Audio Distribution (also called Whole Home Audio) is my favorite part of a good Smart Home.  It’s the ability to play music out to speakers in different rooms of the home.  Audio systems differ in their complexity, but here are the key components.

Amplifier

The Amplifier powers the speakers.  It’s usually stored in a closet of some kind, and all the speaker wires are home run back to the Amplifier.  – The Amplifier is the only thing required for an Audio system, but performance is limited.  See Volume Controls & Speaker Selectors

Audio Switch

An Amplifier has an input, where you plug in your music source.  An Amplifier by itself, cannot control which room gets the music.  It just sends the music out to all the rooms the Amplifier is powering at the same time.  An Audio switch allows you to have multiple music sources, and play out different songs to different rooms at the same time.  So you could play music from your iPod in one room, and music stored on a hard drive out to another room at the exact same moment.

Mirage Audio System App
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Control4 Audio Controls
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Music Server

The Music server allows you to play internet music services like Pandora and Spotify out through your speakers.  Servers usually specify a number of available ‘streams.’  This indicates how many different songs you can have playing in different rooms of the house at the same time.  A Music Server plugs into the Audio switch like any other music source.

*Wireless systems like Sonos or Play-Fi utilize the same components, and offer a similar user experience.

See some of the popular Audio Solutions. Control4 Audio – Savant Audio – Sonos – Playfi – Autonomic

 

MAIN IMAGE:  Savant App Pro Audio Controls on iPad

 


Matt Montgomery, TYM, Salt Lake City, Ut

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.


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