Multi-room audio

I want to have multi-room audio in the house we are going to build.

Requirements:

  • Speakers in (almost) every room
  • Audio from one source to every speaker
  • Multiple different audio streams to one room each
  • Not too expensive (Sonos & Control4 are a bit out of my price range)

The solutions I have found so far:

  1. Chromecast in every room.
  2. Central solution: multiple USB-Soundcards

Do you have any other suggestions? Any tips which works better in OH?

Thanks
Daniel

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if you’d like to have multiple sources for each room, the high-end but very capable solution is russound:
https://russound.com/products/audio-systems/multi-room-controllers

those multi-room Controllers allow you to define zones. You can have multiple sources (CD-player, spotify, …) and you can distribute the sources to the zones. there’s already a Russound-binding:
https://docs.openhab.org/addons/bindings/russound/readme.html

if budget is of issue just install alexas in each room! :wink:

I had had a look at this sometime ago but not in my priorities at the moment:

Sure ! I just did that in my flat :slight_smile: What I did is I made multiple “smart” aplifiers running linux lets call them “nodes”. Each node is running Mopidy with its own web interface to controll it. Each node can also be controlled by mqtt from the openhab controller. So this way I have “Multiple different audio streams to one room each”. To have “Audio from one source to every speaker” I tested two solutions. First I used rtsp protocol to share a stream from one of the nodes, call it “master node” and play that stream on every node (including master node). But this solution was not 100% perfectly synced :frowning: now I’m testing snapcast software and it seems that it is better. The idea is the same as with rtsp protocol, but now instead of just playing a stream in mopidy I need to separatly controll the snapcast server.
So now lets go to “Speakers in (almost) every room”, my solution opens a variety of options, because the node does not have to be also an amplifier, it can just outputs the audio to a standalone aplifier, so if You have already some HI-FI gear You can connect the node to it :slight_smile: Or if You go with amplified node You just need to connect a pair of speakers. I put my speakers into the ceiling in kitchen and both bathrooms. In livingroom I connected master node to the yamaha av recieiver. And by the way the master node is also a kodi smart tv box :slight_smile: In my bedroom I used my old computer speakers with aplifier and connected the node to it. And since the node in my bedroom is using pulseaudio to handle the audio I can play audio from my PC through the network on this node :slight_smile:
And we are at “Not too expensive (Sonos & Control4 are a bit out of my price range)” :slight_smile: the cost of my solution is mostly determined by the speakers/amplifier You choose, the software is free :).
I baught three sets of sony speakers that I mounted in the ceiling (https://www.sony.com/electronics/marine/xs-mp1621)
For the nodes I choosed nanopi neo (http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=132) and for master node raspberry pi 3
The amplified nodes are the hardest part. You can buy ready made amplifier boards like these (http://www.mpja.com/Dual-50W-Class-D-Amplifier-Module-TDA7492/productinfo/32705+MP/). Then You need a separate power supply for the amplifier and for the linux board. You can power the linux board from the phone charger if You want, but I wanted to make it really nice and (since I’m electronics engineer ) I made my custom board to connect all of the components (nano pi, amplifier, and two power supplies) in one case.

Well this is long post, if You have any questions I will happily answer :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, and why I didn’t use any commertial stuff ? well just look how many possibilities this gave me, I can use my home cinema, the yamaha receiver, to be part of my multiroom solution, I can play audio from my pc on virtually every node, I can use it with kodi software on single raspberry pi and especially if something is not working correctly I can fix it instead of relaying in customer support (and every commertial system have something that is not working corectly …). If I stick for example with yamaha music cast I would need to have yamaha gear in every room, and loose half of functionality …

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I use a Monoprice 6-zone Amp in my setup, and I wrote rules to control it in openHAB Here. It allows 6 different inputs including optical, and controls 6 different zones. It’s on sale now at $450, so much cheaper than the higher end options, and just as useful.

Either way you go, make sure you prewire the speaker wiring in every room you can think of having audio (hide the wires in the ceiling)…it’ll be much easier to add zones later on. Also, in my setup, the speaker/control pad wiring go to the same place (my rack in the basement). Some amps allow you to connect speakers to the touch pads, but for amps like this one with more juice, the amp outputs audio directly to the speakers.

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Squeezebox running on raspberry pi!

