It has been a while, as in a little over a year. Sorry about that. I’m getting back into the hardware, so let’s go!
I have always liked the idea/concept of the Sonos system. Being able to setup something where the whole house can have synchronized audio, or two rooms could be playing different things. But I never really liked the cost of the systems. I was never able to justify that much money.
I was trying to go the route of distributed audio, e.g. a computer or something at each speaker set. The problem was that I would need to buy an amplifier, speakers, a “computer” at each location and then find some way of controlling all of them. Too many moving pieces and it wasn’t really any cheaper. Then I found out that there are things called speaker switches. The ones I was able to fine looked like they are rather passive just connecting all of your speakers in parallel. If you are driving 6 speaker pairs at 20 watts, you would need a 250+ watt amplifier driving the whole thing. Additionally, depending on which speakers you have on, it could effect the tonal quality and volume. But it seemed like the best option, so I started down this route and wired my house for speakers and while searching for the amplifier.
That was when I discovered the Monoprice 6 Zone Home Audio Multizone Controller and Amplifier Kit. It was 6 stereo amplifier pairs configurable with 6 different sources. I didn’t need a separate switch and amplifier and it was computer controllable! I have since found out that this is basically the same hardware as units like Factor Electronic’s V-66, and McLELAND’s MAP-1200HD.
It looks like people have written controller programs for it, but I want something very small and lower power that just connects to it. The plan is to use an ESP8266 to talk to the serial port and to WiFi allowing me to control it from the network. At which point I can then have a webpage or phone app talk with it to control the audio amplifier.
This is the intro post as I try to work through building up the hardware and software. Let me know if you know of someone already building one of these, have any ideas, or want me to help.