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Just bought a house prewired with speakers- attempting to set it up properly.

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Posted on July 2, 2012 at 10:22:23
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Hi all,

So I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but am pretty much a newb when it comes to setting up anything audio. As mentioned in the subject, I've just purchased a home, which has speakers built in throughout the house (bedroom, patios, living room, etc), and I'm a little out of my league.

Each room with a speaker has its own volume control knobs nearby. All of the cables for the speakers funnel down into the basement, where they protrude through a hole in the wall. In all, there are around 10 - 15 wires coming through that hole.

My assumption, at the risk of sounding totally clueless, is that I'll need a receiver unit that will attach to a speaker switch, but I'm not sure which would be best for my needs.

Additionally, I own an Apple Airport Extreme, which I use as the router for the house. I'm considering buying an Airport Express unit to go along with that, so that I can use the Airplay functionality to play my music remotely through my iPhone.

Any thoughts on my setup would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Chase

 

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That's cool, posted on July 2, 2012 at 10:47:26
rocky raccoon
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Posts: 547
Location: Basque country
Joined: March 2, 2010
Probably won't be 'high end' sound but it's nice to be able to have music everywhere for non-critical listening. Some amps tolerate long speaker cable runs better than others. In my experience (I am a retail project manager - so I buy a lot of amps and connect them to quite long runs of cable) Yamaha amps are pretty good when it comes to driving long cables & not shutting down or getting hot. In fact they are pretty much bomb proof (never had one break in ten years - and they get a lot of abuse in shops). I'd try something from them in a multi-channel flavour. Unless you want to go a bit more up market - that would be a fairly inexpensive solution. Try before you buy !

 

You need something like this:, posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:08:47
Prisoners
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Posts: 4068
Location: Chicago
Joined: June 13, 2004
A multi-zone audio distribution amp. There are several to choose from, and 30-35 watts per channel will be all you probably need. More watts = more money.

 

RE: That's cool, posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:14:09
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Thanks for the quick response.

That's ok with me if it isn't super "high-end" sound. It sounds like the Yamaha amp will be right up my alley.

Would something like the linked item work for the amount of cables that I have? Or will I need an additional piece of equipment? I've also noticed "12 channel" amps for sale, but those seem more suited for live music.

 

No., posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:16:33
Prisoners
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Posts: 4068
Location: Chicago
Joined: June 13, 2004
You can't use an amp designed to run two speakers to run 10 or 12. The amp will self destruct and likely take something with it.

 

RE: No., posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:35:24
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Glad I asked. I've found the exact amp you recommended on Craigslist for $350. Seems like a steal, assuming it's in good condition.

Any thoughts on the wireless setup? Airplay has traditionally been pretty good for me, though it can randomly drop connections...

 

I have an airport express, posted on July 2, 2012 at 11:39:10
Prisoners
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Posts: 4068
Location: Chicago
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But I only use one in a single room. Look up Sonos and see if that's something yoou might be interested in....although it can get expensive.

 

I have done this...if you have no more than six locations..., posted on July 2, 2012 at 13:17:31
Steve Parry
Audiophile

Posts: 2430
Location: No. California
Joined: August 19, 2002
use the Niles SS-6 as below, push all the buttons in. Put this on the Zone 2 output of your theater receiver. Make sure your internal amp can handle a 4 ohm load! Select Zone 2 for another room.

If you have more than six locations you are likely better off with an external multichannel amp.

Just plug two wires in at a time until you figure out what is what, and label them! Hopefully there is at least some way to figure out + and -, but it will work out.

The Apple can go in as a separate input. Most receivers will let you rename inputs. I use an Onkyo and it is fine.

Steve

 

Thanks for the link, Steve ..., posted on July 2, 2012 at 19:15:01
andyr
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Posts: 10691
Location: Melbourne
Joined: September 2, 2000
One of these products seems to be exactly what I want for controlling speakers in the new house I am commencing to build. :-))

Regards,

Andy

 

RE: Just bought a house prewired with speakers- attempting to set it up properly., posted on July 2, 2012 at 19:42:53
Bones13
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Posts: 268
Location: L.A. (Lower Alabama)
Joined: July 4, 2009
Contributor
  Since:
October 25, 2012
I have a condo at the beach with pre-wiring installed.

