Tech Rap: Have a Whole House Holiday!
With the holiday resembling more of what we have been used to pre-pandemic, many of you will be entertaining friends and family this year. But a holiday gathering is not a holiday gathering without holiday music. That is where Como Audio’s great whole house audio feature comes in. Before you dismiss the concept as too expensive or too complicated, please read on.
Music Is in The Hair
It used to be that whole house sound, also known as multi-room, meant running wires throughout your home and cutting holes in walls and ceilings to install speakers. I never understood the appeal of in-ceiling speakers. They might be fine for supermarkets and waiting rooms, but why would a serious music lover want music to fire into their hair instead of their ears? When was the last time you went to a concert and the band performed above you? But I digress. When I worked for B&W Loudspeakers, we had a whole house system called C.A.S.A. that consisted of B&W in-wall speakers that each had its own amplifier. The amps were powered and fed sound via Cat 5 and the system required professional installation by an authorized B&W dealer. It sounded nice but it was very expensive.
As with the B&W system, you usually had to pay someone handsomely to perform the custom installation. Unless your speakers included built-in amplifiers, you also need a multi-channel amplifier and a wall-mounted keypad interface in each room to control the sound. This represented a significant investment, effectively putting whole house audio out of reach for most people, myself included. In addition, the new owner of this system would have to be “trained” on how to use it. And God forbid if a mouse or some other creature chewed through one of the wires in the wall or ceiling.
With the advent of Wi-Fi enabled speakers like Como Audio’s smart music systems, snaking wires through walls and ceilings, cutting holes for speakers, and paying $10,000 for a custom installed system are things of the past. Yay.
Whole House Audio Is as Simple as 1-2-3
The ingredients to whole house audio are simpler than cooking a holiday feast. First, you need a Wi-Fi network that adequately covers the areas of your home where you wish to have music. Second, you need at least two Como Audio models (not including Ambiente/Amica). Lastly, you need the free Como Control app for iOS or Android installed on your smartphone or tablet. That’s it.
Group 2 or 25
After you set up each Como Audio system to your Wi-Fi network and download our free app on your smart device, the next step is to create a group which will allow your Como music systems to “talk” to each other. A group can consist of up to five music systems, which for most purposes is plenty…a Musica in the living room, a Solo in the bathroom, another Solo in the kitchen, a Duetto in the bedroom, and an Amico for the backyard, deck, or patio (assuming your Wi-Fi signal extends outside). However, our whole house audio feature can support up to five groups, meaning up to 25 models in all (for those of you living in mini-mansions). Note the multi-room set up can also be performed using the display and controls on a Como Audio music system, but take my advice- it is faster and easier using the Como Control app.
Whole House Hosting
To group the music systems, launch the Como Control app and decide which model will be the “host”. The host should be the model you expect to use the most. It will be the only one of the group that will show meta data (radio station name, song title, artist information, etc.) and artwork if applicable. The host will be responsible for distributing the music source to the other units within said group. That music source can be a holiday Internet radio station, FM radio, a holiday Spotify playlist, Auxiliary, a holiday DAB+ station (if you live in Europe), CD/Amazon Music/Tidal/Deezer/Napster (Musica only), even Bluetooth. Speaking of which, if you have our Turntable connected to Bluetooth or wired to the Aux input, you can even hear your favorite holiday records throughout your home! And because the units will be grouped, you will not hear any latency (audio delay) amongst the units. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Once you have decided which unit will be the host, the next step is to select the plus (+) icon in the Como Control app for the unit that will be the host.
You will then be presented with a list of all Como Audio models connected to your Wi-Fi network. Tic the boxes of the units you wish to include in the group. If there is a model you want to control independently, such as playing a different source from the others in the group, do not include it in the group.
Finally, name your group by selecting the “RENAME” tab followed by “OK” after entering the name, or leave the default name “Group 1” and then select OK at the bottom of the app. You have now successfully set up your first group! If you have more than five Como Audio systems, just repeat the process to create more groups.
