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#84246 - 07/07/10 02:06 PM Whole House Audio Amplifiers
Audio Nut Offline
Deputy Gunslinger

Registered: 01/17/09
Posts: 3
Has Outlaw considered an amplifier unit for whole house audio. For example: 6-10 zone units, separate volume control per output, 3 or more source inputs, options such as built-in tuners.

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#84276 - 07/11/10 09:58 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: Audio Nut]
XenonMan Offline
Desperado

Registered: 04/08/08
Posts: 2676
Loc: Columbus,North Carolina
It would seem too limited as far as a customer base would go. It is possible to do a lot of the control with switching devices. I use the left over channels on my 7125 to feed a switching device which feeds 4 pairs of speakers which I can select as needed, depending on where I need the sound
_________________________
Music system
Model 990/7500/Magnepan 1.6 QRs/Technics SL1200 MK2/Aperion S-12 Subwoofer/OWA3/Sony NS75H DVD
APC H15 Power Conditioner

TV System
Large Advent Loudspeakers/ Polk center/Monoprice surrounds/Panasonic Viera 42 inch/Onkyo HT-RC260/Sony BDP S590/Directv


Home Theater System
Onkyo PR-SC886/Outlaw 7125 Klipsch RF-82 L/R,RC-62 center, RB-35 SR/SL, BENQ HT1075, Outlaw LFM1-EX/OPPO BDP-83/Directv
Harmony ONE
Blue Jeans and Monoprice interconnects
APC H15 Power Conditioner

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#90172 - 04/26/12 10:00 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: Audio Nut]
old_school_2 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 82
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Originally Posted By: Audio Nut
Has Outlaw considered an amplifier unit for whole house audio. For example: 6-10 zone units, separate volume control per output, 3 or more source inputs, options such as built-in tuners.


I took the alternate route with regard to whole-house audio, but that was probably because I have amassed a lot of two-channel gear over the years... and for the most part, I never got rid of any of it. So, rather than use a multi-channel, multi-zone amplifier, I opted for some self-amplified near-field monitors to be used in the other rooms of my house, and send the zone 2 signal to those rooms.

That is, the approach that I took was to take the zone-2 signal from my 990 and 1) convert it to a balanced output via a multi-format converter (A/D and D/A on its chassis), 2) send the balanced analog signal from that to a Rane DA-216 distribution amplifier, and 3) distribute the balanced line-level analog signals to each room in my house. I also have the optical out (from the 990) going into the format converter, and lastly, I have the RCA front channel signals (from the 990 - I used the balanced outputs for the main system) going into a flying cow A/D, the AES/EBU signal from which feeds the format converter as well. Thus, if I select the analog input to the format converter, the distribution amplifier gets the zone 2 signal. If I select AES/EBU, I get the front signals (RCA to flying cow A/D), but since these are dependent upon the volume setting on the 990, if I turn the volume up / down on the 990, so goes the volume in the rest of the house. If I select Optical (on the format converter), I get whatever is selected on the 990, but the feed is not affected by the volume control of the 990. Why all this? Because sometimes I like the whole house feed to be independent of the gain on the 990, and other times, I want it to be in lockstep with the 990's gain, and having an outboard format converter solves this problem quite nicely - because it allows me to select just what signal the rest of the house will receive.

From there, in each room I pressed pretty much all of my legacy two-channel equipment into service (mostly pre-amplifiers, though I do have some preamp / tuners) and then bought active near-field monitors (the same kind) for each room. In each room, the whole house feed is converted back to single-ended (RCA) either by active means (Audio Control BLR-10) or passive (balanced to unbalanced audio matching transformers).

Thus, if you want the whole house feed in a given room, you just select the TAPE 2 input. TAPE 1 is reserved (on each preamp / preamp-tuner) for the local Audiotron (streaming device), and because I have several old preamp/tuners, I get access to AM/FM in a given room, local access to my music library (in .wav format), access to the whole-house feed, or...when people visit with their mp3 players, they can connect them to the local (or to the 990) via an RCA to 3.5 mm stereo adapter. This gives me a lot of flexibility, especially since I really like to have music throughout the house at a nice comfortable level; I never have to turn up the volume in one room just to hear something in the other room(s).

