Sunday, June 17, 2012

Let there be sound

One of the perks of being married to an IT person is the ease with which one can cut holes in the ceiling, run wire, and hook up new electronic stuff.  In this case, the additions consisted of speakers in the kitchen/dining room area, Apple TV, and some new repeater thing that means our electronics can move to the basement instead of being in pointing distance of the remote.  Goodbye FIOS box, DVR, tv cabinet, wires, and all sign of electronics.  The only thing left in the living room is the television and playing music in the house is as easy as calling up a playlist or Pandora on our iPhones - no iPhone dock needed - and letting the electronic-magic-elves do their thing (yes, that is how I understand technology to work).  Of course, we still need to get a bigger television and mount it on the wall and we'll eventually add speakers throughout the first floor but all that has to wait until we demo and reconfigure the first floor.  Still, it's a big improvement to have everything hidden away and some speakers installed now.

We also tackled a bunch of smaller, non-photogenic tasks this weekend, most of which were related to trimming out the kitchen and installing screens on the two French doors that will, permit-gods willing, someday lead to a patio in the backyard.  This week should bring permit approval...or a total meltdown on my part if we hit another snag.  Either way, there will probably be news!


**** I wanted to add a few details about what we used so far. In the basement we have a Denon AVR-1910 reciever, Apple TV, DVD player, FIOS DVR, FIOS internet router, and a Cables-To-Go IR repeater. Upstairs we have two Polk RC60i ceiling speakers in the kitchen/dining area and a Polk PSW111 subwoofer between the kitchen and the living room. We'll have to find a place to hide the subwoofer behind a chair or something, but it's pretty small so that shouldn't be a problem. It provides the bass for the first floor really well. In the living room we'll eventually have four Polk RD60i ceiling speakers and a Polk CS20 center channel. All of this should give us quite a nice sound system for music or movies/TV at a very reasonable price. Even with two speakers the sound is great.

The IR repeater is a great, cheap way to hide all your gear in a convenient location. The workroom in the basement happens to be right below our living room where the TV is going so that provided an easily accessible, but hidden place.

The Apple TV was a great little find. I went to the Apple store to pick up a dock and after seeing that the Apple TV was both cheap ($99) and had an HDMI and optical outputs I was sold. Once I hooked it up I realized how well it integrates with the iPhone. All you need to do is open up Pandora or your music (or any app) and click the little airplay icon on the screen, select the Apple TV device, and everything starts playing over the speakers wirelessly. There's a few configuration things I had to do to make it happen with the reciever and speakers, but all in all it was an easy setup.

I almost forgot... we also have a Harmony One remote to control everything easily. All you have to do is select "watch TV", "watch DVD", or "listen to music" and voila... it works and turns on the appropriate stuff!



  1. Wow,

    Your blog has been a huge help for us. We are doing a similar project. However you are about 1 month ahead of us. So we get to learn from what you have done. So we are currently shopping for a whole speaker system. If you could be so kind to share what brands you selected. I really am interest on how you move the av system to the basement, what hardware was require. My email is raylach at aol dot com.

  2. Perfect timing! I just got done updating the post with some specifics. Let me know if you need anything else in more detail. There are tons of options out there, but ours seemed to be the cheapest and easiest for what we wanted to do. In hindsight I wish we would have included speakers upstairs, but since we're reselling the house in a year or so it probably wasn't worth the money for us to add it. Even with what we've added so far is more than most houses have in our price range or the next several price ranges up. I know a lot of people like Sonos, but for us it would have been more expensive and this setup gives us a little more bang for the buck. We only have two zones - the kitchen/dining area and the living room (both only 10 feet apart). We'll eventually put a theatre in the basement, but that will be another stand alone system mostly for TV/movie watching.

  3. I got most of the stuff at Crutchfield online. Their prices are great and they have a support line that is staffed with knowledgeable people. Polk speakers go on sales periodically so I got our speakers and center channel for about $560 and they threw in a free subwoofer as part of a promotion. The receiver I had, but you can get one for a few hundred easily. The wires and repeater I got on Amazon for about $85 (I just used 14 gauge speaker wire). Apple TV is $100 and the remote was $200 so all told we're under $1000 for a pretty nice system which should help sell the house eventually.