Being involved in home audio / video, this is a question we obviously get all the time, and the answer is always the same…YES! Today, we’re going to talk about why, during new construction or remodeling, you should definitely take advantage of hiding the speaker wires (and any other structured wiring you may be doing) while you can.
First, let’s talk about the misunderstanding many people have with the phrase “wireless speakers.” This misconception is the main reason why folks fail to run speaker wires, only to find out they made a terrible mistake when the project is complete. If you do any quick search online for speakers, a ton of “wireless” choices show up. At first glance, this seems like a money saving option and makes your life easier. Hold your horses, however. Even with all of the advancements in technology, when it comes to electronics, one thing is for sure; you still need power and a signal! In the case of speakers, you need to send the signal to the speakers so they can play something, i.e your music. You also need to power them in some form or fashion.
This is the one downfall of everything being labeled “wireless.” In the case of speakers, “wireless” typically pertains to the signal it receives. Hence, you send the signal over wifi to the speaker, like Sonos or Yamaha Music Cast. Both of these speakers still get plugged into a wall outlet to power them. This can be a great option when your house is already built or you want to have music quickly in a room, but not if you have the chance to run speaker wire in the walls before sheetrock goes up.
If you’re building a new home and not sure what type of audio system you want or need or how many zones of audio you would eventually like, it’s still cheaper, and in the long run more convenient, to run the wires now and leave them behind the wall or ceiling. That way, you can come back later, add speakers a few at a time, and not have major sheetrock repair or a mess on your hands. This way is very common, and many of our clients will have us run speaker wires for several rooms in their home, but only actually put speakers in the kitchen or family room. After having the convenience of playing music from the phone into the great room, many people want to come back and install the speakers in the other locations, too. It’s just too convenient and fun to be able to listen to music all throughout your home without any hassle. All you need is some type of amplifier (more on that later in a future post) and good wifi!
If you’re wondering if you can still play Pandora through in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, the answer is “yes.” Anything you play on your phone can be easily played throughout your home based on the music setup you choose. This is probably the best reason of all to wire for speakers! You haven’t realized how much you want whole-house-audio until you zing out your favorite tunes from an iPad or cell phone and have them playing all around you. This is also the biggest reason we are called back to add more speakers in a client’s home. Then add to the mix that you can listen to different things in different rooms from different places…..and you will wonder how you lived without it before! Not sure what I mean about different things? Someone can listen to the NPR Sunday Puzzle show in the kitchen while the kids can stream spotify in the bonus room and your can listen to you workout playlist in the garage from Napster. You can play different music, in different rooms, all at the same time.
During the design or construction phase of the build, we can pick a central location, or an out of the way closet, that will be your hub for all the audio controllers. Since you will be accessing most of your music from mobile devices or remotes, the location of the “brain” is not as important. Here is where we will install the main amplifier or system for your whole-house-audio. The number of zones will dictate the size and brand of amplifier. Here’s where the name Sonos will come in, and many people know about the Sonos system of speakers, but there are also several other options that might make more sense such as eLan, Control4, and others. This is the location that all of the speakers will be wired back to.
One great innovation of whole-house-audio is getting rid of volume controls. In the past, a volume knob was installed in each room or zone of speakers. Today, you can use a remote or your wireless device to control the volume. Just one less thing you need in terms of clutter. However, if you still want manual control, they can also be installed.
During construction, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is resale, but a complete whole-house-audio system is one of the top features home buyers are looking for when shopping. Now that streaming music is so commonplace, it has become the norm and is expected in so many situations. Along with resale, having a wireless system also adds a level of security and safety to your system. First, by having all your equipment centrally located, it’s easier to be secured in a locked cabinet or room. Also, by having remote access to the source selectors and volume controls, you can stop the untrained from really doing any damage to your system by adjusting settings, changing power levels, etc. This also makes it easier for you to let guests and visitors use your system. All they have to do is download an app and they can be enjoying music in your home. On a side note, many of the systems we install allow multiple playlists to be created and so when a guest uses your system, no one messes around with your favorites.
If you’re thinking about wiring your new home for whole-house-audio, you should also think about your home network. In a recent article, we talked about some additional things that should be pre-wired during construction.
Today, it’s never been easier to prepare your new home for the fun and usefulness of whole-house-audio.