It Came From Above
Let's face it, gang: Many of us spend our lives swinging through the work week like modern-day Jedi Knights, slicing through red tape and stupidity only to languish for 45 minutes inching through vicious gridlock to get home. The only thing keeping yours truly from eating the business end of a Browning pistol is knowing that, when I get home to my suburban stucco castle, I can slip into a nice sixer of Harp lager and listen to the soothing melodies of classic Dead Kennedys.
Like most contemporary males, when left to my own devices, my home looks like a shrine to the great god of audio excess—a 4-foot blonde-wood hedge of speakers encircling a Naugahyde couch. I have no aesthetic problem with all my sound equipment being stacked on cinder blocks in the living room, with wires streaming from them like the intestinal track of a freshly shorn disemboweled four-legged beast.
Enter the Family Unit
The days of sitting around buck-naked drinking mass quantities of beer while gnawing on a 3-pound block of government cheese are over. However, as the entire family unit (spouse unit, beagle unit, and I) is comprised of audio lovers, the music must remain, but without the mess. The answer to this audio real-estate dilemma is A/V integration. Electrical wiring, phone systems, and plumbing are all integrated into the home, so why not audio and video, as well? Thus, it has come to pass. A few years ago, I succumbed to the need to get this "electronic stuff" off the floor and integrated into my home to make space for more-domestic things like spit-riddled dog toys and furniture.
I began by moving all the audio and video source units to a coat closet in the living room and replacing the surround-speaker array with in-walls (for the front stage) and in-ceiling speakers (for the surrounds). The result was a 5.1 system completely integrated into the living room, leaving no sign of its existence other than the color-matched speaker grilles and my TV set.
My next project involved the installation of a Niles in-wall keypad controller (thereby reducing the ever-reproducing horde of remote controls). The project following that was surrounding my backyard spa with outdoor rock speakers. Because my receiver, like most, has A, B, and A+B speaker-selector options, I was able to wire the outdoor speakers to the stereo B output. This arrangement allows for living-room-only audio, spa-only audio, or both running simultaneously. But what about audio in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.? Enter the brave new world of multiroom audio.