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Old 2011-01-30, 12:50 PM   #1
woby
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Default which multi room audio system to chose

I am looking to install a multi room audio system in my home that I prewired for 12 different audio zones. I have been looking at a few different choices including Nuvo, HTD and Control4 and am looking for feedback on which would best satisfy my desires. What I am looking for is the ability to have multiple independant source choices but most importantly being able to control these from the wall mounted controls. What I really like about the Nuvo system is that it appears as it is the only one that will provide data from the source to the wall control. Such as if listening to sat radio it will display the channel and song title or allow you to browse your Ipod music lists on the wall control. As far as I can tell it is the only system to provide this? I really liked the control4 but it seems like this is only available via a TV or through a handheld device. From what I can gather with the HTD systems is that it will provide data from its built in MP3 player only on the wall units. Am I missing any alternatives and is the Nuvo Grand Concerto my best option?
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Old 2011-01-30, 02:22 PM   #2
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It all depends on how much you are willing to spend. There are numerous companies that provide complete feedback to the room controller but you need to have the budget in place to do it. Control4 and I believe Nuvo are only available through a dealer and not available direct to the end user. Although you can find what you need on the net the companies will not supply you with programming or end user support. If you are looking into Control4 I would also suggest Crestron Adagio with APAD controllers. Again only available through a dealer but will offer you way more than Nuvo and Control4 are able to offer.
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Old 2011-01-30, 02:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by woby View Post
What I really like about the Nuvo system is that it appears as it is the only one that will provide data from the source to the wall control. [...] Am I missing any alternatives and is the Nuvo Grand Concerto my best option?
If you are fixated on having to get out of your chair and walk to a wall-mounted control to view track info or skip a tune or search for a track, carry on.

If you would like the ability to do all of that from your lap and then store that dedicated control on a wall-mounted cradle, or use an iPad or an iPhone or a netbook computer for all of those functions, check out the SONOS system!!!!!

See their DEMO.
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Old 2011-01-30, 02:35 PM   #4
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Tunsky - I have found that you can get the Nuvo via internet dealers and can install them DIY but control4 is another beast. That is my main concern with control4, they are worse than Apple! I don't like that any time you upgrade equipment you have to have a dealer configure it for you, over its lifetime I would be paying quite a few 'hidden charges' as I replace equipment. Budget is somehwat a concern but am willing to shell out the aproximate 4-6K that the Nuvo demands to meet my control desires as I am prone to loosing remotes and hate the idea of having one strapped to you at all times to be able to use its features.
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Old 2011-01-30, 02:57 PM   #5
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I'll second the Sonos recommendation. It meets all your stated requirements. If you want want wall-mounted controllers, get iPad wall mounts.

The primary reason why I'm not a fan of traditional whole-home audio system is that the software/user interface is horrible when compared to what you can do with Sonos or even Squeezebox. Sonos invests more on the software side of the equation, and integrates with more online music/audio services than the traditional multi-room audio systems.

I mean, just have a look at these control panels and then look at the Sonos controllers and you see a decade of different between from the user interface perspective.

Or, look at the APAD controllers that Tunksy31 recommended. To add insult to injury, to get this user interface from 1990, you need to run a bunch of additional wires in your walls!

I can appreciate the point of view that someone wants to have a bunch of in wall or in ceiling speakers throughout the house and not "see" any stereo equipment or zone players, but then at the very least use Sonos Zone Players at the central "home" point(s) of speaker wire terminals.
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Old 2011-01-30, 04:02 PM   #6
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Thanks I will look into sonos! I have also started looking into Russound but am disheartened by the low wattage per zone. I really do like the wall keypads for the fact that remotes and little kids don't mix well and that if you have guests over and they want to control the music in their room I don't have to have a bunch of extra remotes and have to train them how to use them. In a perfect world I would like the dedicated wall mount controllers and remote capabilities. I have quite a bit of research to do but would like to see the possibilities of incorporating a system such as Nuvo or Russound with control4. You could in theory control via keypads and wireless if control4 could 'learn' the Nuvo or russound. I do agree that the HTD control leaves something to be desired but Russound and Nuvo are quite nice (in my opinion).
I have heard through a dealer that wireless systems do lose some sound quality and that things like electrically heated floors and ceramic tile (??) can cause difficulties with wireless systems (I have both). Does anyone have any experiences with this?
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Old 2011-01-30, 05:02 PM   #7
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I really do like the wall keypads for the fact that remotes and little kids don't mix well
Quote:
In a perfect world I would like the dedicated wall mount controllers and remote capabilities.
The dedicated Sonos controllers have wall mount cradles. My Sonos controllers are "normally" at home on their wall-mounted charging cradles, displaying album art or even just the time. If you are really hung up on "in-wall keypads", just leave them there.

