Have you thought how special it would be to hear your favorite high fidelity music throughout your home or office? If your next thought was, “It’s too expensive and too complicated,” think again -- and take heart. “Whole house music” works beautifully, sounds fabulous, and is neither costly nor difficult to set up using the right wireless technology available from iHi-Fi.com.
This article offers you two ways to go that don't involve running wires from your music source to other rooms or cutting into walls or ceilings. Setup A is optimized for lower cost at 16-bit, true CD quality. Setup B is the least costly way you can create multiple audio zones playing 24-bit, master quality music.
The key components in these setups are the wireless digital-to-analog converters (DACs.) The W3 CD quality version also includes an analog-to-digital converter (ADC.) That design universally enables wireless music transmission from any source, digital or analog, to any player device with a standard audio input connector. The W3 is the chameleon of audio.
Don’t fret about in-wall or ceiling speaker installations. You would not get high fidelity with those and they are difficult to install. Instead, I propose compact, studio-monitor quality, powered speakers connected with wireless DAC receivers. Then you can move your music zones around anywhere within a 200-foot circle centered on your source device. Change rooms easily and hear your music anywhere within that range. Turn the music on or off and adjust volume at the speakers. Choose a wall-mount setup if that suits, or listen using headphones at any of the remote music zones.
Let’s begin where the music originates at your source device. Whatever music you select at the source will be available throughout your spaces at the same quality as the source. No music quality loss occurs through the wireless radio links because they operate in digital mode.
To start, assure your source has usable music output connectors. Connectivity is not an issue for the gear recommended herein. Any two-channel stereo music player device that has standard output connectors will work. If in doubt, contact iHi-Fi by email or phone using the info on the iHi-Fi.com contact page.
Example output connector types to feed the wireless DACs --
- From digital sources --
- USB digital (Master or CD quality)
- PCM optical (toslink) (Master quality)
- From analog Sources (CD quality) --
- Stereo 3.5 mm Line Out
- Stereo RCA connectors
- Stereo 3.5 mm headphone jack
Example devices that work as music sources --
- Digital, to maintain master quality --
- Computer with a USB 2.0+ connector or PCM optical (toslink)
- Digital USB turntable
- CD player or DAC with PCM optical output
- Analog, with no fidelity loss --
- Mobile devices like iPod, iPad, iPhone or Android, etc.
- Sound dock or sound bar
- Audio/Visual decoder
- Music player such as a Logitech Squeezebox or Boom
- Network Music Server such as a Logitech Transporter
- Any typical room stereo system (players-preamp-amp-speakers)
- Even a Bose Wave Radio
Your music zone options include --
- At least 3 speaker sets if you use any personal computer as a USB source.
- Up to 6 speaker sets using a Mac (Leopard or later OS) if you create a virtual output per Apple specs.
- With a Windows PC or an analog source device, drive 3 speaker sets total at one time.
The distance allowed to the speakers is generous -- within 100 feet of the source by line-of-sight in all directions. Don’t limit your decisions by any wiring considerations because there are no wire runs involved. These systems are wireless between the music source and speakers. The radio signal penetrates everything except large metal objects like appliances. Wood, masonry, drywall, floors, and concrete are all no problem.
This wireless system is not Bluetooth. It’s similar to your home Wi-Fi but it does not use your home network at all. These wireless devices automatically create private peer networks. So they work anywhere independently, without noise, dropouts, or disconnections. Device pairing is a snap. It’s “wireless that really works.”
Next, decide how many zones you want and where they are located. Then get the hardware for your installations from iHi-Fi (http://ihi-fi.com/) and set up your zones per these guidelines.
Cost Conscious 16-bit CD Quality -- Setup A
Step 1A -- At your music source, connect an Audioengine W3 16-bit Audio Adapter Sender ($149) to the music output connector(s.) Follow the instructions included. One W3 16-bit Receiver is included with each Sender. Use a USB digital source if available because that gives you the best fidelity.
You will need one Extra W3R Receiver Kit ($89) for each additional remote music zone. Also, for each wall-mount setup, you need a pair of wall mount brackets. These are available at A/V stores or on Amazon.com.
Step 2A -- At each remote audio zone, connect a W3 Receiver to a stereo pair of Audioengine Powered Speakers (A2+ or A5+.) The A2+ Speakers ($249) are very compact, powered “computer speakers” that deliver fabulous fidelity and volume for the size and will drive even a medium-sized room. The A2+ Speakers include threaded inserts for wall-mount applications. The A5+ Powered Speakers (from $399) are Audioengine’s best and will drive even a larger room with audio-lover quality sound.
If you prefer wall-mount speakers with nearly the power and fidelity of the A5+, choose the P4 Passive Speakers ($249) and N22 Amplifier ($199) combination. These P4 Passive speakers have about the same voice as the A5+ with only slightly less performance and they have wall-mount threaded inserts.
Let There Be Music -- When each zone setup is complete, power everything up. Set the volume to lowest level on all speakers, and then play music from the source. Then set the volume at each music zone and you’re on the air.
Master 24-bit Quality -- Setup B
Step 1B -- At the source, connect an Audioengine D2 24-bit DAC Sender ($499) to the music output connector. Follow the instructions included. Use USB digital source if possible because that gives you the best fidelity. One D2 24-bit DAC Receiver is included with each Sender.
Step 2B -- You will need one Extra D2R Receiver Kit ($325) for each remote music zone you install. For each wall-mount setup, you’ll need to obtain a pair of wall mount brackets, available at A/V stores or on Amazon.com.
At each remote music zone location, connect a D2R Receiver to a stereo pair of Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers (from $399.) The A5+ Powered Speakers are Audioengine’s best. These are the logical choice for master quality listening and will drive even a larger room with audio-lover quality sound.
If you prefer wall-mount speakers with nearly the power and fidelity of the A5+, choose the P4 Passive Speakers (from $249) and N22 Amplifier ($199) combination. These P4 Speakers have about the same voice as the A5+ with only slightly less performance and they have wall-mount style threaded inserts. P4N is the Bamboo model.
Let There Be Music -- When each zone setup is complete, power everything up and turn the sound to lowest level on all speakers. Then play music at the source. Set the volume at each music zone and you’re on the air.
Fast forward to when you've completed your project.
Congratulations -- your “whole house music” installation was completed in an hour. All you had to do was unbox the gear and plug it in --
You did not run wires.
You did not cut into walls or ceilings.
You did not buy into captivity with a closed system like Sonos or Apple.
You now have music playing everywhere you want to listen at home.
You move the zones to other rooms at will.
You listen privately in any zone with headphones.
If you move to another home you can take it all with you.
Now bacK to the present . . .
Please consider this -- the speakers for one of your music zones can be A2+. They are small enough to travel wherever you go. One CD-quality pair of A2+ Powered Speakers can provide audio-lover music in any Wi-Fi enabled hotel on the planet. Just connect to your laptop or iPad running Spotify.com over VPN (virtual private network.) Then dance with your sweetie on the balcony while you wait for room service to deliver dinner.
# # #
The iHi-Fi.com website is the online high-end audio store you can shop from anywhere in the USA without leaving home. Receive expert advice and audition whatever you buy with return and refund privileges. This site is the audio industry’s go-to price/performance consultant that optimizes value through computer audio. All the computer audio systems at iHi-Fi.com deliver exceptional to stunning performance at value prices simply because nothing else is acceptable. Authorized Dealer for Audioengine, Acoustic System International, Bravo Audio, and HighEnd Novum.