No matter how much money you spend on your home entertainment system, if you don't follow a few simple basic rules, you're gonna have a problem the whole time that you own that system. Number one problem people have is blowing their speakers.
This segment features speakers, amplifiers & impedance-matching volume controls by Sonance.
Sonance SpeakerThe pros at Sonance have helped us understand that proper distribution of audio is as important as the quality of the speakers in your new house. "Distributed Audio" is a term that describes a system that lets you distribute any audio source (CD, radio, sound from a TV, VCR or DVD, etc.) to any location around your house. All audio sources usually originate from a central system placed in a single location in your house. In our Project House, we've put all our audio and video equipment in a closet in our home theater. From that central location, a distributed audio system lets you feed sound to speakers all over the house. You can fill every room in your house with audio from a single source, or you can listen to different audio sources in different rooms in any combination. To distribute audio properly, you first have to distribute power properly.
If you've ever blown out your speakers or your amplifiers in the past, then you didn't distribute power properly in your sound system.
Blown Speakers equal minimal amp power plus maximum volume.
Your speakers blow when the amplifier in your audio system does not feed enough power to your speakers. You strain your sound system when you crank up the volume, until eventually you blow your speakers.
Blown Amps equal minimal amp power plus maximum power draw.
If your system draws power from a 50-watt amp and you distribute that power to ten speakers, then your system will provide just 5 watts of power to each speaker. That's a very weak power allotment for each speaker. An excessive number of speakers plugged into that single amp will lower the resistance in the amp. The lowered resistance allows excessive current to flow through the amp. Too much current overloads the system until the amp eventually blows.
Sonance AudioTo achieve a proper level of power distribution, you'll need sufficient power from your amplifier to send sufficient power to all your speakers. Sonance has helped us out at our Project House with two 12-channel amplifiers that provide 50 Watts of power to each channel. That's a total of 1200 Watts for the house. So the Project House system can provide 50 Watts of power to each individual speaker. We'll dedicate two speakers to most locations to achieve a stereo effect. So our 1200-Watt 24-channel system will distribute audio signals to at least twelve different locations in our Project House.
Some areas are designated as "background" locations (the hallways, the dining room, the utility room) that will only utilize sound as a background element. Those locations won't need a lot of volume, so they won't have to receive a high power output from our amps. Other rooms (like the home theater, the family room and the game room) are "primary" audio locations. Audio is an essential element in those rooms, so the speakers in those rooms will receive more power.
The volume of space a speaker must fill with audio is a factor that will help you determine the size of a speaker and the amount of power you should distribute to that speaker. With Sonance's multi-channel amps you can determine and set the amount of power your system distributes to each pair of speakers. You will not damage a small speaker if you feed it more power than it requires for proper performance. You can easily damage a large speaker if you feed it insufficient power for proper performance.
"Impedance matching" is a technology that assures top performance from every speaker in your distributed audio system. This technology lets you hook up a lot of different speakers (different sizes and power needs) to a single amp. The impedance matching technology evens out the power draw from your amplifier, so every speaker functions as designed. In our Project House, the impedance matching technology is built into the wall-mounted sliding volume controls that Sonance has provided. So when you're adjusting volume with Sonance's sliding controls, you're simultaneously balancing the power draw without even knowing you're doing it. "Hiding" the impedance matching technology in the volume controls is a unique specialty feature of the Sonance system in our Project House.
Home BaseMake sure you plan ahead, because it's easy to distribute audio if you wire your house for audio before the walls go up. The Sonance professionals have designed their wiring system in what they call a "Home Run" pattern. All the wiring in a distributed audio system runs outward from a home base. In our Project House, the home base is hidden behind the home theater closet. All of our audio wires run outward from our two Sonance amplifiers to locations around the house. Sonance uses 16-gauge 4-conductor low-voltage wire to distribute audio signals.
A distributed audio wiring system works best when it's installed after your electricians install the high-voltage wire (it's called "Romex") for your basic electric needs. The audio professionals cannot let their low-voltage wire run parallel to Romex for more than three feet or else you'll get bad interference in your audio system. Any time the two types of wire cross, they have to cross at 90-degree angles, again to avoid interference.
Now that we've described our distributed audio system, let's look at some of the features of our Sonance Speakers. The Project House has three types of Sonance speakers.
