A lot has changed in the audio industry in the last decade. Gone are the days of CDs and iPods, with people preferring to stream audio wirelessly from their phones, tablets and laptops. For those who adopted a home audio system early, the good news is that there are plenty of options available to bring your system up to speed.
Your amplifier is what drives your system, and if it’s an older model it most likely still has a CD player or you rely on an AUX cable, an input that iPhones infamously dropped in 2016. If you had your system installed 10 or more years ago, the likelihood is that it consists of sets of speakers (zones) wired to an amplifier via a speaker switch box, allowing you to manually select which zones are receiving the audio signal. Whilst this was (and still is) a reliable way of having audio in multiple rooms, technology has moved on.
Our customers want to control their home audio system from their handheld devices; selecting zones, setting volumes and streaming from apps like Spotify and Apple Music, and with the development of features like Airplay, wireless systems have become the norm.
The good news is that there are ways to bring an old system up to speed without replacing it entirely. Amplifiers like the The SONOS Connect:Amp (our best selling solution), HEOS Amp and Drive and the Bluesound Powernode 2 have provided a way for old systems to incorporate wireless streaming using home networks. These products, especially the Connect:AMP, are popular because of their user-friendliness, reliability and ability to be hidden away.
Through dedicated apps these amplifiers can be controlled independently over one or more zones to allow for a whole house audio system. The SONOS, HEOS and Bluesound systems can also be extended without further installation through freestanding products like the SONOS ONE, HEOS 1 HS2 and Bluesound Pulse Flex.
If you are after a more direct way of connecting wirelessly to your sound system, Bluetooth Amplifiers and Speakers are also available. It's also worth noting that SONOS have a new and improved version of their Amp coming out soon, boasting a greater power output, optical and HDMI inputs and Airplay 2 compatibility. You can read more about the new Amp here.
One of the biggest developments in the AV industry has been voice control, with the likes of Google’s ‘Home’ and Amazon’s Echo and Alexa becoming household names over the past few years. Many SONOS, HEOS, Bluesound and Lithe Audio products are capable of integrating with certain voice control systems, meaning you don’t even have to use your phone if you don’t want to.
As it is still an emerging feature of wireless audio systems and installed speakers, please get in touch to find out more about voice control compatibility for the products we sell.
With the release of Lithe Audio’s active WiFi and Bluetooth ceiling speakers, installed wireless audio systems are possible without ever needing to purchase an amplifier. If you were thinking of updating your old ceiling speakers, you may consider these as options. The WiFi speakers, controlled through a dedicated app, can provide music in up to 30 zones whilst the Bluetooth version provides a more direct solution for single zones, as well as being compatible with certain voice control systems.
As a side note, Lithe have just released a really interesting infographic on the history of home audio which is well worth checking out here.
If you bought your installed speakers more than 10 years ago, you may also consider updating your speaker model. Updated models like the Monitor Audio C165 now have magnetic trim-less grilles, making the speaker even more invisible. They also incorporate newer driver and tweeter technologies, allowing for improved bass response and sound dispersion.
The release of ultra-slim models like the KEF Ci160TR allows for installation in places that could not previously accept speakers, whilst, as mentioned previously, WiFi and Bluetooth speakers allow for installation where speaker cable previously could not reach.
Upgrading your audio system to incorporate wireless technology is not only possible, it’s really not that hard to do. As always, we are more than happy to help you with any questions you have about upgrading, changing or buying an audio system. You can submit a contact form here, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give us a ring on 03456 803 802