Imagine walking into a room filled with music. You look for audio gear and speakers, but there are none in sight — just the room's warm, inviting décor. That's because you're hearing an integrated, in-wall multi-room music system. The cables, speakers, and even controllers are installed in your walls and ceiling for a clean, seamless look.
In this article, we'll cover your two main options for an in-wall multi-room system. Then we'll walk you through the questions you should ask yourself when choosing this kind of multi-room system. Also, keep in mind that you can always call our Audio/Video Design Group for help — they'll take info you supply about your specific home and create custom recommendations. You'll find more system ideas in our article on wireless multi-room music systems.
Will you use existing in-wall wiring, or install new wiring? More and more homes these days are pre-wired with multi-room systems in mind. For example, some offer multiple runs of CAT-5 cable, to accommodate both your computer network and a multi-room system. Some homes also include runs of speaker wire to power multi-room speakers. Depending on the multi-room music system you choose, you'll likely use one or both types of cable to distribute and control your music.
If your home doesn't have the right in-wall cabling, or doesn't have it installed in the right locations, you'll need to install new wire. This is something often done in homes still under construction, or under heavy renovation, since it's easier to install in-wall wire before the drywall and insulation are up. See our in-wall wiring guide for info on routing wire in new and finished homes. And if you'd rather go wireless, check out our article about wireless music options.
How many rooms do you want music in? Some multi-room systems send music to just two or three rooms total, while others expand to accommodate 12 or more, depending on how you configure your system. As you shop, think about how many listening rooms you'd like, and also how you'll listen in each room. For example, you might choose different components for background listening in your kitchen then you would for dedicated music listening in your den.
How much control do you want in your remote rooms? You'll have a range of control options from most pre-matched and conventional systems — everything from simply controlling the volume, to switching sources and songs. Most pre-matched systems include a controller in each room where you have music. But if you're creating your own conventional system, you'll need to be sure to include that in your plans. See our articles on powering your multi-room system and remote controls for multi-room systems for more info.