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  • Help understanding Wifi speaker options

    I have not at all been involved in modern trends in audio (i.e. streaming, bluetooth, etc.) but think I need to give something a try. At my previous house, I had a hard-wired whole house system built with Dayton components, but that was fairly expensive compared to the end use value. We recently added a pool and my wife asked what it would take to make this house a whole house audio solution and I thought. . . uuuuugh, I don't feel like running all that wire inside, trenching outside doing a ton of drywall work and everything associated with a conventional (or old school) whole house system.

    My goals are as follows:

    1: Have sound in 3 or 4 rooms. It can all be the same sound.
    2: I have an HTPC I'd prefer to use to provide the sound source, but I don't know if that's practical. The thought would be to make the HTPC play what I want (music collection, Pandora, movie or whatever) and have that sound in the other areas.
    3: I have a strong Wifi setup using Unifi, so Wifi speed, bandwidth and coverage are a non-issue (I assume).
    4: Avoid Bluetooth for any sound transmission. I have yet to see Bluetooth's utility in audio applications, but I guess I could be wrong. I've read Wifi is the way to go.
    5: For the pool area, we need 4-6 outdoor speakers, most likely. This area also has good Wifi and in many areas, I can easily get 120V for power.

    My thought was to use the Dayton 2x20W Wifi amp and build my own speakers for the specific areas. Kitchen might be under cabinet, bedroom would be more conventional, outside would be eaves mounted/rock or planter speakers. The 'hifi' requirement is absolutely zero, as the two critical listening areas are going to remain conventionally wired systems with their own sources. While not 'hifi', it can't sound digital/pixelated like cheap Bluetooth speakers do.

    The information I've found about the 2x20W Wifi amp is minimal - I don't see a real manual explaining in detail what the requirements/options are. The Hi-Fly app manual is also not something I could find. The last thing I want to do is to buy a $100 amp, get it shipped, try to use it and then find out that it can't do what I want and RMA it, but short of calling customer service, I don't know a better option, other than posting to the forum to see what the community thinks would be a good solution.

    So, if any of you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

    Thanks,

    Sandy.

  • #2
    I’ve been going through a similar dilemma. Like almost everything else in the electronics world, each company builds their own proprietary solution, requiring their hardware, their app etc with no interoperability. The closest thing to a “standard” out there is probably Airplay2, even though it’s proprietary, it’s been adapted by several companies. For that reason I went with Sonos, even though IMO they are outrageously overpriced. Ended up with a mix of Sonos in some rooms and the less expensive Ikea branded Sonos in others. I still have my traditional Amp/speakers in a couple spots where I do serious listening. They are tied in as well. Most of the time I bypass the apps and just connect to the various speakers using airplay from my phone. With airplay 2 you can connect to multiple speakers/zones the same way most of the apps do Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    • #3
      Thanks for the response. I guess the topic isn't that interesting or there's not many people using the 2x20W Wifi amp. I saw a lot of posts by Neil and links to articles, but the website seemed to be dead.

      Sandy.

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      • #4
        For all the non-hi-fi needs in our house we just went with a Sonos system. It does everything you're asking for and is completely hassle free. You can play the same music in all zones, or different music in each, all controlled from a single app that will integrate with your streaming services and your PC or music server. You can connect non-sonos components into the system (either sources or speakers) and you can continue to expand on it over time. For me, the convenience, quality, reliability and support associated with this system outweighs the DIY pathway for this sort of thing.
        Constructions: Dayton+SB 2-Way v1 | Dayton+SB 2-Way v2 | Fabios (SB Monitors)
        Refurbs: KLH 2 | Rega Ela Mk1

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        • #5
          I have 2 Yamaha networked AVR's, a Musicast 20 speaker, and a Musicast preamp all setup in my house. Extremely easy to use, good option to Sonos. At least with the Yamaha option I can drive whatever speakers I want. The Musicast 20 is a decent speaker but doesn't outperform the Sonos, pretty comparable really.
          Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
          Wogg Music
          Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sandyh View Post
            Thanks for the response. I guess the topic isn't that interesting or there's not many people using the 2x20W Wifi amp. I saw a lot of posts by Neil and links to articles, but the website seemed to be dead.

