PC based whole house audio setup

MiniXP

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My parents are building a new house and I am helping them set up an audio system for the whole house. I have ideas of what I want to do, but am not completely sure how to do it.

The house will have speakers in multiple rooms and outside, so it will need zones that can be turned on and off remotely. There will also be a surround sound set-up for 1 tv that I want to be able to use for music with the other speakers in the house as well.

What I am hoping to be able to do is have a setup kinda like a sonus system, but more custom/cheaper. I have a computer that I hope to be able to run the system from so I can stream music from pandora/a music library to the whole house. I also want to be able to have touch screen controls for selecting music and zone volume control throughout the house. If possible i would like to be able to use an Iphone/android for control as well.

I have no idea where to start searching for software that could do this because I'm not even sure what to search for.

Any help would be appreciated.
 

anwaypasible

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you are right about that.. not going to find anything about 'zone volume control' from a computer or iphone on here.

more custom for a cheap solution would be adding a touch screen.
going into zone volume control can be done with a wall plate and some knobs.
but
nothing wireless or digitally controlled.

most people would probably tell you that you need an electric motor to spin the analog dial.
or
they would program something for you and sell you a tiny computer that does the volume control.

but if you look around, there is bound to be something that allows you to do the zone volume control with something more advanced and wireless.
probably going to be the most expensive piece of the whole setup, except maybe the cost of all the speakers.
maybe the receiver is close in price too.
but
that is far far away from cheap.

chances are.. it is bound to get ugly when you start mixing audio cables with power cords.
and people would tell you that it is very easy to hookup a servo for electrical control of a volume knob.
but
getting the computer to control that servo is going to be next to impossible.
you could try to use infrared, but that wont go through the walls.. so it is pointless.
although, i thought i seen some videos of iphones doing some way out things like being a remote trigger for a robot.
getting a servo to work with bluetooth is probably annoying as hell.
i dont see the iphone working any other way except wi-fi.. and that isnt going to do you any bit of good.

the industry has frowned upon people controlling robotic things with a computer since roughly the same time usb 2.0 came out.
and really, the interface might have been there (dunno if the motherboard would last if you used the interface) .. but they had already stopped talking about it for a long time already.


i would suggest looking at computer controlled robotics from a regular computer, not some industrial motherboard for factories or warehouses.. just something you could use at home and buy at any computer store.

it is a whole lot of effort and research, unless the comparible system is like $20,000
generally.. those systems are expensive because of the function that they do.
providing the zone volume control.. providing an interface for a touch screen.. and probably providing a junction for all of the speaker connections.
all of that built at home into one device.. and all you gotta do is connect the computer, the receiver, and the speakers (and some power wires to power the device).

that is what IC chip programming and the likes are doing to make money nowadays.
probably some simply computer programming mixed with electric motors and some analog dials.. or fully digital with some relays for selecting the different zones.

you are asking a bit too much for me to connect it all.
probably gonna have to look at pre-made devices for the zone control.
maybe not the cheapest.. but easier to find and more reliable.
 

MiniXP

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I think you complicated things a little too much. I found a system called Casatunes which seems to be what I am looking for.
 

anwaypasible

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there will be inevitable software that somebody has programmed to accept multiple audio inputs or output through many different pins.

but
that is quite far from not being complicated.
requires multiple soundcards and multiple amps.

cant expect a single 5.1 receiver to do anything more than stereo in two rooms.
otherwise you would be using very low wattage speakers, and they would probably not get very loud or sound very good.

the software itself should be simple and a bit easy to find.
that part doesnt really suprise me.

it is when people dont take the care and attention to the multiple soundcards and amplifiers.
i dont know how much a system costs to be installed.
but
once you find the software to do it, the rest should be pretty simple.

leaving the amps on all day and night with their volume up to a level just before distortion.. that might not make all of the amps happy.
you could adjust the volume from the soundcard for each zone.
but
as i said.. the system doesnt present itself as healthy until the whole thing is put into perspective.

some amps are audio input signal sensing, and they shut off when not in use.
i am quite certain some people would find it to be a hassle to have to travel all the way across the house to turn an amp on when you are sitting in front of the device that controls the music player.
shouldnt be a big deal when you think of the health of the amps though.


there are different ways to do it.
you could use regular receiver amps.
or
you could use a PA style amplifier that outputs like 50 volts (as long as the frequency is full range)
then
the volume knobs act like impedance that match the speaker.. so when you turn the speakers off, the amplifier continues to see the same ohm rating.

there has been plenty of iphone enabled wireless control.
but
no mention about the music player supporting multiple zones, or more specifically multiple outputs.

it isnt the software that scares me.
it is getting all of the hardware to play nice (and footing the bill for all of that hardware).
no matter how you do it.. there is going to be long runs of cables, and that could spell disaster if the signal at the end of the cord is too weak.
find some preamp boosters and all of the hardware would probably cost $3,000
then add the cost of the software.. the wireless device (iphone or whatever)
would be cheaper than a professional doing it.
but
i think some people try to put something like that together for like $1,000 .. not $3,000 or $4,000 that it really costs.

i'm happy to see there is more software rising out of the voids that can start the process.
hopefully people dont dive in and get embarassed.
 

musical marv

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Where are you located? My son is in this business setting up home theatre and computers.
 

MiniXP

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The casatunes system uses a 7.1 sound card with some kinda of zone switching hardware built into this. This then hooks up to a 6 zone amplifier. (I will most likely be using a russound amplifier). This will only do 2 channels on each zone. To solve this problem I will have another surround sound amplifier near the TV I want to use surround sound on. I will use a line level out to the cassatunes system so that I will be able to play the tv of anything else through that amplifier anywhere in the house (mostly for music channels).

I have not yet figures out how to bring audio from the russound amplifier to the surround sound amp. I'm assuming there is some way I can take one of the amplified outputs and convert it to line level and just put it in one of the inputs on the receiver
 

anwaypasible

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this idea works.
there are a bunch of convertors for the car audio industry that could do this for you.
just make sure you dont feed the convertor more watts than it is designed to handle.

the device is called a 'speaker-level to line-level convertor'
 

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