Music Around the House Page 6

The Bottom LineAll of these systems accomplished one thing - they got me listening to more music. When playing music is as simple as walking to a keypad in your bedroom or bathroom and hitting a couple of buttons, there's just no reason not to listen.

A-Bus With an A-Bus-capable receiver, the system is a low-cost, easy-hookup alternative to the rudimentary "Room 2" facilities on most receivers. And if you use an A-Bus hub instead of or in addition to a receiver, you can get true multisource capability. While the Russound keypads don't offer any of the system control of the others evaluated here, they do incorporate IR sensors to pass along commands from your regular remote handset.

Netstreams MusicaThe system's keypad is visually appealing and easy to work with. Volume levels from the 25-watt pads were low but adequate for smaller rooms. A system built around the more powerful pads - with an FM tuner in every zone - is def initely the way to go. Add the ability to control the entire system from your home network, and you have a compelling system.

Z?N For sheer wow factor, Z?N is the winner. Everyone who visited my home while this system was installed gravitated to the sexy, glowing control pad. Besides that, the sound quality was excellent, and being able to handle digital signals from your sources puts the Z?N in a class by itself. The system's configuration options and virtually unlimited expandability allow flexibility and an easy upgrade path. And the built-in pager makes it an excellent intercom.

Elan System6Sound quality was the best in this group, even better than the Z?N system's, and the Elan was easy to operate using the S6KP pads, though adding the companion Z150 numerical pad is a worthwhile upgrade - or a Via! panel if the budget allows. With the plethora of options available from Elan, this system could become nearly anything you might need. However, DIYers are left out in the cold.

PDF: Fast Facts

Category 5 (Cat-5) cable High-speed network cabling terminated by RJ-45 connectors.

IR emitter A device that transmits infrared commands from the system to source components.

keypad A wall-mounted remote control for a whole-house system.

multisource A whole-house system that can distribute more than one music source at the same time to different zones, or areas of the house.

multizone A whole-house system that can distribute music to different rooms or combinations of rooms.

source A CD player, AM/FM/satellite radio, or any other component that supplies an audio signal.

zone One or more rooms or areas in a whole-house system that receive music from the same source.