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?
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