What type of receiver/amplifier do I need to supply and power a multi-room (hard-wired) audio system?
We are building a house and having the builder install a hard-wired multi room audio system. This includes two flush mount speakers in four rooms with independent volumes controls for each room. Altogether 8 speakers on this “system”. Does this mean “8-channel” for a receiver? Also, we may have them wired to our media room – could we have one receiver that could handle the whole house audio AND a 5.1 surround system for the media room separately? Please let me know what type of receiver I need and if an additional amp would be necessary. Thanks!
I would first make sure they have a audio video guy pre-wire this system for you as it takes someone who installs audio video system to know how to wire speakers properly.
You want each pair of speakers in each room wired first to a volume control location in each room, typically next to the Light Switch, making sure it does not run anywhere close to AC otherwise you will get noises or buzzing through the speakers. It should then be “home run” back to a central location where you want all the equipment to be hooked up to all the speakers. I would also recommend they run a cat 5 cable from the volume control location with the home run speaker cables so in case you want to have a more advanced control system it can be done, Keypad etc. You want to pick a equipment location that has easy access to add or change software easily.
This location will need adequate AC power and good ventilation to dissipate the heat from the equipment. When running power to this location you will want to run at least 2 15amp dedicated lines, (pulled from one side of the electrical panel to assure proper phase) Make sure you have a way to pull the heat out and away from this location, you will need data, and cable or satelite. You will also need video cables pulled from this location to any TV’s as well as a cat 5 cable to control the system remotely.
So there is allot to think about and needs to be run properly otherwise you limit yourself the amount of control, access, and ease of use of the system.
As for system to power it, it depends on how much control of the system you want. If you don’t mind playing the same source in each room and not to have control of what sources you want to listen to in each room, or change tracks etc. then yes just speakers home run and volume controls to control volume in each room that is all that is needed. If you want to control more of the what you want to listen to in each room or certain rooms then you will need a whole home audio system.
One thing for certain is you will want a multichannel amplifier with enough channels of amplification to power each speaker. This will assure enough power to each speaker, will sound better and assure no problems down the road. I would not recommend a receiver and speaker selector box with impedance matching network to power all those speakers, it puts a big demand on a receiver and certainly lower quality receivers will end up going up in smoke.
You might want to consult a audio video expert, from your local independent high end audio video store as they specialize in custom installations, proper pre-wire with good quality wire, that is fire rated to code, and with future expansion so your not limited to do what ever you choose to do.
40 years high end audio video specialist
Extreme Media Room – Runco Video Wall, Crestron, Meridian Audio, Genelec, Lutron