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Multi-room Music Wiring Diagrams

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These diagrams will show you the basics of setting up a a multi-room music system. For more in-depth information and suggestions, see our article on Powering Your Multi-room System.

Audio in two rooms using one receiver

diagram Diagram A — Audio for two rooms using "A" and "B" speaker outputs

Pros:

  • Simple and affordable — a great way to get started with multi-room sound.
  • Receivers with powered dual-room/dual-source capability will let housemates listen to two different sources simultaneously.

Cons:

  • With some receivers, you can't play all of your surround channels in your main room while playing stereo music in another.

Tips:

  • Your receiver must be designed to handle a 4-ohm load; speakers in both rooms must be 8-ohm speakers. If you use speakers with an impedance lower than 8 ohms, you may trigger your receiver's built-in protection circuit, causing it to shut off.
  • Installing an in-wall volume control in your secondary room adds a lot of convenience — adjust the volume right there, instead of running back and forth from your main room.

Audio in three rooms using one receiver

diagram Diagram B — Audio for three rooms using "Zone 1," "Zone 2," and "Zone 3" speaker outputs

Pros:

  • Some 3-room/3-source receivers can also send video to one of your additional rooms.
  • Receivers with 3-room/3-source capability will let housemates listen to three different sources simultaneously.

Cons:

  • With some receivers, you can't play all of your surround channels in your main room while playing stereo music in another.

Tips:

  • Read your receiver's owner's manual to determine if it can power the speakers in all three rooms. Some receivers can only power two rooms, and use a preamp output for the third; to do this, the receiver must be designed to handle a 4-ohm load, and speakers in both powered rooms must be 8-ohm speakers. Other receivers can power all three rooms; to do this, the receiver must be designed to handle a 2-ohm load, and speakers in all three rooms must be 8-ohm speakers. If you use speakers with an impedance lower than 8 ohms, you may trigger your receiver's built-in protection circuit, causing it to shut off.
  • Installing in-wall volume controls in your additional rooms adds a lot of convenience — adjust the volume right there, instead of running back and forth from your main room.

Audio in three rooms using two receivers

diagram Diagram C — Audio for three rooms using a second (stereo) receiver (main-room home theater system not pictured)

Pros:

  • Simple and affordable.
  • You'll always be able enjoy surround sound with your main system and play music in your second and third rooms simultaneously.
  • This kind of system can easily be expanded. For example, if your main receiver has two preamp outputs, you could set up a second stereo receiver for four total rooms.

Cons:

  • Most stereo receivers can't send different audio sources to your second and third listening rooms. (If you find one that can output two audio signals to its "A" and "B" outputs, you'll still need to hook up at least one source directly to the stereo receiver, since your home theater receiver can only provide one source at a time.)

Tips:

  • Installing in-wall volume controls in your additional rooms adds a lot of convenience — adjust the volume right there, instead of running back and forth from your main room.
  • Your receiver must be designed to handle a 4-ohm load; both pairs of speakers must be 8-ohm, unless you use impedance-matching volume controls.
  • The receiver must have parallel connections internally. Ask your Crutchfield Sales Advisor if the receiver you're planning to buy has series or parallel connections internally.

Audio in 4-10 additional rooms using two receivers and a speaker selector

diagram Diagram D — Audio for 4-10 rooms using a second (stereo) receiver and a speaker selector (main-room home theater system not pictured)

Pros:

  • You'll always be able enjoy surround sound with your main system and play music in your additional zones simultaneously.
  • The speaker on/off controls are centrally located — you don't have to go room to room to turn speakers on and off.
  • You can deliver a lot of power to one room when you turn the other rooms off.
  • If your home theater or stereo receiver has an extra set of preamp outputs, you can easily expand this system by connecting a second stereo receiver and speaker selector.

Cons:

  • When more than two rooms are selected, you get limited power to each room.
  • If anyone accidentally turns the speaker selector's protection circuit off, your amplifier and speakers may be damaged.
  • With the exception of your main room, you can't listen to different sources in each area — the same music will play through all speakers.

Tips:

  • Your secondary receiver or amp must be capable of driving a 4-ohm load.
  • No speakers are connected to the "B" speaker outputs. If you hook speakers to the B outputs, your amplifier may distort and overheat.
  • Installing in-wall volume controls in each listening area adds a lot of convenience — adjust the volume right there, instead of running back and forth from your main room.

Audio in 4-9 rooms using two receivers, a connecting block, and impedance-matched volume controls

diagram Diagram E — Audio for 4-9 rooms using a second (stereo) receiver and impedance-matched volume controls (main-room home theater system not pictured)

Pros:

  • You don't have to worry about damaging your amp, assuming you've properly set all of the volume control jumpers.
  • If your home theater or stereo receiver has an extra set of preamp outputs, you can easily expand this system by connecting a second stereo receiver and speaker selector.

Cons:

  • The more speakers you add, the less power they get. With more than 4 pairs of speakers, you won't have enough power for high-volume listening, particularly in an outdoor setting.
  • You can't increase the amount of power delivered to one pair of speakers by turning off your other speakers.
  • With the exception of your main room, you can't listen to different sources in each area — the same music will play through all speakers.

Tips:

  • Each speaker pair must be connected to an impedance-matching volume control. All of the volume controls must have the same protection setting.

Adding an amplifier for even more whole-house power and flexibility

diagram Diagram F — Audio for multiple rooms using a multi-zone receiver and a multichannel amplifier

Pros:

  • Versatility — you can easily distribute varying amounts of power to different areas of your home, as needed; many amps can be "daisy-chained" to accommodate more rooms.
  • Plenty of power for every room, so you'll get great sound, and you won't strain the amp or underpower your speakers.
  • You free up the receiver's amplifier section to deliver surround sound in the main room at any time.
  • You can steer mono sound to small rooms and hallways while maintaining stereo in other rooms.

Cons:

  • A relatively expensive solution, compared to other options.
  • In most set ups, with the exception of your main room, you can't listen to different sources in each area — the same music will play through all speakers in most setups.

Tips:

  • Volume limiters on the back panel of some multi-channel amps let you match the volume from one room to the next. Then, even if someone cranks the volume knob all the way up, it still won't reach floor-shaking levels.
  • You'll need to find a well-ventilated space for the amplifier near your receiver.
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