Please note that I'm excluding cost from this review as each home owner's cost would vary considerably based on products purchased and scope of services.
When my wife and I purchased our new home I wanted to have a multi-room audio/video system to allow us to leverage our existing Home Theatre as well as listen to music throughout the home. After significant research online and via trade magazines we chose to go with a system based on Niles Audio's ZR-6 6-source/6-zone Multi-room controller amplifier. Having loved our existing Definitive Technology based home theatre speaker system we chose to go with Definitive Technology in wall and in ceiling speakers throughout the home as well as Energy outdoor weather resistant speakers I had already purchased from Costco for a great price at an earlier date. I contacted Niles Audio and they put me in touch with a local recommended installer Harmony Media.
I had already designed a very detailed plan of all of the system equipment (new and existing) and how we wanted the system installed including the sources, zones, and speaker locations. All of the components were to be installed in a central rack location hidden from the zones themselves and accessed via Logitech Harmony RF remotes.
I called Harmony Media and spoke with the owner David. First impressions were very good. David has a very laid back personality but that should not be confused with lack of passion for what he does. He was easy to talk with, very detail oriented and very professional. We briefly discussed what we were looking for and he provided a few tips on things we hadn't considered such as evening out sound coverage in larger areas using diagonal speaker patterns (2 Left speakers aligned diagonally and 2 right speakers aligned diagonally). I updated my original plan based on our discussion and sent it to David for review.
To ensure we knew what to expect David invited us to his home to see a similar Niles based system that he uses everyday so we could experience the user interface which was almost identical to the one we were purchasing. Seeing an actual installed system in a real home environment rather than a showroom enabled him to illustrate points he'd made in our phone conversation such as ensuring alignment of in ceiling speakers with pot lights to improve the aesthetics and keypad height considerations as I'm tall. It was good to see David's passion for A/V and his amazing system gave me a visual of what I had been planning for now as well as tips for the future.
David followed up our conversation with a detailed quote where he broke down the costs by each piece of equipment and estimated hours of installation. David procured all of the new equipment and speakers and was able to do so at a discount to retail price. The installation took the better part of the work week and was performed by David and Jason. Wire had been per-run by our home builder as per my plan prior to drywall so there was significant effort to cut out the 28 holes for speakers and 7 keypads as well as mount 2 flat panel TVs and configure all of our components and the remote RF system. Throughout the installation David kept in touch with us on progress and identified and rectified some minor mistakes that had been made in the wiring by the builder's contractor. He also coordinated replacement speaker grills to be delivered when he discovered that the speaker manufacturer had stuck stickers on top of the grills which left a slight residue when removed.
My wife and I were both very pleased with the final installation as well as the system performance and would highly recommend David and Jason for multi-room AV installations.
A few tips for homeowners:
- Consider pre-wiring Ethernet to your primary TV viewing locations to support Smart TVs to improve web performance vs. using Wi-Fi.
- If you have the money pre-wire additional zones, speakers and keypads, even if you do not plan to add speakers during your original installation as it will provide future flexibility
- Wire Sub-woofers for your home theatre zone, which we did, adds a significant improvement in bass performance