Existing Multi-Room Speaker Wiring Whole-House Audio Distribution
If your home is pre-wired with multi-room speaker wiring, speakers and/or Cat5 cable most of the hard work is already done for you. Now all you need to do is find a distribution device that fits your particular usage needs and your available technical application parameters. Depending upon the foresight of your homebuilder, existing wiring comes in three basic configurations outlined below.
Most multi-room audio distribution devices require speaker wires and/or Cat5 network cabling. There are a few that only use four-conductor speaker wire, a few that use only Cat5 network cable and there is currently only one ideal solution for houses with standard two-conductor multi-room speaker wiring to each zone from a central location.
Homes pre-wired with speaker wire and Cat5 If your home is pre-wired with both Cat5 and speaker wire your homebuilder gave you a great head start on your goal. The best system available which utilizes a combination of Cat5 and speaker wiring is also one of the more economical solutions. That system is the easy-to-use Channel Plus MDS-6A.
The MDS-6a allows six different sources to be fed to six separate zones simultaneously. It uses Cat5 for 2-way communication between the base unit and its wall-mounted remote volume and source selection panels. The panels also include an IR sensor/repeater for control of you various audio sources. Speaker wires from the base unit to the room speakers feed each speaker with up to 40 watts per channel for a total of 480 watts of available total power. Check out pricing for the complete MDS-6A kit with free shipping here at Amazon.
Homes pre-wired with Cat5 cabling The A-BUS system is a popular and widely marketed distribution system. A-BUS was invented by Len Andrews and Andrew Goldfinch of LeisureTech Electronics and the technology is licensed by A-BUS to leading electronics manufacturers for incorporation into their components and distribution systems. The A-BUS technology sends line-level audio signals over Cat5 cable from the hub to each remote panel that amplifies the signal and then sends audio from the panel to the speaker over regular speaker wiring. One of the simplest, most economical and user-friendly units incorporating A-BUS technology is the Channel Vision AB-902. It's a complete A-BUS kit for 4 zones and is available with free shipping here at Amazon.
Homes pre-wired with speaker wires only If your home is wired with only speaker wiring you can go with a simple speaker distro hub paired with impedance matching volume controls in each room such as the Wired Home WH10SDH 10 Room Speaker Distribution Hub.
If there is no provision for a wall mounted volume control in your existing multi-room speaker wiring then you have three options -- only one of which is ideal.
3 (Absolute BEST) The ONLY unit currently available system that allows remote volume control of up to six zones (and from anywhere in your home with the optional RF remote kit) and works over just standard speaker wires is the ingenious DLA system from ATON. The ATON DLA system protects your A/V receiver from impedance damage via its innovative Dynamic Level Adjustment technology. Available in two, four and six zone models the DLA system can be controlled throughout your home with the optional RF remote kit. If you the input of the DLA system with your a/V receiver's Zone 2 output and combine that with a Universal RF remote such as the Harmony 890 you can have remote control over audio and its source throughout your home. A nice feature of the DLA is its "scene" setting which allows recall of pre-set audio levels throughout your home with one button touch. Check out the ATON DLA4 system here at Amazon for just over $300. And don't forget to order the optional optional remote kit for best usability.
Depending upon the attention to details of the home builder's electrical sub-contractor, your pre-existing multi-room speaker wiring may or may not be terminated in a panel and properly labeled. If your zones are not identified and labeled don't fret. All it takes is a 9v battery touched lightly to each pair of speaker wires and someone to roam the house listening for a "pop" to identify which speaker wire goes to which speaker. Cat5 cable is a bit trickier to identify and is best done with a signal tracking device commonly referred to as a "fox and hound". Of course when your wires are properly identified - connecting them correctly is a LOT easier.
Coming soon is a section on homes without pre-existing multi-room speaker wire so bookmark this site and check back tomorrow for more helpful info.