Multizone audio, old school centralized system

I am considering switching to OpenHab, but have questions on stuff that I cannot grasp.

I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around multizone audio/music using the hardware I have and local MP3 files, etc. And how to deal with the UI once I get the backend working. Selecting music to send to the zones, etc.

Here’s what I have:
Vaux LA-1600A 16X16 stereo matrix switch/controller (similar to Russound or Monoprice, but without amplifier and more zones) . Using it to control 5 sources of audio and 11 zones of output, going to a 18 channel amplifier (9 stereo zones) and a couple of receivers (Denon and Outlaw for the remaining 2 zones). It is controllable via RS232.

Inputs are MP3 files coming from 3 sets of outputs on a media server to 3 of the inputs on the Vaux. An AM/FM tuner, and a Chromecast Audio. I have more outputs on the server available and am thinking to use one set for TTS output.

So I have no idea where to even start making this work. I want to be able to select from the 25,000+ MP3 files I have and send them to any of the zones. Or Pandora, Spotify, etc to the Chromecast and then to the Vaux’s ins and outs. All from a tablet interface, or by voice using Google Home.

I know that the norm of late is to use multiple chromecasts, squeezeboxes, or RPis. But I have the infrastructure in place already, with a central equipment location and all of the speakers wired in ceiling. Plus, we tend to “group” zones on the fly around here. So we’ll be listening to music in the kitchen and then decide to add the office or the living room as we go. And with 11 zones, it’s hard to imagine preassigning groups for all of the possibilities.

Hope this all makes sense. I’d be grateful for any help.

I can help with part of this. I bought a 12x12 matrix mixer on ebay with the plan to do whole house audio via openhab (with the disadvantage of not having it already wired, which is what has been stopping me).

I specifically picked the mixer (Converge SR 1212) because it’s network controllable via telnet. Converge’s XAP800 seems to be a more common around the internet, but it’s only remotely controllable via serial.

Inputs would be the RPi running openhab for TTS announcements, an Echo Dot for Amazon Music, the TV in the livingroom, etc.

Controlling the SR1212 is simple enough; openhab it just needs to output the right telnet commands to switch pre-programmed scenes, set volumes, etc. I have Items that represents the currently selected scene and volume level in each room, and when they change it outputs the appropriate command

Controlling Alexa is also really simple, the Echo binding is quite robust. I have an item that represents the station/playlist I want Alexa to play, and it remotely controls the dot plugged into the mixer. It can also control music groups, but I haven’t messed with that yet. It’s easy enough just to tell Alexa “Play hard rock everywhere” which includes the rooms that only have a dot as well as the (one, at the moment) zone on the 1212.


Thanks Ryan. On the Vaux, the RS232 is a bit simpler, I think. You can send it a command to connect any given input to any output(s). You can send a fixed volume (say 25) or increment. There are some “scenes” in it for paging or doorbell. I probably won’t use those at all.

So assuming I can figure that part out, how do you manage the local music library and select songs, albums, etc.? Both on the UI and via voice, if that’s even possible.

Not sure how you are managing your library but have a look at JRMC

Great conversation guys, I like how you’re approaching this.

As a sound engineer of more years than I care to remember, I’ll always advocate a wired installation, a mixer / matrix and multiple audio sources.

The idea of multiple local players trying to sync to the same digital audio stream just seems like a complex way of doing it.

As it happens, I’m pitching for a job right now in a gym that needs multiple stereo audio zones, with choices of a local feed in each zone and 3 or 4 streams / sources from players in a rack.
As well as having a choice of radio mics.

I’m looking at using a Behringer XR-18 Air, configured as a 4 zone stereo zone mixer, where the 6 Aux outputs will be Zones 2 to 4 and the main out pair will be Zone 1 (the main room).

Brand new, this can be found on Thomann {Oct 2019} for €404

It also has wired and wireless LAN (which can be in various modes), as well as their UltraNet output for accessing 16 digital streams on other devices.

For user control, there is a brilliant Android (possibly also iOS) app called Mixing Station that can have custom layouts, so my plan is to give each room a PoE tablet with its own custom layout, for selecting the microphones and audio source.

The only fly in the ointment is making the stereo audio sources mutually exclusive, so only one can be selected at once.

Thankfully the author of the app has entered into a conversation about this.

One option for me, is to see if the remote control can be pulled into openHAB2, which will obviously open up all kinds of possibilities, such as offering source selection, volume and source content from one UI.

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I have also been an audio engineer for, well, longer than I would care to admit. Live and stdio. I now sell commercial and pro audio products for a wholesale supplier in the US. I sell Behringer and others. You should take a look at the recent QSC Business Music System. A lot more money, but it’s an interesting approach.

As for my setup, I have been using a VERY old software package called Premise Home, and it has worked well. But they stopped developing it almost 15 years ago. But their approach was really great. A lot of click and drag. And the matrix logic was all built in. Just load the right driver and link your sources and zones and it all worked. Along with lighting, scenes, etc.

But alas, the age has been causing a lot of problems. The interface is old and ugly. And it doesn’t support most of the new stuff. So here I am :slight_smile:

I am hoping to create a room based interface where you can control the lighting and media in that room, but also link that media to other rooms at will. Like I could do with this ancient software. And all with Google Home or Echo controlling it.

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@mjcumming - I had been managing the library with iTunes for years. But have also used MediaMonkey. I’m not that concerned with the management side, as far as metadata and organization, but how to manage it within the UI of OpenHab.

I really want to be able to go to the room I’m in, in the UI and select the music I want to play in that room, whether local files, or Pandora, or some radio station (local tuner or internet stream. And then link in other rooms if I want. All the while other rooms can do different things. And I want to see what’s playing on the UI in realtime.

I bet there is a way to control those other sources. I see habpanel examples here that include Spotify track data and cover art, I bet the other services can do that as well.

UI wise the hard part will be displaying a 25k song library in a useful form on a wall tablet, and not just picking one one song but making a whole playlist. Might be easier to select from a dozen or so premade playlists.

There are some amazing things people have done in habpanel. Mostly I think it comes down to structuring your items correctly so they do the right things.


I don’t think there is a way to get the music metadata from iTunes to build an interface from. You will need to have something like squeezebox or other to manage the library and to use OH to get the metadata to build the interface. That’s why JRMC is so nice - great media management, prebuilt interfaces, and you can use OH to control your switcher etc.

Since it sounds like you’re more worried about the UI than the technical details, a few screenshots :slight_smile:

Here’s my livingroom panel, with audio controls.

Tapping the “Alexa Station” square brings up a picker with our usual stations:

And tapping “Distribution” brings up the distribution selector that currently does nothing because the zones aren’t wired up:

@Ryan_Illman - My library is sorted by Artist > Album > Title. So I can get through it without too much difficulty. If I can present it that way in HabPanel. I will take a look at what others are doing.

@mjcumming - I have installed LMS/Squeezeplayer on another system and will give that a look.

@Ryan_Illman - Thanks for the HabPanel examples. I definitely learn visually :slight_smile:

And I am concerned about the UI, but mostly in understanding the logic of how this can all fit together.