The rest of the time, the Sonos remote is in my lap; it is easier to see the album art and other info or create playlists or search for new music..
Quote:
if you have guests over and they want to control the music in their room I don't have to have a bunch of extra remotes and have to train them how to use them.
Unless you are an anal control freak, the Sonos remote practically becomes the centre of attention at parties, sitting on the dining room or coffee table !! Guests pass it around and marvel at their ability to find their favourite song of all time and play it within 30 seconds. Entire evenings are spent trying to "name that song in three notes". (I use Rhapsody with millions of tracks available but you can use Pandora and several other services.)

Most friends who have experienced it have gotten their own Sonos setups.

If someone can't figure out how to use a Sonos controller in about 30 seconds, they shouldn't be allowed outside by themselves.
Quote:
wireless systems do lose some sound quality and that things like electrically heated floors and ceramic tile can cause difficulties with wireless systems
Nonsense. Sonos systems use digital "Wifi" type technology - there is no degradation - it either works or it doesn't. But Sonos go a large step further using what they call "Flex-Net" technology - the Sonos units act as repeaters for each other so any given unit can communicate with any of the others. If for some reason a Sonos zone can't communicate with the others (like its too far away in the pool house, garage, bomb shelter or granny flat) you can use a simple CAT5 cable.
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Old 2011-01-30, 05:35 PM   #8
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Man do I ever ask a lot of questions! I have been snooping at the Sonos system and have even more questions. I want to use in-ceiling speakers that I have prewired for 12 different zones in my house. If I went with a Sonos system would I then have to purchase 12 zoneplayers such as the 120 and 12 sonos controller 200's to have the ability to listen and control music in each room?
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Old 2011-01-30, 06:42 PM   #9
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woby:

For each zone, you need a zone player. The ZP120s have a built in amp, and the ZP90s don't (so you'd need to plug into another amp). Each Sonos controller can control all the zones in your system (audio source, volume, zone grouping, etc), and you can mix and match different controller types.

You can run multiple speakers per zone. It would make sense, for example, to have speakers in the master bedroom and speakers in the ensuite bathroom grouped together in the same zone. I'm just saying that a "zone" can be more than one set of speakers.

Honestly, if I were you (and looking to save some money), I'd just purchase a controller for each floor of your house, and then use controller software on your smartphone (only iPhone and Andriod smartphones have controller software available so far). You certainly could buy 12 CR200 controllers, but that's a pretty expensive solution @ $400/ea. Instead, I'd be tempted to go with multiple low-end iPads because they also provide other functionality. I'm not sure what you budget is for this. At least I'd defer the purchase of some of the controllers to see how many you actually end up needing.

Is this for new construction, or are you retrofitting an existing house? Are the speaker wire and speakers already installed?
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Old 2011-01-30, 07:29 PM   #10
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Prewired and speakers installed. I want to have the 12 zones run seperately as all are seperate rooms and would not want to group something like master and ensuite together as I like to listen to the news when showering but wife doesn't want to hear it if she is still in bed sleeping. I don't ask for much, eh!

As such I am now leaning towards a Russound so I can have my room controllers and can get one or two wireless controllers as well as Iphone (and android if available). I like the wireless capabilities but don't want external boxes and/or speakers in each zone. When all 12 zones are installed I would need a crap load of room in the control area to hold all the 12 zone units versus two receivers for Russound.

But then again everything could change through doing more research!!!
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Old 2011-01-30, 07:56 PM   #11
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not want to group something like master and ensuite together as I like to listen to the news when showering but wife doesn't want to hear it if she is still in bed sleeping.
There is nothing to say that you can't combine Sonos with existing speaker level controls, switches, etc.

Our "powder room" is run off the same ZP100 as our kitchen but it has an L-pad (level control) so that it can be dimmed or shut off completely.
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Old 2011-01-30, 09:08 PM   #12
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We've had the HTD system for about a month now. We are enjoying it. I also bought their new digital amp and it looks like that's a keeper too so I'll be selling my other amps that I bought.

You are correct that the metadata is only for the built in MP3 player. We use MDW's laptop running grooveshark as the main source for most of the time. A 5-disc CD player is also in the basement. Still have to wire three more controllers. Loft, dining, and kitchen are ones that I prioritized.

OP is not clear if prewired means cat5 or 6 for the controllers.

I'm still not sure about other sources. My lossless rips from CDs are still in a hard drive waiting for a good media streamer, maybe a sonos if i see one in the used market.
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Old 2011-01-30, 09:35 PM   #13
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I understand all you suggesting SONOS for a NEW multi room system yet the OP has all ready did all the leg work and has wired his house to a central location for multi-room audio.
Quote:
Or, look at the APAD controllers that Tunksy31 recommended. To add insult to injury, to get this user interface from 1990, you need to run a bunch of additional wires in your walls!
Dances I concur with you that this is a 1990's design and personally dislike it but in some cases it is a good solution for more control without having to pay a lot more for a full out Crestron TP that requires hrs of programming to look something like this. Although Sonos is a good solution for a lot of people I think the OP is looking for something a bit more advanced than what a Sonos system is able to offer. As well like the OP has stated he wants 12 independent zones and with the number of pieces needed for each zone from Sonos he is going to need a lot of space to locate this equipment. With majority of the other Multi-room systems he is in need of 2 amp units plus his sources. Cost wise I believe someone had quited me about $500 per zone for Sonos, multiply that by 12 he is around $6000 PLUS he still needs to purchase the ipad/iphone to control the system, where if he went with a multi-room system keypads are included with each system purchase and compared to Crestron he would be looking around the same price AS WELL has a much smaller area needed to store the equipment.