Also, there's a real nice benefit to this approach, namely the Audiotrons are all IP-based, and as such, I can control what they play (tracks or streaming stations) from any computer / tablet in the house, or even from my Android phone; I don't have to rely upon the use of remote control for the Audiotrons...instead, I use my network to control them. This is particularly handy when I am sending the signal from the front room Audiotron to the whole house feed - because in that case, I can control the gain of all systems at once simply by controlling the gain of the Audiotron. Yes, there are much more modern streaming devices available, but I have been able to find Audiotrons on eBay for as little as $20 or so (perfectly functional units), so adding one to each room was kind of a no-brainer (plus, my girlfriend knows the Audiotron well, so there's a comfort level there that I know she appreciates - she 'just wants to hear the music' as she says, and sine the playback devices are the same in each room, there's no learning curver for her...gotta keep the ladies happy...).

My next project is to write an app (unless anyone out there has one ready to go that they would be willing to share) that would give me a GUI to drive a CAT5e to RS-232 device. When I have this...I will be able to control the 990 much like I control my Audiotrons - from a laptop, tablet, Android phone etc., and my plan is to allow the app to allow selection of what goes to zone 2 as well.

Of course, right around the time this last bit comes together I'll probably want to upgrade...but honestly, the 990 and the additional gear do all that I need. I realize that I am in a unique position (at least compared to the general population but not necessarily compared to my Outlaw brethren) in that I had spare preamps etc just lying around, as I did the Rane distribution amplifier and such...and now that there are wireless distribution systems, that's certainly anotehr option one could pursue, but I like balanced lines, and since they do what they do so well with no noise issues, I plan on sticking with this approach for the forseeable future.


Edited by old_school_2 (04/27/12 10:32 AM)
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#90188 - 04/28/12 12:43 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: old_school_2]
beyond 1000 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 223
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Firstly I don't want to quote your post lest I jam up the whole world wide web.
Secondly what you did was a huge undertaking and a lot of bravado.

So your 990 seems to be the whole house gain component while each amp powers up a certain room I understand?

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?
_________________________
"There is one who comes after me who's sandals I am unworthy to unloose." John the Baptist

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#90191 - 04/28/12 10:46 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: beyond 1000]
old_school_2 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 82
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Originally Posted By: beyond 1000
Firstly I don't want to quote your post lest I jam up the whole world wide web.
Secondly what you did was a huge undertaking and a lot of bravado.

So your 990 seems to be the whole house gain component while each amp powers up a certain room I understand?

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?


Firstly...LMAO. I get that a lot, that is, about the lack of brevity in my writing; it really can be tough for me to skip the details at times, 'cause I kind of get off on them.

Secondly, it was indeed a pretty big undertaking, but I did all of this piece by piece (after work, weekends, etc). It was a bit like that episode of Seinfeld (when Jerry talked about how he was shaving his face in the shower...and the just kept shaving 'everything else') in that the house had no networking in it when I bought it...so I started thinking about having CAT5 drops in each room, and then as I pondered that, I thought "well...I'm pulling all this CAT5...why not pull shielded twisted pairs to each room while I am at it?".

Yeah, I love the way the 990 is to my audio system what Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport is to Delta Airlines.

The beauty of this is that I have an absolutely noise-free stereo feed to each room, and then from there, I can do with it what I want / need, so yes, you're right that each room has local gain...but I opted for self-amplified near-field monitors (M Audio CX-5) so that I would not have to buy any more amplifiers (and have them take up space). I managed to get some great deals on the MX-5's (and I use a pair for my recording mix-down work, so I know their timbre well), which could likely still be had - I haven't looked in a while, and probably shouldn't, lest I be tempted to buy another pair. So yes, the preamp in any given room is the local 'gain cop'.

One last thing...the benefit to whole house audio (apart from a nice even loudness level throughout the house) and of using the same speakers almost everywhere in the house is that the bass sounds remarkably good; there are multiple drivers (because of each pair of speakers) in various spaces, and this helps to add up to a fair amount of surface area, and thus, volume velocity, and also seems to smooth out the overall bottom end response. It also means that the overall spectral balance is pretty closely matched, room to room (i.e. only each room's acoustics affect the overall response). Thus, each room (more or less) sounds the same and as such, any one pair of speakers does not call attention to itself. As far as the bottom end question goes, I have yet to verify that with measurements, but I suppose that I could some day...

