Ceiling Speakers

Many people want to install ceiling speakers into their homes when they are renovating or building. This is great, getting music around the house, making it a more lively place to live. But recently, I have come across a bit of a trend that, while looks smart and convenient, is actually a right royal pain in the arse.

In ceiling speakers that have bluetooth or Wi-Fi built in. Sounds cool and smart doesn’t it? In these cases you need to have 240V wired to them from your mains. You need an electrician to sort this out.

With the bluetooth speakers, they are range dependent. Stray too far and it cuts out. Heaps of interference like from a microwave and it drops out. The phone or speaker having a bit of a hiccup, drops out. Get a phone call, the music stops. Get a message and that ding noise goes straight through the speaker. Resetting the speaker may not be possible without flicking off the breaker handling its power. And you only get to play through ONE speaker.

Wi-Fi speakers. Use your own Wi-Fi but many of the same things apply. Interference and it cuts out. Wi-Fi network or the Wi-Fi chip in the speaker gets confused, drops out. You get to play to ONE speaker, again.

For distributed home audio through ceiling speakers, these are both crap options. Further, I doubt any high end audio manufacturer will even think about getting on that band wagon because of all the down sides.

The way it should be done, for reliability, flexibility, quality, and more control, is to have all of your speakers wired to amplifiers with speaker wire. A Pair of outdoor speakers or outdoor ceiling speakers should have their own amplifier so you can control that pair on its own. Same with the ones in the bedroom, or kitchen etc etc and so on. Each pair of speakers should have their own amplifier. Bose, Sonos, and Heos make this easy with their SA-5, Connect: Amp, and AMP units respectively. Heos takes this another step by having the Drive, a 4 zone, 8 channel amplifier. This is a rack mountable unit that can have up to 4 independent stereo zones running together or separately. No confusing switch boxes or impedance matchers or anything like that.

Wiring up multi zone home audio can be expensive, but the end results speak for themselves. When you take shortcuts, or cut corners on the budget and jury rig a system to work (kind of), then you end up with endless headaches, poor sound quality, and much less control than you would hope for.

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