Author Topic: Audio zone approach - which is best?  (Read 811 times)

purps

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Audio zone approach - which is best?
« on: June 08, 2012, 11:53:52 am »
I have two approaches in my head, and I don't know which one would be best.

I want some speakers in the garden and in the bathroom, which will require an amp of course. The amps I am looking at are just a cheapo low-power 2 channel things - I am not interested in rinsing hundreds of pounds on uber Denon rs232 controlled amps. So which is best...

1. Squeezeslave USB sound cards on the core, with the amps ALWAYS on waiting to be used. How much energy does an amp use when it is on, but nothing is playing? Is it recommended/safe?

2. Cheapo Atom boards for each zone, with the amp being powered off the PSU, meaning it will switch on and off when the mobo is switched on and off. Overkill? Or brilliant? Less energy usage, if a little bit more expensive?

I am leaning towards 2, it will work out cheaper than a squeezebox (or there won't be a lot in it at least). Or is there another approach that I may have missed?

Cheers,
Matt.
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my setup :: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Purps

totallymaxed

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2012, 01:35:09 pm »
I have two approaches in my head, and I don't know which one would be best.

I want some speakers in the garden and in the bathroom, which will require an amp of course. The amps I am looking at are just a cheapo low-power 2 channel things - I am not interested in rinsing hundreds of pounds on uber Denon rs232 controlled amps. So which is best...

1. Squeezeslave USB sound cards on the core, with the amps ALWAYS on waiting to be used. How much energy does an amp use when it is on, but nothing is playing? Is it recommended/safe?

2. Cheapo Atom boards for each zone, with the amp being powered off the PSU, meaning it will switch on and off when the mobo is switched on and off. Overkill? Or brilliant? Less energy usage, if a little bit more expensive?

I am leaning towards 2, it will work out cheaper than a squeezebox (or there won't be a lot in it at least). Or is there another approach that I may have missed?

Cheers,
Matt.

There are many ways of approaching this kind of installation... zone amplifiers like RTI's audio matrix amp's AD-4 or AD-8 (http://www.rticorp.com/products/ad8.html)or similar but less capable amps from Denon or Arcam. Another approach would be to use Squeezebox Radio's (about £100 + VAT) as these are very efficient, Wifi and portable.

An alternative fixed approach we use sometimes is to use Squeezeslaves partnered with small Keene in-wall amplifiers eg (http://www.keene.co.uk/electronic/keene-electronics/klab20ds-in-wall-digital-slave-amplifier-excl.-psu/KLAB20DS.html) as they fit in a standard UK 2-gang back box and are a fit and forget device as they power themselves off automatically when there is not input signal and 'wake-up' almost instantly when they sense an input. Power wise they are about as efficient as anything we've ever seen and they're cheap too at about £100 a unit.

So I hope the above is of help.

All the best


Andrew
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davegravy

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2012, 03:06:43 pm »
Is synchronization part of your criteria? I've had no luck getting audio zones to stay synchronized. Things will start off sync'd but by the 2nd or third song in a playlist there's up to a 1 second time delta between zones. it gets worse and worse from there.

I've tried both squeezeslave and running full MDs for each zone with the same result. Have plans to revisit the issue to see if there's a solution but no time these days.

purps

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 03:25:01 pm »
Andrew,

Thanks for the reply, very useful, as always.

I apprecate these multi-channels are a robust way of getting the desired result, but I really wanted to avoid shelling out for one of those (and having to deal with setting it up etc).

I believe I am right in saying that a Squeezebox has a built in speaker? And it cannot drive an amp? Although I guess if it has headphones output or similar, that can be used.

That Keene in-wall amp looks fantastic. At first I thought that £100 is a bit steep, but when you think that my solution requires a mobo (~£50), an amplifier (~£30) and PSU (~£20), and won't be as energy efficient, it makes an awful lot of sense. Thanks!

Just need somebody to sort this out for me now ;) http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php/topic,12605.0.html

davegravy,

I don't need the audio zones to sync. I have read a few threads about this, appears to be a common problem. Does the audio sync properly between MDs out of interest?

Cheers,
Matt.
1004 RC :: looking good :: upgraded 01/04/2013
my setup :: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/User:Purps

totallymaxed

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2012, 03:48:35 pm »
Is synchronization part of your criteria? I've had no luck getting audio zones to stay synchronized. Things will start off sync'd but by the 2nd or third song in a playlist there's up to a 1 second time delta between zones. it gets worse and worse from there.

I've tried both squeezeslave and running full MDs for each zone with the same result. Have plans to revisit the issue to see if there's a solution but no time these days.

MD's will never be in sync but Squeezeslaves should be if they are running on identical or similar hardware.

Andrew
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dextaslab

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2012, 04:03:22 pm »
If your looking for a poor mans squeezeslave, these are what I have come up with:
WRT350Nv2 with USB sound card + amp: http://www.modlog.net/?p=202
Thin Client + second hand speakers: http://www.modlog.net/?p=219
Both boot in a few seconds and use very little power.

totallymaxed

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Re: Audio zone approach - which is best?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2012, 05:44:02 pm »
If your looking for a poor mans squeezeslave, these are what I have come up with:
WRT350Nv2 with USB sound card + amp: http://www.modlog.net/?p=202
Thin Client + second hand speakers: http://www.modlog.net/?p=219
Both boot in a few seconds and use very little power.

Yeah the TP-30 is an interesting hybrid device with a good DAC. We create virtual stereo sound cards from a physical sound card - say a 7.1 card for example and then distribute those stereo outputs to a range of amplifiers or one Matrix Amplifier like the RTI AD8... but you could use TP-30's too alongside the RTI.

One advantage of the RTI is that because its a true audio matrix you can route any input to any range of outputs and this automatically removes the issue of audio sync.

I do like the idea of using a WRT350Nv2 + TP-30 though... nice idea.

All the best


Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

Read My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, totallymaxed+consulting@gmail.com via email or PM me here.

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