on 6 floors, multiple rooms per floor) come back to a single point. I would love to be able to use a multi-zone system (with necessary wireless repeaters on each floor for the controller signals).

What I am faced with is trying to find where the speaker wires have been run and connect ZPs floor / zone by zone.

I'm also really nervous about wireless range, as this is an old, brick townhouse c1820 and wiring for CAT5 would be a major headache.

Still, can't wait for my move data a.k.a. my Sonos purchase date.
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I am a to be user.

I have a single AV receiver connected to a multi-zone speaker amplifier. The speaker lines feed zones with in-wall audio controls. A single source plays to all zones (rooms). There are no user needs to have different sources playing in different zones.

What I'd like to see is an overall system where I need only one zone player to "line out" to serve audio to a multi-zone speaker amplifier. For every in-wall volume control, I would replace them with a controller that allows me to control volume and audio selection by zone.

The conceptual difference is I believe this would require multiple line out's of a single zone player to my multi-zone speaker amplifier for such a solution to work as well a zone player server software mods.

Right now, the Sonos solution requires me to have a zone player per room. I'd rather have a controller per room and a central zone player feeding all zones and controllers.
I'd rather have a controller per room and a central zone player feeding all zones and controllers.

One potential issue with this kind of setup is wireless coverage - with a ZonePlayer in each room, you can be sure wherever you walk with your controller you will have decent wireless signal.
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So, the last post to this thread was over a year ago...any more thoughts from Sonos on such a product? I am building a new home with at least six zones of rooms with in-wall speakers.

After getting the speakers off the floor, I don't want to have to figure out where to "hide" a ZP in each room. I would much prefer to pull all the wiring back to a central closet where I will also have all my network gear, etc. This is how the my current whole-house system works with my Kustom (actually, more like Krap) aka NuVo whole house amp. In the new house, I'm ditching all the multi-zone receiver I'm using to distribute sources & just going with ZPs. Most of the content is available directly from the ZP (mp3s, internet radio), with maybe a stand-alone CD player plugged into one of the ZPs just in case.

With the current ZPs, I will need to figure out how to arrange six ZP100s, six power outlets & an 8-port switch for the LAN connections (not doing wireless except for the controller). Sure, a power strip will solve the outlet problems. But as previously mentioned, there's economies of scale to be gained by having multiple zones in one box & saving the intrinsic costs of multiple cases, power supplies, ethernet interfaces, etc.

IMHO, why would someone pay $1900 for just a NuVo whole-house amp, and then pay for components on top of that, when for maybe $500 more you could have one unit that did nearly everything, plus sported line-ins for the things it didn't do?
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Sonos don't comment on new product developments in either a positive or a negative way.

If it's going to happen, you'll know when it's ready and no sooner.
Rackmount ZP's would be nice; say 2U for one with an amp ,and 1U without? Thx guys.
scarbrtj,

How would you feel about an external antenna? Without it coverage would be very very poor. With an external antenna on the back of the unit, probably buried in a tangle of wire, RF performance would be poor -- worse if the ZonePlayer's behind the panel depth was shorter than surrounding units.

A front panel external antenna would violate my sense of what a rack unit should do. (It might overlap another unit's control or display.)
I have three ZP100s in a rack; they work fine in terms of wireless range. A wired connection always works too. It would be the bomb if you could buy a dual amp dual-ZP rackmount unit. In large homes this would fill a nice niche. In the meantime, stacking ZP100s or ZP80s in a rack works. 'Course if you have a rack, you just love those rackmounted things 😃
scarbrtj,

How is your rack configured?

ie: are the ZonePlayers on the top? Are they on a metal rack shelf? Are they on the front edge? Are they sandwitched between two metal shelves?
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You could always keep the internal antenna, and just add a socket for an external one on the back. Then, if you need the external, you can add one with a cable, so ithe antenna can be located in a spot with better reception.

I'd buy a rackmount sonos if it contained more than one ZP.

-The Captain
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In terms of wireless antennas for rackmounts, I would recommend a separate antenna like a wifi access point. This antenna would act as the physical zone of the zoneplayer unit, so allowing the ZP to be located centrally and the antenna located elsewhere. Big big advantage here is that I can change my zone configuration by simply swapping the antenna plugged into one zone player for another. You should also consider having multiple antennas for one zone (e.g., one antenna outside, one on front porch, one in basement) so disparate areas could be grouped together. This connection could be as simple as a standard hub that connects 2+ antennas into one unit.

Even better, you could have an RS232 inptu from the zoneplayer into other multirom audio systems allowing you to expand an existing multroom system into a sonos system (and also gaining use of the remote).
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Why not just put the Sonos base stations on a rackmounted shelf and hard wire the network side. You can probably get three units across in a 2-3U high space. Hardwiring them eliminates RF issues. As this is a rack, you may be using them in a home-run installation, so I am assuming that you have ethernet network cabling there already.
Just an idea. (and probably chaper than if Sonos were to manufacture 1U zone players)
Six ZP80's can fit on a rack shelf.