            Sandy.
            Hmmm...a recent update to Wordpress killed off the Jetpack plug-in. The site is working again, but it may act odd until I fix the Jetpack problem.
            Free Passive Speaker Designer Lite (PSD-Lite) -- http://www.audiodevelopers.com/Softw...Lite/setup.exe

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            • #7
              Thanks for the additional information, guys. Thanks also to Neil to getting the site back up so I can review the projects he worked on.

              Time to do some reading!

              Sandy.

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              • #8
                Use the speakers and amp you want in each location. Simply add a network player to each amplifier. I really like the Chromecast Audio as I have an android phone. Many apps have the casting function built in and allow casting when there is a Chromecast on the network. In the Google home app you can group devices as well so you can cast to the whole group and also set delays so the sound isn't a few milliseconds behind in another room. For me when it comes to whole home sound, I want it to be really simple, unlike what my critical listening setup takes to turn on. A big part of what makes multi-room audio a success is the ease of use and this usually comes down to the interface.
                Nate
                My Builds - Vigor (Nola Brio Knockoff) - Overnight Sensations w/ Voxel - Speedsters in surplus boxes - Zaph B3N's in bamboo - Classix II in BR-1 cabinets - Dual TPA3116 D2 amp in an old music box - Mariposas

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                • #9
                  Chromecast audio is as good as you're going to find for a cheap solution. Unfortunately, Google stopped supporting that device a few years ago. HOWEVER, I don't think the actual Chromecast protocol is going anywhere. Google needs to keep it alive so people can stream to their TVs and stuff with their premium services. (eg: if you sign up for YouTube TV, they give you a free Chromecast) Converting a standard Chromecast to audio only is as simple as adding an HDMI adapter with RCA or TOSLINK out.

                  In my opinion, the lynch pin of WiFi audio stuff is app support. Tons of apps support Chromecast. But what happens if they decide to stop? Sonos has wide support as well, so that seems pretty safe--or so you'd think. They purposely bricked their older devices in the name of progress. What's left? Apple protocols? Probably safe, since there's a huge user base with Apple devices. But again, Apple can be ruthless at amputating features. Their newest laptops don't even have USB or HDMI .

                  What's ultimately so frustrating about it all is that you have perfectly good-sounding equipment suddenly left useless at the behest of app developers. I think that's part of the charm of speakers in general: coils, caps, resistors don't go obsolete. There's plenty of 30 year-old speakers out there that still sound utterly fantastic, because all they need is a pair of speaker wires and an amp to drive them.

                  Maybe Bluetooth is a somewhat safe bet? It's limited in that you can't do multi-room. Also, it can be a hassle if you get a phone call or whatever and need to suddenly unpair. But at least it has SUPER wide adoption, and is very cheap to implement.

                  I don't really know what the right answer is. My house is a mix of Chromecast Audios and Bluetooth, and crossing fingers that stuff doesn't go obsolete.
                  Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                  Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                  Twitter: @undefinition1

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                  • #10
                    You can still get Chromecast Audio devices on eBay (and maybe elsewhere) but they go for a premium since they have been discontinued and are scarce.

                    An advantage of Chromecast is that it is Wi-Fi which is a much better signal than Bluetooth which I think is the reason the OP states "Avoid Bluetooth for any sound transmission." Not sure about a Chromecast dongle, but Google speakers and hubs can be associated with a Bluetooth device and send the audio signal to the Bluetooth device.

                    As SilverD mentioned, the Google Home app is pretty good with whole-house audio. You can group speakers, set them to left/right stereo, etc. I use it because I have Google hubs and speakers throughout the house along with smart switches and appliances, but I think a lot of people don't want Google in their business. However, if you are just using speakers/Chromecasts and aren't using any devices with cameras or microphones maybe this isn't a dealbreaker if even you are Google-skeptic.