We've mounted rectangular speakers in the walls at various locations around the house. You may want to mount rectangular speakers in your ceiling to cosmetically match a nearby air vent. The tweeter (high-frequency output) and woofer (low-frequency output) are separate elements within Sonance's rectangular speakers. That design gives you better sound, because the elements can move independent of one another. The home theater in our Project House has rectangular speakers mounted behind the big screen and in the walls in the back of the media room.
Behind the big screen.The three speakers hidden behind the big screen have been designed as an LCR system. "LCR" stands simply for "left, center and right". When an audio source (a person, or an action) appears on the left side of the screen, audio emanates from the left speaker. The three speakers work together to create a directional sound effect. The tweeter, midrange and woofer elements in the left and right speakers are aimed towards the center of the room. The center speaker elements are aimed straight ahead. So when you watch the big screen, sound seems to come from different locations on the screen, enhancing the big-screen experience.
These three speakers are buried in the walls of the home theater behind the big screen. To make sure these hidden speakers perform correctly, Sonance installed "backer boxes" months before we finished the Project House, just before we installed drywall. These boxes hold the three speakers within the wall, but they also give the speakers a stable and solid "environment" to work in.
If the speakers simply sit suspended in free air, they can bounce and shake between the studs in the wall. If that happens, the woofer sends out a very shallow bass signal. The backer box gives the speaker a solid home, and provides a "backing" so the full audio signal projects forward into the home theater, and not backward into the wall. Each wooden backer box has been designed with acoustic channels that direct all sound waves forward. Solid and proper installation is essential. The box cannot resonate or vibrate, or it will hurt the sound quality emanating from the speaker.
The rectangular speakers mounted on the rear walls of our home theater are "surround" speakers. These speakers focus sound in a narrow dispersion pattern that's different from a "normal" speaker's cone-shaped dispersion pattern. In the speakers behind the big screen, the Sonance sound professionals have angled the tweeters and midrange cones, so sound can come from different parts of the screen to reach your ear directly. The tweeters and midrange cones in the surround speakers in the back wall have been angled towards the side walls in the home theater, so those sound signals bounce before they reach your ear directly. That bounced sound wave makes it seem like the source of the sound is off to one side, or behind you. This is the simple secret behind surround sound technology.
We've mounted a number of round speakers in the ceiling. Sonance designed these round speakers to fit between our round recessed ceiling light fixtures, and to look relatively the same size from the ground. Because of size limitations within these round speakers, the tweeter and woofer elements sit inside one another in the speaker. This design doesn't project sound quite as well as separate tweeters and woofers, but unless you're a rabid audiophile, you will never notice a difference. Except for the rectangular speakers we've already described in our home theater, all of our Project House speakers are ceiling-mounted and round.
We've installed Sonance's round ceiling speakers above the master bed and bath, in the kitchen and the breakfast nook, under the flying arch balcony and in the dining room. The two dining room speakers are spread quite a distance apart from one another, since the room is so long and since we've installed a beautiful chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. Because they're so far apart, a listener in any part of the dining room cannot hear a stereo effect from the pair of speakers. The Sonance professionals have solved that problem for us by configuring each speaker to project "full range" sound. Technically, full range sound is the same as mono, because the full range of audio that would normally be split between two stereo speakers now emanates from one speaker. Sonance assures us that each full-range speaker still provides rich, high-quality sound, not the low-quality mono sound you're likely to hear from your clock-radio or an ancient record player.
cast concrete rockSonance has even helped us distribute audio to the exterior of our Project House. We have speakers next to the pool which are hidden inside cast concrete "rocks". The rocks serve a purely cosmetic role. Each rock hides a sealed, weather- resistant speaker. Sonance offers a very unique design because the rock enclosure is separate from the speaker. This same weather-resistant speaker can be installed in your shower, outside your front door, or under the eaves of your deck, so you can create a full sound environment anywhere you want, inside or out.
The full range of Sonance speakers will provide you a cosmetic advantage as you distribute audio in your house. Ceiling-mounted speakers give you a rich sound environment with speakers almost completely hidden from view. It's a real pleasure to walk into a room where you can hear sound, but you cannot figure out where it comes from. Speakers mounted in the walls just inside a front entry will project sound from behind you as soon as you enter, without being immediately visible.
Sonance offers a very diverse product line at a very reasonable price. Sonance speakers start at $125 a pair and can range up to $3000 a pair. The speakers we've described to you in our Project House run from $300 to $700 a pair. The sliding volume controls (with hidden impedance-matching technology) start at $30 each. Sonance offers each component separately, so you can design a state-of-the-art distributed audio system to match the size and budget of your new house.