Woby, I understand where you are coming from with having to pay for someone to make changes to a system that you own.

I work for a Crestron dealer and I see both aspects of having to charge for the programming as well as having to pay for someone to program a system that the end user owns. Because we are a dealer we are required to get training on how to program and install their equipment which costs the company time for the employee to receive the training plus all the other expenses incorporated. On the flip side I see the customers point of view where they want to make minor changes to the system as they have added a new piece or changed a piece of equipment and now their system doesn't work until they pay for someone to make the change.

What some MFG Companies allow is for the dealer to supply the end user with the software needed to alter the program. Although you have to look into this as each company is different.

I didn't suggest Crestron just because I am a dealer but from using Control4 and talking with other companies in the industry majority of them dislike Control4 due to many reasons.

There is also Nexus Audio (Canadian Company) and Sonance for multi-room systems as well. Sonance's software is available from their website, Nexus used to program from the main unit but that was a couple years ago (haven't used it since)

If you were wanting a two or three room solution I would suggest a Sonos system as well due to cost and usability. Since you are wanting a 12 room solution I would highly recommend a Crestron Adagio System. their AES allows for 10 source inputs AM/FM/XM/Sirius/Internet Radio are all optional cards with each card using 2 of the 10 sources and 6 room outputs. You would need their zone extender (AAE) to power your other 6 zones. With full house control using an APAD/Touch panel interface (Most people have keypads in bedrooms and bathrooms and touch panels in Kitchens and living rooms). It also allows for iPod touch, iPhone, iPad and Computer interfaces allowing you full control of your system anywhere in the world!

There is an OOTB (out of the Box) program already loaded onto the unit and you are able to program the APAD/keypads from the from panel of the main unit. I suggest the APAD a you are looking for true feedback as to ipod (providing you use the Crestron idock) and sat radio (tuner cards). Once you get into the Touch panel, iphone/ipad, and computer interfaces a lot more programming is required.
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Old 2011-01-30, 10:05 PM   #14
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Default Nuvo.. maybe

I gutted my home a couple of years ago and strung CAT-5 throughout for network and audio connections.
I chose a NUVO Grand Concerto unit and I have to say it's run continuously since it was installed and I've never had an issue. I have use it to broadcast Sat Radio, a 160GB iPod in a cradle and AM/FM Radio across 6 zones in the house.

In short, I love it.

The wallmount keypad is easy to operate and it displays metadata on-screen in each room. I can listen to the iPod upstairs while my wife has the radio on in the living room.

HOWEVER: I can appreciate the comments from some about the upside of a system such as SONOS.

Couple of things:
- my iPod is holding approx 17,000 songs (all legal, btw) and it takes forever for the thing to sync after you pop it out of the cradle. In fact, I don;t even bother removing it any more.
- the thing is VERY expensive. I was deep in the throes of a full gut reno so at the time, the cost, while not insignificant, did not deter me at the time. This was a completely emotional purchase and while I do not regret it (it's great, it really is), the thing is over-priced.
- After you drop huge bucks on the unit, make sure you budget to have the thing properly installed. As someone here said earlier, the software is truly from another time: non-intuitive and intentionally vague (in my opinion). Budget at least $1,000 to get the thing put together and programmed.

SONOS is dead simple to set up, program and change as necessary. NUVO is impenetrable. And if you decide to make a change to the programming, keep your installer's number handy.

So on balance, woudl I buy another NUVO? Yes - if it were priced differently. These day's the streaming media rigs have come a long way and I would seriously consider them before I dropped $7,000+ on a NUVO rig.

That said, for everyone out there - if you have the chance to run wire throughout yoru house, dont; delay: RUN THE WIRES... whether you use em of not in the short run, you will eventually be happy you did!
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Old 2011-01-30, 10:41 PM   #15
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^$7K Nuvo includes 6 pairs of speakers, wiring, 6 controllers with metadata, install, and programming?

That's not bad. My HTD system and builder-installed 5 pairs of speakers, pre-wire for speakers for patio is probably about C$5,500. Of course, a builder- installed 6-zone Nuvo would have cost me about $7K as well.

This was the cheapest of the systems that I looked at including Russound, Sonance, and a couple others.

Of course we like to play around with HTD's intercom and keypad as source functionalities.

At the end of the day, enjoying music with family, priceless. So enjoy.
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