I am going to review some of today's multi-room audio systems which are designed to distribute music throughout your home. I am going to explain some of the basics of multi-room audio. In particular, I will show some of the challenges of distributing audio to multiple rooms. Finally, I will explain how today's systems address these challenges and also offer some tips on installing these kits.
There are quite a few multi-room music products on the market today such as Sonos products and other wireless kits. Your budget as well as your specific needs will determine which system is ideal for you.
If you have a network cable installed in your home then you won't have any problems since all modern multi-room music systems can transmit music via a network cable. Most components are fairly easy to connect to your LAN cable. They have LAN ports that attach to your home network via short cable. As an alternative, most multi-room kits also support wireless streaming of music. Depending on whether you have a LAN connection in your home, you can either go with a system that doesn't have wireless streaming in order to save some money or with a system that can stream wirelessly in order to be more flexible. If you go for a product that lets you add a wireless expansion module then you can save some money by not adding a module in those areas where you do have a wired LAN connection.
In order to set up a multi-room music system, you'll need an internet connection in case you want to stream music from an online resource such as internet radio station or simply a home network in case you want to stream music which is stored on a local device such as a PC. If your music is stored on an Apple device such as an iPhone then it makes sense to get a docking station. This dock can interface with your music system and share the music that is stored on the iPhones memory. If music is stored on a PC then you'll need to share the files on your home network. You can control your system either via a dedicated remote control which can be expensive or by installing an app onto a portable device such as an iPhone.
One of the key features of modern multi-room music systems is the ability to set up music zones which is an area that plays the same music. A zone does not necessarily have to be one room. You can group several rooms or your whole house into one zone. Also, you can group two speakers together. If two speakers are grouped together, it makes sense to arrange that one speaker outputs the left and the other speaker the right audio signal. By spacing the 2 speakers fairly wide apart, the stereo effect can be improved. Also, you can arrange home theater speakers in a similar fashion. When purchasing a music system, check the technical specifications to find out whether the audio for speaker in one zone will be in sync. In other words make sure there is no delay between the audio playing from different speakers. Such a delay would degrade the sound experience.