The constantly evolving technology in the world of audio systems, brings in yet another great news for music lovers who want their music to follow them in every corner of the house. The advent of multi-zone or multi-room music systems makes this possible. The wireless plug-and-play systems enable you to listen to your favorite music anywhere in the house, eliminating the need for a wired set-up. These systems are easy to install and come with user friendly interfaces. Major brands in the sound space, like Bose, Sony, Sonos, Philips, etc., have introduced their respective versions of the wireless multi-room music system, each promising a rich and fantastic audio experience.
The basic idea of a multi-room music system is to allow music to be heard in every room of the house with the help of various speakers located in each of the rooms. Each of the speakers/players are connected to and controlled by a centrally located controller with the help of a wireless network. In most cases the existing Wi-Fi network at your home is used for this purpose. However, some companies like Sonos, have their proprietary wireless network which needs to be set up for installing the system. A high-speed wireless connection is highly recommended to enable smooth online streaming of music through your laptop/computer. The computer plays the role of a music server with the help of a server software and continuously streams audio files to the multi-room music system.Thus, your multi-room audio system can also access your iTunes library through your computer or NAS (network attached storage). Before buying, it is important to check whether the system can play the music file format that you use on your laptop (e.g. some systems might not support Apple’s AAC files). Also important is that the devices are DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compliant so that sharing of audio (as well as video) files is possible over the existing home network. The essential components of such a multi-zone system, thus, are:
1. The Controller or Remote Control
This is the central controlling unit, essentially a remote control (with an LCD screen in some cases, or a keypad in others). All basic functions like volume, track selection, play/pause, etc., are performed using this. The most important function of this unit is to control music played on each of the speaker units in different rooms. This even enables playing different songs in different rooms or the same song in selected room/zones.
2. Receiver Units
These are the units placed in different rooms and control the sound and power output. Different brands offer uniquely configured receiver units, some have in-built amplifiers in addition to the speakers to enable better audio experience. If you already possess a stereo and speaker system then it can be integrated with a receiver to complete the setup for one of the rooms. For a bigger central area of your house, a receiver unit with multiple built-in amplifiers and speakers can be used. Depending on the need and the number of zones/rooms where music is to be set up, different receiver units can be purchased.
3. The wireless network
As mentioned earlier, your high-speed Wi-Fi internet connection can be used for setting up the multi-room wireless audio system. The audio files are transferred from the laptop to the multi-room music system in digital format over the home network. The music system then converts the data back into audio format ensuring no loss in audio quality.
4. Music source
This could be your computer, laptop or any other digital media connected to your home network where you store your music files. Some players also have the option of connecting to a variety of music streaming services available on the internet. In fact, most players also have the option of streaming music from internet radio stations, thus, allowing you to listen to a wide genre of music without turning on the computer/laptop. Since the audio content in this case is sent over the internet in digital format, the internet radio offers superior sound quality without any annoying hissing sounds like in the standard AM/FM transmission.
Advantages of the multi-room wireless audio system
There are two major advantages of these audio systems:
1. They make listening to your favorite music a breeze without actually having to get up and change tracks on the computer. The wireless network enables transferring of all information about the music tracks (artist, genre, etc.) on to the controller of the multi-room system. Some of these controllers have vivid LCD screens where album cover is also displayed.
2. These systems are very easy to install, they eliminate the use of long-winding wires, and they use the existing home internet connection for streaming of music.