Squeezebox is working for me for quite a few years now extremely well; it’s user interface looks a little outdated, but I still have found no real alternative for the price.It runs rock-solid and does everything I need it to do.
It runs on raspberries if you want, although I put my server on a VM which makes it snappier…I have 6 clients and it synch’s just perfectly (or you can separate in as many zones as you want); the flexibility and the ability to control everything from one UI (server side) are still the winning points; integrations with quite a number of streaming services are available.

A possible alternative might be using Volumio.org (never used it, but I am following it loosely as it seems to grow into a possible alternative); unfortunately, it does not offer easy synching but there is a snapcast add-on that reportedly provides for that; however, using it that way seems to make it a little less user-friendly for now.

One more vote for Squeezebox from me.

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Check out Max2Play, which essentially replicates a squeezebox server and/or player on a Raspberry Pi to which you can fit a HiFiberry or IQAudio amplifier board, hooked up to a pair, or single stereo ceiling speaker. All you need to provide to the ceiling location for the Pi is power and Ethernet, I don’t think 802.11af and the new PoE hat for the Pi 3B+ can supply enough power for an audio amplifier unfortunately, so you’ll need a grunty 12-18V PSU to power it, the amplifier boards do power the Raspberry Pi though, so you won’t need an additional 5V supply. One important thing with multi-room audio is that it is in sync and the squeezebox players manage that well, even slight delays between zones sounds horrendous.

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+1 for this hardware and @bartus’ awesome rules

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Squeezebox all the way… I’m now running 6 players with HiFi Berry amp powered over PoE (works if you keep the volume at a sensible level) or dacs all synced or individual. They really need to be wired and not WiFi to keep them perfectly in sync.

I’ve also just got them all network booting from PiServer so no more SD cards and crawling around the loft to do individual updates. I’ve just about written an install script and will try and do a write up if anyone wants an easy install.

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Yes, please, very interested

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FWIW, I’m connecting one of my Monoprice amp inputs the a SqueezeBox, which is a great way to stream music. I use it mostly with Pandora.

Raspi Pi with hifiberry Amp (one set for each room) - installed with max2play image
Server with LMS (Squeezebox-Server) - could also be one of the raspis or a separate server

It works very well for me. You can control it with android or iphone apps or you can control it with openhab.

for one room: raspi 3 with hifiberry amp 2 is about 90-100 €

I have in-ceiling speakers in some of my rooms

my advice would be to use wired loudspeakers in the room and then either use a multi-Zone amp (like Russound or @bartus’ Monoprice or even dedicated 20€/piece China amps per zone.
That way you’re completely free to use whatever hardware you can connect to your loudspeakers.

Why do I say this? If you’re using dedicated hardware, which connects directly to whatever cloud service you risk having some expensive bricks if in a few years the manufacturer decides to discontinue the service for older Hardware - like if I see it correctly, since this month there are a bunch of Sonos-players which simply won’t work anymore:

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Thanks for all the input, I think I will go for a central solution with many cheap china-amps
and 2 logilink 7.1 USB-Soundcards.

For those speaking german I found a lot of good info here

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If you’d like to use your china-amps as a “Spotify connect”-Player (and simply Control them via the Spotify-app), check this out:

Hi, yes also interested please

Which app do you use? Do you use max2play image or another player?

Can you boot all your raspis from only one image? are there no individual settings to do for each? Different names or something like this?

@nofuss @vzorglub @halloween

Not wanting to hijack this thread, I’ll do a bit more work and testing and then start another. But briefly;

Yes one Squeezelite image, well I’m using 2 at the moment as the Amp+ needs a different flag setting in the boot.config which then breaks the DAC & Digi but there’s probably a way around this. It will also work with the onboard 3.5mm or HDMI.

Yes, I also have different settings per player, name, sound-card type, etc. (allocated by MAC address) and I’m now also testing a different EQ setting for each… so far so good. When you get this far there’s a bit of text file editing to do, but nothing more than openHAB style!!

Ow and as a bonus, there’s another option to centrally deploy a kiosk for HABpanel…

For PoE I have a UniFi switch which can kick out 24v (some of the new ones may have removed this), then I just split out the 2 pairs of +ive and -ive leaving 4 for LAN which is all you need for 100Mpbs, and then pass through a cheap buck converter down to 18v and into the Amp. Probably not the very very best power supply around but it works well enough for my everyday needs. I also power my 7inch touchscreens this way, but obviously adjust down to 5v.