The audio installer that I used installed the ceiling speakers, and wired the 2 in one ceiling to be the surround for the HT unit. The other 3 zones he ran off of the "second zone" amp in my HT amp. I run an airport express into the HT amp, and we usually stream audio from a laptop into the overhead speakers.

He used transformer based volume controls mounted on the walls, and an impedence matching transformer based box to spread the 2 channels to all the speakers. Plays loud enough for my small condo at the beach. If I route the sound to the 5.1 system it can play way too loud for comfort.

Another method would be to use a multi channel amp down at the distribution site, 2 channels per room. The method my installer used involved a programmed remote that controls my gear via RF from anywhere in the unit.

 

RE: I have done this...if you have no more than six locations..., posted on July 2, 2012 at 19:43:33
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Yeah my family has a 4 zone selector made by Niles that they're no longer using... I've just gone around the house and counted, and it seems that there are 7 pairs total of speakers, each with their own volume control knobs. So looks like a big multi channel amp is the way to go.

Additionally, I double checked the cables coming through the wall, and only 4 of them seem to actually be speaker cables. This was originally set up by a professional, and he/she has marked 2 of the cables "Patio volume", and the other two "HSE". (could HSE just mean house?)

In total, there are 3 patios, with 6 speakers, so I'm not sure how there could only be two patio cables. My fear is that when the previous owners left, they allowed a number of cables to slip behind the wall. I bought fish tape a week or so ago to try and run cables through the walls, but am completely inept with it :).

I can tell this is going to be a long uphill battle... I'm starting to wonder if hiring a pro would be the right move here.

 

It is possible ..., posted on July 3, 2012 at 06:29:07
reelsmith.
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  Since:
January 19, 2010
...that he ran one set of wires to multiple pairs. If this is the case, you'll want to make sure the volume controls are "impedance matching".

If you find wires for every pair, use a multi-channel amp, not a switchbox.

Dean.


reelsmith's axiom: Its going to be used equipment when I sell it, so it may as well be used equipment when I buy it.


 

RE: It is possible ..., posted on July 3, 2012 at 07:00:43
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Thanks for the info- I think the first step is to figure out how many cables exist... the wall is quite thin, and I don't see any effective way to get behind it (right now I'm having my wife, who has skinnier hands than me, dig around in the hole behind the built-in unit to try and find the cables... cruel, I know :)

I've gotta think this happens a lot, so I'm assuming a pro would know how to fish around back there.

 

RE: It is possible ..., posted on July 4, 2012 at 06:23:04
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
For those interested, here is an update to my situation:

I had a friend come over last night and help test things out. We hooked up the four wires to my 5.1 receiver (in various channels), and turned everything on. As it turns out, all of the speakers in the house (save for the front porch) are powered through 2 of the wires, marked HSE. The front patio speakers alone are powered by the two wires marked "Patio Vol".

The receiver I have already seemed to be powering all of the speakers just fine. It's an old Denon AVR-2000.

I'm considering buying another receiver now, just to power the whole house using the 4 speaker cables. I would use the Denon for the 5 channel surround downstairs. Anyone have any recommendations and what I should buy (now that I know I don't need a 12 channel amp)?

Thanks again for all the input so far,
Chase

 

Well - actually, posted on July 4, 2012 at 10:43:42
rocky raccoon
Audiophile

Posts: 547
Location: Basque country
Joined: March 2, 2010
The Yam amp in the pic - if it's like the 480 AX's I use for the shops (and it looks like the one in the link is the replacement for the AX series) have enough binding posts for two pairs of speakers. You could wire a couple of speakers to it in series - making anything between 8 & 16 speakers in total - and it would not blow up.

But if funds allow - more channels would be a better solution - as Prisoners intimates.

I wonder if you could use two Yam amps & daisy chain them ?

I shall try & find out.

 

RE: Well - actually, posted on July 5, 2012 at 19:50:52
chasetcurry
Audiophile

Posts: 7
Joined: July 2, 2012
Hehe I don't think I need anything quite that dramatic... I'm considering a new low-end denon (link below). It has AirPlay built in, eliminating the need for an airport express!

Would that survive my 7 pairs of speakers combined into 4 cables total?

 

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