What is Whole House Audio?
Whole house audio is the ability to have a single system supply sound and music to more than one room in your home. It can begin as simply as adding a second set of speakers and running wire to your bedroom or kitchen, or it could describe something more elaborate - an audio system running through every room in the house. By eliminating the need to have a complete sound system in every room, whole house (or multi-room) audio components can be inconspicuous to the eye but soothing to the ears. How often do you move from room to room in the house during the day or evening, missing the CD you wanted to hear or the news radio you had on? Installing speakers throughout your home allows you to maximize your listening enjoyment wherever you happen to be.
What You Need to Know
There are different ways to take advantage of whole house or multi room audio. If you want to hear the same source (music CD, radio) throughout the house, you can simply run extra speaker wire off the speaker connections and add speakers to other rooms. This will be a power drain on your amplifier, so it's best to play speakers only in the room you're in. If you're part of a family with different musical tastes, look for an A/V receiver that has multi-room and multi-source capabilities. Not only will this product have the hookups for extra speakers, it will allow the CD to play in one room and the radio in another. Some receivers can't play movies in one room and stereo in another at the same time, so if this is important to you, check the product literature.
A further level of multi-room audio involves a dedicated system for piping music throughout the home.
Top 5 Considerations When Buying a Whole House Audio System
1) A multi room A/V receiver should offer seven channels of amplification to run the extra speakers.
2) If you are part of a family, consider getting a multi-source unit that lets you play two different audio sources in different rooms at the same time.
3) Most models can't play a full theater soundtrack in one room and stereo in another.
4) Look for a unit that offers an RF remote control. This lets you change volume or sources from different rooms with the same remote (it works through walls).
5) Multi-room receivers and amplifiers can work hard; install them in a ventilated space.
Why Buy Better?
Most upgrades in this category offer greater ability to connect other room "zones" in your house - more amplifier channels, more power to each channel, and multi-source selection. These are all great features, particularly if you want to expand your system over time. At a certain level, however, it's time to start thinking about a system that is completely integrated into your home with controls in each room for optimum control and flexibility.