Newsletter Signup | Subscribe to Magazine

Home Tech

Which audio system is right for you?

Every home is unique, as are the needs and desires of those who live there. Fortunately, there is a wide array of options and configurations to satisfy most of the wants and demands of every situation. The challenge is left to the home builders or renovators to match the practicalities of the home layout with the wants and needs of its residents.


Perhaps you want a simple speaker that you can move around the home as needed. Similar to the days of “boom boxes” or portable radios, there are wireless speaker systems that are capable of streaming music from your phone, tablet or internet. These allow you to simply pick up the speaker and carry it from room to room as you move around the house, but unless the speaker has a built-in battery, you will need to find an outlet to plug it in. With battery-powered units you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet, but they have a finite amount of time they can play before being recharged.


If you don’t want to worry about lugging a speaker around from room to room, then maybe a more permanent solution is what will satisfy your needs. From free-standing speakers to ones mounted in your walls or ceiling, there are numerous options to fit your decor. Choose one or more rooms to have music capabilities or even the whole house. You can mix and match the types of speakers based on what fits your listening style and decor between rooms. Maybe you want speakers that aren’t visible in your dining room but want an audiophile system in a dedicated listening area. Any option can be designed to fit your specific needs.


According to Sandy Benson, owner of Custom Audio Video, Control 4 is the system that seems to be most popular with Lowcountry homeowners right now. “We are seeing more investment in outdoor living space than ever before. It may be the Covid effect or a general lifestyle trend, but homeowners want the same technology outside as they have inside. That includes outdoor televisions, built-in or hidden speakers and outdoor home automation systems to control the screens, lighting and sound.”


Another thing to think about is the type of audio you want to play in your system. Do you want the same thing playing everywhere at once? Maybe you want the ability to let the kids play the newest pop song in one room of the house while you listen to something a bit more soothing in the kitchen. Perhaps you just want to play the news in the bathroom while you prepare for the day. Systems can be designed to function as a single unified device or in a modular manner allowing for independence in some or all rooms. Both of these design options have their benefits and limitations. A unified system makes selecting audio for all the included rooms as simple as the push of a button, but prevents you from having different audio in different rooms. A modular system may allow for more options (as in who gets to listen to what music in what room), but playing the same music everywhere may take an extra step or two. The best thing about modern audio systems from manufacturers like Sonos, and home automation companies like Control4, Savant and Crestron is that independent room control or easy whole-house control can be combined on-the-fly by you, the end user, giving you the best of both worlds.


How you control your audio system is the most important aspect of design. What do we mean by control? Years ago audio systems were controlled by ugly knobs on the wall or maybe with your TV remote, but today controlling a system from your phone or tablet has become the default way to turn on your music in whatever room you are in. In some cases, other control methods might be used, either a wall keypad or touchscreen, which are great for guest areas and in places you might not have your phone. Also, voice control through devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home allow for the ultimate in convenience. LL