Whole Home Streaming

I didn't seem to encounter a recent version of this when searching threads, but I apologize in advance if this has been discussed before.
I am out of town (currently in Boston area) for a funeral. My brother in law invited us to his new townhome. He doesn't have an audio system currently in place. The town home is on 3 levels. The previous owners had a Sonos system in the house but apparently it stopped working years ago for unknown reasons. The sellers left all their audio equipment behind in built ins. A receiver, VHS player, and cable box.
My b-i-l would like to do something better than Sonos so he isn't interested
in reviving the current equipment. He was quoted $30,000 from a local high end HT place. He is willing to go to 1/3-- 1/2 of that. He is quite tech savvy but not up to date on audiophilia
My question here concerns the whole home streaming end. i'm a Mac&Dac
guy in my own home and rely on Apple TV to stream from my main two channel system to my two HT systems, but I don't do serious listening in the two HT areas. He intends to do serious listening in the 3 areas. They are:
1) The family room/great room area, where the aforementioned built ins and residual equipment resides.
2) A living room downstairs and across the hall.
3) A Bedroom upstairs.
His Domestic Partner has veto power over any ugly looking stuff in areas one and 3. My b-i-l would like to control everything wirelessly from a tablet and have as much of a wireless connection as possible. He listens to Classical music and some pop, mainly CDs ripped to itunes.
The existing equipment will not be retained.
The main priorities are 1) Simultaneous streaming in the 3 main zones, 2) Sound quality, and 3) as few wires and ugly boxes as possible.

And can anyone suggest a reasonable HT installation in the Boston area?
It looks like you set your mind on wireless. I had problem
using 2.4GHz WiFi since it has only 3 non-overlapping
channels. My microwave was interfering with one and
neighbors with two others. There are few possible choices:

- brute force, use powerful antenna >0.5W (will also force
neighbors to change channels), or/and repeaters

- switch to dual band router and operate at 5GHz that has 23
non-overlapping channels (that's what I did). No
interference since it is not very common yet, plus penetrates
walls poorly - a advantage against incomming interference but
also disadvantage if you need to go thru the walls or over
long distance.

- device that doesn't use WiFi (investigate Sonos - they make
modules like that)

I use AE and it is inexpensive ($100) and decent with Toslink
out. I would recommend some reclocking after. I use
reclocking DAC but you might find stand alone reclockers (W4S
makes one). You can always add this later, but they are
costly (W4S is $399). It comes to jitter suppression (to
sound cleaner). I would use AE or Squeezebox (if you can find
it) or Sonos and not the Apple TV since it converts
everything to 48kHz and conversion 44.1/48, according to few
posts, has negative effect on sound.
AE is limited to 16/44.1 but it is OK with me since I listen
only to CDs.

I'm not sure if you can have more than one AE receiver, but
it is easy to confirm on this forum.
For 30k, the dealer needs to give you a proposal of exactly what he wants you to buy. The price does seem high, but it could be fair depending what he is giving you.
Good question about AE. I think that more than 1 unit can be used.
Multiple Airport Expresses are fine--I run two, plus an Apple TV box. Each has its own name and those names show up as speakers in iTunes.
It's a little cludgy because the hardware has been discontinued, but Logitech Media Server is a great system. If you can find a Squeezebox Touch, it'll be expensive, but it's easy to make your own with most andy idevice and a digital dock. The server can be on any computer or a micro device.
Better quality than Airport Express.
Airport Express is a big step-down form Sonos. Just say no. I have a LOT of experience with it.

I would get the Sonos that he already has working again. They probably just need firmware updates. Their technical assistants can walk you through it. If he has ZP-80 or ZP-90, these will work fine.

Even if you have to buy new Sonos, it is still the best choice. To get good SQ from them, add a Synchro-Mesh reclocker:

Sonos is even better than a Squeezebox Touch when the Synchro-Mesh is added and the user interface is great.

If you want the very best from the Synchro-Mesh (world-class SQ), then add the Dynamo power supply upgrade:

and add the optional Empirical Audio BNC-BNC coax cable with RCA adapters to the DAC. It is unbeaten in the market and cheap at $250.00.

Reviews of Synchro-Mesh:



The Sonos/Synchro-Mesh combo is used world-wide for whole-house combined with good sound quality installations. You can use Sonos/SM/Dynamo/BNC-BNC where you want the best possible sound quality and Sonos/SM everywhere else. The SM is only $599.00. Money-back guarantee, less shipping.

$30K is ridiculous. You can do this for about $3-4K and I assure that you will get better SQ than the HT outfit quote.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I have been using SB TOuch out of the box with my own DACs of choice for years.

Recently I have started to use Plex media server as well. I'm looking at it as a very cost effective and open platform option to eventually replace Squeezebox. I have already done this on my second (A/V) system. Plus Plex is a full media server that can stream audio and video at high streaming rates for good sound quality. It also can be used for digital image/photo libraries. Plus it can stream at high rates over the internet via mobile apps or browser as well.

Lots of ways to use it. I have tried web app on computer with USB out to DAC, AMazon Fire TV box with TOSLINK to DAC, and analog headphone out from various mobile devices running PLEX app and remote browsers on various remote PCs. In all cases sound quality seems top notch. I do not have a good quality asynchronous USB DAC yet, so have not tried that, but the mhdt COnstantine DAC I have does do generic USB and results there are still OK if not top notch quite yet.
For a multi room, multi source music system that's dead nuts reliable and can be made to sound excellent and at a reasonable price Sonos really can't be beat.

The only limitation is that currently it can't do hi-res, but there is talk that Sonos is working on that.

With any system like this it's all about user interface, easy of use and stability.. Sonos truly does it better than anything else.. cost no object..

Fwiw I've had four Sonos zones running in my home now for almost 8 years with zero issues, except for when I recently upgraded my router to a POS Netgear, switching to a Linksys solved the problem .
Interesting endorsements for Sonos.
I installed AE in my house last weekend and was very disappointed with the results sonically. Took the units back for an exchange.
Keep in mind that Sonos is not a High End audio product.. but sonically they can be made to sound excellent.. and probably as good or better than your brother in law needs..

Also and I can't stress this enough for most non audiophile folks it's really all about the interface, stability and ease of use.. The other options out there like Control 4 are way more expensive and cumbersome to use.

Most normal folks will be thrilled with a Connect Amp driving a good set of bookshelf speakers, and a Connect going digital out into a decent AV receiver will sound as good as anything else going in digital. If one is going to run a Connect into a better (higher end) system then using a re-clocker from Empirical Audio or the like is almost mandatory.. but it all depends on the end user.