Powering the multi-room with music system

2 Zones

A well-planned multi-room audio system keeps music moving through your home. You can power in-ceiling speakers, floor-standing and bookshelf speakers, and outdoor speakers, all through the same wired system.

Wired multi-room audio systems can range from simple two-room, one-receiver setups to more advanced multi-zone systems. We’ll start with the basics and work up to the more complex scenarios.

Audio in two rooms using one receiver2 Zones

With a dual-zone/dual-source receiver, you can listen to different audio sources in each zone.Most home theater receivers with seven or more channels have a set of Zone 2 speaker outputs for a pair of stereo speakers in a second room.

Multi-zone home theater receivers have seven, nine, or eleven channels of power. Sometimes they have more speaker connections than channels. A receiver with nine sets of speaker outputs, for example, might only be able to power seven speakers at a time.

Let’s say you have a nine-channel receiver with 11 speaker outputs. You can hook up a full nine-channel surround sound system, plus stereo speakers in another room.

What’s the catch?

When you are listening to music in Zone 2, two of the rear channels drop from your surround mix. This leaves you with you 7 channels of surround sound in Zone 1. When you turn off the Zone 2 music, your surround sound reverts to 9 channels.

Audio in three rooms using one receiver

The easiest way to get audio in three rooms with one receiver is to find a 9- or 11-channel receiver with powered speaker outputs for Zone 2 and Zone 3. These models often support 3-zone/3-source audio, so you can listen to something different in all three zones.

Phone screen

Using preamp outputs means you’ll need a second receiver or amplifier for Zone 3. This is a great option if you have an old receiver you’d like to put to good use.

More than three rooms

Want your audio system to extend beyond three rooms? The first thing you’ll want to do is talk to an experienced system designer.

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting your equipment and setting everything up. How big are your rooms? How loud will you play your music in each room? Do you want to be able to play different music in different zones at the same time?

Your designer can pick out the right multi-channel amplifier for your needs. They’ll also show you how to configure it so you end up with an easy-to-use system that does what you want it to.

To give you an idea of what’s involved, we’ll look at a fairly typical three-zone, five-room system.

Zone 1

Let’s say you have an open floor plan, without walls separating the kitchen, dining room, and great room.

You’ll need multiple speakers to evenly distribute sound throughout that large, open area. In our example, we’re going with five.

We need six amplifier channels to power the five speakers in Zone 1.

  • Channels 1 and 2 are for the left and right speakers in the great room.
  • Channels 3 and 4 go to a stereo-input speaker in the kitchen.
  • Channels 5 and 6 go to the left and right speakers in the dining room.
Zone 2 is simple, with just one pair of speakers in the basement den. We’ll use two amp channels to power the left and right speakers.
Zone 3 is different. There’s a single pair of outdoor speakers, but they need more power than indoor speakers. To get them to play at decent volume levels we “bridge” (combine) four amplifier channels into two.

We’re here to help

For expert advice and a system proposal for your home, call our A/V Design Group at 1-800-555-9407. Or you can submit a system design request and upload your floorplans. Our designers can help you plan your system and put everything together.