Sonos alternatives for pre-wired speakers?
March 19, 2012 8:51 AM   Subscribe

My house is pre-wired for Sonos, and has speaker cable running from the basement to 6 speakers embedded in the ceiling (2 ceiling speakers in each of 3 zones). I don't want to spend $1500 and I don't need to have more than one zone running at a time. What are my options? Since I have to hook up the receiver in the basement I'd want to control everything from my ipad/iphone (including the switch between zones) and have access to streaming music and streaming radio.
posted by Saucy Intruder to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
AirPort Express + AirPlay

Much less expensive and doesn't require syncing between Sonos and iTunes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on March 19, 2012

Oh, and you control everything with iTunes from Mac/Windows, or iTunes Remote from iOS devices.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2012

I'm a little confused as to what you mean by "pre-wired for Sonos". Sonos works through either wireless or regular network cable. And if you have speaker cable running to a receiver.\, that means you can use pretty much any streaming sound set-up, like a Roku Soundbridge, or an Airport Express. What streaming music services do you use? That might narrow the list a bit.

The Sonos Connect will play through your existing speakers, and that is only $350 (not sure where you're getting the $1500 number.)
posted by thewumpusisdead at 9:31 AM on March 19, 2012

Finally, if you want a receiver with AirPlay built-in, Pioneer makes them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 AM on March 19, 2012

Depending on how much flexibility you want, you could buy 3 Airport Expresses for each of the zones, and somehow wire that up to an external amplifier to drive the speakers (either 3 separate stereo amplifiers, or one amplifier with 3 or 6 discrete inputs and outputs, depending if your speaker setup allows you to effectively do stereo, which it probably doesn't).

This guy seems to be a fairly popular little amp to pair with an Airport Express... People also seem to rave about T-Amps for low-power applications (which this is).

Total investment = $300 for AirPorts + $100-$150 for amps.

Of course, then you're limited to what you can play through AirPlay devices and/or AirFoil. I'm not sure that this is such a huge restriction compared to what you can do with Sonos.

If you don't care about playing separate music to each zone, or being able to easily switch each zone on or off, you could just buy one airport express, pair it with a more powerful amplifier, and add volume controls somewhere between the amp and speakers in each zone (ie. a wall switch in the room, or something more rudimentary in your basement) so that you don't always need to have all 6 speakers going at once.

If you like the idea of a "pure" Sonos system (and I have to admit, Sonos is a pretty slick system), you could also buy 3 Sonos "CONNECT" devices at $350 a pop, and pair them with those Pyle amps I linked to above. That would bring your total investment to $1200.

Total investment = $1050 for Sonos + $100-$150 for amps.

Again, if you wanted to do something a bit more rudimentary, and don't care about playing different things to multiple zones, you could buy just one Sonos device, an amplifier, and add in some volume controls. That would bring the cost down to about $500. Alternatively, there's a $500 CONNECT:AMP device that has a 2x55W amplifier built-in. No idea if that's adequate to drive 6 speakers, but it's an option...
posted by schmod at 9:34 AM on March 19, 2012

What about a digital switcher that can redirect the receiver output to either of the 3 zones?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:01 PM on March 19, 2012

Denon's "network series" receivers support an iPhone app which lets you select zones and input sources. Also supports airplay.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:23 PM on March 19, 2012

« Older Help me take more offense so I stop offending...   |   I think I hate my Volkswagen. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.