Installations: Heartbreak Home Theater Page 4

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The problems with the multiroom audio are this tale's most tangled skein, and there's no space to unravel all the many troubling details. Suffice it to say that the installer's attempts to integrate the music server from the control system that Pete and Melinda were originally going to go with into their current setup led to some awkward programming that made the interface hard to use. Accessing a familiar music track meant repeatedly punching commands into the in-wall touchscreens and cycling through page after page of menus. And then there were the programming glitches.

"After going through a number of songs," says Melinda, "you'd end up with a little collection of letters on the right side of the screen that were just leftover data that didn't clear. It was really ridiculous. I felt like if we'd put our full music library in that system, there would have been no good way to access any of it."

The labyrinthine control system was particularly troubling for Pete. "You had to go down 50 pages into the interface to get to what you wanted. But I like simplicity. I like to walk into a room, for instance, and just turn on a light. I don't want to have to hold my finger on the control and wait for it to go up or down. I just want the light to go on and off. The controls for the touchpanel seemed to have been written by techno-geeks, for techno-geeks."

"Peter couldn't figure out the control system," Melinda says. "And I was too frustrated by it to even use it. I would just end up going back to the same few songs."

Sonos to the Rescue Searching for that elusive ease of use, the Farrellys felt they'd found their salvation with Sonos. Melinda wanted an interface like the one she was used to from her iPods, so she was thrilled when she first checked out the Sonos Controller. And the Sonos ZonePlayers gave her and Pete an easy way to piggyback the new control system onto the existing one - or at least it should have been easy.

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