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Notes - Modern House Audio Setup and Control over Ethernet


If I run speaker wire to every room, would I need all the squeezeboxes?

If you have a central location where you want to install a multizone receiver, and you know the room arrangements and the locations of all the speakers, you could install home-runs of speaker wire to every speaker location. But you would still want a squeezebox at each location so you could see the name of the song and group that is playing, and it would be harder to rearrange and tune your sound experience if you can't reposition the speakers.

Do I need a squeezebox in a room where I have a computer?

Not necessarily. But having one would allow you to play music from other locations when the computer is off. And depending on the quality of your sound card, the squeezebox might produce better audio.

I prefer not to see the speakers. How can I install them in the walls with this setup?

With a squeezebox setup, you don't need homeruns to a multizone receiver; just run speaker wire to the squeezebox or reciever. For the simplest setup, put the squeezebox on a shelf between speakers. If you don't want to run an ethernet cable from the squeezebox to the wall jack, use a wireless squeezebox.

But you might consider just putting the speakers on shelfs and running the wire along a corner. If you get the right color wire or paint it it doesn't show much and then you can move or upgrade the speakers more easily as smaller or better ones become available.

Do I need a multizone receiver?

It depends what you are trying to do, but maybe not. The squeezeboxes provide similar functionality in some ways provided you can access the source material from a computer. If you want to play your LP's to multiple rooms without ripping them first, then a multizone receiver might be necessary (at least, I don't know how to create the stream on the fly).

How do I output sound from my multizone receiver to different rooms without speaker wire in the walls?

A multizone reciever with speaker wires in the walls to the different rooms is an alternative setup to the squeezebox system described here, but the two approaches are not mutually exclusive. You could run speaker wire from your multizone reciever to other zones, or you could send the sound over ethernet via some kind of conversion system. I believe there are a number of such setups, including one by Leviton. It is my understanding that these systems can equal the performance of audio wiring.

Can I output 5.1 or 7.1 sound to different rooms?

The squeezebox can play many formats, and my understanding is that it is possible to rip surround files and play them back via a squeezebox. In this case you would need a 5.1 or 7.5 receiver hooked up to each squeezebox.

It is my understanding that most multizone receivers do NOT send 5.1 or 7.1 audio to multiple zones. Rather they send 2 channels to a second zone. If you want 5.1 or 7.1 sound in two locations, you need a second reciever.

This sounds like an ad for squeezeboxes. Are you an employee of Slim Devices (makers of the sqeezebox?)

No. I'm not connected in any way. The fact that the software for the squeezebox is open source is a big plus for me as a programmer because it means that I can develop addtional softare for it to do things like inform room occupants of messages from a home automation system. But more importantly for me, it is the hardware I need to meet my basic requirements for a whole-house music environment in a scalable and flexible way.

Why are squeezeboxes so expensive?

This may become more of a commodity soon. One competitor appears to be the Roku SoundBridge which offers a cheaper device which has a smaller display. I've read that the price of the squeezeboxes is not unreasonable given the quality of the audio components and display, but I'm still hoping more competition will lower the price.

If you knew the locations of the speakers and the audio closet, would you run speaker wire?

If I also knew where the squeezeboxes should go, and if I was pretty sure the layout was permanent and final, I would run ethernet in the wall to the squeezebox location and speaker wire in the walls from there to the speaker locations for that squeezebox, especially if there was a door in between.

Even if you don't know where the squeezeboxes or speakers are going, it might be smart to run speaker wire within the same room from one wall of the room accross to the oposite wall whereever you might want speakers on both sides of the room especially if there are doors in between. This would lead to a lot of unused outlets, though.

I have a different question. How do I ask you?

Email me at If I think your question has general interest, I'll add it to this page.

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