Our new house sound system design

Natosha Jacobs

Natosha Jacobs

We are starting a new home construction and looking for suggestion for our AV system.
We have a two floor house. First floor are three three bedrooms. We hope to have 4 zones here: one for each bedroom and one for master bathroom
The main living floor, we hope to have two zones: living room and family room+kitchen. (The TV is in the family room and we hope to have a surround sound there). For living room we are hoping to have a couple of big speakers for parties.
We then have another outdoor zone for the backyard where we have a seating area and BBQ.

Looking for suggestions for speakers (in wall or ceiling) AMPs and players.
Most of the music we play is from streaming services. Prefer voice activated control in various rooms. We have had good experience in the past with Sonos but we just had a couple of speakers in 2 rooms in a small house. We were thinking of going with a more high end solution for the living room.


Audioholic Warlord
You may be at a point (i.e. complexity) that it is worth getting a pro on the job.

Are you certain your builder will accommodate all of your wiring desires?

The best resource on this site for this is likely @BMXTRIX


Audioholic Warlord
If all you want in any location is streaming without much flexibility beyond that, then Sonos can work, but it can also be expensive as a solution if you are only using one or two zones. The Sonos Amp is one of the best options out there to offer control and it does offer some voice control integration.

I would pick a location in your home, that is out of the way and properly conditioned with plenty of room, like a large storage space, and run all the wiring to that one location. You can pick your speakers WAY down the line if you get the wiring right at the start. This means that you will want to focus on the wiring, the type of speakers used (floor standing, in-wall, in-ceiling) at the start. You need to take the drawings and mark out each and every speaker location as best you can.

'Large speakers' is a very ambiguous term to use. If you want something that plays like a nightclub, you will want some commercial quality loudspeakers that can be put away when not in use. If you just want speakers which sound decent and can get fairly loud, then 4 to 8 in-wall or in-ceiling speakers can do a great job when connected to an appropriate amplifier. Each speaker should be wired with 14 gauge speaker wire and each speaker should be wired individually.

If your builder can do this properly, which is RARELY THE CASE, then they should also be able to speak to you intelligently about equipment and your option. If they are unable to do so, you should speak to a custom integrator who can actually have this conversation with you directly.

I know in the DC area I've had a few people do distributed audio systems and then only want ONE Sonos player which is shared across the home. Some have had 2 Sonos players, one for him, one for her. So, they could pick either and play it anywhere in the home easily with a press of a button on the wall or by using their phone to route the audio.

The surround sound just requires a proper surround sound receiver, proper speaker placement, and the right sources. You need to consider in-wall (bad) vs. floor standing, bookshelf, on on-wall speakers in this space carefully. Don't forget your subwoofer.

Whole house audio design takes some work to really put together properly. It also is incredibly screwed up by builders time and time and time again. The equipment typically should NOT be placed directly under the TV in the family room. This puts a lot of equipment and heat into a room which does not typically have the space for it. Remember to run conduit between the equipment location and the TV location if that equipment is remote located. No less than 1.5" conduit.

Remember to run network cabling to all TV locations and equipment locations. Do not count on wi-fi to be your savior.

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