Whole-House Sound Hath Charms to Soothe the Savage in You

Custom Speakers

Custom Speakers

Whole-house sound sets the mood, reduces sound system clutter, and adds value. Run wires behind the walls or go wireless–there’s a system for every budget.

Get wired

The highest quality whole-house sound travels through structured wires embedded in your walls. Wires run from your sound system, neatly tucked into a storage room or closet, through the ceiling into speakers mounted in rooms you select. This is the gold standard option for the music purist and should be installed by a sound specialist.

Structured wiring is most easily installed in new construction, and nearly half of all new homes built in 2008 have it. Retrofitting a house with structured wiring will cost $700 to $2,700 per room, depending on the control units you select. A pair of speakers for each room can cost from $100 to $2,000.

Leverage existing wires

Leveraging existing wires is a less intrusive way to achieve whole-house sound because you aren’t cutting through walls to run new wire. Expect to sacrifice audio fidelity, but it’s minimal.

A source hub–a central device that iPods, CD players, and other source equipment plug into–sends audio signals in a digital format over existing electrical wires. A receiver plugged into a wall outlet in each room converts digital back into analog music. 

Costs run $500 to $1,000 per room, including speakers, and takes a day or less to install.

Go wireless

Installing a wireless system is the easiest, most affordable way to get whole house sound–and the only one you can do yourself. 

Music is distributed from your computer, through a router, and into a small player box (about the size of a toaster) placed in each room you choose. If you want sound in five rooms, you’ll need five player boxes and five sets of speakers.

Wireless systems cost about $400 per room and can be set up in a couple of hours. 

By: Caralee Adams

Published: February 3, 2011

Caralee Adams, a veteran journalist, has written for Better Homes & Gardens, Parents, and Fitness.

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