Thanks for the kudos though - it's nice to see that I'm not the only one out there who thinks, as Matthew Broderick (as "Ferris Bueller") once said: :..."You can never go too far".

Mark


Edited by old_school_2 (04/28/12 02:18 PM)
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#90193 - 04/28/12 10:51 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: old_school_2]
beyond 1000 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 223
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Hey Mark

Your understanding of room to room wiring must be exceptional, even for members in this forum. So the amplifiers must be in each room and as such each room must be wired to the nerve center....the 990 feeding signal to various Audiotrons which have their own amplifier? I'm impressed on all this.
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"There is one who comes after me who's sandals I am unworthy to unloose." John the Baptist

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#90195 - 04/28/12 11:37 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: beyond 1000]
old_school_2 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 82
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Yeah...you have the right impression of the wiring scheme. Belden makes this stuff called 9451D, which is realtively thin - it's a pair of shielded twisted pair, has high tensile strength (it can be pulled with a fair amount of force without fear of the wires being stretched / connductors broken (shorted). Its jacket is also fairly slippery (low coefficient of friction), which can be really handy when pulling the wire - Belden engineered a great producte there.

As far as having an exceptional understanding, it's really not all that exceptional (though I do sincerely appreciate the comment) in the sense that it's just a balanced distribution system...but was was 'exceptional' was pulling all the wires, terminating them in something useful, and so on.

To be certain, there are more 'modern' approaches in that there are whole-house systems (i.e. with LCD screens etc that distribute digital signals and or control digital (IP-based) devices), but the way that I saw it was that I could do the whole project for not much cash, but a lot of 'sweat equity', and any additional components that I may need could be found on eBay, or the 'web at close-out prices.

I must say though...it is awesome to have - especially since I can set the (main) Audiotron like an alarm clock, and wake to whatever I want throughout the house (a web stream, playlist, track, etc).

Can you dig it?
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old_school_2 ... the user formerly known as "old_school"
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#90197 - 04/28/12 11:37 PM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: old_school_2]
beyond 1000 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 06/09/11
Posts: 223
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Thanks old school I do dig it. How many walls did you have to open up to get the wires from A to BCDEFetc? That's the key thing here....to do it economically and still get satisfying results.
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"There is one who comes after me who's sandals I am unworthy to unloose." John the Baptist

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#90199 - 04/29/12 11:35 AM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: beyond 1000]
old_school_2 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 82
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Well...I actually did not have to open up walls - merely score the sheet rock with a utility knife...and then drill holes from the basement - more on that later.

The front room has two wall plates - one for the four ports (CAT5) going from the router into the gigabit switches (which serve the rest of the drops in the house), and another plate which serves four drops, plus the audio connections. So far, two wall penetrations.

Master bedroom - I put two plates in, with CAT5 (x2) and L&R balanced audio outputs. This makes the total four wall penetrations.

Guest bedroom - one plate with 2x CAT5, and L&R balanced outputs. Count = 5.

Daughter's bedroom - two more plates; one with 2x CAT5 and one with 2x CAT5 and the two balanced outputs. Count = 7.

Fireplace Room - two plates, each with 2x CAT5 and L&R balanced audio. Count = 9.

Back Porch - two plates, one with 2x CAT5 and one with balanced L&R outputs. Count = 11.

Basement - one plate (in a wall-mount box) carrying 2x CAT5 and L&R balanced audio. Count = 12.

Luckily, this (with the exception of the basement 'drop') was all facilitated with wall inserts (for low voltage) and the Leviton Dataport (or maybe they are called quickport...I can't recall) wall plates, which are meant for CAT5/6 drops; pulling the wires was pretty easy in the sense that I was able to easily find references for the locations of the penetrations in the wall(s) upstairs while in the basement, which made it very easy for me to know where to drill. I did most of that last summer, and since it was really hot out at the time, working in the basement was a blessing in disguise...

The balanced audio in each room was facilitated through the use of 3.5 mm jacks (one each for left and right channels) - though they are typically used for headphones (i.e. mini jack), they are three-conductor, so I treated them as balanced connectors. From there. I found some HOSA 3.5 mm "TRS" to XLR male connectors (which I had to modify as they are not 'true' TRS and as such, I had to make the tip correspond with pin 2 of the XLR male, the shield correspond with pin 3 of the XLR male, and the sleeve correspond to pin 1 of the XLR male).

