What to Expect With Digital Audio in 2013

Digital audio has been around awhile now. It seems like it was just yesterday that the first iPod was introduced and with it, the first music download store (2003). So digital music has been mainstream for over 10 years now.  Much has changed and what were once constraints are now ‘a given’:

In general, keep the following ‘truisms’ in mind and go for the whole house audio solution that that fits for you.  You’ll love it.

  • Music downloads/purchases are now ‘encryption free’ and with cloud technologies, music is available almost everywhere and on any device.
  • Whole house audio does not mean that you have to settle for any loss of fidelity from the CD quality you were used to with a dedicated CD player.
  • Disc drive storage for higher fidelity ‘lossless’ versions of your music is not as large as you think, it’s cheap and easy to implement, so don’t sweat storage.
  • Controlling your music system is as simple as downloading an application to devices you ALREADY USE each day (smart phones like iPhone, Android, Apple’s iTouch & iPad etc.). So control of your whole house library is easy and relatively inexpensive.
  • Existing speaker systems can be utilized with digital technology and new speaker pairs for ‘additional zones’ are inexpensive, portable and can be wireless.
  • You don’t need expensive remodeling or wiring into a vertical rack in the basement anymore.  Distributed wireless audio is the new paradigm and can be leveraged around existing house constraints like hard walls.  If your home installer is trying to sell you a big rack for audio, make sure it’s doing more than just audio like TV, video, energy control etc.
  • It has never been cheaper or easier to implement digital music in your home.  Just go for it – you and your family will love it and wonder how you ever did without it.

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Whole House Audio – Part Two

Form Follows Function in Whole House Audio Systems

Your home layout, technical infrastructure and existing audio or media systems have a big impact on the products you will choose for your whole house audio system.  Let’s start first with house configuration.

The configuration of your home is a big consideration.  I’ll provide more details in future specific blogs for each scenario, but generally:

If you have a smaller house, a wireless music implementation from Apple or single zone/speaker combo from Sonos will do the trick.

If you share a dedicated entertainment center/family room with a TV, then Apple TV is a great bet if you also use iTunes.

Many audiophiles invest in a dedicated listening room.  If this is you, then you most definitely want your digital system to interface with a digital audio converter (or DAC) and then feed audio to the stereo system.  More on that in another post.

If your house has a lot of rooms or areas to play music (family room, back yard, living room, kitchen, master bedroom) then you have multiple “zones” and you’ll want a multi-zone system like Sonos, Savant, or Control 4. Each implement their systems using either wired or wireless technology. Understand the wi-fi capabilities given your house configuration and decide if a wired or wireless implementation is the answer.

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