Above: Savant App on iPad for whole-home audio control
Prewire Home Audio — $35-75 per wire (or drop as we call it)
First thing, you need to select the wire gauge for your speakers. For most home audio prewires, we’re going to use 16/2 which is the least expensive option. Audiophiles are going to want 14/2 or 12/2 gauge wire, and possibly shielded; all of which increases the cost.
In addition to wire, you may want speaker brackets. These are rings that go in the ceiling or wall, and let the drywall contractors cutout the speaker holes for you in advance. Pricing varies, but $15 is a good estimate for brackets.
Some states and cities have new fire regulations that require back-boxes. Back-boxes actually enhance the sound, so they’re not all bad, but they do add cost. It really depends on the speakers, but for entry level speakers I would plan on $25-35 per back-box.
Here in Utah, our standard audio prewire pricing is $35 per drop, and $12-15 per speaker bracket.
Speakers — $100-500 (per pair) for most applications
I think it’s important to consider your speakers separate from the Audio hardware. Speakers should be very application specific. You’ll want a different speaker in your shower than you want in your garage. You may want Sonance’s discrete opening system in the great room or kitchen for esthetics.
You can mix and match speakers. We have a client who is a professional musician, and has a pair of Prestige towers from Paradigm in a listening room. Then entry level speakers else where in the home.
For typical speakers that are in-wall, or in-ceiling, you’re going to pay $100-500 a pair. I know that’s a wide spread, but that will cover most applications. And remember you can mix and match throughout the home to extend your budget.
- Sonos CONNECT:AMP – $499 – The Sonos Amp will power one pair of speakers. So it can be used in new construction, and with rooms that have been prewired. Each room of speakers will need its own dedicated Amp.
- Per Room Price – $675 + Assuming you go with entry level speakers, you’ll start out at about $675 per room with Sonos. That’s speakers, hardware, and wire. Different dealers will have different rates for programming and labor, but that’s your hardware expense.
There’s a couple options to building out a Home Audio system with Control4. You can buy an Amplifier/Switch combo, or you can purchase a dedicated Amp and a dedicated Audio switch. Right now we’re going to focus on the Combo.
- 4 Room Audio System – $1195 – This is a 4 Room combo. It’s an Amplifier, and Audio switch all in one. So you’ll have the ability through your app to select the music, play it to different rooms, and control the volume.
- 8 Room Audio System – 2495 – This is also 8 Room combo. It’s an Amplifier, and Audio switch all in one.
- Per Room Price – $475 +
Remember with Control4, you either have to have an EA1, an EA3, or an EA5. All of these will increase your overall cost.
An EA1 is $500 before programming and install, and is sufficient for a 4 room, or 8 room audio system. It gives you one stream of internet music, but requires $100-200 in parts to use the audio stream. The EA3, and EA5 give you 3 and 5 streams respectively, or you can integrate a 3rd party Music Server like Mirage.
Remember, music streams are reference to internet music services like Pandora, or Tidal. But you can also hardwire in MP3 players, iPod Touches, or even airplay to the system.
Savant’s audio is actually in a transition. They have hardware that’s better for larger scale systems with 16+ zones, and a newer system that scales 4-6 rooms at a time. I’ll show you pricing for both to compare.
- Savant 4 Room Audio System – $2,500 This is a 4 room amplifier, and audio switch combo. It also has 1 stream of internet music on board. It actually has 2 ‘line out’ ports, which means that you can add in an external amplifier to power two additional rooms if you like.
- Savant Audio Switch & Amplifiers for 16 zones – $9,735 This dedicated hardware for each piece of the system. Savant has a really cool Audio Switch with some special bells and whistles for more intricate applications. It’s our go to Audio Switch, any time we can use it. It’s $2,500 retail. Then there’s two 16 channel Amplifiers, and a 2 Stream music server from Autonomic. You can upgrade to a 5 stream server for $2,625.
- Per Room Price – $785+ It’s good to point out the newer 4 Room package, drops the per room price to $650 if you add in the external amp for $250.
Similar to Control4, Savant requires that you use Savant’s Host. They have different Host for different size applications. Remember that in your budget.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pricing for the Sonos CONNECT:AMP is $499. An earlier version of this post contained a typo.
Matt is a co-founder and lead systems designer for TYM LLC. His smart home and audio/visual designs have won three “Home of the Year Awards” from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and two awards from the Consumer Technology Association, including "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year".
Matt is a golden State fan.