Now that you have your group set up and named, simply use the Como Control app to select the music source to be played throughout your home and use the app’s volume control to control the level of each model, or to maintain the same volume level across all of the grouped units. You can also select the source on the host unit which will feed that music to the other units.
As explained earlier, the host unit will show what is playing on its display while the other units in the group will display the playback buffer only. The Como Control app will also show what source is playing.
If at any point you want to remove a unit from the group for whatever reason, you can easily do so by going back into the Como Control app and unchecking the box for that unit. Just know that you need a minimum of two units to make a group, so if you only have two models grouped to begin with and you remove one from the group, you can no longer have a group. There is no such thing as a group of one. You can also completely delete the group and start over again if you need to.
Is Your Wi-Fi Up to Speed?
There is one very important caveat to be aware of before you become a Como Audio groupie. Whole house audio requires a great deal of bandwidth from a Wi-Fi network, and if you play a high-quality source on the group like Spotify Connect and Amazon Music, or high quality music files or Internet radio, it requires even more bandwidth. If your Wi-Fi network utilizes older equipment, or you have the lowest tier of service from your Wi-Fi provider, you may find the sound in your group goes in and out. If the playback buffer indicator on the grouped unit(s) is only 1/3 or ½, this also indicates a taxed Wi-Fi network. This is because your Wi-Fi network has pooped out. That is a technical term meaning your network does not have the bandwidth available to support the group along with whatever other devices you have connected to your network (computer, phone, smart TV, appliances, security system, etc.). As an experiment, unplug all of your Como Audio models except for one. If the lone unit runs mostly fine or perfectly, it is likely a bandwidth issue with your network. Locating your router closer to the “host” unit in the group may help. If you own a Musica, connect to it using an Ethernet cable and adjust the setting in the menu. This will relieve some of the stress on your Wi-Fi. If you don’t own a Musica or cannot use an Ethernet cable you should update your Wi-Fi equipment and/or consult your Wi-Fi provider about upgrading your service. However you look at it, Wi-Fi whole house audio is still a lot easier and cheaper than the old fashioned method of running wires and knocking holes in walls to install speakers and hard-wired control units.
Another thing to know is that most whole home speaker systems are incompatible with others. If you currently own a non-Como Audio Wi-Fi speaker, it likely will not work with a Como Audio system. That is usually because the other system uses its own proprietary wireless scheme or they just want you to buy more of their models instead of a competing brand.
The last topic I will raise is using Bluetooth as a poor man’s whole home audio substitute. Few Bluetooth speakers support multiroom and the few that do tend to experience frequent audio drop outs. This is due to Bluetooth’s limited range and inability to pass through walls, floors, and ceilings. Moreover, Bluetooth does not support artwork and meta data may be limited. Perhaps most important, whole house audio via Wi-Fi sounds superior to Bluetooth’s compressed audio. I think I can safely say that cheaper whole house work arounds will leave you disappointed if your goal is great sounding music and ease of use.
People Are Talking
We often receive emails from customers praising our multiroom feature. One Amazon buyer commented: “This was my first purchase of such a system. I was nervous and compared [it] to [a competitor] system. However, once I received it and set it up and began using it, it has become a daily enjoyment for me. ALSO—-the customer service is amazing…I am planning to add to the system soon.”
The holiday will mean so much more this year with the ability to gather with close friends and family once again. Make it that much more meaningful by enjoying your favorite holiday music throughout your home without stringing speaker wires as if they were Christmas lights. With their real-wood veneers and multi-layered piano gloss finishes (not plastic cases like some other systems use), Como Audio music systems will look beautiful in your home and will faithfully reproduce your favorite holiday music with crisp highs and impactful lows. Remember- The best way to spread holiday cheer is to play your Como Audio music systems for all to hear. Enjoy the music.
For a visual demonstration of whole home audio, watch my how-to videos in the Support section of Como Audio’s website.
Como Audio General Manager Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development. In addition to Tech Rap, Peter also writes for his own music-related blog, www.RecommendedStations.com. If you have any comments about or suggestions for a Tech Rap topic, Peter can be reached directly at email@example.com
|Brittney Spears |
|Michael Mc Donald|