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3 Reasons Why Integrators Should Push for More Multichannel Audio Installs

Audio, audio everywhere. Whether it’s podcasting or streaming music, our ears want more and more audio. In the home, this translates into the demand for seamless, high-quality multiroom audio. As technology advances, so do the options for achieving this goal and one way to do so is to enlist multichannel amplifiers in our audio systems.

Certainly, homeowners can add a room at a time, creating a decentralized system à la Sonos, but another flexible, robust, and high-quality option is to use a multichannel amp.

These provide source flexibility and multichannel power support. They’re the perfect way to expand any audio system to more areas of the home, or to provide extra audio output in larger rooms or outdoor areas where multiple speakers are installed and higher output volume is required — all while keeping an acceptable project budget.

Multichannel Amps May Present a Cost-Friendlier Solution

One timely application for a multichannel amp in our audio-infused world is for a dual whole-house system.

For example, if there’s one or two people in the home, the installer can set up a system with a multichannel amp with one streamer for each person in the home that takes care of the audio demands for the household.

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Everyone can listen to different music in their favorite room or home office, and there’s no need to buy a streamer for each person — a pricier proposition when it’s not always needed. The homeowner gets multiple rooms at a price advantage, and installers have less gear to install or that hog premium rack space.

Another application where multichannel amps shine is in a larger room, or a room that needs more than a single pair of speakers. In a great room with very high ceilings, for example, a pair of speakers certainly isn’t going to be enough for that environment. It might need anywhere from four to eight speakers, depending on the size of the room and the height of the ceiling.

A multichannel amp is great in this situation because it avoids creating a hotspot that happens when feeding a large number of watts or a single pair of speakers. Instead, more speakers can be used and spread around so that the sound is balanced. The multichannel amp will support the extra power needed for the speakers that can now at a lower volume level, eliminate blaring hotspots.

Outdoor Audio Can Benefit from Multichannel Amps’ Flexibility

Similar to large rooms, the outdoor zone is another application that benefits from multichannel amps. Outdoor sound is always hard to reproduce because the sound carries off into the open environment.

Getting a good level of sound, whether it’s just background listening or even higher levels of sound for a party, requires more speakers and more power. A multichannel amp delivers the power needed to amp up the system, so more speakers can be spread around and cover the landscape, pool, and patio evenly.

One of the key advantages of multichannel amps is their flexibility for future expansion. For example, if a 12-channel or a 16-channel amp is installed but only six were used for the current system setup, it provides the extra power for system upgrades later on.

The homeowner can expand the system into more rooms or add an outdoor zone.

This allows installers to anticipate homeowners’ evolving needs and to do so affordably. With extra channels readily available, expanding the setup becomes seamless, offering a hassle-free upgrade path.

Multichannel Audio Frees Up Room for Premium Rack Real Estate

The other benefit of a multichannel amp is its size. Rather than install separate amplifiers that take up a lot of space in an equipment rack, multichannel amps are typically smaller. For example, a 12-channel amp may take up only a single rack space; two for a 16-channel amp.

Less space means more room in the rack for other gear. When space is at a premium, compact gear prevents installers from finding rack closet space or having to add additional racks as the system expands. That makes for a very clean and more cost-effective install.

Other multichannel amps take innovation a step further with built-in audio filters, allowing installers to customize audio output for different zones. With a little switch on the back of the unit, installers can configure any pair of speakers to be full-range sound, giving you full stereo sound everywhere it’s needed quickly.

Or dedicate the amps for use with subwoofers in any zone by switching it to the low pass filter. Typically in order to handle a sub, the system needs a dedicated amp, which can be pricey and can only power a dedicated number of subwoofers.

With a low-pass filter built in, installers can turn any zone into a sub amplifier section that sends only those low frequency sounds, which not only simplifies the install but also presents cost advantages for the customer.

There’s also a high-pass filter to send high frequencies, which is typically what most architectural speakers can handle. This delivers great sound in a very small compact chassis. Whether it’s configuring speakers for full-range sound or dedicating channels to subwoofers, an audio filter enhances versatility and simplifies the system design.

One More Audio Solution in an Installer’s Arsenal

Professionally installed multiroom and outdoor audio are trending applications in residential AV, so having a go-to multichannel amp should be part of every installer’s toolbox.

With a multichannel amp, installers have the freedom to tailor the sound without extra gear. With the same multichannel amp, the system can be designed to fit the homeowners desire for more audio — in multiple rooms, larger rooms, or outside — and keep up with the evolution of their system.

It not only ensures high-quality audio, but it also simplifies the system and installation and saves money for the installer and the end user. And that’s music to everyone’s ears.

Colin Clark serves as Vice President of Products at Russound.

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