Wiring the ZonePlayers will allow them to access the music, but may not provide good RF coverage for the handheld controllers.

If you had a few ZonePlayers scattered about to provide RF coverage, a cluster of players would work fine. Any controller can operate any player from any location.
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Okay I love my new Sonos ZP80 however, I would REALLY love to have one that was built in black or silver and was the standard 18" width that I could stick in my AV Rack and not look like a Mac Mini.

You could even make one with the cradle built into the front so it looks like an LCD screen.

Please make one.

http://www.mmsean.com/sonos_concept.jpg
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I can't believe no one wants a standard component sized Zone Player with an option for external RP-SMC antenna

🆒
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There are currently alot of whole house audio installations in homes that use the traditional multichannel amp, in a central location with traditional speaker wire and inwall speakers.

Most of these systems have a 6 source input channel control sent to a number of zones 8, 12, 16.

So I think it would be a great idea if sonos considered competing in the headend market by offering a 6 Zone player 80. In otherwords a 19" style zone player that has 6 zone players in one unit. The 6 zone unit could share the same power supply and be easily installed in the head end room that is already in these homes. This would be much more elegant than six Zone Player 80s with six power cords.

To reduce cost the unit would only need one digital switch and probally would not need line inputs for every zone. Maybe just two line inputs for the CD player or TV input.

I thought of this because in my installation case I have a head end room for the home theater and thought it might make sense to centralize the sonos equipment in this room.

I find the alternative not as elegant. The alternative is a zone player 100 in a closet connected to inwall speakers. The problem with this is you have to run power to this closet to power the unit. So it makes sense to put the zone players in the head end room instead with speaker wire run to the zones. This is what made me think of the multizone head end box.

Ofcourse this box would be much more expensive than the zone player 80, but with the reduction of redundant components maybe it could be made for about $1500. At that price I would by one.
jimmysb,

Personally, I don't feel a need for this because the beauty of the SONOS approach is that it is a distributed system. Distributed systems is a different mindset. I never liked the central approach, distributed seems so much more logical and it saves a lot of wiring hassle (with or without using the SONOS wireless).

There is some merit in the suggestion if the goal is to painlessly replace existing 6-zone systems.

There will be problems that will annoy and frustrate installers because the central system is usually in a poor location as far as RF coverage for the handheld controller is concerned.

If RF coverage is poor, then locations will need to be found for a few extra ZonePlayers acting as RF fill-in relays.

Since the point of these one box 6-zone systems is usually cost reduction, the cost of the added ZonePlayers will cause grumps. For some reason, users focus on the cost of those one or two "extra" units, rather than the total system cost that is still significantly less than other systems that have significantly less functionality.
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The head end room will more than likely already have a wired connection for the network or could easily be added.

The point of the head end room is that every thing is hidden from the rest of the house. It is possible to have more than one head end room too. Like the upstairs laundry. The whole reason to have in wall speakers is to have a seemless installation of audio. If you have zone players in these rooms the "clutter" detracts from that seemless approach.

High end whole house audio installations have a seemless approach with inwall controllers, speakers in the ceiling or walls and no visable wires or cables. I am not suggesting in wall controllers though. Athough you could mount a cradle to the wall and run a power cable to it from the head end room.

In high end homes people are moving away from the traditional reciever / speaker approach. The speakers / recievers / sonos box / just don't fit into room decor anymore. They want the audio hidden.

So where to put the sonos box then? It doesn't make sense to put it in the closet because "hats" go on the shelves and power has to be run to the closet. It is much more expensive to run power to the sonos closet than run some speaker wire.

I understand the "wireless" issues but the boxes would be wired anyway. So the only issue left is whether the controller has enough range. I suspect the controller does not have the bandwitdh requirements of the sonos boxes.

I have noticed that responses to this forum are usually why the suggested idea can't be done. Instead the disscussion should be orientated around how this idea could evolve to resolve the potential issues.

For example maybe sonos comes up with a wired wall mountable dock for the controller that recharges the controller as well as acts as a repeater. Maybe this dock can use the same cat5 cable that is aready installed for the "old" in wall controller.

I think Sonos needs to evolve to capture more of the whole house audio market. This means more variety of product to build on the already steller product offering.

The reality is that they will eventually have to compete with the other whole house offerings out there to capture the high end market as well as the low end. No high end customer is going to want the exposed clutter of sonos boxes inplace of the already integrated audio system they have.

Again is seems from this forum that people keep on responding how things can't be done and are missing the point. I think Sonos needs to evolve to capture more of the whole house audio market. This means more variety of product to build on the already steller product offering.

The reality is that they will eventually have to compete with the other whole house offerings out there to capture the high end market as well as the low end.



I really don't buy this "centralized is best" thing. Usually it's a view expressed by people who have a vested interest, either because they've spent money on a centralized wiring system already, or because they are installers and can charge extra for installing centralised wiring.

