Whole House Audio: How to Create the Ultimate Audiophile Experience
How to Create Whole House Audio
Audiophiles love to enjoy music from the comfort of their own home, but filling your rooms with high-quality sound requires an understanding of how whole house audio works. Here’s what you need to know to create the ultimate multi-room audio experience:
What is whole house audio?
Whole house audio, also known as distributed audio, has “speakers in two or more rooms that are supplied with sound from a central music source.” (source)
A whole house audio system combines aesthetics and performance, and can be customized to your living system to get the best acoustics possible. This allows you to experience high-quality audio throughout the home and control music from one central location rather than having to move from room to room. These systems are often wireless, but there are control systems that allow you to use a single UI (like a phone or iPad) for the whole system. Many distribution amps are now compatible with control systems like Savant in wired speaker applications.
How to install whole house audio
The most important thing when installing whole house audio is making sure you can assemble a system that works together. You will also want to consider whether it can be expanded to add more components down the road. Problems commonly occur when people buy a lot of disparate equipment thinking they can zone them altogether; unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. Systems that rely on a central processor/receiver/distribution amp as the hub will have specific ways they are able to be zoned, so you always need to look at the particular product to understand how many zones of music they allow and how they can be grouped.
A system from Sonos, for example, will give you a lot of flexibility in terms of how audio can be played in each room. At Paragon Sight & Sound, we consider room acoustics, furniture location, and your lifestyle when we locate speakers. The decisions we make — whether it’s installing in-wall cables, selecting the speaker placement, or finding the right amplifier — contribute to the overall sound quality and look of the room. Our experts configure and install the IT components needed for wireless access and/or control, providing you with an intuitive and easy-to-operate system. The goal is to create a distributed audio system that is customized to your space so it can provide the best audio possible — and also look aesthetically pleasing.
Equipment needed for whole house audio
The placement and quality of your speakers plays an important role in your overall sound quality. Home speaker systems come in a variety of types and sizes, ranging from compact bookshelf speakers to tall floor-standing models. You can envelop yourself in sound with a combination of surround-sound and central speakers, or enjoy the high-quality audio and discreet appearance of a wireless option.
Speakers are available for a variety of price points, capabilities and applications, so narrowing your selection can be tricky. When shopping for whole house audio, you want to narrow your options to speakers that suit the acoustics and appearance of your rooms, and will work with other equipment like amplifiers.
A good power amplifier is the backbone of your home audio system. It boosts the source signal from your preamplifier so it’s at a high enough level to play through your speakers. It is important to properly match your power amplifier to your speakers, paying attention to impedance, power output, and recommended amplifier power.
When picking an amplifier, you will have a number of options, including distribution or multi-channel amps, receivers, and processors. You need to be sure you pick the right component for your audio setup, and that it matches your speaker’s specifications and requirements. High-end audio brands like McIntosh Labs sell both speakers and amplifiers, making it easier to find compatible systems, but an audio expert can provide deeper insight into which brands and models work together.
Transparent cables tie your multi-room system together and help everything in the system work together optimally. These cables are the lifeblood of your system, with each link working together to feed and balance your system so each component can perform at its highest potential. In many cases, experts like Paragon can effectively hide this cabling for customers concerned about wires.
While each system is different, having a baseline of matched performance level of audio and digital signal connectivity, power cabling, and power conditioning is vital to improving your entire system. Transparent has identified four performance-based sections in the System Explorer (Newcomer, Enthusiast, Aficionado, Connoisseur) to help you navigate its products and create the best system possible.