One of the most easily grasped benefits of the integrated home is the opportunity for multiroom audio and video.
The concept is easy to describe and the reality can be stunning. However, there is no "one size fits all solution", so let's break down what we mean when we talk about multiroom audio and outline how it might apply to your project.
Multiroom audio sytems enable you to listen to your favourite audio everywhere around your house and garden. So whether that's the Today programme in the kitchen in the morning, a selection of your favourite tunes in the garden room or some mellow music as you soak in the bath in the evening, a multiroom system can deliver that from one central source and do so without the clutter of additional equipment everywhere.
And because everyone in then house is going to have their own tastes and preferences, a multiroom system has to be able to deliver different sources simultaneously to different rooms. Conversely, when you're entertaining or just as you're moving through your house, you might want your system to be playing the same synchronised source to every zone in the house.
Multiroom audio sytems enable you to listen to your favourite audio everywhere around your house and garden. We slipped in the word zones there......
We often tend to talk about multi-zone systems rather than multiroom. A typical example of this is a bedroom and an en-suite bathroom. Different rooms, but most of our clients don't want compteting music or radio between two rooms that are so closely linked. We'll go through your requirements with you to establish exactly how you want to be able be control, separate and synchronise your music through your home. We will design a system with the appropriate number of zones for you and your lifestyle
Benefits of a multi-zone system
Obviously you can get different music or radio in different rooms by using multiple systems. Portable radio in the bathroom, separate mini-systems in the family's bedrooms and maybe one or more "serious" AV setups in the living room, conservatory etc. Or, looked at another way, you can have all your favourite music with you all the time with a digital music player - there's a lot of people around these days with small personal players with distinctive white earphones....we'll come back to them later.
Multiroom or multi-zone systems use a different approach.
We'd summarise the benefits as being:
Design - a well designed system should give you music and radio where you want without you noticing how it is delivered there
Discreet speakers - maybe ceiling or wall recessed, maybe disguised
No equipment on display apart from what you what you need to control it - unless you want it! We do have some clients who like having their kit displayed in a listening room for instance.
Convenience - A music server can have the whole house's music stored on it and made available to anyone who wants it.
If you - or a group of you - want to pull different music to different zones - say the same cool ambient music to your living room, dining room and terrace as you entertain while the kids listen to Linkin Park in the playroom. That sounds like a noisy house! but because a well designed system makes it easier to access your music and enjoy more of it, you'll find yourself listening to a wider range of things more often.
Put simply, multi-zone systems make it easier to enjoy your music.
Quality - Convenience isn't worth much if you're forced into making compromises on quality. Audio quality and different people's perception of what quality audio is is a subject too huge for here. We try to simplify things by establishing what you're trying to achieve in each zone, what your expectations are, what your budget is and designing the best possible solution to meet your needs.
Multi-zone systems sound fabulous when done well - that's what we aim to do.
Other questions we're asked - a lot
Q. I've got an iPod, can I do something with that?
A. Yes, we can integrate both iPods and other similar systems and their management software like iTunes into different solutions
Q. I've still got a large vinyl collection I listen to, can I integrate that?
A. Cool. Yes you can. Again, we might take a different approach in design, but that's the point about multi-zone systems. They're all different and they're designed around what a client is trying to do, not what a system manufacturer is trying to sell.
Q. I want my music outside as well, can you do that?
A. There are ways of making that happen. We can show you the alternative approaches you can take - and you can have good quality external audio without having to disguise your external speakers as rocks!
And finally and this isn't really a question, it's a base requirement.
Q. It's got to be simple to use. I want everyone in my family to get the most out of this, not just the crazed techies
A. We agree with this. Brilliant is not a company staffed exclusively by techies and any solutions that we test - and we test a lot - that don't meet our usability criteria just fall off our recommendations list.