Once again people get trapped into a paradigm and find it hard to think outside of this.

Centralised whole-house audio is only one way of doing this. It's not the only way and it's not always the best way. It also does not define what is "high-end". There are plenty of "low-end" installations out there which are centralized, and plenty of "high-end" Sonos users.

I have in-ceiling speakers and no wires in my home. My Sonos ZPs are tucked away in cupboards, on top of units, etc. and all, except one, are pretty much invisible unless you know where to look.

I did used to run all my Sonos boxes from a central point as I had centrally wired the speakers. However controller coverage was spotty. I had an opportunity to rewire the speakers locally and took it as it improved the controller coverage significantly.

Apart from the controller coverage issues, there's no reason why you can't stack Sonos boxes in a central location and I believe a lot of people do this.

Do we need a multizone box? I'm not sure there's really the demand for it, especially not one that connects to a distribution amplifier. I think most people look to Sonos because they don't want to be restricted by some source-switching, head-end amplifier setup. That way of doing distributed audio is becoming obsolete.

A multi-zone box with a ZP100 amplifiers would make a whole lot more sense, but probably wouldn't be significantly cheaper than 6 ZP100's (especially if you do a deal with someone). Note there is a significant cost to developing new products, even if it'#s just a form factor change. Unless there is significant demand for this (which I don't think there is), I can't see it would be cost effective for Sonos to make it significantly cheaper than 6 normal zones.


It's also more restrictive. I quite often "steal" a zone from one room to plug into local speakers in another. I can't justify a separate ZP for that room (yet), but being able to move the ZPs I have around is very useful.

Another thing I hate about multizone boxes is the number of zones never seem to match what you need. There's either too many or not enough, and you end up paying for additional zones you don't need.

Cheers,

Keith
jimmysb,

I understand your mindset, but we come from different places. Over the years I've been dissatisfied with the state of the art.

I recently brought up a system for a couple who purchased a house that included Crestron. They had no idea what the mess of equipment was for or how to turn it on. Fortunately for me, all I had to to was power-up the system because all of the control programming is locked down to protect the turf of the original installer. Unfortunately, the couple did not like the original dealer. I left them to work out that detail on their own.

As far as the system being "central" is concerned, there were a lot more "boxes" scattered around than you would need for a SONOS distributed audio system. If you looked in the closets, there were power supplies (requiring outlet wiring), RF modems, IR breakout boxes, selector boxes, fixed keypads, and handheld remotes scattered all over. There were miles of wire.

True, the Crestron was doing video, security, and probably more, but I was appalled by the number of supporting "boxes" needed and that they were ugly and difficult to organize in neat little bundles. In fairness, knowing this particular dealer, there could have been more "boxes" than were absolutely necessary if the system had been properly designed. (I'm guessing here because I don't have any other Crestron experience, but I do know that dealer's work)

A distributed SONOS system might require some CAT-5 to each ZonePlayer (I recommend wired ZonePlayers) and speaker wire from each ZonePlayer to its speakers. A ZP100 is a lot easier to hide than the gaggle of local "boxes" used by the Crestron and for many people, the ZP100 is not so ugly that it can't sit out somewhere.

The central system was located in the media room, probably took days to install, is really ugly, there are countless cables in the rear, lots of waste heat (requiring noisy fans), too many flashing lights, and it just sits there as a monument to complexity.

You would need a van to deliver the assorted Crestron equipment and days to install. A SONOS system of a similar scale would fit in a car and could be installed in well under a day. (assuming the speakers were pre-installed in both cases)

For those who want to control the world, Crestron is the way to go. The "wow" factor comes because of the control everything aspect, the expense, and the shear bulk of the thing. The "wow" factor of the SONOS is that it is compact and easy to mange and "wow", it's easy to use.

Certainly, a 6-way central SONOS box would be no harder to install than a distributed SONOS system. There would simply be more speaker wire and less CAT-5. And, you may need an extra ZP80 or two for controller coverage. By the way, that remote ZP80 is a great spot to hook up with a Sirius or XM receiver.

---

In a few years there may be a replacement market for 6-zone "boxes", but I don't think that it is here yet. I think SONOS could better use their resouces cracking the video nut. That market would be HUGE.
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Centralized is not the best thing but it is a realilty in alot homes in the US. So how to capture this market?

In the USA centralized systems are very common. It isn't a case of expense it just how things are done. Most homes in the USA are stick built so is relatively easy to run wires.

I have been in many homes that have whole house systems. The homeowners love these systems. The questions is how to enhance these systems from what they have presently. After all these customers have plenty of money to spend so why not have them join the Sonos family too?

The product I could see that would enhance thier experience would be head end equiptment for source control and sonos controller docking stations that acts as a repeater for the already installed in wall controllers.

Sonos already has most of the components for this technology inplace. They just need to reconfigure some of thier current products for this market.

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