Why would I opt for 3.5 mm over XLR male outputs? Well, they are physically much smaller than an XLR, and though not ideal, I was able to drill-out the CAT5 'blanks' made by Leviton and snap them in, solder the three wires accordingly, and be done with it. Leviton does make a pre-made version (3.5 mm mounted on a 'blank'), but they run about $10 a pop on-line, and by making them myself, the unit cost was around $1.75 or so. Yes, to 'save' this money I had to spend my time...six of one...

Mark



Edited by old_school_2 (04/29/12 09:59 PM)
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#90208 - 04/30/12 08:01 PM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: old_school_2]
Kubrickfan Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 46
Loc: So. Calif
I took what might be considered an extravagant approach to my whole house audio system that actually wasn't all that much more expensive. I was having remodeling done that was going to open most walls so I tried to lay as much internet, cable TV(RG6) and speaker wire as I could before the walls closed up again. I was looking at multi-channel distribution amps and finding most were not that high of quality. Most were charging extra for the number of channels rather then the quality of channels. While I was shopping Outlaw had a sale start on the 7125 at $699 each. I bought two units that now provide 7 stereo channels through the whole house. I have individual volume controls in each room/bathroom and have 4 of my "less used rooms" (zones) that share one stereo channel through a $41.87 six stereo speaker selector. My Home Theater Pre-amp Zone 2 provides the selectable stereo into a $57.00 composite A/V distribution amplifier where I only use the stereo audio 1-in/7-out to distribute stereo to my 14 7125 channels. I am very pleased with the results. This worked because I turned a central closet into my complete system control center. It is so nice having quality music playing in all rooms and still have the potential of a unique audio choice in the Home Theater room.
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Marantz AV7702mkII, Outlaw 7220, ,7ea-Outlaw LCR (2ea.- L/2ea.- R/C/SR/SL),Outlaw 7125 for 4ea-Outlaw LCRv2 (Atmos ceiling),Outlaw Ultra-X12 & LFM-1EX Subwoofers,BR/DVD Oppo BDP-103,BDP-83SE, Samsung 65" OLCD, Sofabato remote - Whole house audio via two (2ea) 7125s.

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#90209 - 04/30/12 08:31 PM Re: Whole House Audio Amplifiers [Re: Kubrickfan]
old_school_2 Offline
Gunslinger

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 82
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Very cool indeed. Nice nick name as well; Dr. Strangelove is on my list of all-time favorites, as are a few others of his canon (though I have to say, my favorite film of all time remains "Chinatown", but that's a subject for a different forum and another time).

You put it nicely - "...to have quality music playing in all rooms and still have the potential of a unique audio choice in the Home Theater room". Yep, I hear you on that one. When I first got the 990, my plan was for whole house audio, but that never panned out until I moved from that house into this one - that's more or less when 'the bug' hit me, and I started thinking about exploiting more of the 990's capabilities (as well as my stockpile of old two-channel gear).

The thing is...at least for me...even though I love movies, music is an everyday thing for me; when I'm in the car, doing signal processing at work, or whatever, music is always there. Thus, the mere fact that I can have the same (or different) program material in a given room (music) actually (and I know this will sound a bit over-the-top) makes my house more live-able to me; I actually enjoy being in the house more when I have music everywhere (especially when it is the same program material). So, whether I'm doing chores around the house, or whatever, I hear music at (more or less) the same loudness level throughout the house - so I never 'walk away' from it or think "I should hang here until this killer solo finishes".

Also, when my daughter has her peeps over and they want to watch movies in surround etc, then they can, and I can be off in my own little world of music; the 990 does a great job of playing (signal) traffic cop.

I think for many, whole-house audio is seen as an extravagence (in general), but if music and or video is really important to you, then I don't think it's really all that extravagent. Like anything else, you can spend a horrific sum of money on such an undertaking, but simply planning it out and making good routing and compoenent selections can really help optimize things and keep costs down (if that is a matter of concern - it certainly was for me).

As I see it, if one really appreciates such a thing, then it makes them feel that much better about their surroundings, and about their present state of 'being'.

OK, that may be a bit touchy-feely, but in earnest, it means a lot to me to have my music with me at all times in the house. Sure, I could use headphones, and sometimes I prefer to do so (especially as I do a lot of binaural recording), but for not feeling detached from the environment and instead, immersed in it, I sometimes prefer the whole house audio approach.
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