                    It looks like a Chromecast dongle is about $30 and a cheap HDMI to RCA/Toslink adapter $15 and PE carries tons of inexpensive amp boards.

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                    • #11
                      Interesting about Chromecast. . .but then again, unfortunate it seems.

                      It seems like Paul hit the nail on the head in a way: Not only do resistors, caps and coils not go obsolete, but buried cables in the yard likely don't either. . .

                      I'm not a huge fan of drywall work, but I hate digging trenches in dirt. . .but at this stage it might be worth just planning on sucking it up and doing that. The whole world of apps (vs programs) and constant updates (vs 1 stable product per year that you own forever) and subscriptions (maintenance of what you bought, but is no longer valid unless you pay again) is just not me. I'm pretty sure copper will still work even if I don't subscribe, like and post a thumbs-up and if it breaks, I can splice it vs doing an OS upgrade. And, oh yeah, 'You kids get off my lawn!!!!'

                      I'm too young to be this out of touch. I'll keep reading, though and appreciate all the suggestions you all are providing. I'm at the point of more questions than answers, but at some point that should change.

                      Sandy.

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                      • #12
                        I would really suggest you try out one Chromecast audio to see what you think. They can be had for relatively cheap on eBay. Many people use a standard Chromecast along with an HDMI audio extractor to get analog audio out. If support for the Chromecast audio is dropped you are only out the network player and not a complete device like a Wi-Fi amp. I think giving one a test run is well worth the time versus trenching and drywall patching and the user interface on your smart device has to be more convenient than going to your one computer.
                        My Builds - Vigor (Nola Brio Knockoff) - Overnight Sensations w/ Voxel - Speedsters in surplus boxes - Zaph B3N's in bamboo - Classix II in BR-1 cabinets - Dual TPA3116 D2 amp in an old music box - Mariposas

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                        • #13
                          To my knowledge Chromecast doesn't support multi-zone audio does it?

                          That's the killer feature of a Sonos or Yamaha Musiccast setup, or even Dayton HiFly. The thing that kills the Dayton system for me is the lack of Pandora support, that's our casual listening platform of choice in my house. The ability to have the same music playing everywhere you walk around the house is just awesome.
                          Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                          Wogg Music
                          Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wogg View Post
                            To my knowledge Chromecast doesn't support multi-zone audio does it?
                            it's really the Google Home app paired with the Chromecasts that provides the multi zone audio. I can play Pandora, Spotify, YouTube music, etc. from my phone or tablet and choose any combination of speakers to play it on and change volume separately or as the group as one. I can probably setup subgroups too, e.g., indoor vs outdoor. The only thing frustrating to me, because I use Google home for more than audio, is that it does not run on a PC. But I have it on my phone and tablet so it doesn't matter much. I can cast music from a PC to the speakers, thus could be streaming from a dedicated PC, but to control them through the Home app I have to use my phone or tablet. A cheap option would be a dedicated Kindle Fire tablet which can be had for $30 on prime day or around Black Friday.

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                            • wogg
                              wogg commented
                              Editing a comment
                              That's good to know! Of course, I'm already invested in Musiccast so that's not of much use to me now. An array of Google cast devices would have been cheaper :(

                          • #15
                            Originally posted by sandyh View Post

                            It seems like Paul hit the nail on the head in a way: Not only do resistors, caps and coils not go obsolete, but buried cables in the yard likely don't either. . .

                            I'm not a huge fan of drywall work, but I hate digging trenches in dirt. . .but at this stage it might be worth just planning on sucking it up and doing that. The whole world of apps (vs programs) and constant updates (vs 1 stable product per year that you own forever) and subscriptions (maintenance of what you bought, but is no longer valid unless you pay again) is just not me. I'm pretty sure copper will still work even if I don't subscribe, like and post a thumbs-up and if it breaks, I can splice it vs doing an OS upgrade. And, oh yeah, 'You kids get off my lawn!!!!'
                            *slow clap, leading to thunderous applause*
                            Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

                            Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
                            Twitter: @undefinition1

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